Burlington 12U Baseball Doesn't Pull Out a State Championship, Despite Comeback
After two games of hard play, Burlington falls in extra innings but gets one more shot at nationals this weekend
Burlington and Weymouth faced off at Simonds Park on July 8 with the 12U state title on the line. With Burlington having advanced to the finals through the winner’s bracket, Weymouth would need to win two games on this warm Friday night, while Burlington needed just one win to secure the championship.
Weymouth struck first in the top of the 2nd with three hits, including an RBI single by James Mills. Burlington would battle right back in the home half of the 2nd. Weymouth’s starter Tommy Byrne walked Mikey Bannister, and Owen McGowan, Burlington’s starting pitcher, reached on an infield single. Bannister scored on an error by the 3rd baseman and the game was tied at two.
The Weymouth offense went back to work in the top of the 3rd with a leadoff walk by Cam McFarland. Luke Freeman followed with a line drive single to left and both runners advanced on a passed ball. McGowan was able to strike out James Krey swinging, but then walked Eric Murray and Byrne to force in a run and put Weymouth up 2-1. Dylan Fiori-Hess was next to bat, and he wasn’t looking for a walk. Instead, he launched a grand slam to give Weymouth a commanding 6-1 lead. Aiden Scalia came in for relief for Burlington and got out of the inning without giving up any more runs. Burlington would get a few base runners in the bottom of the third, but left runners on 2nd and 3rd without scoring.
Scalia and Nick Castellano would keep Weymouth off the board through the 6th to give Burlington one last chance in the bottom half of the inning. Fiori-Hess entered the game for Weymouth and struck out Matty Discarcina looking. But things would quickly turn as he walked the next three batters, Colin Gallagher, Matty Sicari, and Bannister. Freeman entered in relief and was greeted by a two RBI double to right field by Evan Brothers to cut the lead to 6-3. McGowan grounded into a fielder’s choice, scoring Bannister, sending Brothers to 3rd with two outs, and making it 6-4. Scalia then drove in Brothers as the short stop couldn’t make the tough play, and it was 6-5. Unfortunately the comeback ran out of gas as Freeman got Castellano to ground out to end the game.
As Ernie Banks used to say, “It’s a beautiful day for a ballgame. Let’s play two today!” Teams were given a thirty minute break before the start of game two, which would be winner-take-all for the State Championship.
Burlington would be batting first as the visiting team in game two. Weymouth sent Murray to the mound to begin the game. Matty Sicari got the offense going quickly with a home run over the centerfield fence giving Burlington the early 1-0 lead. Sicari would start on the mound as well and had a quick 1-2-3 inning with two strikeouts.
Jake Griffin singled for Burlington in the 2nd, but Mikey Kelley’s attempt at a bunt single fell short. In the bottom of the 2nd Tommy Byrne would reach on a single to center. After a HBP (hit by pitch), passed ball and a fielder’s choice in which everyone was safe after a pickle, Brothers then made a great play on a ground ball to get the force out at home. Mills would then draw a bases-loaded walk to tie the game 1-1. Sicari would get Cam McFarland to ground back to the pitcher to end the 2nd inning.
Both teams buckled down their defense in the middle innings. After a single by Jared Hixon in the 4th, Burlington cleared the slate with a 1-6-3 double play to end the inning.
Krey came in to pitch the top of the 5th for Weymouth and faced the speedster Griffin. Jake laid down the perfect bunt single to start off the inning. Kelley followed with a bunt as well and was called out at first on a very close play, Griffin to 2nd. A passed ball would put Griffin on 3rd with just one out. Discarcina grounded back to the pitcher and Griffin was unable to advance on the play and would be stranded on 3rd as Krey would strike out Gallagher to end the inning.
Weymouth would get their chances in the bottom half of the 5th as the leadoff batter would reach on an error, advancing to 2nd. Sicari would strike out Gavin Donlan for the first out and then retire Domink Fasoli on a bunt, which moved the runner to 3rd. McFarland would draw a walk and after a meeting on the mound with runners on first and 3rd, Discarcina would pick the runner off 3rd base for the last out of the inning.
Sicari would lead off the top of the 6th with a single. Casey Shannon entered the game as a pinch runner and was forced out on a ground ball by Bannister. Brothers would hit a deep fly ball to center where the centerfielder made a great catch. Bannister was then called out for leaving 1st early, not waiting long enough to tag up, to end the inning. Sicari would pitch a scoreless 6th and send the game to extra innings. More free baseball!
Burlington would go quietly in the top half of the 7th, stranding Scalia after he singled. Gallagher entered the bottom of the 7th and was quickly put to the test. Byrne drew a walk to start the inning and quickly advanced to 3rd on back-to-back passed balls. Weymouth was just 60 feet away from the State Championship, with no outs. Game one hero Fiori-Hess would step to the plate with a chance to win it. With the infield in all around, Gallagher would get a ground ball to Bannister, which Mikey fired to Discarcina for the out at home. Fiori-Hess would steal 2nd. Gallagher would battle back to strike out Owen Walsh for the 2nd out of the inning. After an intentional walk to Timmy Mycroft, Gallagher would get Donlan to fly out to Griffin in right field to end the inning.
The top of the 8th saw another great catch by the Weymouth center fielder on a well hit ball by Gallagher. That was the extent of the threat as Burlington went down quietly. Gallagher took to the mound in the 8th when Mills stepped to the plate. He worked into a 2-1 hitters count before launching the game winning, state championship winning, walk off home run.
Both of these games showcase two very good teams, battling for something that most of these kids have dreamed of since they were seven and eight years old. Congratulations to both teams for all their hard work and dedication to what is a long summer baseball season.
While Weymouth earned the bid to regionals with the win, there is a bit of good news for Burlington. They were asked to host the regional play-in tournament that will see the MA, VT, NH, and host team (Burlington) match up with a chance to move on to the National Championship
Saturday 7/16 - Simonds Park
10:00 AM – Lower – Weymouth MA vs. Central VT
12:30 PM – Lower – Lebanon NH vs. Burlington MA
Sunday 7/17 - Simonds Park
10:00 AM – Lower – Central VT vs. Lebanon NH
10:00 AM - Upper – Burlington MA vs. Weymouth MA
1:00 PM – Lower – Central VT vs. Burlington MA
1:00 PM – Upper - Weymouth MA vs. Lebanon NH