It took barely an hour, and was decided by a less-than-satisfying series of plays, but the Canfield 9-10 Little League baseball team knocked off Boardman’s 10-under team on Wednesday to advance to the District 2 tournament championship.
The lone undefeated teams left in the 9-10 year-old winners bracket, Canfield had defeated its first two opponents by a combined 17-4 and Boardman did so by a combined 28-7 at Fields of Dreams.
However Wednesday’s matchup turned into a pitching duel with neither team surrendering a run until the bottom of the fifth inning.
That’s when Canfield’s Tony Pannunzio reached on a walk and Drew Carrocce singled with one out. After they both advanced on a fielder’s choice, Boardman pitcher Luke Ryan’s pitch got away from catcher Ray Cmil.
Pannunzio scored on the wild pitch and the ball was knocked out of Ryan’s glove, allowing Carrocce to score, too.
“We’ve battled them before and today was a battle of good pitching,” said Canfield assistant manager Tony Pannunzio. “Both teams played really hard and we’re fortunate to have come out on top.”
Canfield retired Boardman in the top half of the six to win 2-0 and advance to Sunday’s championship. Boardman will slide down to the loser’s bracket, where it will await its next opponent.
Canfield has a couple of days to soak up the victory and prepare for one of three possible opponents on Sunday.
“We weren’t looking past these guys [Boardman] today,” said Pannunzio. “There are plenty of good teams here and we’ll be ready for whoever we get.”
Canfield’s opponent will have to beat them twice in the final.
South Range 12, Poland 6
If the South Range 9-10 year-old baseball team wasn’t the most excited team Wednesday night, it sure was the loudest.
Chanting from the dugout for the majority of the game, South Range doubled up Poland 10-under, 12-6, to fight off elimination for another night.
After an opening round loss to Canfield, 7-4, South Range has knocked both the Poland 9-under team and the 10-under team out of the tournament.
“Coming into this, we thought we had a good team and drawing Canfield first is tough — we figured they were probably the best team here — but I honestly believe we’re the second best team here,” said South Ranger manager Scott Deal.
“I told our boys all along, they’re going to be back to play Canfield.”
To do that, they’re going to have to get past the winner of Austintown and Howland, which was the other loser’s bracket game on Wednesday, but was suspended after eight innings because of darkness.
Austintown was leading 9-8 in the bottom of the sixth inning, but a leadoff triple from Howland and a base hit two batters later tied the game and sent it to extras.
They will resume play today at 6 p.m. with the score tied at 9.
In the District 2 baseball 10-11 year old tournament, Boardman is already in the final. On Wednesday, they learned their opponent would be Austintown, which eliminated Poland, 5-1.
In the baseball 11-12 year old division, Canfield will play Boardman, who advanced past Howland, 7-2.
Boardman defeated Poland 7-1 and Austintown beat Crestview 14-2 in the first round of the softball 9-10 year old tournament on Wednesday.