Bid for state tourney falls short

Bid for state tourney falls short

The East Williston Wildcats 10U Little League Baseball team fell to the Massapequa Chiefs 2-1 in the Williamsport sectional finals  on July 21 at Merrick Town Park, coming close to becoming the first team in East Williston history to qualify for the New York state tournament. 

“It’s so hard because the kids played hard all year and they were fighting till the bitter end,” said the head coach, Larry McCleary. “These kids never give up and have never given up all year. You can’t deny their fighting guts.”  

The Chiefs and the Wildcats  traded zeroes for the first four innings. 

 But the Wildcats’ pitcher, Bryan McCleary, ran into trouble in the fifth when he walked a batter and gave up a single and left with two on and one out.  He was relieved by  Michael Santarelli, who loaded the bases with a hit batsman. He retired the next batter, but then walked home one run and allowed a second run to score on a wild pitch. He then got out of the inning with a strikeout.

McCleary  gave up two runs on five hits and two walks. He struck out three batters. 

The Wildcats answered with a run of their own in the bottom half of the fifth. 

With one out, Daniel Tufano smacked a single to left and the tying run came to the plate. 

Louis Baldasano came in to pinch run and eventually scored on an RBI triple by Dylan Rosenberg to cut the lead to 2-1. 

That was as far as the Wildcats  got as their tournament run  came to end. 

Larry McCleary said the team did not perform up to expectations with seven called strikeouts.

“This isn’t what we played with all year and we needed a couple of more hits” said McCleary. “We haven’t had seven kids go down looking the whole tournament.”

The boys began their path on June 22 when they defeated Albertson-Herricks 9-3. 

They went on to beat Port Washington once and Manhasset twice, bringing their record to 4-0 in district play. 

The Wildcats outscored the opposition 44-9 and earned their eighth district championship in their Little League history.  

This is the second time the 10-year-old team has won a district championship and the first time the team made it all the way to the championship game of the sectional tournament. 

The only other time an East Williston team has made it to the finals of the sectionals  was when the 2015 12U team lost to Massapequa.

In the sectionals, the Wildcats defeated Oceanside in their first matchup and then dropped a   game against Massapequa 12-9. 

As they showed throughout their run, the Wildcats bounced back after a tough loss with a pair of commanding wins against Oceanside and a rematch against Massapequa 13-1. 

“These group of boys always think they will win,” McCleary said. “They go into games with so much confidence and never quit.”

The first game against the Massapequa Chiefs started off with the Wildcats trailing 7-2 very early. 

Still down by five after trading a run apiece, the Wildcats  scored two runs in the fifth and three runs in the sixth, tying the game at 8. 

They went on to lose in extra innings 12-9. However, the Wildcats got even in the team’s second meeting on July 20 with a dominating 13-1 win, featuring some quality hitting and an outstanding pitching performance from Dylan Rosenberg. 

That  set the stage for the winner-take-all sectional finals the following night.

Despite coming up short, there was plenty for McCleary and the Wildcats to be proud of. To them, it was a season filled with plenty of highs and a fun ride for the boys  who fought hard all year to make it this far. Looking back, McCleary said he would do it all again and promised bigger things for this team in the future.

“I had a great time on this run,” said McCleary. “I don’t think I would change a thing other than the outcome of this game.”

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