Tim Garneau and his assistant, Adam Wilson, were as of earlier this week eagerly anticipating the District 36 (eastern Suffolk) Little League playoffs, having fielded what they think is a strong contender for the 11-and-12-year-old county title.
It appears that the 14-player roster will have some strong pitchers in the Giants’ Brian Nedley Jr., the Mets’ Philip Zablotsky, and the Reds’ Jack Boyland, not to mention the Giants’ Auggie Schultz, a left-hander, and James Stanis.
In the week past, the Giants won the local 11-12 “world series,” besting the Reds in the first two games of a best-of-three final series, and the Force, an East Hampton team, likewise took two straight from the Springs Sunbirds in the Little League’s softball final. The Amagansett Rangers won the 9-10 baseball title, defeating the East Hampton Yankees in like fashion.
The Giants, whose coach is Brian Nedley Sr., had to come back — a rarity for this 16-0 team — to edge the Reds 5-4 at the Pantigo fields on June 14.
Schultz and Boyland were the starting pitchers. “It’s probably the best game we’ve played this season,” the elder Nedley said later. “We beat the Mets 3-2, but that was a pitchers’ duel. It was the first time we had to come from behind all season.”
The Giants, who have on the roster a half-dozen players who went 16-0 with Nedley as 9 and 10-year-olds two years ago, got on the scoreboard first with a run in the top of the first inning as Schultz singled and successively stole second base, third base, and home on a wild pitch.
But the Reds then went up 4-1 before the Giants made it 4-3 in the top of the third thanks to a two-run double by Nedley that drove in Stanis, who had tripled, and Gavin Moucha, who had walked and had stolen second.
The Giants tied the score at 4-4 in the fifth as Stanis, who singled, again stole second, third, and home. They won it in the top of the sixth as Brendan DiSunno walked and stole second and third before Chris Stoecker, the second baseman, ripped a shot down the left-field line that plated DiSunno with what proved to be the game-winning and series-clinching run.
Stanis, who had replaced Schultz on the mound after the third inning, faced the Reds’ sixth, seventh, and eighth hitters in the bottom of the sixth, and came away with the win, prompting a pile-on near the third-base line. And, of course, a victory celebration at Fierro’s.
“I’m laying off pizza for a while,” the Giants’ coach said a couple of days later.
As aforesaid, it was the second undefeated Little League team that Nedley had coached in the past three years. “There were seven Giants who played for me on the Angels — Brian, James Stanis, Auggie, Gavin Moucha, Brendan DiSunno, Chris Stoecker, and Robert Weiss. . . . Auggie was off the charts this year with his hitting, defense, stolen bases, and pitching. James hit eight or nine home runs, Brian did too, and he also was number-one in our pitching rotation. Auggie was our r.b.i. leader. I’d say he was our m.v.p., and Gavin, in my opinion, is the best catcher in the league and a consistent hitter.”
East Hampton’s traveling all-star roster comprises Boyland, Kevin Fee, Greg Gopper, Chris Murray, Dylan Polley, Sebastian Raebeck, Angelo Toscano, Luke Vaziri, Even Wanag, Zablotsky, Nedley, Schultz, Stanis, and Moucha, the latter four all Giants.
The team, weather permitting, was to have practiced every day this week to get ready for the first round of the district playoffs, which are to begin Saturday.
“We’ve got good pitching and hitting,” said Nedley Sr.
Garneau, who coached the Yankees this season, said concerning the 9-10 final series that “the first game with the Rangers was close. They won 7-6 in eight innings. They were up 4-1 going into the sixth, but we scored five runs to take a 6-4 lead. They scored twice in the bottom half to tie it and send the game into extra innings. They scored the winning run in the bottom of the seventh, on a fielder’s choice. It was an infield grounder. Their runner on third took off. I was shouting for us to throw home, but it went to first and our first baseman’s throw home was too late. Oh well, that’s Little League.”
The second game was close for a while. “They went up 5-0 in the top of the first; we got three back in the bottom half. Then they went ahead 8-3, but we tied it at 8-8. Then the Rangers rolled to an 18-9 victory.”
“We thought of going to Fierro’s to drown our sorrows,” Garneau continued, “but the kids were tired and emotionally drained. Fierro’s is the local postgame spot. I knew the Giants were there, and I didn’t think it could handle two teams. We decided to do it another day.”
Jim Smith, who coached the Little League softball champions, said, “All the kids liked it that we played the final series on the high school varsity’s field. It was a special feeling — the girls loved it.”
The Force, which had finished the regular season at 7-3 vis-a-vis the Sunbirds’ 9-3 record, dominated the finale, winning the first game 24-9 and the second 14-4.
Avery Fenelon was the winning pitcher in both games, and Patricia Smith, who plays third base, went a collective 7-for-8. Defensively, Smith said, the Force’s standouts were Francesca Denaro, the shortstop, and Georgia Aldrich, the catcher. “Georgia got some big hits, too.”
Dave Fioriello, who heads up the high school’s grounds crew, provided play-by-play announcing, and Tyler Yusko umpired behind the plate.
“The state of the union of Little League baseball and softball in East Hampton is good,” Garneau said. “We had 430 kids from the ages of 7 to 12 playing this spring.”