LITTLE FALLS – DaShawn Hutchinson gave Whitestown another solid start on the mound, and Jacob Collea and Kyle Meier hit home runs as Whitestown’s Little League All-Stars held on to win District 10’s majors tournament with an 11-7 victory over Utica Sunday at Little Falls Veterans Memorial Park.
Whitestown now advances to play at District 37 champion Plattsburgh at 5:45 p.m. Tuesday. The winner of that elimination game advances to a best-of-3 series Section 2 tournament against District 11/12.
“We felt calm going into the game,” Whitesboro head coach Frank Centro said about their coaches and players. “Yesterday we had the best practice we’ve had. We teach to respect the opponent but not fear them. To a man we were ready to play.”
Utica was also ready as Angelo Podagrosi’s two-out rocket homer off Hutchinson gave Utica a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first. Hutchinson, who has been equally dominate on the mound as he’s been at the plate (six homers) during the tournament, settled down and struck out seven through three innings and Whitestown’s bats began heating up.
It started with two outs in the second inning as Cannon Chapman lined an RBI double up the middle to tie the game. Meier’s RBI single to right scored Chapman to give Whitestown the lead for good. After Meier came around to score on a throwing error, Whitestown led 3-1.
Utica answered and pulled to within 3-2 as Joey Gentile led off with a double to left and came around to score on an error.
Whitestown was then able to land the decisive blow in the top of the third, mixing the long ball in with some perfectly placed hits.
Collea led it off with his third homer of the tournament, blasting a long shot to left-center. Aidan Green, who reached all four at bats, blooped a single to center, and then Ty Montrose and Ethan Kahl found holes with soft liners to load the bases. Chapman’s fielder’s choice scored Green to make it 5-2 with two out and Meier coming to the plate.
Meier, who had never hit a homer during the regular season, blasted a three-run bomb over the centerfield wall for his third dinger of the tournament, giving Whitestown an 8-2 lead.
“He’s really come up big for us batting in the nine hole,” Centro said. “We had no idea he’d be giving us this kind of power, but we’ve worked on his swing and he’s really come on after making the changes.”
With Hutchinson shutting down Utica in the middle innings, Whitestown tacked on two more runs in the fourth as Colin Skermont (walk) and Carmen Centro (single) scored on wild pitches to make it 10-2. Whitestown then added another run in the top of the fifth as Hutchinson singled, advanced to second on an error. After moving to third on a wild pitch, Hutchinson scored on a set play where Skermont stole and got caught in a run down.
“I think we had a couple of errors and got down early, and by the time we fixed it they had a big jump on us,” Angelo Podagrosi said.
Trailing 11-2 in the fifth, Utica showed the mettle and fight that helped them get to the championship game. Martin Learnard reached on an error then Peyton Kimball blasted a two-run, one-out homer to left to pull Utica to within 11-4. That also was Hutchinson’s final pitch of the game as he reached the pitch limit.
Skermont came in and got the final two outs of the inning and Whitestown was rolling with an 11-4 lead entering the bottom of the sixth.
Then things got interesting.
Skermont, a southpaw, walked the first two batters, and then regained his poise to strike out the next two to bring Whitestown within an out of the title. However, Skermont reached 35 pitches, and Centro, in hopes of saving him for Tuesday’s game, pulled him and brought in Meier.
After Meier walked Nick Perrotta, Kimball and Todd Abraham to make it 11-6, Centro didn’t mess around and brought in Green to face the dangerous Podagrosi.
On a 2-2 count, Podagrosi bounced a single up the middle to drive home Perrotta, but head coach Peter Podagrosi held up Kimball at third and Abraham got caught between second and third. Skermont fielded the ball in center and hit Hutchinson, who forced Abraham toward third and threw to Meier who applied the tag for the clinching out.
It was a tough call for coach Podagrosi, who felt he could’ve sent Kimball, but played it safe while still trailing 11-7.
“They are two of the fastest kids on the team,” Podagrosi said of Kimball and Abraham. “I didn’t realize they were that far, and I held them up,” Podagrosi said. “I wanted to play it safe because we would’ve had tying run coming to the plate.”
It was certainly a disappointing ending for a feisty Utica squad.
“We have very good players and we kept our heads up the whole game,” Angelo Podagrosi said. “That’s what made us so successful the whole tournament.”
For Whitestown head coach Frank Centro, it wasn’t the ideal way to finish off the game, but it worked out.
“With a seven-run lead we’re taking Skermont out thinking the only thing that can beat us is walks,” Centro said. “We went with Kyle who has been great but he just couldn’t find the zone today. Then we went to Aidan because he’s 12 and wanted the ball … and he got the final out for us. We would’ve liked to finish it with a cleaner out … but we’ll take it.”
Hutchinson allowed four runs (two earned), striking out nine in 4 1/3 innings. Centro, Green and Meier had two hits apiece for Whitestown, which won its first majors title since 2014.
“It actually feels pretty good,” Green said. “This was our first goal. I was pretty nervous at the end and was just trying to throw strikes and let the defense get an out.”
Like Whitestown, coach Podagrosi’s team was 6-0 entering the championship game, and showed the determination that got them there by not quitting when trailing 11-2.
“We have great chemistry,” coach Podagrosi said. “The kids rooted for each other and didn’t get down. They had a lot of fight and I’m proud of them. We just had a couple innings where we had trouble getting outs and made some mistakes. But they are a great team.”
For Whitestown’s players, this is hopefully just the first step.
“We need to win against Plattsburgh and see if we can go any farther than that,” Green said. “If we’re all pulling in the same direction, no one can stop us.”
NOTE: The victory in the majors wasn’t the only championship Whitestown earned Sunday. The ‘C’ All-Stars (9-10) also brought home a banner with a 13-3 victory over Tri County at West Utica Little League Field. Whitestown hosts Section 37 at 5:45 p.m. Tuesday back at West Utica in an elimination game. The winner goes on to play in a best-of-3 series with District 11/12.
Whitestown 9 & 10 Yr. Old All Star Team: Tyler Thorngren 2, Devin Trevisani 3 Memphis Ferguson 4 , Tony Dorozynski 5. Lucas Tucker 6, Anthony Scarchilli 7, Jax Hall 8, Ben Zyskowski 10, Nick DiCesare 11, Mike Stillwell 17, Seth Stevens 18, Chris Jennings 19
District 10 All-Stars Majors Championship
Whitestown 11, Utica 7
Whitestown 035 210—11 11 2
Utica 110 023— 7 4 3
W: DaShawn Hutchinson
HR: Whitestown: Jacob Collea, Kyle Meier. Utica: Peyton Kimball, Angelo Podagrosi.
2B: Whitestown: Cannon Chapman. Utica, Joey Gentile.
Whitestown ‘A’ All-Stars Roster: DaShawn Hutchinson, Colin Skermont, Carmen Centro, Jacob Collea, Aidan Green, Ty Montrose, Kyle Meier, Cannon Chapman, Ethan Kahl, Jack Peterson, Brayden Czternastek. Coaches: Frank Centro, Bubba Montrose, Christian Kahl.