Mets, Rays take BCLL titlesPublished 10:06pm Friday, June 28, 2013
The Mets made the most of a rain-shortened season-ending tournament for Bennett’s Creek Little League’s Minor League division, and the Coach Pitch division team, the Rays, avoided the losers bracket as both teams won their respective championships recently at Driver Elementary School.
The Mets were regular-season champions with a 12-1 record, wading through a field of fellow 7- to 10-year old teams, including three from Bennett’s Creek and five from Chesapeake Little League.
Rain helped bring about the one loss, shortened the tournament from double- to single-elimination and also made the title game a two-day affair.
The Mets defeated the Yankees 9-6 in the championship, never trailing in a game that started on a Thursday and ended on a Saturday. Mets head coach Joe Stark said his team came up with the win by playing “just like we played all year… We play good defense, we run well, we pitch well and we hit well when we have to.”
“Sean Murphy had two big hits off of one of the best players in the league, who was pitching most of the game for the Yankees,” he said.
That pitcher was Stephen Gottlieb, who was countered by the Mets’ Samuel Brannen, who Stark said delivered three-plus innings of pivotal pitching.
He praised 8-year-old Brannen, the team’s Most Valuable Player, as “the best baseball player I’ve ever seen play youth baseball, year-for-year, pound-for-pound.”
Yankees catcher Kaylup McConnie kept the game close by throwing three runners out in the fifth.
Stark also highlighted the two youngest players in the league, Jalen Duckett and his son, Drew Stark, 7-year-olds who each had what he called “an unbelievably productive season” for the Mets.
In the Coach Pitch division, the Rays, a team of 5- to 9-year-olds, went 9-3 in the regular season, playing with five other Bennett’s Creek teams and claiming the No. 2 seed for the double-elimination tourney. They grabbed two more wins and met the No. 1-seeded Mets for the title.
Based on a division rule, each team can only score up to three runs per inning. This rule is lifted for the final inning, when scoring is unlimited, and the Rays held a 6-3 lead going into the top of that final inning.
“The defense won the game for us,” Rays head coach Sean Judge said.
The Mets managed only one more run, for a 6-4 final score.
Judge admitted that it can be difficult getting the kids to pay attention at this age level, so the coaches sought to teach them ‘three Cs’, and they saw it translate into good baseball.
“We preached that calm, confidence, consistency, and basically their fielding was excellent,” he said. “They did a really good job fielding, good job throwing, they did a really good job catching.”
Kamren Robinson of the Rays was named MVP for the tournament for fielding, having the second-highest RBI count on the team and a couple of doubles.
Judge’s son, Aden, was the team’s MVP for the year. Jakob Beauchamp was also a key difference-maker, and J.T. Bowins drew praise for his strong batting.