The North Bellmore-North Merrick Rebels U-11 Williamsport team topped Huntington Tri-Village by a score of 4-2 to claim the Long Island Section 6 championship Tuesday night at Otsego Park in Dix Hills.
While rain postponed the game on Monday, nothing could stop the Rebels from bringing home the Long Island title Tuesday. The win marks the first time a District 31 team has represented Section 6 in the New York State tournament in the last 11 years for the U-11 age group.
“We knew this was a team that we weren’t going to put away easily," Rebels head coach Sam Acri said. "It was a big stage, but they proved that they are able to overcome that."
The Rebels started the anticipated meeting with two strikeouts by Brian Porricelli in the first inning. In the bottom half of the inning, Alec Acri scored on a fielding error on a ball hit by Nick Valeriano to put the Rebels ahead 1-0.
In their next turn at bat, the Rebels extended their lead to 4-0. Jack Delaney hit an RBI single, followed by a run scored by Andrew Davila on a wild pitch and an RBI infield single by Porricelli to score Delaney.
Huntington fought back in the third with a deficit on its hands. James Mayer hit an inside-the-park home run following a misplayed ball. Tyler Gerbavsits followed later in the inning an RBI single, cutting the gap in half at 4-2.
With Porricelli and Huntington relief pitcher Matt Demeo recording outs in bunches for their respective sides, North Bellmore-North Merrick was able to hold onto its slim two-run lead.
Huntington had a number of chances leading up to the final inning, but solid defense was ultimately the difference. While Steven Napurano provided exceptional defense in the final innings for Huntington, it was a diving catch by the Rebels’ Kevin McCleneghan in center field to wrap up the 1-2-3 sixth inning and solidify his team's championship run.
“We have been a resilient team throughout, coming back many times and playing in close games, and we gave them quite a game,” Huntington head coach Michael Stock said. “I wouldn’t change a thing about my team. Our players gave everything they had tonight.”
Porricelli collected the win for North Bellmore-North Merrick in a complete game effort, recording eight total strikeouts.
“We are great as a team and we can keep on going to win states,” Porricelli said. “I pitched really well with my control and getting the strikeouts. I always like to pitch in the big games and I hope I always do.”
North Bellmore-North Merrick finished the sectional tournament with a perfect 6-0 record. The team won its games, including a 15-5 win over this same Huntington team on July 30, by a combined score of 68-13.
“We are proud to be the team representing Long Island in the states. I am thinking we should be able to compete if we give it our best,” Acri added.
The Rebels will compete in the state tournament in Pine Bush, New York against five other sectional champions. The Pine Bush Little League will be the host venue for the six-team tournament taking place from Aug. 6-11.