BRISTOL - In his four years as manager of the Haverstraw Little League baseball team, Jason Fabbri says he has never been involved in a game that has gone at least eight innings.
That streak ended Monday, and Fabbri certainly wasn’t complaining after the New York state champions secured a thrilling 9-6 victory over Delaware in eight innings to advance in the Mid-Atlantic winner’s bracket of the Little League Eastern Regional.
“In my 3-4 years with this team, it was one of the wildest [games I’ve been a part of],” Fabbri said.
New York (2-0) took advantage of four errors committed by Delaware (0-1), including one in the game’s biggest moment.
After a scoreless seventh inning, New York began the top of the eighth with a runner on second base - a new rule implemented for this year’s postseason Little League tournaments - and loaded the bases with the automatic runner, a walk and a single.
With one out, Jaden Quezada grounded into a bases-loaded fielder’s choice on a throw home, but an ensuing throw from Delaware’s catcher in an attempt to turn an inning-ending double play at first base sailed into right field.
It was the club’s final error of the game, allowing New York to go ahead 6-5, and moments later it tacked onto the lead with runs on a passed ball and RBI singles by Jayden Torres and Matthew Odenbach to go ahead 9-5.
“It’s hard to say. Everything’s a whirlwind right now,” said Delaware manager Frank Thornton when asked his thoughts on the impact of his team’s poor defense. “We typically play pretty tight defense. That was uncharacteristic of us. I don’t know if we get caught up in the moment or what, but it happens. It’s the game of baseball.”
New York was one out away from ending the game by a 5-3 margin in the bottom of the sixth, as Delaware put runners on second and third with two outs. Brad Marks put the ball in play on a ground ball to third, forcing New York to make a defensive play of its own.
That defense did not come, as a throwing error sailed out of play and allowed both runners to score, tying the game and sending it to extra innings.
“We gave it away too,” Fabbri said of his own team’s defense. “Everybody takes advantage of other peoples’ mistakes. It worked [for us].”
During an unbeaten 13-game run through the district, sectional and state tournaments, New York dominated, winning by an average of nearly seven runs, including five mercy-rule victories.
On Sunday, New York defeated Maryland 9-2 in its first regional game but had to use an eight-run fifth inning to rally from a 2-1 deficit.
“We’ve been on edge,” Fabbri said. “It’s not our typical way of playing, but we’re facing good pitching. Every team that we’ve faced is throwing their No. 1’s. Hopefully we settle down and get back to the way we play.”
New York advances to face Washington D.C. (1-0) at 7 p.m. Thursday after D.C. came back for an emotional 8-7 win over New Jersey earlier Monday with a three-run walk-off home run.
“That was some game too,” Fabbri said. “We [spent] a lot of energy too. A lot of emotion. … A lot of ups and downs. I hope that we settle down.”
Delaware, meanwhile, will face elimination against Pennsylvania (0-1) at 10 a.m. today after an emotional, heartbreaking loss in which it expended a lot of energy just as New York did.
“They’re 11-12 years old. We’re still proud of them. They played hard, and they battled but came up a little bit short,” Thornton said. “It hurts, but we’ll bounce back tomorrow. … We’ve gotta sit down as coaches and figure out what we’re gonna do pitching-wise. We played to win tonight so we’ll have to dig deep and try to fight to stay alive.”
Zack Carpenter can be reached at (860) 973-1811 or firstname.lastname@example.org