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Massapequa, NY – Remember ‘the third thing’? The North Bellmore North Merrick Rebels accomplished ‘the third thing’ on manager Sam Acri’s list of goals that he set for his team when they were entering their first Williamsport Tournament at 10 years old – the year they ran the table through the winners bracket only to lose two games in the championship round to none other than Massapequa Coast. Tonight, the Rebels turned the table when they won their second NY District 31 title in as many years by defeating Coast twice in the championship round and became the first team in the recorded history of North Bellmore North Merrick Little League to take the district flag at 12 years old.
The final accomplishment was anything but easy as the Rebels battled Massapequa Coast LL tonight over six innings before NBNM snapped a 0-0 tie in the bottom of the sixth inning.
Rebels starting pitcher Brian Porricelli was a monster on the hill. Over 5 1/3 innings of work, he struck out 13 Coast batters and left the game with a no-hitter after reaching his pitch-count limit of 85 pitches. Porricelli left his mark all over this game with his stellar pitching performance and made it indelible when he delivered the walk-off hit to end it.
Coast pitcher John Vento performed well allowing just three hits and Andrew Russell again made highlight reel plays at second base to rob the Rebels of no less than three more. The Rebels mounted a scoring threat in the third inning when Eric Solomon and Jack Delaney delivered back-to-back singles but Vento picked up a big strikeout to end it.
Meanwhile, Coast could do little to muster any offense at all. Only three batters reached base throughout Porricelli’s effort by way of an error in the first inning, a dropped-third-strike in the third, and a walk to Andrew Russell, the last batter he faced.
Kevin McCleneghan came on in relief with one out in the top of the sixth inning. McCleneghan quickly turned in the defensive play of the game for NBNM that started with a 1-2 knuckle-drop to Vento. The pitch hit the dirt and catcher Matt Coster dropped to block it. But the pitch ricocheted off Coster’s shinguard toward the Rebels dugout on the first base side of the field and Russell broke for second. Coster, not seeing the rebound, turned to his left and could not locate the ball. With what appeared to be a golden opportuity to get to third base with less than two outs, Russell rounded second. Alertly, both McCleneghan and third baseman Matt Conry saw the play develop with McCleneghan racing to the loose ball against the backstop and Conry moving to straddle third. McCleneghan spun and fired a strike from foul territory to the third base bag where Conry put the tag to Russell on a bang-bang play. A moment of silence hung over the ballfield as Conry showed the ball to the field umpire who, in dramatic fashion, punched out the baserunner. The play was made even huger when Vento went on to loft a fly ball to right field that was misplayed into a two-base error. But McCleneghan got three-hitter Chris Wasson on a come-backer to end the MCLL sixth, shut-out and no-hitter intact.
In the bottom of the sixth, the Rebels’ Matt Nilsen led-off and reached when he was hit by a pitch on his foot. Delaney then laid down a sacrafice bunt and was safe at first when Coast third baseman Dan Gdanski, with thoughts of getting the lead runner, hesitated and was late with the throw to first. Billy McAdam stepped up to bat in a clear bunting situation. After he ran the count to 2-0, the bunt sign was removed in lieu of a take, and Vento delivered strike one. With the bunt back on at 2-1, McAdam dropped one down toward third base that hit the fringe and kicked just foul. With the bunt still on at 2-2, McAdam got it down, Vento couldn’t get the handle, and the Rebels had loaded the bases with no outs. Vento was then lifted for Wasson. Alec Acri, on a 1-1 pitch, hit a ground ball toward first that was snagged by Coast’s Rettig who threw home to force out Nilsen. Then, after getting ahead 1-0, Porricelli crushed a rising line drive through the left center field gap and off the wall, propelling North Bellmore North Merrick to the District title, into the Sectional round of the tournament, and earning Porricelli his rightful place at the bottom of a fired up dogpile of Rebels players and coaches alike.
With little time to savor their district title, the Rebels will quickly get ready to kick-off the NY Section 6 portion of the 2012 Williamsport Tournament when they face Port Washington LL Friday 6:00 pm at Lions Field.
Massapequa, NY – Pitching and defense wins championships. Last night at Burns Park, with their backs to the wall, the North Bellmore North Merrick LL Rebels delivered pitching, defense and a whole lot of guts en route to a 1-0 victory that earned them the opportunity to play one game for a District championship Wednesday night. The performances by both the Rebels and their opponent, Massapequa Coast LL, were nothing less than outstanding in their unwillingness to relent. A 0-0 deadlock carried through six innings until the Rebels finally broke through to score the winning run in the seventh.
Starting pitchers Nick Valeriano for NBNM and Anthony Buckshaw for Coast were at the top of their games giving their respective teams all they could ask for and batters little to work with.
The visiting Rebels were sat down in order when Buckshaw struck out the side in the top of the first. In Coast’s half, Valeriano got their lead-off man to pop up to the infield. Two-hitter John Vento slapped a tough pitch toward the opposite field that rolled over the first base bag for a stand-up double. The first sign of what was to come ensued when MCLL’s Chris Wasson flew out to Brian Porricelli in center. Vento attempted to tag up and Porricelli threw a seed to Matt Conry at third base to nail Vento for an inning-ending double-play.
