Port Chester/Rye Brook 12U Pirates split 4 games against Armonk & Shrub Oak over a long 24 hours
June 27, 2019 at 7:46 a.m.
The first ever merged 12U (ages 12 and under) Port Chester/Rye Brook Pirates played four games within 24 hours over the past weekend—more than Major Leaguers play—and split four games down the middle with Shrub Oak and Armonk. That grueling lower Hudson Valley playing schedule included a gutsy extra-innings win over Armonk in the last game.
Playing that kind of schedule will only help the Pirates when they go into the first Cal Ripken District Championships ever to be held at Port Chester's Lyon Park Thursday (6/27) through Sunday (6/30), according to head coach Gary Sullivan.
The splits may be nerve-wracking, but they are the equivalent of high intensity interval training and should prove an experiential hit down the line in crunch time.
The ups and downs
So Sullivan had a point because the Pirates piled up a lot of unforgettable experiences during their four-game baseball marathon with all the games played at Lyon Park.
An example is when shortstop Roberto (Robbie C) Cuesta IV made a diving catch that robbed Armonk of a sure base hit and then fired home to catcher Elliot Zwicker to nail the Bobcats runner at the plate to seal the Pirates’ win in extra innings.
But you win some and you lose some like when Billy Villanova got two base hits to continue his season-long hitting streak even as the Bobcats won the second game.
Or when Joshua Promisel pitched a two-hit complete game shutout with his grandparents watching to beat Shrub Oak 20-0 only to see the Storm bounce back to win the second game even though Zwicker went two for three and Ryan Gagnon stole three bases.
Learn from split
Despite all those glittering plays on the diamond, the Pirates only came away with a split during those four games—but nonetheless learned a lot that will benefit them during Ripken Tournament play.
In their opening game 12-7 loss to the Shrub Oak Storm Saturday (6/22), for example, Dan Pauletti, Declan O'Hara and Scott Sullivan got RBI base hits in the sixth inning as the Pirates refused to quit and tried to fight their way back into the game. And pitchers Zwicker and Alex Thorn learned to keep throwing even on one of those days when everything seems to go wrong.
In the second game the Pirates looked like a different team with Joey Ciciriello (Joey C) leading the way to a 20-0 win by going three for three and driving in four runs while Promisel threw mostly strikes on his way to a two-hit, complete game shutout. The Pirates’ big inning came in the lucky seventh when they stretched their lead by scoring seven runs on a single by Sullivan, doubles by Promisel and Zwicker and a perfect storm of errors by the Storm, perfect for the Pirates, that is. The locals racked up 14 hits, stole 17 bases and Promisel and Joey C both had three hits apiece.
The Pirates also see-sawed their way to split their two games against the Armonk Bobcats Sunday (6/23). They lost the first game 5-4 when Gagnon and Robbie C got roughed up on the mound yet good things still happened: Villanova continued his season-long hitting streak and Gagnon was robbed of a couple of extra base hits when he smoked balls to left field and over the shortstop’s head only to see them wind up in a fielder's glove after leaping catches.
But as seems to be their style, the locals bounced right back in the second game albeit they had to go into extra innings and benefit from the so-called California rule which says that when a game goes into the eighth inning, a runner starts on second base.
Deuces run wild
That's when the deuces were wild for the Pirates.
The local lads scored two runs and Robbie Cuesta made that bang-bang double play mentioned earlier after getting an RBI earlier in the inning. Robbie, Promisel and Joey C each had two key hits apiece, Promisel stole four of the Pirates’ 12 stolen bases and the Pirates came away with a hard-fought 7-5 win that saw both teams tied at the end of the traditional 12U six innings that ends a game.
But even while winning a game in OT and fighting their way through the various ups and downs that go into a four-game split may drive a coach bananas, Sullivan, the head coach, predicts the experience will help the Pirates in the Ripken Tourney games through the weekend at Lyon Park. Time will tell whether he's right or not.