Rye Little Leaguers are state champions, headed to Conn.
MANCHESTER— Rye manager Ron King always knew he had a confident team. He just never imagined it would nearly score 20 runs in a deciding championship game.
"No, not even close, but it was sure fun to watch," he said after Rye, behind homers from Max Malila and Dylan Chase, surged to a convincing 19-7 victory over Salem for the New Hampshire Little League 11-12-year-old State Baseball Tournament championship at Manchester Central Little League's Sam Harris Field Monday before 400 fans. The teams had split the first two games of the best-of-three series.
Rye earns a New England Regional berth to Bristol, Conn., which begins Aug. 2.
"It's a overwhelming feeling to be state champs," said King. "This is the goal we set for ourselves before we played our first game. To do it is an incredible feeling. I'm just proud of the entire team."
Rye never trailed in the game, scoring in each inning including five times in the second inning for a 7-2 lead.
Perhaps the key hit in the entire game came off the bat of third baseman Calvin Kobylikski with one out in the second inning. Rye had just scored three runs on a hits batsman with the bases loaded, Matt Leger's RBI fielder's choice and Spencer Leger's infield hit which produced a 5-2 lead.
That's when Kobylinski delivered two more runs with a hard line drive double to center, pushing the lead to 7-2.
"Probably the biggest hit of the game," said Salem manager Dean Borrelli. "To be down by three runs in the second inning is not that bad. To be down by five, that's something else. It seemed from that point on like they never stopped scoring runs."
Down five, Salem's offense went quietly down in the home second. Rye's offense kept clicking in the third inning when Malila belted a one-out, solo homer to center for an 8-2 bulge.
The Rye lead was cut in half when starting and losing pitcher Jake Delaney of Salem launched a three-run homer to right centerfield with Matt Soldano and Jake Emerson aboard in the home third.
Suddenly it appeared the momentum was shifting when Salem threatened for more with runners on second and third. But starting and winning pitcher Dylan King retired the last two batters on a pop-out to short and a liner back to the box, keeping Rye's lead to 8-5.
Rye restored its six-run cushion in the fourth inning when, with two runners on, Joe Nadeau drilled a single to left scoring Matt Leger. The Salem outfielder mis-played the ball allowing Spencer Leger to score and an errant throw to second to get Nadeau sailed into centerfield allowing Nadeau to scamper home for the 11-5 lead.
Rye kept the pressure on in the fifth inning, extending its lead to 13-5 on a two-run homer by Chase. Later in the inning, a bases-loaded walk to Nadeau and an RBI single by Nick Guerin pushed Rye out to a 15-5 lead.
"Nothing seemed to go right for us," said Borrelli. "We made some mistakes on defense and they capitalized on them. Leaving two runners on after Delaney's homer got us to within three runs was huge. You just have to tip your cap off to Rye. At the same time, there's no shame finishing runner-up in the state. I'm proud of my team."
Rye will take a few days to enjoy this win and then they'll begin to focus on Bristol and the regionals.