In the second, the Rebels managed three balls in play and a hit batsman in Valeriano, but Coast second baseman Andrew Russel made one of several outstanding plays he would deliver on the night and the Rebels went down quietly. Coast managed a two-out single by Dan Gdanski in the the bottom half before Aidan Cooney grounded to Kevin McCleneghan at first base.
NBNM threatened in the third frame when Matt Coster led off with a well-struck double to left field. But Buckshaw would bear down inducing a ground ball to second and a couple of strikeouts to get out of it. In the bottom, MCLL worked a one-out single by Tom Ammendola. Valeriano then coaxed a slow roller to first for the second out moving Ammendola to scoring position. Next, Vento hit a ball hard up the middle but Valeriano managed to get a piece of it and shortstop Jack Delaney remarkably gathered the deflection and fired to McCleneghan in time at first to end the inning, stranding Ammendola.
The Rebels were sat down in order in the fourth and Coast looked to capitalize on the momentum. Wasson led off with a drive to center that hit off the high Burns Park fence. For the second time of the night, Coast decided to challenge the arm of Porricelli in center when Wasson tried for a double and for the second time of the night it was a bad idea as Porky threw a strike to Delaney covering second for the first out. Coast was not deterred, though. When Buckshaw and Matt Finn singled, Gdanski drew a walk to load the bases. On this night where runs would be scarce, the Rebels defense played their infield in. With Valeriano bearing down on the mound for NBNM, Cooney knocked a two-hopper to McCleneghan who fired to Coster at home to cut down Buckshaw for out number two. With the bags still juiced, Valeriano reached down, struck out Terrence Murray swinging and, with a fist-pump, led the Rebels off the field into the fifth inning, momentum stolen, zero-zero tie preserved.
The Rebels looked like they might have something going on in the fifth when Valeriano drew a lead-off walk. Then Buckshaw got a big strikeout. Coster came up with one on and one out and hit a ball up the middle that had base hit written all over it until yet another terrific play by Russel turned it into a fielders choice at second base for the second out. The Rebels inning stayed alive when Matt Nilsen was hit by a pitch but they could not deliver a key hit as Buckshaw worked out of it with another K to end the inning. In the bottom, a lead-off single by Rettig gave Coast hope but a fielder’s choice and a couple of big strikeouts care of Valeriano turned the tide yet again.
After Billy McAdam drew a base on balls to start the sixth, Coast lifted Buckshaw from the hill for Vento. Although he yielded a second walk, a strikeout and two ground outs got Coast out of the inning unscathed and their offense to bat in the bottom of the sixth inning of this 0-0 tie. Buckshaw hit a ball into the hole between first and second but the Rebels’ Alec Acri made a fine play going into the outfield turf and cutting down the runner at first. Gdanski then smacked one into the hole between short and third and it was Delaney going to his backhand and firing a strike across the diamond for the second out. Cooney then grounded back to Acri who played it smoothly to force extra innings.
McCleneghan led off the seventh inning for NBNM with a fly ball that dropped between defenders into shallow center causing the center fielder and second baseman to collide as K-Mac hustled it all the way for a lead-off double (the players were stunned but no one was injured). Coster then executed a clean sacrafice bunt to move McCleneghan to second with one out. Matt Nilsen came up against a drawn in infield and slapped the first pitch he saw past a diving Wasson at short and into left field for what would prove to be the game-winning hit, as McCleneghan scored standing up, and the Rebels had broken the ice to take a 1-0 lead. Vento limited the damage with a strikeout and groundout to bring Coast up in the bottom of the seventh chasing a one-run deficit. NBNM called Porricelli to the mound to close it. He struck out Cooney on three pitches then walked Billy Delmore on four. After getting ahead 0-2 on Ammendola, he induced a ground ball to second that was too slowly hit to complete a double play but was nicely turned by Acri and Delaney nonetheless getting the fielder’s choice and the second out. Porky then fanned Russell swinging and the Rebels had evened the series with Coast and given themselves a chance to play one more game for the District title.
The Rebels return to Burns Park Wednesday July 11 at 8:00 pm for a final game with Massapequa Coast when a District champion will be crowned.
Rebels Return to District Finals
Massapequa, NY – The North Bellmore North Merrick Rebels will return to the championship round of the Williamsport NY District 31 tournament for the third time in as many years. After eliminating Massapequa International LL Friday night and Merrick LL yesterday morning, NBNM have earned their way to a rematch with rival Massapequa Coast, who handed the Rebels their one loss in the tournament last Friday.
In this Friday night’s game, the Rebels dominated International with a rock-solid team effort. Nick Valeriano set the tone with a strong pitching performance, the Rebels defense made sparkling plays, offfensively they spread ten hits throughout the lineup (including multi-hits for Billy McAdam, Brian Porricelli, Kevin McCleneghan and Valeriano 2 doubles/4 RBI), and NBNM run-ruled International after 5 innings with an 11-0 final.
