Despite issuing eight bases on balls and flinging nine wild pitches, Rye’s select team of 11-year-olds still had a chance to take the District 20 Little League crown from a nervous Harrison side under the lights July 19 at Gedney Field in White Plains.
Undefeated Harrison had plenty to be anxious about in the bottom of the sixth. Though they’d beaten this same Rye roster 7-3 just four days earlier, the Huskies were in obvious awe of their rivals’ bats.
People’s Exhibit One: Billy Chabot’s leadoff homer in the top of the fourth, tomahawked over the left-field fence, that tied the game 1-1. Exhibit Two: Dusty Mion’s huge opposite-field homer the next inning after Harrison had taken a 6-3 lead in the top of the frame. And Exhibit Three: after Rye conceded three more runs in the top of the sixth, Owen Hull boomed a two-out, three-run homer, his team’s third in three innings, to make it 9-7.
When Max Kenney and Mat Bruno both walked, Mion stepped in again as the winning run. After a dubious called first strike, Mion eventually went down swinging and Rye’s season came, abruptly, to an end.
As dramatic as it was, the championship game was nothing compared to the semifinal. In that one, Eastchester scored six runs in the top of the first before Mion got half of them back with a three-run dinger. A string of hits by Bruno, Mion, Forbes Crowley, Sean Hale, and Chabot tied things up, 6-6. Rye built a 13-9 lead going into the top of the fifth when the bottom fell out: Eastchester used walks and singles to rattle off ten straight runs.
“When our kids finally came into the dugout after an inning the coaches thought would never end, none of them seemed dejected,” said manager Greg Hale. “They just wanted a chance to bat and get back into the game. And they did.”
Owen Hull and Max Kenney led off the bottom of the fifth with singles, Bruno hit a three-run blast, followed by a Chabot double that scored two more.
With Rye down 19-18 after holding Eastchester scoreless in the top of the sixth, Forbes Crowley’s infield hit tied the game. Mion, who’d already homered twice, was intentionally walked to load the bases. Then a passed ball by Eastchester’s catcher allowed Bruno to steal home and advance his team to the title game.
Hale, who had high praise for Gavin Kenny in right field, summed up the season. “This team showed they wouldn’t give up no matter what the score was. Our comeback against Harrison fell short but I was very proud of the work and effort all the kids put in this summer.”