For the first time in history, a team from McLean/Great Falls will head to the Babe Ruth World Series. The 14U team, based out of Northern Virginia, continued its dominance of East Coast baseball teams, going undefeated throughout the Southeast Regional Tournament in Palatka, Fl.
In its run through the district, state, and regional tournament, the team has won 14 games, while losing none. The team has allowed a measly 12 runs, while the pitchers have combined to hurl two no-hitters.
While the team essentially breezed through the pool play, with convincing wins over teams from Florida, Georgia and South Carolina, the semifinals proved to be their toughest task yet. Pitted against a team from Tallahassee, Fla., the regional semis ended up being strangely similar to the Northern Virginians’ win in the state tournament over Greater Loudon.
Tallahassee battled for 10 innings against the Virginians, but in the end, McLean/Great Falls prevailed, eking out a 1-0 win in the 10th. Joey Zarella once again proved to be the savior on the mound, tossing seven innings, while Sean Fitzgerald held the Tallahassee bats in check for the final three innings. The lone run was scored in the bottom of the tenth inning when Abraham Yi, who reached base when hit by a pitch, was sacrificed to second by Christopher Russo and crossed the plate on an error by the Tallahassee shortstop.
In their state tournament championship victory, a no-hitter by Zarella and Eric Payne was the highlight in their defeat of Greater Loudon 1-0 in a lengthy nine innings.
Just hours after the victory over Tallahassee, a grueling schedule forced the McLean/Great Falls team to play the Southeast Regional championship game against Jupiter, Fla., whom the Virginians had previously beaten 5-1 in pool play. This game proved to be less of a challenge than their earlier contest, as the Jupiter team fell 14-5. An eight-run third inning and a 5-for-5 performance by Fitzgerald gave McLean/Great Falls the title. Payne pitched the first four frames, while Fitzgerald rounded out his strong tournament with a save, hurling the final three innings.
Throughout their run from the district tournament up until the southeast regionals, the McLean/Great Falls pitchers have combined to flaunt an eye-popping 0.70 ERA, while giving up a total of 10 runs through 14 games. Part of those numbers can be attributed to the fielders behind the pitchers, who committed just nine errors in those games. Not to be outdone by their stellar pitching or defense, the offense has also dominated the opposition, scoring an average of nearly eight runs a game. The team also combined to hit .304 at the plate, while bashing 21 extra base hits.
Additional members of the southeast regional champion team are: Michael Cusumano, Pete White, Riley Beiro, Tommy Maselli, Denis Buckley, Patrick Albrittian and Ben Johnson. The manager is Rob Hahne and the assistant coach is Steve Money.
The Babe Ruth World Series will begin Aug. 19, in Wilson, N.C.