Boxscore and game details, Friday 7/6
Saturday morning’s effort started strong for NBNM as starter Porricelli owned Merrick batters through his 2-and-a-third, defense was sharp, and a combination of Merrick charity and timely NBNM hits (Matt Conry double/2 RBI, Eric Solomon 2 hits/1 RBI, Valeriano 2 hits/3 RBI) had the Rebels ahead 7-0 after three. When Merrick worked their way back in it with two walks and a three-run home run in the top of the fourth, the Rebels responded in their half to get three back for a 10-3 lead. Merrick made it interesting in the sixth inning when, after two quick outs, they rallied by coverting a couple of walks, a double and another three-run bomb into four runs but that was as close as they would get.
Boxscore and game details, Saturday 7/7
So, the Rebels return to Burns Park to continue the defense of their District title against Massapequa Coast LL Monday July 9 at 8:00 pm.
Rebels Eliminate Wantagh
Massapequa, NY – North Bellmore North Merrick LL got headed back in the right direction last night when they defeated Wantagh LL, 14-2, at Burns Park. The win eliminated Wantagh from the 2012 Williamsport District 31 tournament and put the Rebels one game closer to their quest to repeat as District champions.
Wantagh made some noise early when they took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning with an opposite field home run by Fagan. NBNM were not down for long, though. After Jack Delaney and Billy McAdam reached on walks, and Alec Acri singled to load the bases, Brian Porricelli hit a fly ball to shallow left that dropped in no-man’s land and the Rebels were on the board. A bases-loaded walk to Matt Conry followed and the game was tied at 2. Nick Valeriano worked a BB, as well, to force in the go-ahead run. Then the wheels flew all the way off for Wantagh when Kevin McCleneghan reached on an error, Matt Coster singled, Eric Solomon hit into a fielder’s choice, Delaney reached on an error, McAdam got aboard on a dropped third strike, the Wantagh defense threw the ball around, Porricelli scorched a double down the left field line and suddenly NBNM was up 10-2. Rebels pitcher McCleneghan settled in for a 1-2-3 inning in the second, and Wantagh sat NBNM down in order in the bottom half. Wantagh threatened in the third when, after two outs, they loaded the bases with a walk and two singles, but K-Mac delivered a strikeout to get out of it. The Rebels then tacked on when Delaney drove a ball into the left-center field alley for a two-base hit, McAdam walked, Acri singled, and Valeriano doubled to extend the Rebels lead to 14-2 after three. McCleneghan retired the side in order in the fourth sealing the ‘W’ by run-rule for North Bellmore North Merrick.
The Rebels will face the winner of today’s Massapequa International LL vs. Seaford LL game in a quarter-final contest this Friday July 6 8:00pm at Burns Park.
Coast Blanks Rebels
Massapequa, NY – The NBNM Rebels were outdone in virtually every aspect last night when they were shut out by Massapequa Coast Little League, 6-0, at Burns Park.
Coast pitching dominated Rebels batters en route to a no-hitter with 10 strikeouts. The stagnant NBNM offense managed just one ball beyond the infield in its 0-for-17 performance. The Rebels defense was also poor in it’s execution allowing 4 unearned runs and looking just plain sloppy at times. While the Rebels pitching was good, Coast’s was better. Even NBNM’s baserunning – among the few that reached – was questionable.
Massapequa broke the ice in the first inning when they converted an error, a walk, an infield hit, and a clean single into a run. The damage was limited when first baseman Kevin McCleneghan combined with Brian Porricelli to complete a big, heads-up double-play. The Rebels responded with three strikeouts in their half. NBNM starter Porricelli got in a groove in inning two and sat MCLL down 1-2-3. Matt Conry reached with a walk for the Rebels in the bottom but didn’t get beyond first base. A lead-off double followed by a basehit gave Coast a run in the third to put them ahead 2-0, and NBNM’s offense responded with three strikeouts in the bottom. Coast worked out a walk and a single in the fourth but failed to score. Billy McAdam was hit by a pitch leading off the Rebels frame to no avail. When Coast delivered a base hit and a triple in the fifth they extended their lead to 3-0. A lead-off BB to Nick Valeriano and HBP for Kevin McCleneghan had things looking up for the Rebels with no out and the tying run at the plate in the bottom of the fifth. But a poor baserunning decision led to making the first out of the inning at third base on a caught stealing, the Rebels yarn of hope quickly unraveled, and they failed to score once again. The sixth inning was a back-breaker for NBNM when an error-extended inning allowed Coast to convert two singles, a double and a walk into three unearned runs. The Rebels went down 1-2-3 to end it.
So the Rebels will need to play their way out of the District tournament losers bracket for a return trip to the District title game. Further, they will need to work even harder on improving the parts of their game that were not good enough last night.
The next game for NBNM in the 2012 Williamsport Tournament is Monday July 2 8:00 pm at Burns Park against Wantagh LL.