RANDOLPH, NJ- Solid pitching, and a fourth inning breakthrough, propelled the Cardinals over the Tigers in the Randolph Little League ‘Major League’ Championship game on Saturday night. The big bats, along with several timely fielding plays gave the Cardinals a decisive 12-2 victory by the time the game was finished.
The Tigers jumped out to an early lead in the top of the first when Matt Kratochvil drove in the game’s first run on a sacrifice fly. In the bottom of the first however Tyler Berg hit a two-run homerun to give the Cardinals the lead, which they would not give up the rest of the game.
The Tigers showed some strong signs of life in the top of the fourth when Dylan Haun hustled out an RBI infield single and then stole a base with two out. The hit led to an opportunity where the Tigers had two outs with runners in scoring position on second and third. Cardinals’ left fielder Jake Meyers ended the threat when he made a spectacular sliding basket catch in foul territory to end the inning and keep his team in the lead.
The game stood at 3-2, when the Cardinals blew it open in the bottom of the fourth, scoring six runs, highlighted by another Tyler Berg two-run homer, and a two RBI double by Steven Cook. This proved to be the turning point of the game.
“I just told them to stay confident and do what they do best and swing the bat,” said Cardinals’ Head Coach Mike Townsen.
Justin Townsen pitched a solid first three innings for the Cardinals, allowing only one run, and Michael Ippolito closed it out by pitching the last three allowing only one run as well. Ippolito gave himself some insurance when he smacked a solo homer in the fifth. As a twelve year old, Ippolito was thrilled with his final game in little league. After the game he said, “Winning the championship is probably my favorite memory here, and especially hitting a homerun as my last at-bat.”
Tyler Berg played a huge role in the win, taking a page out of Reggie Jackson's book by smacking three homers, all 2 run shots, back to back to back. On the third one, he hammered the ball over the fence in left center, where it also soared well over the heads of the kids playing in the outfield. It was also his last game in little league. “Getting the last out was the best feeling, I was just happy it happened,” said Berg.
Brian Eames, who belted a double and a single in the game described the ride their team went on late in the season. “During the season we were on a four game losing streak, but then we beat one team and just kept going,” he said.
Both the Tigers and the Cardinals had excellent seasons and gave the final game their best effort until the very last out. Mark Darakjy has a solid game for the Tigers that included two doubles and six strikeouts in three innings of pitching.
Coach Townsen said of his Cardinals, “They played their hearts out the entire season, every one of these baseball players contributed in one way or another.”