By Joe Scalzo
For Boardman’s 10- and 11-year-old Little League baseball team, the rain came before the reign.
Boardman coach Jason Triveri said his team has shown a knack this summer for playing its best after rain delays — first against North Canton in last month’s Chuck Schafer tournament (“We ended up losing, but it seemed to wake our team up,” he said) and then in a District 2 tournament quarterfinal win over Poland.
“In the Poland game, we had a rain delay and I think we were up 9-1 at the time,” he said. “We came back and scored 14 runs in one inning.
“The funny thing was, [a newspaper] asked me for my top hitters and I was like, ‘I could give you every single hitter on the team.’”
The final was 23-1.
Ryan Henry, Ty Ventresco and Jason Triveri combined for a two-hitter. Henry hit a home run and Nathan Fleming, Jacob Gehring, Ventresco, Triveri, Justin Jones, Patrick Hubert, John Hyde and Ethan Andersen all had two or more hits.
Boardman finished unbeaten in the district tournament, opening with a crucial 4-2 win over Canfield, which beat Boardman in last year’s 10-year-old district title game.
Gehring pitched six innings, struck out 10 and hit a two-run homer. Ventresco drove in the other two runs.
“Being able to beat Canfield in the opening game was big, because that was obviously an anticipated matchup between the teams because of how close we were last year,” Triveri said. “Both teams really wanted that game. We didn’t hit great, but we got a really good pitching performance.”
Boardman followed the 23-1 victory with a 9-5 win over Austintown in the championship game.
Justin Jones and Michael Pastella combined on a three-hitter in that victory. Fleming, Gehring, Michael Pastella and Justin Jones all had two or more hits.
Boardman will play the District 8 (Dayton-area) winner when the state tournament begins on Saturday in North Canton.
“This is the third year this group’s been together and talent-wise, it’s a really good group,” he said. “And the kids themselves are really good kids. They really like being around each other and that’s why we were really excited about this year and what we could possibly accomplish.”
“Pitching-wise, we’re pretty deep,” Triveri said. “We have about six or seven kids we feel like we can throw out there at any time. I feel like we’re built for a state tournament because of how deep we are in pitching.
“If we continue to hit the ball like we have, I feel like we can compete with anyone out there. But we’ll see. They’re still 11.”