The 2012 Hamilton-Wenham Little League season came to a conclusion on Saturday at Cheeseman Field at .
“Championship Saturday” consisted of a host of activities and events for all of the league's participants, including a home-run derby and other defensive skills competitions. The highlight of the day were the Championship Games for the Major and Minor League Divisions.
Participating in the game were the Cubs and Red Sox from the Major Division and the Indians and Dodgers, representing the Minors. As expected, both games lived up to their billing with players from all four teams competing fiercely anddemonstrating sportsmanship.
“What we saw in the Championships was really a microcosm of what we saw all season at all levels. The field of play was very competitive, yet balanced to a point where any team could have won it all,” said Len Dolan, league president. “We could not be happier from what we saw in 2012 in terms of participation, support from the community and the level of sportsmanship displayed from all involved. It really is a testament to the great community of which we are a part of, and the great support we get from businesses, parents, players and coaches in our towns.”
Major League Championship: Cubs Rally Against Red Sox, 8-6
The Cubs and the Red Sox squared off Saturday in the annual Major League Championship of Hamilton-Wenham Little League in a game that was certainly worthy of a title match.
Despite the fact that they were facing the Cubs - who many considered the odds-on favorite - the Red Sox came out swinging, scoring two runs in the first inning through patient hitting by Johnny McKenna and Gavin Cann and by a timely double by Cooper McGrath.
As was the theme of the day, however, every time the Red Sox scored, the Cubs seemed to respond. In the first inning, with a man on, Phil Durgin took a Nick Grammas’ fastball deep over the centerfield fence to tie the game at two. The Red Sox were undaunted, and responded with staunch defense behind the leadership of Grammas, who displayed courage and leadership on the mound in his final Little League game. The Cubs also received solid pitching performances, first from Jake Lanciani, then from Durgin.
The game remained tied at two runs each until the fourth inning when the Red Sox offense came alive again, beginning with singles from McKenna and Gavin Cann, and followed by a bases-clearing double from Aidan Cann who came up big in his first year in the Majors.
The Cubs responded in kind, however, with a fourth inning rally of their own behind Cullen Zampell and Alec MacDonald, who produced two runs to knot the game at four going into the season’s final two innnings.
In the fifth inning, behind the aggressive base running of Sam Webber, the Red Sox put up another two runs to take the lead 6-4. The lead was short-lived, however, as the Cubs responded with a four-run inning sparked by the hitting of Lanciani and a bases-loaded double by Durgin that gave the Cubs the lead for good, and the championship.
While disapointed by not being able to capture the title, Red Sox coach Matt Cann was pleased with the effort he received from his team throughout the season – reaching a league Championship game against a very competitive field. Cann lauded the efforts of several players, especially his 12-year olds — Nick Grammas, Chris Seger, Bryson Cala, Will O’Neill, Gavin Cann and Nick Grammas - who were playing in their final Little League game. Cann also cited the solid foundation that will return to the team for another playoff run next season.
In the victory, Cubs manager Phill Durgin also shared praise for his players who “stepped up many times through the season to ensure that they captured the Championship.” Durgin went on to thank his 12-year olds - Bargerhuff, Jake Laciani, Alec MacDonald, Evan Potorski, Hunter Wilichoski and Cullan Zampell - who finished up their Little League careers in style.
Minor League Championship: Indians Top Dodgers 3-2
The Indians and Dodgers squared off on Saturday for the Hamilton Wenham Little League Minor League Championship. As championship games go, this one did not disappoint.
The Indians defeated the Dodgers 3-2 in six innings in a nail-biting game that featured gutsy pitching, timely hitting and solid defense.
Will Frain and James Horgan pitched for the Dodgers while Shane Kirstein, Carter Coffey and Lenny Dolan pitched for the Indians. Both pitching staffs did well, holding each other to only a few runs.
Carter Coffey led off the game for the Indians with a single and later scored on a Lenny Dolan sacrifice grounder to first, making it 1-0 Indians. The Dodgers got on the board in the top of the third when Will Frain singled, took second on a throwing error, stole third and scored when he enticed the Indians to throw the ball around the infield after an Ethan Dwyer bunt single.
The Indians countered with a run in the bottom of the inning, when Belle Dolan's bunt single turned into extra bases on an over-throw. Belle's aggressive base running ultimately brought her home for the second Indians run, making the score 2-1 after three innings.
Lenny Dolan led off the fourth inning with a single for the Indians. After stealing second and third base, Dolan later scored when he tagged up on a Kirstein fly-out to left center field. The play at the plate was close as the Dodger's Frain threw a strike to the plate. The Indians led 3-1 after 4 innings.
The Dodgers struck again with one run in the fifth. Will Frain walked, Cole Abdinoor singled and an Ethan Dwyer bunt loaded the bases for the Dodgers.
After the next bunt attempt led to a force out at home plate by the Indians and was followed by a strike out, Jack Stewart worked the count before walking, netting the Dodgers another run. After 5 innings, the score stood 3-2, Indians.
In the top the sixth, Lenny Dolan struck out the first Dodger batter. James Horgan and Jared McLaughlin then singled for the Dodgers giving them first and second with one out. Facing the heart of the Dodgers line up, Dolan got the next batter to pop out to first base. On the play, the Indians first baseman, Ian Coffey, made a tough catch, peddling backwards in foul territory to collect the out. He then quickly fired a strike across the diamond to Indians third baseman, Connor Ryan, who placed a tag on the Dodgers runner who had rightfully tagged up on the play. The tag out completed the double play and ended the game in dramatic fashion; Indians 3, Dodgers 2.
Frain and Horgan combined to strike out eight Dodger batters, while Kirstein, Coffey and Dolan struck out 11 Dodgers collectively.
Dodger hitters were led by James Horgan and Ethan Dwyer with two hits each. Will Frain, Cole Abdinoor and Jared McLaughlin also had hits for the Dodgers. Belle Dolan had two hits for the Indians while Carter Coffey, Lenny Dolan, Ethan Joyal had one hit each.
Frain was the defensive standout for the Dodgers, that also saw good defense from Finn Brophy. Ian Coffey made the play of the year for the Indians with the game clinching catch and throw for a double play. Carter Coffey, Shane Kirstein and Ethan Joyal also made nice defensive plays for the Indians.