Little League playoffs begin June 6
By Mike Meeropol and Brian McElroy
It was the top of the sixth inning at the North Highlands Little League field on Satuday, May 21. The Philipstown Mets and Yankees were facing each other for the second time. Each had identical records and were tied for second place in the Philipstown majors division. The score was 7-5 in favor of the Mets. With one out and a runner on first, the Yankees’ Tommy Tucker clouted a mammoth triple over the head of left fielder Alex Klybas, whose long strong throw prevented the hit from being a home run. This set the stage for the final drama of an incredibly exciting game.
There had been three lead changes on the way to the sixth-inning climax. The Yankees came out swinging and scored two runs in the top of the first inning. A bang-bang play on an attempted force-out at second led to the second Yankee run, while a tag out on a steal of home prevented further damage. The Mets came roaring back with two outs on three straight hits, including a successful steal of home. Both teams went quietly in the second inning as pitchers Terence Driscoll (for the Yankees) and Julian Ambrose (for the Mets) handled the batters they faced with five of the six outs recorded via the K.
The third inning saw the second lead change with fireworks featuring a home run by the Yankees’ Jonathan Bradley capping a three-run rally and the second two-out RBI of the day by the Mets’ Alex Klybas to bring the Mets to within one. The fourth inning saw the third lead change, when with one out, the Mets’ Ryan Merritt tripled to right, Conrad White singled him home and Gianni Carone slammed a scorching grounder just inside the line past third all the way into the left field corner for a run-scoring triple. He later came home on an RBI groundout by Julian. Things might have been worse for the Yankees had William Bradley at short not snared a solid line drive off the bat of Roy Smith. After William threw out runners at first to record the second and third outs, Coach Dana Bolte of the Mets told his team not to hit the ball to William any more.
But the drama wasn’t over. In the top of the fifth inning, Mets reliever Roy Smith left William stranded at third when he induced an inning-ending grounder right back to the mound. With the score 7-5 in the bottom of the fifth, it took outstanding fielding plays by the Yankees to keep the score close. Robert Viggiano clubbed the ball for a hard sinking liner destined to fall in in front of center-fielder Dylan Horan and perhaps get by him for a triple or home run. But Dylan was not to be denied and snared the ball at his shoe-tops, holding on as he tumbled to the grass. Next up was Alex who had already knocked in two runs with two hits — his soft fly ball behind first base was snared with a nifty running catch by second baseman Tommy Tucker. Jordan Albertson completed the field wizardry by snaring West Watman’s grounder and recording the third out at first base.
The sixth inning began just as in the previous nailbiter (reported here on April 29) which had been decided by one run. With one out, Evan Tighe worked a walk setting the stage for Tucker’s heroics. Standing at third after hitting that triple, he represented the tying run, and only one out had been recorded. Robert Viggiano moved to the mound. He closed out the game leaving Tucker stranded at third. Final score: Mets 7, Yankees 6.
All coaches and players agreed that both games could have gone either way. This thrilling series between these two teams is destined for a final rematch in the first round of playoffs on June 6 at 5:30 p.m.