Berlin Little League’s all-stars were eliminated from the District 5 Tournament on Tuesday evening with a 2-0 loss to Yalesville.
Berlin pitcher Toby Lavender threw five innings and struck out nine batters.
“They were swinging at the curveball, so I just kept throwing it.” Lavender said. “It was working pretty good.”
Berlin coach Dave DeGroff was very pleased with how Lavender performed on the mound. Had Berlin scored in the top of the sixth, he planned on having the team’s closer come in to finish the game.
“[Lavender] competes at a high level. His pitch count was low. We were lined up that we had our closer ready to go and we figured we would score three or four runs that inning and come and close it out, but it just didn’t happen,” DeGroff said.
Lavender’s luck ran out in the fourth inning when a leadoff hit by Yalesville third baseman Trevor Held put a runner on base.
After striking out the next batter, Lavender walked Yalesville substitute first baseman Ryan Rubino. With runners on first and second base, substitute right fielder Michael Ballough hit an RBI single to right, scoring Held.
Lavender then threw a wild pitch, which brought in the last run Yalesville scored.
Lavender’s first sign of trouble came in the third inning. A leadoff bunt allowed Yalesville’s second runner of the night to reach base. Lavender walked the next batter, and with runners on first and second, second baseman Landon Contele put down a sacrifice bunt which advanced the runners to second and third.
However, Lavender got the best of the next two batters he faced, striking them out and working his way out of the jam.
“I was thinking, I can’t just bounce a ball. I have to hit my spots,” Lavender said.
Lavender’s catcher during the third inning, Lorenzo Miele, helped keep Berlin in the game. Miele made several stops that prevented breaking pitches from getting past the plate.
“I just tried to like block the ball and keep it in front of me and make sure the runners don’t advance. I just try to make sure we get all the strikes we can,” Miele said.
Despite the loss, Berlin first baseman Ryan Catalona tried to keep the team’s spirits up throughout the course of the game. Catalona is widely referred to on the team as their leader.
“I just like to pump up my team,” Catalona said. “I just like to yell.”
Smiling, Lavender added in, “he brings the team up a little.”
Other Berlin players credited with getting hits during the game were center fielder Jayden Jaykiel, second baseman Mason Toce and Aidan Cooney, who all reached base safely on singles.
With Berlin out of the tournament, Yalesville moves on to face Bristol in an elimination game. Bristol’s loss to Wallingford makes Wallingford undefeated in the tournament, and it will play the winner of the Bristol-Yalesville game.