Stephens Pharmacy/Northeast Med Equip dealt Dave's Super Duper a heartbreaking 1-0 loss Tuesday night in the 2011 HLBA Junior Division title tilt.


This year's HLBA Junior Division season ended the way every season should: with the two best teams vying for a championship.

On Tuesday night at Fred Reisch Memorial Field, Stephens Pharmacy and Dave's Super Duper put on a show that several hundred youth baseball fans won't soon forget.

Thanks to phenomenal pitching, Gold Glove defense and a solo homer off the bat of Steve Soden, the Mets captured the crown via a heart stopping 1-0 decision.

This game marked the "grand finale" for the Junior Division campaign. If Mother Nature cooperates, the HLBA's Senior Division will also wrap up this week when the Phils and Giants meet one last time.

Battle Royale
These two ballclubs finished 1-2 in the regular season standings with identical 12-2 records.

After delving deeply into the tiebreaking procedures, Super Duper was ranked #1 and Stephens Pharmacy settled for #2.

No matter, though. Each squad triumphed in its semifinal game, thereby setting up one last showdown for the 2011 title.

On Tuesday night at the Grove Street Complex, the Mets and Marlins matched zeroes for four innings before Soden accounted for the game's only run.

Luke Bancroft drew the start for Super Duper, splitting time with teammate Josh Benson over the course of six innings.

Stephens Pharmacy used a similar mound strategy. Soden started, but alternated with Cole Bannan en route to the victory. These two talented twirlers were overpowering on this particular night, piling up 14 Ks between them.

Defensively, Bannan sparkled on the mound.

After hitting back-to-back batters in the fourth, Cole speared a line drive off the bat of Brandon Romano. The quick-thinking lad, who roots for the Yankees and whose favorite player is Alex Rodriguez, then fired to first for an inning ending double play.

This set the stage for Soden to play hero in the top of the fifth. Steve dug in as the lead-off batter and promptly smoked the second pitch he saw into the rightfield corner.

Soden never hesitated coming around third, sprinting for home and sliding safely into the plate.

"It was pretty exciting," said Steve, who emulates Derek Jeter on the field. "That was my first homer. I ran as fast as I could."

Soden's hustle translated into the only run of the game. He then went to the mound in the sixth and sealed the deal in dominating fashion.

A fireballing righty who'll be a fifth grader in the fall, Steve struck out the side to preserve a 1-0 shutout.

Super Duper's best opportunity to score came in the bottom of the first. Ben Williams led off with a basehit, then moved up to second when Bancroft beat out and infield single.

Soden bore down and escaped trouble by inducing a 2-out infield pop.

Score by Innings...
Mets     (14-2)  0  0  0  0  1  0 - 1
Marlins (13-3)  0  0  0  0  0  0 - 0