Two SYAA teams win big, one by a bit

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 18, 2003

Suffolk News-Herald

For the Diamondbacks, Yankees and Herricanes of the Suffolk Youth Athletic Associa-tion (SYAA), 2003 was a banner year. All three teams went undefeated in their respective divisions during the regular season, with the Diamondbacks ruling the Mustang baseball league, the Yankees charging through the Bronco baseball league, and the Herricanes storming (literally) past the Bronco softball league.

As the season-ending tournament began, the three teams expected to ride their success all the way to the championships. The Herricanes and Yankees did exactly that, burning through four consecutive wins to take home the titles, which occurred on Wednesday evening at Diamond Springs Park.


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But the young squad of &uot;Arizonians&uot; didn’t get off to a

great start, falling 7-1 to the Braves in the opening round of the tournament. Suddenly, the team found itself in an unfamiliar position; having to battle back from behind.

They recovered, hurling through the losers’ bracket with four wins. On Monday night, the group rode the pitching of David Waterfield to a 4-0 victory over the Braves, forcing the rematch on Wednesday.

Takim Gay opened the game by bunting for a single, and stole his way to third. Austin Winkles walked, and John Marx singled home both runners.

The Braves came right back in the bottom of the inning. Zach Edward walked with one out, and Travis Cherry bounced a double off the centerfield fence. Grady Jones walked to load the bases, and all three runners scored when J.T. Wilson banged a single up the middle. Tanner Holmes scored in the second, and the Braves had a 4-2 lead.

The teams combined for five strikeouts in the third inning, and Waterfield singled with two outs in the fourth. Zach Lilley drew a walk, and Steven Jackson singled to load the bases. Tyler Ames reached on an error, and all three runners scored to give the Diamond-backs back the advantage. But Matt Shaw scored for the Braves in the fifth, and the final inning began with the game knotted at five.

With one out, Winkles singled to left field. He moved to third on a double by Waterfield, and Marx took a pitch in the helmet to load the bases.

&uot;I was glad I got hit, because it didn’t hurt and I wanted to get on,&uot; Marx said.

Lilley, Ames, and B.J. Lester all drew walks to force in three runs, and Jackson dribbled an infield single up the first base line for another. Wilson scored in the bottom of the inning, but Waterfield, in his second inning on the mound, helped the Diamondback defense to shut down the Braves once again for the final outs of the season.

&uot;I didn’t know if we could win,&uot; said Waterfield, a student at John F. Kennedy Middle School. &uot;I was just glad that I carried myself to the championship with my team.&uot;

The Yankees and Herricanes had a much easier time of things, as the Yankees rushed to a 17-3 five-inning victory over the Braves and the softball squad defeated the Smithfield Yankees for the third time in the season, 9-3.

&uot;We just practiced, practiced, practiced,&uot; said Yankee Aaron Hampton, who hit his first homer of the season in the fourth inning, a grand slam over the left field fence. &uot;We thought we’d win, but with a team as good as the Braves, you never know.&uot;

Kalyn Rogers stole home three times in the Herricane victory for her third consecutive championship (she also played on the Angel and Flame teams that won SYAA titles over the past two seasons).

&uot;You have to time it just right and watch the catcher,&uot; Rogers said when asked for home-stealing advice. &uot;If she’s not paying attention for a split second and goes back to the pitcher, you’ve got time. If it gets past her, you have to get in there, and fast, because if she’s good, she’ll flip it right back to the pitcher and get you out.&uot;