The 9-10-year-old East Hampton traveling all-star baseball team’s playoff run came to an end with a 10-6 loss at Patchogue Saturday morning. Thus the Bonackers finished the District 36 Little League tournament with a 3-2 record.
Following Friday’s 13-0 mercy-rule shutout of Sag Harbor at the Pantigo Fields here, Tim Garneau and Adam Wilson, one of Garneau’s assistants, told the boys that three more wins stood between them and the district title.
“This is the first 9-and-10-year-old traveling team we’ve had in a while,” said Garneau during a conversation Monday, “and we showed that we can play with any team in the tournament. At Westhampton we blew a 6-4 lead in the bottom of the sixth — we gave it away with a couple of errors and walks. Westhampton won that one 7-6. In the fifth inning of Saturday’s game at Patchogue, we had four runs in and the bases loaded with two outs and our best hitter [Lou Britton] at the plate. Unfortunately he bounced out to the pitcher.”
“You should have seen Patchogue’s complex,” he continued. “Nine fields, scoreboards, and signs that said ‘District Champions ’08 and ’09.’ Our kids said they wanted one of those.”
The last time East Hampton fielded traveling all-star teams to be reckoned with in district tournaments dates to the late 1980s and early ’90s. The 11-and-12-year-old team of 1991, on which Brendan Fennell, Tommy McGintee, Robbie Peters, Will Collins, Jason LaMonda, R.J. Etzel, Jonathan Bowe, and Adam Crandall, among others, played, won district and county championships that year — both “firsts” in Bonac annals. That team lost 14-7 to Massapequa in a Long Island semifinal played in Great River.
Alex Walter, who coached those Little Leaguers, along with Bill McGintee, said at the time that his 1988 and ’89 teams had been district finalists.
When reminded of East Hampton’s former glory, Garneau said, “I’m trying to build it back up to that point. We want these younger kids to feed into the 11-and-12-year-old team, and then into the high school program. . . . There was a period of years not long ago when East Hampton didn’t field any traveling teams.”
Of his charges, he said, “We had kids who could pitch and hit . . . I think it was a great experience for them to play in a competitive tournament and to develop the camaraderie they did, and just to pay attention.”
Christian Johnson, a 10-year-old who throws strikes, finished with a 2-0 playoff record and also was credited with a save. Five of his teammates, Henry Garneau, Logan Gurney, Jackson Baris, Owen Ruddy, and Liam Leach, have another year to play with the 9-10s.
With Johnson on the mound in Friday’s must-win game here with Sag Harbor — another team that had one loss in the double-elimination tournament — the outcome was never in doubt.
East Hampton, the “visiting” team, jumped out to a 6-0 lead in the first inning as Britton, Garneau, and Pat DeSanti had hits. Johnson, who was to allow just two hits, struck out the side in the bottom half.
The young Bonackers scored six more runs in the top of the third, the big hits being two-run singles by Britton, Johnson, and Elian Abreu.
East Hampton added one in the fourth. After two were out, Britton and Garneau singled, Britton moving to third on Garneau’s hit. A passed ball, with Johnson up, allowed Britton to come home with Bonac’s 13th run.
The visitors had runners on third and second with one out in the bottom half of the fourth, which was to prove to be their last gasp.
After Johnson notched a strikeout — his seventh of the game, which brought his pitch count to 45 — Gurney was brought in from center field to finish the young Whalers off by way of an infield groundout.