Somers Takes Pair of GHVBL Titles

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Somers Red Storm’s John Barbagallo flies high to avoid a tag and score run in 5-2 GHVBL 12U A-Division title triumph of the Westchester Academy Sunday night in Reis Park. Ray Gallagher/Nikki Gallagher Photos

Cops 9U, 12U Crowns Yorktown Spartans Crowned 11U Champs, Briarcliff Falls in 16U Finals

Examiner Sports Editor@Directrays

Young Max Grodio has never had a more tense moment in his nine years on earth. The bases were juiced, his Somers Red Storm team trailed Putnam Valley 1-0 and time was growing short in the home half of the fourth inning in the 9U B-Division Championship of the Greater Hudson Valley Baseball League. The pint-size lefty went high for a fastball that crossed over his chest and gapped a bases-clearing triple to left center for a 3-1 lead, and the rest is history as Somers held on for a 5-2 title triumph over the visiting Miners at Reis Park.  

“Grodio is one of the hardest working kids on the team,” Somers Manager Gerg Fitts said. “He puts in the time and effort outside of our regular practices to get better. He has batted lead-off most of our summer season and today he came up big with the clutch hit with the bases loaded.”

Somers RHP Christopher Azimi pitched 5+ innings for the win and reliever Evan Murolo mowed down the heart of the PV order for the save.

“It’s an absolutely great group of kids,” Fitts said. “Hard working, great teammates and they bring a positive attitude to the field each and every time they step on it. The best word to describe them is resilient. They never hang their heads!”

In Round 1 vs. Armonk Bobcats on Wednesday.  Somers was down 3-0 in the sixth before tying the score the Red Storm’s last at-bat before extras. Somers (12-8-1) went on for the win in dramatic, walk-off fashion when Johnny DeVito delivered the game-winning RBI.

Somers also trailed Shrub Oak in the semis Friday. Down 4-1 in the fifth, the Red Storm scored two in the bottom of the fifth and two in the bottom of the sixth for another walk-off win, 5-4.

“It was an exciting week for us and well deserved for my boys,” Fitts said.

Putnam Valley’s Johnny Dimechele tripled and scored for the Miners (11-5). 

The 9U Red Storm wasn’t the only team in town to pose with championship hardware. Late Sunday night, the 12U A-Division Red Storm did likewise in a 5-2 championship triumph of the Westchester Baseball Academy. Coach John Barbagallo’s Red Storm had a feisty battle on their hands and they prevailed behind clutch hitting and solid pitching.

Somers Red Storm jumped out to an early first inning lead when Dillon Kuchinsky lined a double off the wall scoring Bret Kennedy. Westchester Academy tied the game in the second when Schmidt homered deep to center field.

The score remained 1-1 until the third inning when Somers rallied. Dean Palazzolo led off with a single. Kennedy followed with a single.  After moving up toe 2nd and 3rd Westchester Academy decided to intentionally walk Kuchinsky.  Lorenzo D’Ambrosio rocketed a ball that took a wicked hop over the second baseman’s head scoring two runs to break the tie. 

After a gutty start by P Kuchinksy he was removed after 2 1/3 innings due to back stiffness.  John Barbagallo came on in relief and the lefty was lights out for 3 2/3 innings, the only run scoring against him was due to a balk.

“I’m so proud of these boys,” Somers Manager John Barbagallo said. “They have worked extremely hard preparing for moments like tonight.  These boys have gotten so much taken away from them this year, they were not going to let this championship slip away. 

“We’ve had a next-man-up mentality all year,” he added. “We’ve dealt with some injuries, we lost Mathew Mignardi right before the playoffs.  We dedicated this postseason to him. We didn’t get to go to Cooperstown, we shut things down in March after practicing hard all winter.  These boys showed resiliency and maturity beyond their age.  It has been an honor and privilege for me and my coaching staff.”

In other GHVBL championship action, the seventh-seeded Yorktown Spartans (10-6) were the talk of the town after posting a 5-4 championship win in the 10U A-Division at Flowers Park in New Rochelle Sunday. Visiting Yorktown defeated Put Valley, 8-3, in the first round before taking out New Castle, 3-2, in the semis. Against Put Valley, Christian Maratos and Alex Delorenzo both had two hits and an RBI to lead the Spartans. Jaden Renzo, CJ Velardo, Ryan Stevenson, Luke Penna and Frankie Ofrias also each had one RBI to support winning pitcher Christian Maratos and reliever Nico Masillo (save).

In the finals, Yorktown fought back from a 4-0 deficit, scoring three runs in the the fifth and two more in the sixth to take the lead. Masillo fired a gem, going six innings while allowing one earned run. Yorktown C Chrisopher Lanza played outstanding behind the plate and had two hits, including the game-tying RBI. Alex Delorenzo scored on a passed ball for the go ahead run. Jayden Nunez Luke Penna also had a RBI for the Spartans, who knocked off  the top teams in the standings  in three consecutive playoff wins to secure the championship.

Christian Maratos , Jayden Nunez and Nico Masillo all pitched gems in the Yorktown Spartans playoff and championship victories. 

“It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish,” Yorktown Coach Masilo exclaimed. “It’s absolutely unbelievable.”

The top-seeded 8U Yorktown Huskers (14-4-1) lost their bid for an A-Division title in a 12-1 loss to the undefeated No.2 seed Stars Baseball Academy at Legacy Field. Yorktown defeated the Renegades 11-7 in the opening round before toppling Warrior Baseball Academy 7-1 in the semis.

“I think we did alright for 12 boys, playing travel baseball for the very first time this summer,” Yorktown Coach Josh Wolfson said. “In a span of six weeks we played 19 baseball games.  Incredibly, we finished 14-4-1. The team started at the bottom, worked hard, learned how to play the game the correct way and made it all the way to the A-Division championship. Although we didn’t finish with the win, I am so proud of the effort that every one of the players gave all summer.  I’ve coached baseball for 20 years and this summer was one of the most enjoyable seasons yet.  Big things are to come for this group and all of Yorktown baseball.”

After pulling the upset of the 16U tournament in a 7-2 win over the previously undefeated Yorktown Rebels last Wednesday, the Briarcliff Bears fell 5-4 in the finals to the Rye Greys Sunday. 

“I’m very proud of these kids but they are a little beaten up over the loss,” Briarcliff Coach Gregory Demilia said. “We’re on to the fall now.”

The Patterson Pirates fell to the FC Captains, 2-0, in the finals of the 13U B-Division.

The 12U Mahopac Indians (14-7) lost in the B-Division finals, 8-0, to the AYYA Rebels in Yonkers, but their mad dash to the finals included sterling shutout wins over Yorktown (10-0) and the Cortlandt Nationals (2-0).

The seventh-seeded Carmel Cubs (13-2) were narrowly nipped in the 10U B-Division finals, falling 3-2 to the Orange County Crush at Mombasha Park in Monroe. The Cubs reached the finals after a 14-1 win over third-seeded Armonk (11-8).

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