Tomahawks Cut the Mustard

Defeated the Long Island Mudcats of Eastport-South Manor 10-2

East Hampton’s 11-and-under East End Tomahawks baseball team that plays in the very competitive Brookhaven summer league won at least a share of the Central Division’s pennant Sunday by defeating the Long Island Mudcats of Eastport-South Manor 10-2.

The win improved Kenny Dodge’s charges’ record to 12-3. A win over the Islip Owls in a game that was to have been played Tuesday night would guarantee the young Bonackers the title outright and the top seed in the playoffs.

“If we derail on Tuesday, we’ll be the co-champs and will be seeded anywhere from first to third,” Dodge said in an email Monday morning. “Either way, we will hold the title.”

It’s the first year, Dodge said during a recent conversation at The Star, that East Hampton has two youth entries (his 11-and-unders and Henry Meyer’s 10-and-unders) playing for much of the year. The 10-and-unders are to make their Brookhaven debut in the fall league. The 11-and-unders will play in the fall too.

Gradually, he said, a solid core of kids was being brought along from the 60-foot basepaths and 46-foot pitcher’s mound-home plate span of Little League to the 90-foot basepaths and 60-feet-6-inch pitching span that prevail from junior high on up. These distances in the league his team plays in, Dodge said, are 75 and 51 feet.

The 11-and-unders’ roster includes Dodge’s son, Zachary, Nico Horan-Puglia, Michael Locascio, the Dickinson brothers, Jack and Carter, Alex Lombardo, Cassius Hokanson, Milo Tompkins, Patrick Farrell, and Juan Palacios.

Five of them — Dodge, Horan-Puglia, Hokanson, Jack Dickinson, and Farrell — have been pitching, a strategic concern given that pitchers of this age must take a four-day rest after their pitch count has reached 85. “Dr. James Andrews, the Tommy John surgeon, came up with that limit,” Dodge said. “Sixty-five pitches requires three days’ rest.”

“There are five locations in Brookhaven I know of where there are at least three fields,” Dodge said. “They all have turf infields — there are no bad bounces — and the outfields are grass. It’s a top-notch organization. The 14-year-olds look like they’re 18-year-olds. There are hundreds of players, on teams spanning 8-and-under to 18-and-under. There are 27 teams in our league, three divisions of nine teams. Two of these divisions vie in the playoffs, which, for us,” he said, consulting his smartphone, “will be on Aug. 3, 6, 8, 10, and the 13th — the championship game. Assuming, of course, that we make it that far.”

“Vinny [Alversa, East Hampton High’s varsity baseball coach] has a varsity team in this league, and Andrew [Rodriguez, the jayvee coach] has a 14-and-under team.”

“The kids,” he said, in answer to a question, “love to play. They’re serious and their parents are behind them — the parents have been great. All our games are at night, at fields in Manorville and Center Moriches, which aren’t too far away . . . about an hour.”

A recent win, he said, was by a score of 1-0. “Boy, was that stressful. I had people come up to me afterward saying that it was one of the best games they’d seen and that they wished they were all like that. Not me! Zachary went five innings and Nico closed it out, combining in a two-hit shutout.”

“Vinny’s been great — he’s involved, he’s excited,” said Dodge. “All the coaches are excited. By the time these kids get to junior high they will have the knowledge. Baseball’s not an easy game. It’s great what’s happening. These are exciting times.”