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Little League Baseball

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Peter Burke of the Red Sox and Team Regan throws the final pitch of the Major League game. — Photo by Ralph Stewart

Little League all-stars from the Majors and Minors showcased their skills Sunday at Veira Park in the annual Memorial Day Classic.

Faith Thigpen of the Marlins and Team Gold raps out a hit in the Minor League all-star game.
Faith Thigpen of the Marlins and Team Gold raps out a hit in the Minor League all-star game.

The Majors took the field first. In a well-played game featuring all of the 12-year-olds currently playing in Little League, Team Regan edged Team Moore, 5-4. Peter Burke had two hits for Team Regan, while Kenny Hatt pitched solid middle relief for Team Moore.

Team Moore took a 1-0 lead in the first inning after Summer Cardoza grounded out, plating Cam Moore on a close play at home. Team Regan responded with three in the second. Jared Regan hit a two-RBI double and Mikey Cosgrove knocked in another run with an RBI single.

In the third, Miles Sidoti singled and Jake Howell followed with a double to make it 3-2. The Moores tied the game in the top half of the fifth on Joe Serpa’s hard single to left field, scoring Colby Balboni.

Team Regan regained the lead, 4-3, in the bottom half. Luke Nivala used a nine-pitch walk to get on base and scored after Jared Regan forced an errant throw to second on a steal.

The teams traded runs in the 6th. Team Moore’s Jake Howell led off with his third hit of the day. Owen Bresnick then plated Howell with a deep double to center to tie the game at 4-4, but Team Regan answered with the eventual game-winner on a bases-loaded walk to Mike O’Brien.

Shortstop Jeremy Regan made two nice putouts in a 1-2-3 seventh to quell any hopes of a Team Moore comeback.

Silas Stanek-Streed is ready for action in the Minor League game.
Silas Stanek-Streed is ready for action in the Minor League game.

In the Minor League all-star game Team Gold outlasted Team Purple 21-11 in a 30-hit shootout. The Golds racked up 16 hits, while the Purples countered with 14 of their own. Nate Story and Matt Pouliot had three hits apiece; Kaleb Hatt had four RBIs; Eamon Savard three RBIs; and Nate Sawyer launched a rocket to the left field corner for a two-run triple to lead Team Gold. T.J. Lett pitched a strong first inning, holding Purple to one run and Owen diBiaso closed out a scoreless seventh by striking out two of the three batters he faced.

The Purple squad fell behind early, but kept battling back. Pitcher Jack Lionette got out of a first inning jam by striking out the last two batters he faced. At the plate, Tegan Fenner (double), Tobey Roberts (three hits) and Hardy Eville (four RBIs) led the way.

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Tuesday, May 13

Red Sox 9, Cubs 3

In a battle of unbeatens at Veira Park, the Red Sox handed the scrappy Cubs their first loss of the season by the score of 9-3. The Cubs jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead in the top of the first with RBI singles by Summer Cardoza and Max Potter. The Sox responded with five runs in the bottom of the first, led by Jacob Maccaferri’s two-run double. Maccaferri, Jake Howell, and Nick Cranston all doubled in the second as the Sox built an 8-3 lead.

Keaton Aliberti was called on to quiet the Sox bats in the third and fourth. Sox pitchers Maccaferri, Peter Burke, and Howell gave up just three hits and no runs, striking out 10 over the final five innings.

The defensive play of the game occurred in the third inning when Sox center fielder Jeremy Regan threw a strike to brother Jared at home plate, who applied a quick catch and tag to Cubs runner Chris Ferry.

Ferry reached base three times for the Cubs, while Joe Serpa had two hits for the Sox.

Monday, May 12

Pirates 7, Cardinals 4

The Pirates defeated the Cardinals Monday night, 7-4. Two strong pitchers, Harold Lawry for the Bucs and Jackie Pizzano for the Redbirds, took the mound. In the third inning, Chesca Potter broke a 1-1 tie with a two-run triple, her second hit and third RBIs of the game. Harold Lawry then drove in Chesca with a triple of his own.

With the Bucs up 6-1 in the fifth, the Cardinals got their bats rolling. Hunter Meader doubled and Aiden Rogers tripled to bring the Cards to within 6-4. The Pirates scratched out an insurance run in the bottom of the fifth. Felix Colon, Luke Nivalas, and Chesca Potter got their first hits of the season for the Pirates.

