The Phillies trailed by one run with just three outs remaining in the 2011 HLBA Senior Division championship game. However, Coach Charlie Rollison's staged one last desperate rally to defeat Elegante, 3-2.
Elegante came within three outs of orchestrating the “upset of the year” in Honesdale Little Baseball Association action Wednesday night.
The underdog Giants clung to a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the sixth against HNB, a team that entered this Senior Division championship game as the #1 seed and a heavy favorite.
Nevertheless, Elegante owned the first four frames.
Thanks to a towering homer by Jack Rickard in the top of the first...and brilliant pitching by Emily Chee...the Giants nearly pulled it off. In the end, though, the Phillies simply had too much firepower.
HNB banged out three straight extra base hits in its final at-bat to earn an electrifying win. The final score was 3-2.
With this victory, Coach Charlie Rollison’s squad put the finishing touches on a magical season. The Phils ended the year with a 15-2 record. They also gave their veteran skipper something he didn’t have on his resume, even after more than two decades in the dugout.
“This is the first time my team has ever won the regular season and the playoff championship in the same year,” a beaming Rollison told TWI Sports. “It feels pretty darned good.”
Moments later Charlie good-naturedly endured the ritual of a “Gatorade Bath,” as giggling players surrounded and emptied coolers filled with ice-cold liquid over his head.
In the top of the first, it looked as though Elegante might just be capable of an upset.
Will Howell led off the game by smoking a line drive double up the alley in right center.
After HNB starter Tim Minella struck out the Giants’ #2 batter, Jack Rickard strode to the dish. One of the Senior Division’s most feared power hitters, Rickard pounced on a belt-high heater and drove the ball deep into the trees behind the leftfield wall.
Suddenly, Elegante fans were up and cheering. The Giants led 2-0.
Minella needed a minute to compose himself. After allowing a single to Chee, Tom took a deep breath and fanned the next two batters to escape with no further damage.
Chee then trotted out to the mound and began a truly impressive champion-ship game performance.
The deadly accurate righty struck out the side in both the first and second innings. In fact, Emily fanned six of the first seven Phillies she faced before handing the ball off to Howell.
Meanwhile, Minella grew stronger as the game progressed. Tim was far & away the division’s top twirler this summer. He piled up nearly 100 strikeouts in just 46 innings of work. And, on this day, he added 12 more Ks to his resume.
Defensively, both teams played flawless baseball.
The Play of the Day came in the top of the fourth when Minella snared a hard-hit comebacker off the bat of Nick Theobald. Tim fired the ball to first, where Mark Ambrose in turn delivered a strike to the plate to cut down Chee.
This 1-3-2 double play kept Elegante’s margin at 2-0 and set the stage for HNB’s late-game rally.
In the bottom of the frame, Anthony Dellaquila led off with an infield single. Two batters later, he sprinted home when Minella blasted an RBI triple.
The score remained 2-1 into the bottom of the sixth when HNB finally pulled out all the stops.
Tom Minella, who came on in relief of his brother and earned the win, got things going with a lead-off double. After Tom took third on a wild pitch, Tim chased him home with another double.
Then, with fans from both sides going crazy, Ambrose ended it. Mark fouled off a couple of pitches, then unleashed a line drive to center. Minella rocketed home ahead of the throw and HNB had itself an electrifying 3-2 win.
Score by Innings...
Giants (11-6) 2 0 0 0 0 0 - 2
Phillies (15-2) 0 0 0 1 0 2 - 3