New Hartford – The New Hartford Little League 11 and 12 year old all-stars are two wins away from a third consecutive trip to the District 10 Finals, after a hard fought 9-6 win over arch rival Whitestown, Thursday night at the New Hartford Little League Field.
New Hartford improved to (3-0) in Pool A play with tonight’s win, while Whitestown dropped to (2-1). Each team has two games remaining in the pool, with the top team advancing to the best of 3 Championship Series against the top team in Pool B.
District 10 adopted a pool play, two team championship series format this season, instead of the more oft used double elimination format. The pools are not equal, with one having 6 teams and the other 5. There is a a certain degree of dissatisfaction, to say the least, among District 10 teams relating to this year’s format.
The 2016 version of the decades old New Hartford / Whitestown rivalry started off slow, but gained in both intensity and controversy, as the evening wore on. After an inning and a half of scoreless baseball, New Hartford jumped out to a big lead in the home half of the second. Rocco Macera and Jack Darby got things started with a hit by pitch and a walk, followed by a base hit by Jacob Martyniuk, loading the bases. John Karwowski stepped in and rapped a 2 RBI double, putting New Hartford up by a score of 2-0.
The home team plated two more in the bottom of the second on another 2 RBI single off the bat of Tyler Potocki, giving New Hartford a 4-0 advantage heading to the 3rd. The third inning would be the last for Whitestown starter Chance Sherwood, who was relieved on the mound by Colin Skermont.
Whitestown responded in true blue fashion in the top of the third, When Kody Czternastek started things off with a double and was quickly driven in by an RBI single from Colin Skermont, pulling the visitors to within 4-1. A two RBi single by Frankie Centro scored Skermont and Dominic Bullis to reduce the deficit to 4-3. Roman Kimball was called upon to relieve starter Tyler Potocki for New Hartford and the veteran shut down Whitestown’s next three batters on just 11 pitches, to end the threat.
New Hartford’s potent bats came alive again in the bottom of the third, as Kieran Ronan and Rocco Macera ripped back to back solo homers to start the home half of the third. Skermont would settle down on the mound for Whitestown and New Hartford’s lead would remain 6-3 as we went to the top of the 4th inning.
Kimball picked right up where he left off, setting down the first two Whitestown hitters of the 4th inning down on just 5 pitches. Whitestown reminded everyone in attendance that are three outs in a half inning, however. Kody Czternastek got his second hit of the game, which was followed by walks to Dominic Bullis and Colin Skermont, to load the bases with two away. A passed ball scored Czternastek and a double off the bat of Frankie Centro tied the game at 6-6. That was the end of Roman Kimball’s night on the mound, as he was replaced by Jacob Martyniuk.
The bottom of the 4th brought with it a controversial call by the field umpire, which would prove to be a critical turning point in this contest. Martyniuk got New Hartford started with a one out single. Connor Karwowski then dropped down a bunt, which was quickly fielded by Whitestown pitcher Kody Czternastek, who fired a bullet to second base, appearing to force out a sliding Martyniuk. The field umpire didn’t see it that way, however and Martyniuk was ruled safe, putting runners on first and second with one out. The call also sent the Whitestown coaching staff and faithful into a frenzy of disbelief.
An infield throwing error by Whitestown and a Kyle Philipkoski RBI single later, New Hartford held an 8-6 lead, which they would not relinquish.
Whitestown threatened in the top of the 5th, but New Hartford Shortstop Jack Darby had other plans. Whitestown got back to back one out singles from Jimmy Reilly and Jimmy Scarchilli to put runners on first and second and nobody out. Chance Sherwood then stepped in and smacked one into shallow left center field, for what looked like an easy single. Instead, Darby ranged well into left center and made a leaping grab, then turned and fired to second for a huge double play. Reliever William Gall, who replaced Martyniuk after the back to back singles, got Dominic Bullis to ground out to end what could have been a big Whitestown inning.
New Hartford tacked on an insurance run in the bottom of the 5th, on a basis loaded walk, to make it 9-6.
William Gall was un-hittable in the top of the 6th as the tall lefty struck out the side, in order, to seal the deal for New Hartford.
New Hartford will need wins over Tri-County and Frankfort to have a certain berth in next week’s Championship Series against the winner of Pool B, Whitestown, meanwhile will need to win in its next two games, coupled with at least one New Hartford loss to have a chance to reach the Championship set. Stranger things have happened in Little League Baseball.
Congratulations to both teams on a well played, evenly matched ball game, played by two worthy rivals. It’s a shame really, that these two teams will not meet again in this all-star tournament, based upon this year’s format.
Best of luck to all District 10 teams battling it out for this year’s pennant. We’ll see you next week in the finals.