Saturday, May 10

Red Sox 2, Pirates 1

The defending champion Red Sox were tested at Veira Park in Oak Bluffs on Saturday, but they improved to 3-0 with a 2-1 win over the Pirates.

Red Sox pitchers Nick Cranston, Jake Howell, and Jeremy Regan all were stellar on the hill, giving up two hits and combining for 11 strikeouts. Bucs’ starter Owen Bresnick cooled the hot Sox bats, throwing a 65-pitch complete game, allowing only two unearned runs on four hits, while striking out five and walking none.

With the BoSox up, 2-0, after five innings, the Pirates made it close with two outs in the top of the sixth. Aiden Marek doubled and Harold Lawry singled to slice the lead in half but the Bucs would get no closer.

Jake Howell had two hits for the Sox.

Cubs 7, Athletics 6

The Cubs beat the A’s 7-6 Saturday at Viera in a tale of two games. Eleven runners scored in the first two innings, but the rest of the game was a classic pitcher’s duel.

The A’s jumped on top 5-0 in the top of the first. Colby Balboni, who had two hits on the day, drove in a pair with a hard single.

The Cubs responded with six in the second, highlighted by Jorrien Ahren’s clutch two-out, two-run single.

On the mound, Keaton Aliberti and Summer Cardoza pitched the final five innings for the Cubs, allowing one run on a pair of hits. Workhorse Cam Moore threw a complete game for the A’s, allowing seven hits and no walks.

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Red Sox 12, Tigers 0

Red Sox pitcher Jared Regan threw a perfect game Saturday in a 12-0 win over the Tigers, highlighting a busy week of Little League action. A perfect game is a rare feat at any level. Jared threw 71 pitches overall, 53 for strikes over six innings and struck out 14 of 18 batters faced. Kenny Hatt came closest to recording a hit for the Tigers, stroking a fly ball down the left field line that fell six inches foul in the fifth inning.

Parker Ben David (fly ball to left) and Finn Lewis (deflected ground ball to second base) sealed the perfection with standout defense. Joe Serpa scored four runs for the Sox and Jacob Maccaferri drove in three runs with two hits. Jake Howell and Jeremy Regan combined for five hits.

In other Little League action:

Monday, May 5

Cubs 10, Athletics 8

The Cubs prevailed, 10-8, with a balanced 16-hit attack. Pete Gillis and Andrew Marchand had three hits apiece, while Max Potter and Keaton Aliberti combined for five RBIs. Cubs’ reliever Chris Ferry halted a furious A’s rally in the final inning, inducing a ground out as rookie Jonathan Norton fired to first with the tying run on base.

Cubs starter Summer Cardoza was strong, pitching three solid innings as the Cubs built a 9-3 lead. A’s pitcher Cam Moore was strong on the hill over four-plus innings, allowing one run. A’s leadoff hitter Ben Peters reached base in all four of his at bats. Nate Porterfield reached base three times.

Saturday, May 3

Athletics 6, Cardinals 3

Official opening day play got underway Saturday at Veira Park in Oak Bluffs. The Cardinals and A’s, the only two teams in the Majors yet to play a game due to rain earlier in the week, led off.

The A’s came out hitting. Nate Porterfield doubled, Mikey Cosgrave tripled, and Patrick Dutton singled. Ben Peters pitched a solid 3.5 innings for the A’s, striking out six Redbirds.

The Cards climbed to within three runs as Leo Neville scored after drawing a walk, stealing a base, and tagging up on a sacrifice fly. The A’s sealed the game in the fourth on an Emily Mello hit down the right field line, as she pushed for third on an errant throw and stole home. Colby Balboni closed the game for the A’s, striking out six. Bizu Horwitz made a highlight reel catch, chasing down a deep hit to right in the top of the sixth.

Cubs 15, Pirates 4

The Cubs beat the Pirates, 15-4, Saturday. The Pirates jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the bottom of the third behind strong pitching from Owen Bresnick and RBI singles by Bresnick, Isaac Richards, and Aiden Marek.

The Cubs exploded for 15 runs in the next two innings. Rookies Jonathan Norton and Jack O’Brien collected RBI singles, Max Potter reached base three times and winning pitcher Keaton Aliberti (eight K’s in three innings) drove in four runs, including a bases-clearing triple down the left field line. Nine Cubs reached base in the team effort.

