RANDOLPH, NJ- The final game of the Babe Ruth double elimination tournament proved to be another exciting matchup. The Mets beat the Nationals by a score of 4-2 to capture the Randolph Babe Ruth Championship.
The Mets came into the tournament as the first seed coming off an undefeated regular season (10-0). The Nationals were the third seed with a 5-4 regular season record. They faced each other on May 28th for the Winner’s Bracket Championship. The Nats won that contest 9-3, putting themselves in the Finals and pushing the Mets to the Loser’s Bracket.
After suffering their first loss of the season, the Mets played the Orioles for the championship of the Loser’s Bracket. This proved to be a well fought contest with great pitching and defensive play on both sides. With the Mets not being able to capitalize on a single by Colin Leary in the third and a double by Chris Biancone in the fourth, the score remained tied at 1-1 going into the bottom of the sixth. With one out, the Mets’ Robert Moran hit a moon shot for an easy double. Jason Monachello then moved Moran to third on his grounder for an easy 5-3 out. With two outs and Moran on third, Taylor Fearon drilled a single over the second baseman’s head to give the Mets the go-ahead run.
With a 2-1 lead, John Meola shut down the Orioles in the top of the seventh with two strikeouts and a pop out to center, giving Mets a well-fought victory and setting up a Mets-Nats Finals showdown.
With one loss already in the tournament, the first game was a “win or go home” situation for the Mets. Going into the bottom of the fourth, Mets were ahead 4-0. Then, the Nats turned things around scoring five runs, thanks in part to Dylan Jenisch’s bases loaded triple. In bottom of the sixth, Nats scored another run on a Matt Kratochvil single, driving in Luke Spingarn for a 6-4 lead.
Going into the seventh and final inning, things looked bleak for the Mets. Evan Patel ignited a rally when he started the inning off with a single. After a Brian Meola walk and a single by Nick Rampone, the bases were loaded. With no outs and two strikes on him, Austin Naravane drilled a clutch liner over the second baseman, driving in two runs to tie the game at 6-6. Josh Fitzgerald’s single drove in two more runs for an 8-6 lead.
With two outs and runners on second and third, Chris Biancone drilled a liner to deep into the outfield that looked like trouble, but right fielder Jack Louro made a fantastic over the head catch to stop the damage. John Meola closed out the game by striking out three of the four Nats batters he faced in the bottom of the seventh, giving the Mets an 8-6 victory.
The final showdown was now set for Wednesday, June 10th. With both teams at a loss apiece, this was the “winner take all” game. Once again, it was a well-pitched, well-played game. Mets got on the board first. With two outs in the bottom of the first, Brian Meola drilled a double and scored from second on a Nick Rampone single.
Leading 1-0 in the bottom of the second, the Mets added another run. Austin Naravane led off with a single and advanced to second on an overthrow. Christian Drake followed with a single that moved Naravane to third. With runners on first and third, Drake stole second and got in a pickle which allowed Naravane to steal home.
Seventh grader Matt Kleiven, the Mets starting pitcher, was in great form pitching three shutout innings and striking out five batters. Another seventh grader, Robert Moran, came in for the next three innings. Though he struggled with the first few batters in the top of the fourth, the Nats were not able to fully capitalize on their chances, scoring only one run.
JP Bryne led off with a double, and Moran walked the next two batters to load the bases. Luke Spingarn, hit a fly to center fielder Nick Rampone, who caught it and fired home to catcher Brian Meola. Meola made a great catch and was able to tag out the runner for an 8-2 double play. Moran then walked Dylan Jenisch to load the bases, and plunked the next batter, Matthew Kratochvil, forcing a run to score. After this initial rocky start, Moran settled down, found his groove, and pitched flawlessly through the sixth inning.
Going into the bottom of the fourth inning with a 2-1 lead, the Mets’ Noah Solotist started things off by drawing a walk. A John Meola single and a walk to Evan Patel loaded the bases for Brian Meola. Meola hit a shot to left field. What should have been an easy double ended up being a sacrifice fly due to a beautiful catch by Chase McBride. With two outs and men on second and third, Mets were able to get one more run as Austin Naravane singled to drive in John Meola for a 4-1 Mets lead.
Going into the final inning still up 4-1, Mets relied on John Meola to close the game. With the season on the line, the Nats started off with Luke Spingarn drawing a walk and Dylan Jenisch hitting a double. With runners on second and third and no outs, the Nats seemed like they had a chance to make a rally. But with a strong pitching effort by Meola and solid defensive play behind him, the Nats were only able to score one run. The Mets won 4-2.
It was a well played, dynamic game that had the fans riveted until the last out, and a fitting way to end another successful Babe Ruth season.