The game, at South Germantown Park, had already gone beyond the two-hour time limit. The sun was creating a beautiful Maryland sunset over the SoccerPlex on Monday evening. The game, which started at 6:00 pm, was running well past dinner time. The players were getting hungry. The parents were getting nervous as each pitch ratcheted up the tension.
The Yankees and the Rangers were locked in a battle for the championship of the Montgomery County Little League in the Majors Division — players 12 and under. A back-and-forth game, which featured four lead changes, ultimately ended in the bottom of the eighth inning on a walk-off hit from a player who had only knocked three other hits all year. The Rangers defeated the Yankees 12-11 in the eighth inning of the championship game.
“This what youth baseball is all about two good teams dueling it out, and ending in the bottom of the eighth with a walk-off win, on a hit by a kid in the bottom of the lineup to get the winning run,” said Jason Arnold, president of the Montgomery County Little League after the game, which was played at Field C at South Germantown Park. The field that MCLL is making into a baseball lover’s dream.
The league and the County have installed a scoreboard in the centerfield and are in the process of building wooden dugouts along the first and third-base lines for players. According to Arnold, future plans include improved bleachers for seating and eventually lights to all for night baseball.
However, improvements to the areas around the field were nowhere near as exciting as the action on the field. The teams were evenly matched, with the Rangers bringing a 6-5-1 record to the game, and the Yankees a 6-6 record.
The Rangers jumped out to a three-run lead in the bottom of the first as leadoff hitter Brian Dwyer rocked a triple to left field to start the game. He scored when the next batter Jessie Petrie hit a double to centerfield. A sacrifice fly from Duvall Branham moved Petrie to third. The next batter Alejandro Zerpa hit a single. Zerpa and Petrie later scored on Troy Wallace’s triple deep to left field. The Rangers staked themselves to a 3-0 lead after one inning.
The Yankees cut the lead in the top of the second inning, as DJ Freeman led off with a triple. He scored one batter later when Nadir Samuel earned an RBI on a single. However, the Rangers’ pitcher Troy Wallace was able to end the scoring with a strikeout for the third out. Wallace struck out three, walked six, but allowed just one hit over two-and-a-third innings.
In the third inning, Wallace struggled, and the Yankees were able to take the lead. The first three batters walked. After a pitching change, Rangers manager Darren Petrie called on Duvall Branham to pitch.
With the bases loaded, Jay Wickson smashed a bases-clearing triple to left-centerfield to give the Yankees a 4-3 lead. The next batter Arav Pal knocked a base hit, but the Rangers would hold Wickson at third. DJ Freedman would walk to load the bases again, and Nadir Samuel would get another RBI on a single to right field. The Yankees finished the top of the third with a 6-3 lead when Jack Orndorff knocked in Freedman with a base hit.
Yankee’s pitcher Joe Agrusti pitched two-and-one-third innings, earning five strikeouts, one walk, and allowing seven hits.
However, in the bottom of the third, the Rangers answered right back. Leadoff hitter Dwyer got things started with a single. Petrie followed with another, but the Yankees got Dwyer out with the force at second base. Petrie’s single was followed by back to back doubles by Branham and Zerpa to which scored two runs, which was followed by Troy Wallace’s second triple in as many at-bats. Zerpa scored, and the game was tied at 6-6 at the end of three innings.
The Yankees would retake the lead in the top of the fourth inning, as Joe Agrusti and Brayden Limtiaco reached on base hits and later scored on hits by Wickson and Arav. The Yankee’s led 8-6 going into the bottom of the fourth inning.
But the Rangers would come back yet again, Alex Price would work a walk to lead off the inning. He would make it to second on a steal, but new pitcher Brayden Limtiaco would strike out the next two batters. The next batter Brian Dwyer, who had already smashed a triple in the first inning, took a 3-2 offering and hit it deep for a two-run home run to tie the score at 8 apiece going into the top of the fifth inning.
In the fifth inning the Yankees would go down in order 1, 2, 3 as the Rangers’ third pitcher Jesse Petrie struck out the side.
The Rangers would not go in-order in the bottom of the inning. The Rangers’ 3,4, and 5 hitters, Branham, Zerpa, and Wallace, combined for back-to-back doubles, and a triple. Wallace’s third triple of the game scored Branham and Zerpa, and Wallace would score on a base hit by Kam Thomasetti. At the end of five innings, the Rangers had retaken the lead 11-8.
In the top of the sixth and final regulation inning for Little League, the Yankees started with a base hit from Jack Orndorff, and after two strikeouts and two walks, the Yankees had two outs and the bases loaded. Brayden Limtiaco swung at a 2-2 pitch and crushed a bases-clearing triple to knot the game at 11-11.
In the bottom of the sixth, the Yankee’s defense was able to make three putouts to force extra innings.
In the top of the seventh inning, after the leadoff batter hit a grounder to first, the Yankees would threaten. DJ Freedman knocked a single and stole second base. However, Rangers closer Brian Dwyer was able to strike out the next two batters, giving the Rangers the chance for a walk-off win with Branham (two doubles in the game), Zerpa (two doubles and a single in the game), and Wallace (three triples in the game) batting in the bottom of the seventh.
But it was not to be, Limtiaco would get sit them down 1,2,3 in the inning striking out Branham and Wallace in the process to give the Yankees life in the top of the eighth inning.
In the eighth, Dwyer would throw just 10 pitches striking out all three Yankee batters. Dwyer would end the game striking out five of the six batters he faced over two-and-third innings. He would just one base hit and no walks.
With the heart of the Rangers batting order down on in the seventh, the bottom of the eighth would start with Tomasetti hitting a ground ball to the first basemen, but he would beat the ball to first base. He would steal second during Marshall Sanders at-bat. Limtiaco would strike out Sanders, bringing the number nine hitter Alex Price to the plate. Price had struck out, walked and grounded out to the pitcher at three previous at-bats in the game.
With Tomasetti on third, Price took a strike from Limtiaco. Price, who had just one RBI all season got the biggest of the season as he took the second pitch and hit a line drive to short right field. The ball fell in front of the right fielder and Tomasetti, tagged up and scored easily from third base to end the game. The Rangers defeated the Yankees 12-11 in eight innings, on a walk-off single.
Half the Rangers players mobbed Tomasetti at home, while the other half began celebrating with Price as he rounded second base, and they eventually all began to dog pile on Price in celebration.
The Rangers will move on to play in the Maryland District 2 Tournament of Champions which will take place later this month.
Top: The Rangers, coached by Darren Petrie are the MCLL Upper County Majors champions after defeating the Yankees 12-11 in an epic extra innings game, on a walk-off single in the eighth inning.
Next: The Yankees starting pitcher Joe Agrusti (2) held the Rangers to just one run in the first two innings.
Next: The Rangers Troy Wallace (7) hit three triples in the championship game.
Next: The Yankees DJ Freeman (12) looks at a ball during Monday’s game. He would hit a triple, a single, walk, and fly out in four at-bats in the game.
Next: Yankees’ Brayden Limtiaco (6) came in to try to close out the game for the Yankees.
Next: The Rangers’ Alex Price (1) cracks the game-winning hit, a line drive to short right field in the bottom of the eighth inning.
Next: Price’s line drive scores Kam Tomasetti from third base for the championship winning run.
Next: The champs celebrate in the infield as they dog pile on Price.
Photos by Germantown Pulse.
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