After coming together as a team only 12 short days before the start of this year’s Williamsport tournament, the premiere little league tournament that every “real” baseball player want to compete in and win, East Meadow Baseball’s 10U Mustangs did the improbable - fighting its way out of the loser’s bracket of the tournament to be crowned the 2011 Williamsport District 32 champions.
This tournament is a “double elimination” type tournament, meaning that if and when a team loses a game, they fall into what’s known as the loser’s bracket. Once in the loser‘s bracket, teams must play an excessive amount of games - many more than the team that goes straight through the tournament undefeated, putting a strain on the player’s durability, stamina and mental toughness, and testing the strength and depth of that team’s pitching rotation.
Those teams must play and win every game throughout the remainder of the tournament to survive. Once any team loses a second game, they are eliminated from the tournament. East Meadow lost their first and only game quite early in the tournament to a very talented Hicksville team on June 30, placing their hopes of a championship in serious doubt.
East Meadow then proceeded to play a series of thrilling, gut-wrenching, heart-stopping games, eliminating one team after another on their quest for the title. Then, on July 9, after already defeating the once-undefeated Levittown team 12-4 the day before, Levittown and East Meadow squared off for a “one-game, winner-take-all” championship game.
The powerful Levittown team jumped out to an early 6-0 lead in the top of the first inning to set the tone for the game, and Levittown’s pitching and strong defense held tough. But the feisty East Meadow Mustangs finally broke through in the fourth inning with seven runs, highlighted by Matt MacKay’s bases loaded double and Ivan DeLeon’s bases loaded triple, to take the lead 7-6.
Levittown wasn’t going to go that quietly though. They tied it up in their last at bat to force the game into extra innings, and then took the lead in the top of the seventh, forcing East Meadow’s back to the wall.
East Meadow’s Tyler Love sparked his team with a lead off double, followed by a timely base hit by James Gangi. After a double steal to put the tying and winning runs into scoring position at second and third, Eric Bernstein smacked a clutch blast up the middle to centerfield.
With the outfielders playing shallow and the centerfielder charging hard, the tying run scored and the winning run came flying around third base heading for home. On a “bang-bang” play at the plate...”SAFE!” was the umpire’s call - and the East Meadow Mustangs won it in classic, heart-stopping fashion!
Euphoric bedlam broke out, capped off with a victorious player dog pile on the field.
Congratulations to the 2011 Williamsport District 10U Champions: Dave Andrea (not pictured), Eric Bernstein, Ivan DeLeon, Dylan Efthimiou, James Gangi, Mike Halkitis, Jeff Liu, Tyler Love, Matthew MacKay, John McGrath and Joe Monteleone.
Manager- Stew MacKay
Coaches- Bill Gangi and Joe Monteleone
This article was written and submitted by Stew McKay.