(July 26, 2013) The Berlin Little League All-Stars 11-12-year-old team traveled to Arbutus, Md., last Saturday to compete for its third title in the Little League Maryland State Tournament. The team was undefeated as of Wednesday.
Berlin, the District 8 champions, went up against Bethesda (District 7 winners) in its first tournament game and came out on top 4-3. Berlin won the coin toss and was declared the home team.
Starting pitcher Hayden Snelsire allowed Bethesda only one hit in the first inning. Ryan Duncan hit a triple down the right field line in the bottom of the first and was sent home on a single from Tristan McDonough to give Berlin a 1-0 lead last Saturday.
Bethesda remained hitless until the fourth inning. A dropped third strike and field error by Berlin gave Bethesda its first hit and the team tied the game 1-1. The home team struck out in the bottom of the fourth.
In the top of the fifth, the umpires called catcher interference by Berlin on a third-strike pitch. A controversial ruling–according to Berlin’s coaching staff and supporters–to count a run from Bethesda gave the opposing team a 3-1 lead.
Duncan hit a solo home run in the bottom of the fifth and gave Berlin its second run. Pitcher Billy Wheatley held Bethesda scoreless in the top of the sixth for two-thirds of the inning until lightning delayed the game for two and a half hours.
The game was scheduled to resume the next day.
On Sunday morning, Wheatley walked and stole second and third in the bottom of the sixth. Matt Kinsey hit a game-winning two-run home run into center field.
On Sunday evening, Berlin took on Elkton (District 5 champions). Berlin held a 4-1 lead until the fourth inning when the team scored eight runs to pull ahead 12-2.
Wes Powell racked up three RBI’s with a home run in the third inning and a single in the fourth. Kinsey also hit a home run, Duncan had two singles and Wheatley a double.
Berlin remained on top for a 12-2 victory.
“We’ve been playing good baseball,” Manager Cameron McDonough said of the first two games. “We could always hit a little better but we’re facing good pitching and you can only do so much with that.”
The Berlin team competed in its third game of the championship Tuesday night against Conococheague (District 1 champions) and won 2-0.
“It was an absolutely fantastic game,” said McDonough. “I couldn’t be more proud.”
McDonough praised the pitching of Snelsire who had eight strikeouts during the close game. He surrendered his third hit in the top of the sixth and was relieved by Tristan McDonough.
The second pitcher allowed one walk before striking out a Conococheague player to end the competition.
Earlier, second baseman Kevin Beck caught a Conococheague hit and threw the ball to third baseman Wheatley. Wheatley chased the Conococheague runner and threw the ball to Berlin’s catcher, Kinsey, who tagged him out.
“It was a great defensive effort,” said McDonough. “It’s not often you get a shutout against that caliber of a team.”
With the win over Conococheague, Berlin was scheduled to play Brunswick (District 2) in the state championship finals on Thursday (After Ocean City Today press time).
If Berlin won, it would secure a state title in the double elimination tournament. If Brunswick came out on top, each team would have one loss and they would have to compete again today, Friday.
“We’ve played really tight games, but they know how to play tight and low-scoring games,” said McDonough. “We just have to concentrate now and bang it out. I’m confident they’ll be able to come out and take [the title].”
If Berlin wins, it will be its third Little League Maryland State title and the team will advance to the Mid-Atlantic Regional Championship in Bristol, Conn. Aug. 3-12.
“I’m happy they’ve gotten the opportunity to achieve the goal they’ve set for themselves and to stay on course,” said McDonough.
To make a tax-deductable donation to the Berlin Little League All-Star 11-12-year-old team to help them fund their road to the championships, contact Bill Wheatley 443-614-3225, or send donations to Berlin Little League, P.O. Box 514, Berlin, Md., 21811.
To follow the Berlin All-Star squad during its state championship title run, visit www.gamechanger.io.