|Connecticut wins in extra innings to take National title
By LEE WHITE
Express Sports Editor
(As originally published in the Chickasha Daily Express)
It took two extra innings Saturday afternoon in All Sports Stadium to determine a champion, not surprising considering
two never say die teams met in the National AAU Tournament showdown, the climax to eight days of baseball played by
13-and-unders from 22 states.
Also not surprising was the selection of Kyle Wirtz as the tournament s Most Valuable Player, an obvious choice
considering he pitched all nine innings Saturday for the national champions, Connecticut Baseball Academy, in slipping
past the Texas Titans, 3-2.
The Texas Titans reached the championship by rallying from an 8-2 deficit to a 9-8 semifinal victory, the most
important "hit" an errant pitch that nicked a Titan, forcing in the wining run.
In the title game which was deadlocked 2-2 at the end of seven innings, the Titans scored their two runs in the third
Chris Manley doubled over the right fielder's head, and Kyle Freeman followed with a slasher just inside the first base
bag that netted him a stand up triple, and the game's first run batted in.
The third Titan batter of the inning, John Infante, delivered a sacrifice fly to left field that easily scored Freeman from
'Wirtz:, on the mound for the Academy, got the next two batters on ground outs, the first two of 11 outs in a row. In the
fifth, Wirtz struck out the side.
After the DalIas-Ft. Worth area team took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the third, Connecticut scored its first run in the
Gary Diaz doubled over the left fielder's head.
Two batters later, Mark Rizza hit a hard grounder that bounced over the third baseman's head for a single, the single
that got Diaz home with the Academy's first run.
Trailing 2-1, the Academy was down to its last two outs in the top of the seventh when it was forced to prove that it, too,
was a "never say die" outfit.
A Titan error allowed a baserunner, Rizza. Texas' coaching staff elected to change pitchers, pulling AlIan Graham who
had started and had scattered five hits in six plus innings of work while keeping the Academy bats under control.
The new pitcher, Manley, gave up a single to the first batter he faced, Patrick Orefice, that move Rizza to third. Orefice
was out at second base on Greg Zurlis' fielder's choice that got Rizza home with the tying run, 2-2.
In the bottom of the seventh, the Titans got two runners in scoring position with one out. An intentional walk loaded the
On a fielder's choice, the Academy nailed the lead runner at home for the second out. With the base still loaded' Kyle
Freeman flied out to end the seventh 2-2, sending the game into extra innings.
In the ninth, Connecticut got a pair of base runners on via walks. Jeremy Balisciano, on second, broke for third and a
In attempting to get the third out at third base, the Titan catcher sailed the ball over the third baseman into left field,
allowing Balisciano to dash home with what turned out to be the winning run.
The Titans got two men on base with no outs in the bottom of the ninth.
Academy pitcher Wirtz picked off the lead runner at second base, and then walked a batter to give Texas runners on
first and second with one out.
The Titans next batter hit into a double play to end the game.