LITTLE LEAGUE Boardman West steps up to plate
The team continues state tournament play against the District 11 champion Wednesday in Eaton.
By BOB ROTH
BOARDMAN -- After scoring 18 runs Saturday night, the Boardman West team went to an opposite extreme offensively Sunday to eke out a 2-1 victory over Boardman East in the 11- and 12-year-old Little League District 2 tournament championship at Fields of Dreams.
The top of the fourth inning was a struggle for East pitcher Corey Susany, who gave up both of West's runs. Opposing pitcher Armoni Johnson singled to start the inning, and East mishandled Ed Rohan's sacrifice attempt, allowing him to reach and Johnson to move to second. Susany's wild pitch then advanced the two to second and third with nobody out.
Susany, who tossed a three-hitter with seven strikeouts, struck out the next two hitters but threw two more wild pitches, allowing Johnson and Rohan to score the deciding runs.
Waging a battle: "This team had to battle all the way," said West coach Mark Carrocce. "There were great expectations for them because they were a state runner-up when they were 10-year-olds. For us coaches, our duties were to keep our guys focused, and they were throughout this tournament."
The East scored their run in the first inning, hitting four singles off Johnson. But Johnson struck out two, center fielder Nick Schiavoni came up with quick throws on two of the hits, and shortstop Mike Popio made a good play to end the inning.
"I didn't panic," Johnson said. "I was just trying to throw strikes. I stayed cool and got out of a big jam."
East outhit the West 6-3 but had only two hits through the last five innings.
"I am as proud as I can be of all our kids," East coach Dave Nash said. "They played hard, and they played well and now I wish the West well the rest of the way in tournament play."
Johnson, who struck out four, left in the fourth inning with shoulder soreness after being hit with a pitch in the first inning. Right fielder Daniel McCarthy relieved him and retired nine consecutive batters, including two on strikeouts in the seventh, to earn the victory.
Stepping up to the plate: "Before the game started, my coaches told me to be ready to come in, and when I got the call I was pumped up," said McCarthy. "I was relaxed and did what I had to do."
West continues state tournament play against the District 11 champion Wednesday in Eaton.
"We feel good about our chances in the state tournament," Carrocce said. "We are deep, with an excellent bench, and tonight we won against as good a pitcher as we might face in Corey Susany."