BERLIN- After four tough games in as many days, the Berlin Little League 9-10 All-Stars finally ran out of gas, and pitching, last Friday, falling to Massapequa of New York, 22-0, in the Mid-Atlantic championship in Rhode Island.
Berlin’s magical run started with a District 8 championship back on July 13 and continued a week later with a first-ever state championship. The victory in the state championship game propelled Berlin to the Mid-Atlantic Regional Tournament in Cranston, R.I., where the competition and the stakes were ratcheted up.
The Berlin All-Stars got off to a shaky start in pool play, falling to Delaware, 12-3, in the opening round. Two days later, Berlin responded with a resounding 12-2 win over New Jersey to pull even at 1-1. The very next day, Berlin lost to New York, 8-7, in dramatic fashion as the Massapequa team scored in its final at bat to secure the win.
Against New York, Berlin led 3-0 early and 7-5 going into the final inning before New York snatched the win in its last at bat with a two-out base hit to score the winning run. With the loss, Berlin fell to 1-2 in pool play and needed a win over Pennsylvania some help to advance to the championship game.
Berlin got what it needed last Thursday morning when New Jersey edged Delaware, 11-10. The loss dropped Delaware to 1-3 in pool play while New Jersey was 2-2. The final game in pool play placed Berlin against Pennsylvania with a trip to the championship game on the line. If Berlin beat Pennsylvania, the two teams plus New Jersey would all be tied at 2-2 and Berlin held the tiebreakers over both teams by virtue of beating both of them head to head.
Against Pennsylvania last Thursday, Berlin fell behind 2-0 early as Pennsylvania scored one run in each of the first two innings. Berlin got the bats going in the third, however, and kept them going through the middle innings. Berlin scored three runs in the third, one in the fourth, two in the fifth and three more in the sixth to start to pull away. Pennsylvania scored two runs in the bottom of the sixth to cut the Berlin lead to 9-6 and had two runners on with one out before Nicholas Pletcher got two big outs to close out the win.
The victory propelled Berlin into the championship game and a rematch with New York, but the three big games in three days had exhausted Berlin’s pitching staff. The primary Berlin pitchers had all used up their allocated number of innings going into the championship game against New York.
Facing a Berlin team that had burned through its pitching staff just to reach the Mid-Atlantic final after three games in three days, New York scored early and often on the way to a 22-0 win in the title game. Just two days earlier, Berlin had taken New York to the limit before falling in dramatic fashion in the last inning, but New York left nothing to chance in the title game.
“We played our guts out over the last three days and this was our fourth day in row,” said McDonough following the loss. “It kind of tore our pitching up and I think the boys came out a little flat today. They were tired. They’ve had a big week.”
The loss did little to tarnish a remarkable run by the Berlin team through the District 8 championship, a first-ever state championship for the program and a deep run to the Mid-Atlantic championship.
“Just unbelievable,” said McDonough. “We knew we had a good group when we started. I don’t think any of us realized quite how good they were.”