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Fast start boosts Red Sox to WLL title
BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor
, Staff Writer
Connor Evans’ bat worked so well for Brady Zimmerman once, he figured he’d try it again.
The Warwick Red Sox are glad that he did.
Borrowing his teammate’s bat for the second straight game, Zimmerman went 2-for-3 with four RBI’s on Sunday night, including a second-inning bases-clearing triple.
That helped to boost the Red Sox to an early 10-1 lead, and they never looked back on their way to a 13-4 win over the Brookside Collision Bombers at the Wilbur fields in Warwick Little League’s Major Level championship game.
"I had a double last game, so I thought I’d use (Connor’s bat) this game, and I gave it a shot," said Zimmerman, a fourth-grader at Lititz Elementary.
With the win, the Red Sox finished a perfect 16-0 season under manager Scott Evans.
"It’s pretty awesome (to win the title)," said Jakob McCracken, a Lititz Elementary sixth-grader. "It’s by far the best team I’ve ever been on. I’ve been on good teams before, but this is by far the best … just with all the players and the way we play and the passion we have."
The Bombers didn’t lack for passion, either, as they wrapped up a 10-4 season.
"We had a good season," manager Darel Seibert said. "We have a bunch of young boys on our team this year, so they made a real good run at it this year and I’m really proud of what they accomplished."
Chad Meeder (2-for-4, 2 runs, RBI) and McCracken (3-for-3, 2 runs, RBI) started a nice first-inning run for the Red Sox with back-to-back base hits off of Bombers’ starting pitcher Evan Rohrbach. Meeder scored on a throwing error on Evans’ fielder’s choice grounder and Carter Appel (3-for-4) laced an RBI single to left to make it 2-0. After Zimmerman delivered an RBI double to left-center field, he scored on the back end of a double steal, and then Colton Miller’s RBI infield single up the third base line stretched the lead to 5-0.
"It was good," McCracken said, "because at that point we were ahead and we had confidence and it just kept on building up."
"It’s definitely not our game (playing from behind)," Seibert said. "We just faced a team that was aggressive with the bats right from the beginning and it was tough to come back from the hitting attack that they had."
The Bombers got one back in the bottom of the first as Matt Seibert reached on an error and scored on Tristan Horst’s RBI grounder.
But Meeder again was in the middle of things in the top of the second, ripping a one-out double to left-center field gap. McCracken singled to right and then Evans’ Texas League single to shallow left drove in Meeder. Appel followed with a base hit to third and Chase Yarberough got on board on a fielder’s choice, loading the bases for Zimmerman.
The Red Sox’s six-hole hitter worked the count to 3-1 and then blasted a drive over the right fielder’s head for a three-run triple, pushing the advantage to 10-1.
"It felt good when I hit it," Zimmerman said, "and it went pretty far. That’s probably, like, the farthest I’ve hit it all season."
Dalton Tompkins’ leadoff bunt might have traveled 30 feet in the bottom of the second inning, but it was good for a leadoff single for the Bombers. Tompkins later scored on a wild pitch, and Appel ran into some struggles with command, issuing walks to Zach Buch and Chase Horst. But the big right-hander pitched out of a two-on, one-out jam with back-to-back K’s. For the game, Appel struck out eight, walked two and scattered four hits.
"(Carter) did a great job starting us off," McCracken said. "I mean, he’s by far the best pitcher we have. He’s a stud. He can start it, close … he can do whatever."
The Red Sox, sponsored by M&E Roofing, certainly had no shortage of studs in their batting order, tacking on three more runs in the top of the third. Austin Bufis reached on an error, Thatcher Miller singled through third and then Meeder had an RBI ground out back to Matt Seibert, the third of four pitchers used by the Bombers. McCracken added an RBI double to right and Evans had a run-scoring single to center. Adam Faulkner and Tristan Horst also pitched for the Bombers.
Those runs looked big in the bottom of the inning. Rohrbach stroked a one-out single to center and the Bombers seemed to be gaining momentum when Dylan Zoccolo’s flare appeared to be dropping in shallow left field. But Meeder stepped up with a dandy web gem, lunging to catch the ball for the second out of the inning.
That ended up saving a run, as the next batter, Michael Brezina connected on 2-1 pitch from Appel and homered over the right-field fence to cut the Red Sox’s lead to 13-4.
"That was a highlight for the team and for his season," Seibert said. "He came a long way this year, and to see him do that in the championship game was a highlight for him."
Appel reached his pitch limit by the end of the fourth, but he finished strong, striking out the side before handing the ball over to McCracken for the final two frames.
In the bottom of the sixth inning, the Bombers put two runners on base courtesy of Zoccolo’s leadoff single to right and Tompkins’ one-out walk, But McCracken, who threw 35 pitches in two innings, ended it with back-to-back K’s.
"We just kept battling through the night, but just didn’t have enough tonight to put any more runs on the board," Seibert said.
For McCracken, pitching with a nine-run lead provided a nice safety net.
"I tend to get wild a lot and I was just happy that we had the lead and I didn’t have to worry about pressure or anything," he said. "That’s a great team there that we played. They played a great game, but I think we just got the upper end on it. Coach Class said if we win every inning, we’re guaranteed to win the game. So we came out, we won every inning and we’re the champions."
More WLL, page B-4