Rockaway Little League Champions. AKB Rockies, Walsh Flippers and Empire Mariners Reign

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Three Rockaway Little League champions were crowned earlier this week as the AKB Security Rockies in Major Boys, the Walsh Properties Flippers in Major Girls and the Empire Unlimited Mariners in Minor Boys clinched division titles.  Two other divisions (Minor Girls, Pee Wee Senior) were to be decided on Wednesday.

The Major Boys Rockies finished an improbable run by edging the Metalmen Sales Orioles, 8-6, in a thriller on Sunday.  It was a see-saw battle that saw four lead changes in the first three innings.  In the home third, the Rockies Mike Light put his team ahead for good with a two-run blast over the left field fence.  The champs added three more in the bottom of the fourth inning to seemingly put the game away.  The Orioles did not fly off, however.  After closing within two runs, the Metalmen squad loaded the bases in the sixth inning.  Johnny Mahoney got a game-ending strikeout to seal the championship.  Chris McElhinney was 2-2 with a walk, two runs scored and two RBIs for the Rockies.  Nicholas Donohue and Mike Light both stole home.  Light had three RBIs.  Nick Rodgers turned a critical, unassisted double play with the Orioles rallying in the fifth inning.  Aiden Harkins was 2-3 with three RBIs for the Orioles.

The Major Boys division was Rockaway Little League’s most competitive during the regular season. Five teams had a shot the pennant so it is not surprising that five different teams won games in the unpredictable post-season tournament.  The fourth-seeded Metalmen Sales Orioles won three tight games in the loser’s bracket to make it to the finals.  The last of these was 10-6 upset of the regular season champions, the Conte Carpet Royals.  In that game, the O’s stunned the Royals, who allowed the fewest runs during the season, by pushing three runs across in the both the first and second innings.  The Royals closed to 6-5 with a big outburst in the bottom of the fourth but the Orioles answered with a back-breaking four-run rally in their next at bat.

The top two regular season teams met in the finals of the Minor Boys division but where the Empire Unlimited Mariners had a machine-like march to the championship round, the El Caribe Caterers Reds took a more interesting route.  The Reds were upset by the Ozane Pest Management Orioles in a classic pitching duel, 2-1.  In the loser’s bracket final, the Reds returned the favor by edging the O-O’s 9-8 in eight innings.  The Reds rallied for two runs in the fifth inning to tie the game 5-5 but looked done when the Orioles plated three runs in the top of the eighth.  In an amazing do-or-die performance, the El Caribe gang scored four runs to walk off with a stunning win.  The Reds magic could not withstand the Mariners power game Tuesday night as Empire Unlimited won the championship with a convincing 13-4 victory to cap its undefeated post-season.

The Major Girls division featured many competitive games during the regular season but at the end of the sixth inning, the Graybeards Bonnies or the Walsh Properties Flippers usually walked off victorious – so it is no surprise that these two teams met in the Championship round and that their series went the distance.  The Flippers entered game one needing to sweep the series due to the Bonnies victory over them earlier in the tournament.  With their backs to the walls, the Walsh ladies put up crooked numbers in the second and third innings to grab an 8-3 lead.  The Graybeard girls closed to 9-6 and loaded the bases in the last inning but Flipper pitcher Margaret Murray coolly worked out of the jam to nail down the win.  In a season where impressive pitching often highlighted the close contents, the finale was decided with bats and gloves.  Both teams scored almost every half inning.  The top-seeded Bonnies trailed 6-5 in the fourth inning when the Flippers broke it open with a seven-run frame.  The difference in the game was fielding.  Both teams hit the ball well but the Walsh Properties squad turned several line drives into hard outs en route to a 14-9 victory.

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