‘I wouldn’t have missed it for anything’
Published 9:05 pm Tuesday, June 25, 2013
SYAA crowns midnight champions
Some things are worth the wait.
The 11- and 12-year old members of the Suffolk Youth Athletic Association’s Bronco Nationals All-star team weathered two rain delays over the weekend to finally begin their championship game after 9 p.m. on Sunday. They were accompanied by their crowd of parental supporters who cheered them on past midnight when the Nationals prevailed in an extra inning, 9-8 over the Lynnhaven Wahoos in the SYAA baseball invitational at Diamond Springs Park.
For many kids, it was well past their usual bed times.
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Nationals pitcher Noah Floyd, 12, said, “On the weekends, I usually stay up a little bit later than 9:30, but it felt pretty awkward staying up that late, and usually I’m not playing baseball until 9, 10, 12 at night.”
Michael Barnes Jr., also 12, said, “It felt really good because we were playing really late, and we were playing against a really good team, and we worked really hard to get there.”
The clock was no pressing concern during the game according to Nationals head coach Michael Barnes Sr.
“You really didn’t think about it because the game, was flowing so quickly and the intensity and magnitude of the game we were playing was so important to us because the (SYAA) Bronco division hadn’t won that game for several years,” he said.
Adding to the drama was the Nationals’ history with the Wahoos. They played them twice during the spring and lost both times, the first time in a blowout.
The Nationals landed in this late-night rematch after their 3:45 p.m. game on Saturday got delayed by rain after two and a half innings. They resumed on Sunday at 10 a.m. and defeated the team from Southern Chesapeake by the score of 24-2.
This qualified them for a 5 p.m. semifinal against Western Branch Blue that got interrupted by rain until 7 p.m. The Nationals wrapped up a 13-5 win around 8:30, but then had to wait for the other semifinal to conclude.
The Nationals had another tournament to prepare for on Monday, and it would have been a strain on the Lynnhaven team to pack up and come out for another day. Since school was out, the effort was made to conclude the SYAA invitational on Sunday evening.
Barnes Sr. admitted that the disruptions made it challenging to keep the kids focused, but in the title game, this was not a problem.
“They wanted the win and you could see in their eyes, you could see the competitive nature that all boys have was just pouring out of every one of them,” he said. “It was important to me to get (the game) in then, while they were in that mode.”
Floyd had held the Western Branch team scoreless in the final three innings of the semifinal and did the same to the Wahoos in the first four innings of the championship.
The Nationals piled up a lead in the meantime. Then, the Wahoos came storming back, forcing the extra inning.
SYAA’s Adam Briggs scored the go-ahead run in the top, and the Nationals defense, including Hunter Hayden on the mound, did the rest in the bottom. Thomas Beale caught a line drive to second base for the game’s final out.
Floyd threw three strikeouts from the mound and was the team leader at the plate, going 3-for-3 with four RBIs. Tyler Spencer was 3-for-4 with two RBIs, Gage Fesette was instrumental, going 1-for-2 with an RBI and Barnes Jr. went 1-for-1, also with an RBI.
Briggs pitched three innings and threw six strikeouts.
Floyd’s mother, Stephanie Stinebaugh, did not care that Monday morning arrived during the game.
“It was crazy, and these kids just played so hard, and to see Noah pitch this game, the time didn’t even matter to me at that point,” she said. “It was a matter of just being there, supporting him.”
“We had a job to do as well as they had a job to do and, we all did it,” she said. “I wouldn’t have missed it for anything.”