Erik Martins was hoping his birthday would change the NorthEast Auto Body-sponsored Yankees’ luck in the Johnston Little League’s Town Championship finale.
However, the Yankees would have to beat the red-hot Johnston Lions Club-sponsored Orioles, who evened the championship series by way of an impressive 3-1 O’s triumph vs. NorthEast Auto Body.
The O’s, who were managed by Johnston Town Council Robert Civetti, rode the stellar pitching of AJ DiIorio and posted the two-run and were looking to stake claim to the coveted youth baseball crown.
However, Nate Lewis pitched 5 2/3 innings and the Yankees coupled that effort with and offense and posted a town championship-clinching 5-1 victory that was also highlighted by his son Logan Martins – who also plays football and wrestles – connecting for three hits in four trips to the plate and Brandon Simonelli closing out the last batter.
Likewise, Simonelli had two RBI while Nate Lewis also figures in the Yankees’’ offense.
Yet another key to the Yankees triumph came from Alex Roderick, who laid down a game-changing bunt in the fifth inning that started the rally that led to a go-ahead run.
“Our total pitching and defense was solid during the playoffs,” Erik Martins noted. “Outfielders Enzo Gutierrez, Joe Cuoco, Adrian Rutowski and Kam Martins all played well defensively and only let up a few unearned runs. Even the bottom of our (batting) order put the bat on the ball.”
The Yankees’ skipper, who coached with Josh Small, also cited the work of infielders Nick Viau, Davian Nunez, Lewis and Sebastian Small.
“I can honestly say that these were some great games played by both teams in the (town) championship,” Erik Martins went on. “Win or lose, it was great youth baseball.”
The Yankees opened their playoff run with a 10-0 shutout of the Cardinals behind Lewis’ seven strikeout pitching performance. Lewis also had some key hits as did Nunez and Viau.
In one of those nerve-racking games, the Yanks edged the O’s, 5-4, with Viau closing out the game that saw Lewis, Nunez, Viau and Roderick get key hits. Logan Martins turned in the Play of the Game in the sixth inning when came up with a second to home tag play that prevented the tying run from scoring.
NorthEast Auto then eliminated the A’s, 4-0, with Lewis pitching the first four frames and Viau closing out the fifth and sixth. Lewis and Nunez had key hits and Davian homered in the third.
The Orioles then defeated the Yankees, 3-1, to knot the series.
The 2018 Town Champions are: Nate Lewis, Alex Roderick, Davian Nunez, Sebastian Small, Joe Cuoco, Brandon Simonelli, Kam Martins, Nick Viau, Enzo Gutierrez, Adrian Rutowski and Nick Viau.