What a game! Giants nip Tigers in dramatic Cal Ripken finaleGiants score winning run in seventh inning to cap unbeaten season
Belfast — In a championship game that included tremendous defense, strong pitching, clutch hitting and a dramatic ending, Walsh Field was abuzz Saturday afternoon, June 14 as youngsters played their hearts out for a chance to win a Belfast Cal Ripken League baseball championship.
The No. 1 Giants and No. 2 Tigers put it all on the line to capture the coveted crown and, when called upon, even worked extra before the game was settled in dramatic fashion in the bottom of the seventh inning.
Regulation Cal Ripken games are six innings, but the talented teams needed an extra stanza to settle matters Saturday, as the Giants pulled out a thrilling 3-2, 7-inning victory over the Tigers to cap a sensational, unbeaten campaign.
The Giants, who have won three straight titles, include Ryder Wagenknecht, Jason Bartlett, Dakota Payson, Luke Hamlin, Jacob Mills-Lightner, Jacob Daley, Garynn Young, Cameron Rae, Finn Tarbox, Levi Winslow and Oli Tarbox.
The Tigers include Carter Nichols, Noah Jacobs, Chris Pilliteri, Caleb Hall-Arnett, Evan Porter, Eamon Goscinski, Isaac Bernosky, Brandon Cournoyer, Ethan Porter, Chris Fournier and Jacob Grotton.
Wagenknecht and Bartlett pitched for the Giants, combining to allow four hits and three walks, with 15 strikeouts, while Jacobs and Hall-Arnett worked the hill for the Tigers, as the duo allowed 10 hits, two walks and struck out four.
For the Giants, Wagenknecht (single), Payson (2 singles, home run, 2 runs), Hamlin (3 singles, winning run), Mills-Lightner (single), Daley (single) and Finn Tarbox (triple) keyed the offense.
For the Tigers, Jacobs (single, run), Pilliteri (single, double, run) and Hall-Arnett (triple) paced the offense.
Runs were difficult to come by as consistent pitching and strong defense by both sides helped keep players from crossing the plate.
After the Tigers were retired in order on strikeouts in the top of the first inning, the Giants grabbed a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the frame as Payson singled with two outs and scored following hits from Hamlin and Mills-Lightner.
The Tigers wasted a lead walk to Hall-Arnett in the top of the second before the Giants made noise in the bottom of the stanza with Tarbox's two-out triple. However, he was stranded.
The Tigers again went in order in the third and the Giants could not capitalize on Payson's hit in the bottom of the inning.
The Tigers then clawed back to grab a 2-1 lead in the fourth frame as Jacobs walked and Pilliterri had a hit. Both scored as Hall-Arnett also had a triple in the inning.
After Wagenknect recorded three more strikeouts in the fifth, the Giants tied the game 2-2 in dramatic fashion, as Payson belted a leadoff home run over the fence in center field, just out of the reach of outfielder Cournoyer. Later in the inning, Hamlin reached third after a hit but could not score the go-ahead run.
The Tigers threatened in the sixth inning and, in fact, loaded the bases but could not score. Jacobs and Pilliteri had hits in the stanza to set up the bases-loaded scenario. In fact, the Tigers had the potential go-ahead runs first forced out at the plate and then tagged out at the dish on a close play following a passed ball/wild pitch as the catcher tossed to the pitcher for the out to end the inning.
After the Giants did not threaten in the bottom of the sixth, the game went to an extra inning.
The Tigers were set down in order in the top of the seventh before the Giants clinched the title in the bottom of the stanza as Payson reached with one out but was forced at second on a fielder's choice by Hamlin. Mills-Lightner walked to put the winning run on second and then Daley's infield hit could not be played in time and Hamlin scampered home with the deciding run.
Earlier in the playoffs, Yankees beat Angels 2-1, Tigers beat Indians 13-0, Indians beat Yankees 20-6, Giants beat Yankees 15-0, Giants beat Tigers 3-1, Indians beat Angels 9-4 and Tigers beat Indians 9-5.
The regular-season standings, in order of finish, were: Giants, Tigers, Indians, Angels and Yankees.
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Ken Waltz has been member of the media nearly 35 years and has received hundreds of Maine Press Association and New England Press Association awards for his writing, photography and page design. He studied journalism at the University of Maine in Orono. He lives in South Thomaston with his wife, Sarah. The couple has an adult son, Brandon, who lives in North Carolina.
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