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Seven years in the making, the new Little League field may be ready for action by season’s end.

A home plate view of the diamond at Penn Field. — Photo by Ralph Stewart

After a seven-year odyssey, Martha’s Vineyard Little League (MVLL) is preparing to christen its new playing field.

Penn Field will be in play for the 2015 season, and, just possibly, will be available for play at the end of the current Little League season, according to Phil Regan of Hutker Architects, who describes himself as the “coach” for the project. Mr. Regan is also a director of MVLL.

The story of Penn Field serves as a template for active communities pitching in to create their own resources. “Little League is a 100 percent volunteer organization from the national president to the umpires who work the Island games,” Mr. Regan said this week. “I can’t express how much help in donations of money, time, and labor are represented in this field.”

A completed irrigation system is in place and dugouts are under construction now. Next week, a donated flagpole and scoreboard will arrive from off Island. The field behind the waste water treatment plant off Pennsylvania Ave. in Oak Bluffs is ready to receive its mantel of infield dirt, now stored on the site.

A parking area has been established and potential donors identified who may provide funds for the construction of bleachers and for field maintenance equipment, Mr. Regan said. In addition to putting his architect’s eye to planning and designing Penn Field, Mr. Regan coaches the Red Sox, his twin sons’ major league champion Little League team.

Mr. Regan has a passion for the game as a former Island high school player, an assistant coach at the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School team for 10 years and a travel team coach. His passion for baseball has served this project well as it has wound a tortuous path since 2008.

Seven years ago, money and location would be the principal stumbling blocks. “We had raised $200,000 ourselves, but I believed we would need $300,000,” Mr. Regan said this week in his office at Hutker Architects on Beach Road in Vineyard Haven.

The group’s original plan in 2008 was to site the new field at Veira Park where the Little League field exists. A long, occasionally contentious series of objections by neighborhood residents nixed the idea. The planning group was awarded its current site by the town of Oak Bluffs.

So far, so good. The planning group spent $50,000 of their $200,000 pot clearing the actual ball field area. But the field was inaccessible except by crossing waste water plant property, not a long-term option.

“We had a “paper” road in from the other side,” Mr. Regan said. “That is, the road was granted on paper but was wooded and grown over. John Keene (John Keene Excavation, West Tisbury) cleared the road as a donation.

“There was not an inch of topsoil anywhere on the site, so we knew we’d have to bring that in,” he said, a $75,000 expense, further dwindling the construction pot to $75,000.

Then the baseball gods showed up. The group had been able to secure some funding from Oak Bluffs from state funds provided to municipalities under the new Community Preservation Act (CPA) law. Funds are granted to individual town Community Preservation committees. However, the state broadened the CPA law in 2012 to allow neighboring towns to use CPA funds for regional projects, an important lifeline for Island Little League, the largest youth organization on the Island with up to 350 kids participating annually.

“We were able to raise $135,00 in CPA funds from Edgartown ($50,000), Oak Bluffs ($50,000), west Tisbury ($25,000) and Tisbury ($10,000),” Mr. Regan said. Those funds, along with donations of time and labor gave Penn Field life.

“Patrick Burke donated the irrigation system, The Martha’s Vineyard Permanent Endowment Fund, Farm Neck Golf Course, The Vineyard Golf Club, the town of Oak Bluffs, Walter Smith, and NSTAR have made funding or labor contributions,” Mr. Regan said. Parents also provide a lively and varied menu at a well-stocked food stand during games. “The ability to provide two playing fields (Veira Park and Penn Field) also means we can host tournaments on Island rather than always incurring the expense of traveling off Island,” Mr. Regan noted.

Despite status as the Island’s largest youth organization, Little League was not widely known. “We were largely invisible; we didn’t do much publicly,” Mr. Regan said, noting that Island Little League has reinstated its Opening Day parade in Oak Bluffs as a way for residents to understand the scope of Little League on-Island. The parade is coming up this Saturday, May 3, starting at 10 am.

Little League funding has traditionally meant that coaches reach for their own checkbooks to underwrite equipment — and pizza — a tradition that likely will continue. “We’re going to need money forever,” Mr. Regan said. “Kids are always growing and we get new kids every year. The cost of equipment and constant field maintenance is always ongoing.”

Now it’s time to Play Ball!