Downtown teams begin tournament

Downtown Little League’s tournament teams are hoping to start a legacy of competitive post-season play for the league this summer after tough results in previous years.

The games started last week, and the D.L.L. is represented by teams of 9-10-year-olds and 11-12-year-olds.

The 9-10-year-olds won their first game on a forfeit from a Kingsbridge team last week due to Kingsbridge’s failure to fully assemble a team. The Downtown team will play again Thurs., July 7 against the West Side Little League on neutral ground in Kingsbridge.

Although the forfeit worked to the D.L.L. team’s advantage, they would prefer to win on the field.

“It’s imperative to be pitch rich,” said Mark Hatton, manager of the 9-10-year-olds. “If you know baseball and tournaments, you know it boils down to who is pitching.”

The D.L.L. has not had a strong reputation in tournament play because many of the kids go away to camps in the summer, including various baseball camps, Hatton said. However, the 9-10-year-olds hope to prove their skills on the field during the next game in order to move up through the sectional, regional and statewide brackets.

The 11-12-year-old team played their first game on Sat., July 2 and lost to an East Harlem team 3-0.

“It was a lot closer than the score indicated,” said Joseph Marino, manager of the 11-12-year-old team. “We lost the game, but I could not be any more prouder with the way they played.”

Since this round of play is double elimination, the team must win their next game against the West Side Little League on Wed., July 6 to stay in the tournament.

The 11-12-year-old age group is eligible to go to the Little League World Series, held in Pennsylvania this August, if they keep winning and moving up through the regional and state divisions. The team is just taking things game by game.

“That’s maybe a further goal,” Marino said of Pennsylvania. “Over the next several years we’ll continue to build a team and get kids down here involved because there are good athletes.”

For the rest of the post-season, Marino says he wants to increase the exposure of tournaments to the Downtown people and to build awareness for players and parents that they are fun and a great learning experience for the players.

—Lauren Dzura

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