Lancaster A's fall just short of HLBB championship.
LANCASTER - After a strong three-run first inning, the Lancaster A's were able to score just one run the rest of the game, dropping a 12-4 decision to the Harvard Orioles in the Harvard, Lancaster, Berlin and Bolton (HLBB) Little League Majors championship last Wednesday night at Thayer Field.
The HLBB champion Orioles, who had lost twice during the regular season to the A's, were undefeated in the double-elimination playoffs with a 4-0 record.
Although they ended up losing in the finals, the A's, who were the season champs with an 11-1 mark, had a good run in the HLBB tournament, finishing with a 4-2 record.
After beating the Bolton Reds in the first game of the playoffs, the A's hammered Berlin Ciesluk 12-2 in their second contest.
The Lancaster A's then lost 3-2 to the Orioles, before bouncing back with a come-from-behind 5-4 victory over the Harvard Athletics.
In the championship game, A's pitcher Chris Benschneider went 42/3 innings, and after giving up some early runs, he got stronger as the game went on, striking out five batters.
Benschneider yielded to John Sullivan in the fifth, and Sullivan finished the game in relief.
Harvard Orioles winning pitcher, Harry Green, hurled a fine game, allowing four runs and six hits in five innings. Green struck out nine batters.
After the Orioles scored three runs in the top half of the first inning, the A's came storming back with three runs of their own in the home half of the frame to tie the score at 3.
With one out, Kyle Hume singled to right field. The next batter was Cooper Sarafin, who was hit by a pitch, putting runners on first and second base.
Ben Sousa then ripped an RBI single to right field. With runners at second and third, Alex Jacobs rifled a single to right, plating both Sarafin and Sousa.
Harvard took a 6-3 lead after scoring three runs in the top of the second frame.
However, Lancaster came back with a solo run in the home half of the inning to get within two runs, 6-4.
With one out, Kevin Sullivan crushed a double to deep-left field. Sullivan went to third on a ground out, and then scored on a fielder's choice.
The Orioles closed things out with a solo run in the fourth inning and five runs in the fifth.
Hume led the A's with two hits, while Roman Vallente, Ray Ruenheck, and Green had three hits apiece for the Orioles.
Defensively, Sarafin at first base and Sousa at shortstop made all the plays for Lancaster. Jamie Barett at second base wore the gold glove for Harvard.
This was a great game for both teams," Lancaster A's manager Joe Sousa said. "Unfortunately for us, it turned out to be the championship (game).
"We were hoping to stretch it out to tomorrow," he said. "We kind of ran out of pitching, but I don't want to take anything away from Harvard. They played great, and we just came up short."
In the victory over the Harvard A's, Sarafin started for Lancaster and pitched four strong innings, with four strikeouts.
Ben Sousa hurled two frames, shutting the door in relief.
Sarafin led his team with two doubles, while Ben Sousa chipped in with a single and a double.
"That (game) was a fantastic win for us," Joe Sousa said. "They are a tough team, and the only team to beat us during the regular season. We (both teams) were in the loser's bracket, and that put pressure on both of us."
The members of the 2010 Lancaster A's were Ben Glover, Matt LeBlanc, Kevin Sullivan, Shane Regonini, Andrew Bilodeau, Ben Sousa, Ethan Hill, John Sullivan, Tony Kennon, Hume, Jacobs, Benschneider, and Sarafin.
The coaches were Carl Hume and John Sarafin.
CUTLINE: (1) Lancaster A's shortstop Ben Sousa tags out a runner during his team's HLBB Little League Majors Tournament win over the Harvard A's. (2) Kyle Hume scores a run for the Lancaster A's. (3) Lancaster's Cooper Sarafin hurls a pitch.
PHOTOG: Item photos/GRAHAM ENTWISTLE