Cubs edge Pirates in Little League majors opener

Pitching and defense sparkle in well-played contest

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If the modest but enthusiastic crowd attending the Martha’s Vineyard Little League majors opener between the Cubs and Pirates on Monday evening seemed confused, the explanation is simple. It was warm. Blessedly warm. There was no wind, or rain, or snow. It was simply a beautiful night for baseball.

And the weather was matched by the ball game.

With the MV Little League parade still days away, the defending champion Cubs squared off against the Pirates at Penn Field in Oak Bluffs in a rematch of last season’s title game, and delivered a beauty in the official season opener. The game was dominated by pitching, fielding, and several very important bursts of speed.

Cubs starter Josh Lake displayed impressive poise and a fine fastball, but fell victim to control problems, and was replaced by Micah Simmons in the second inning. Micah proceeded to pitch one-hit ball the rest of the way, allowing only two runs while fanning 10 batters. For the Pirates, Cole Lambert started on the mound and went five strong innings, giving up just three hits and one walk. He also helped himself on defense, handling everything hit his way.

The two Pirate runs resulted from aggressive base-running. In the third inning, Caleb Dubin scored from second on an infield out; in the ninth, Cole Lambert stole home to give the Bucs their second run.

But the Cubs had some speed of their own, mainly in the person of second baseman Nate Story. Nate reached base three times in the game, and was a thorn in the Pirates’ side once he got there. Taking a big lead, he advanced on steals, passed balls, and infield rollers. His two runs scored were key to the Cubs’ victory.

Saturday at 9 am, the Little League parade will make its way from the Oak Bluffs Police Department to Viera Park. Opening Day ceremonies at Penn Field get underway at 10:30 am, followed by a full slate of games. The A’s meet the Pirates at noon, the Bucs play a rematch with the Cubs at 2 pm, and the Cardinals meet the Red Sox at 4. With luck, the games will be as crisply played as the Cubs vs. Pirates on opening day.