In a closely contested game, the Bayside Little League Rebels defeated the Richmond County Raiders by a score of 2-1 to earn the Borough Cup Championship at Yankee Stadium last week.
Both teams entered the championship game undefeated, with the Raiders holding a 4-0 record, while the Rebels were 5-0.
Before the game on Sept. 3, the teams got the chance to travel through Yankee Stadium to their locker rooms. When it was time to take the field, the Rebels marched through the halls of Yankee Stadium and onto the field.
“In a couple of words the experience was awe-inspiring and the site of the field breathtaking as the rusty brown clay, green grass and blue sky all come into view within the cavernous walls of the stadium,” said Steven Perez, press coordinator for the Rebels.
The pregame ceremony included ceremonial first pitches, which were thrown out by the Borough Cup’s co-founder John Franco, Hall of Fame pitcher for the New York Mets; and Omar Minaya, former Mets General Manager. After the National Anthem, it was time to play ball.
The Rebels took an early lead in the second inning when catcher Ray Winter led off with a walk. John DeCastro struck out on three pitches and Kevin O’Connor also struck out. With two outs in the inning, right fielder Regan Goger hit a single into the gap between the center and right fielders driving in Winter and putting the Rebels on the board 1-0.
The score remained the same as both pitchers controlled the game. In the bottom of the sixth the Raiders pulled even. Rebels pitcher John Callahan walked a batter, gave up a hit to right field and a blooper to third base to load the bases.
The number two batter for the Raiders hit a ground ball between second and first base, but Aristo Pagiatakis threw home to Winter to get the out at the plate. The lone Raiders run then came on a wild pitch, tying the game at 1-1.
In the top of the eighth inning, the Rebels managed to get the first two batters on base. With runners on second and third, the Raiders pitcher balked, allowing Becir Hot to score the go-ahead run, giving the Rebels a 2-1 lead.
The Rebels clinched the championship after Callahan finished the complete game with a 1-2-3 bottom of the eighth.
“This team and their families have a lot to be thankful for the years of hard work, fun and tears that brought them to pinnacle of the game. Playing in a major league ball park is probably the dream of every young ball player, but these children have lived that dream twice, last year coming in second in the city and this year taking it all the way to be crowned champions,” Perez said. “They have learned more than how to play ball, they have learned to work together as a team, to build each other up and not criticize, to be respectful to their coaches, parents and each other.“