Brian Nedley, who coaches the 11-and-12-year-old Giants in East Hampton’s Little League, said this week that “once these kids [the ones he coaches and others their age] get into eighth or ninth grade our varsity baseball team is going to be phenomenal.”
Nedley, whose team was 15-0 going into yesterday’s second game of a best-of-three “world series” final with the Reds, said, moreover, that he thought this year’s 11-12 traveling all-star team would give a very good account of itself in the District 36 tournament, which is to begin June 25.
Tim Garneau and Adam Wilson, who are to coach that traveling team, oversaw tryouts for it at the Pantigo fields on Sunday afternoon, and, as Nedley had said, a number of the hopefuls — which included four Giants — looked sharp.
Garneau and Wilson were to have decided on a 14-player tournament roster yesterday. While ultimately the Little League tournament winds up in Williamsport, Pa., winning the district (eastern Suffolk) bracket is the immediate concern.
It’s been a long time — 20 years ago to be precise — since an East Hampton team has made it to a county final.
In 1991, with a lineup that included Tommy McGintee, Brendan Fennell, Robbie Peters, R.J. Etzel, and Will Collins, the young Bonackers, who were coached by Alex Walter and Bill McGintee, won district and county championships before losing 14-7 to Massapequa in a Long Island semifinal played at Great River. Fennell hit two grand slam home runs in postseason play that year. Collins, then “a diminutive second baseman,” now assists Ed Bahns in coaching East Hampton High’s varsity baseball team.
There were four members of the undefeated Giants at Sunday’s tryouts — Brian Nedley Jr., Gavin Moucha, James Stanis, and Augie Schultz.
Nedley, the team’s frontline pitcher, an 11-year-old who throws a 72-mile-per-hour fastball, struck out nine in Monday’s final series opener on the way to an 8-0 shutout. He also drove in three runs. Schultz, a left-hander with a good arm, who pitched the sixth, drove in two runs. Stanis, the shortstop, had two base hits, and Moucha stole home during the Giants’ five-run fifth.
But the play of the game was Eric Schoenster’s flat-out diving catch in center field of what appeared would be an extra-base hit for the Reds in the top of the sixth.
The senior Nedley’s Little League record is enviable. Two years ago, the 9-and-10-year-old Angels team he oversaw went undefeated too, finishing at 16-0.
A number of the Giants, including Nedley Jr., Moucha, Schultz, and Brendan DiSunno, were on the Angels as well, said the coach, who added that his son and Moucha “work hand in glove — they’ve been battery mates for years.”
The Reds, who went into the final with only one loss, to the Giants, were to have had a chance to even the series at Pantigo last night. A third game, if needed, is to be played tomorrow.
Looking ahead to the district tournament, the elder Nedley said, “Our pitching will be great — Philip Zablotsky [of the Mets] is a great pitcher too, and Augie pitches well. James Stanis has one of the best curveballs I’ve seen, and he can throw it for strikes. Jack Boylan of the Reds is another awesome pitcher. . . . I’ve been UpIsland and I’ve seen them play. I think our kids are way better — I do. I think our all-star team can take it all.”
“Last year,” said Peter Zablotsky, Philip’s father, “the sixth graders didn’t play. There were only two. This year, they have come out. We’ve got eight of them.”
“The word got out,” said Garneau, whose goal is “to build the team up so my kids, who are 8 and 9, will have something to shoot for.”
The Giants’ closest call during the regular season was a 3-2 win over the Mets. “Zablotsky pitched for them and Brian pitched for us. It was a pitcher’s game the whole way.”
After Monday’s win, Nedley summoned one and all — including his assistant coaches, Patricia and Gene Bonnabeau, Seamus Gleeson, and Nedley’s wife, Anita — to Fierro’s. A postgame visit to the pizzeria in East Hampton Village has become a tradition.
“It’s become so that if we missed it, we’d think we were jinxed.”