Colonie couldn’t rally its way to victory a second time at the Little League Mid-Atlantic Regionals.
Jakob Lemperle’s two-run homer in the top of the sixth inning trimmed Taney Youth Baeball Association’s lead to one run, but the Pennsylvania state champs from Philadelphia prevailed 6-5 in the semifinals Friday, Aug. 8, in Bristol, Conn.
“Whenever we’re losing, we’re trying to get that tying run up (to the plate) because who knows what will happen next,” said Colonie manager Mike McDonough. “We’ve won a lot of games like that, but we couldn’t get it done this time.”
The semifinal loss ended an exciting playoff run for Colonie that included a 5-3 victory over Taney Tuesday, Aug. 5, in the team’s final pool play game. Colonie rallied from a 3-0 deficit to earn the win that put them in the regional semifinals.
“Even though they (Taney) jumped out 3-0 on us, it didn’t feel like they were that much better than us,” said McDonough. “We just stuck with the game plan.”
In Tuesday’s game against Taney, Lemperle gave Colonie a boost with a three-run homer in the bottom of the third inning to tie the score at 3-3. He then drove in the go-ahead run with an RBI triple in the fifth and pitched for the final out in the top of the sixth.
Lemperle came through again in the semifinal contest Friday. His RBI double in the top of the third inning gave Colonie a 1-0 lead. Two batters later, Ian Parker followed with his own RBI double to make it a two-run Colonie advantage.
Tyler Catalfamo walked to lead off the top of the fourth inning for Colonie. Pinch runner Zane Nelsen stole second and scored three batters later when Jimmy Davis singled to put his team ahead 3-0.
The momentum swung Taney’s way after that. A three-run homer by Taney’s Zion Spearman in the bottom of the fourth inning tied the score at 3-3. Then in the fifth inning, Jared Sprague-Lott’s two run double gave Taney the lead. In both innings, a Colonie error began Taney’s rally.
“We didn’t play as well as we could have, and they made more plays than us,” said McDonough.
Lemperle had been masterful on the pitcher’s mound for Colonie in the semifinal until the fourth and fifth innings. Lemperle allowed one hit over the first three innings and finished the game with five hits, four strikeouts and one walk.
“He pitched well. It’s just baseball,” said McDonough. “I know all of his teammates were proud of him, and he was proud of all his teammates.”
McDonough said his team had a memorable time at the Mid-Atlantic Regionals, which also included a visit to ESPN’s Bristol studios and having its semifinal game televised on ESPN.
“From the facilities to the action on the field to the host families, we were treated very well,” said McDonough. “They fed us well at ESPN, and I know the kids had a blast there.”
McDonough said the next goal for this group of Colonie baseball players is to have similar success at the Babe Ruth level in 2015.
“I DVR’d (the semifinal game),” said McDonough. “I watched it once, and I probably won’t watch it again. There are a lot more games for us to look forward to at the Babe Ruth level.”
Associate editor/sports editor