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Nov, 2023

11U Wins Veterans Day Tournament

After last week's thrilling comeback victory in extra innings to take the Greater Hudson Valley Baseball League 11U-D3 championship, this weekend's Veterans Day Tournament in Ossining seemed like a prime candidate for a let down.  But the 11U Lewisboro Lightning again showed their depth and resiliency, rallying from a shaky start to claim the tournament championship. Their second in a week!

Here's how it went down. 

Game 1 - A Controversial Loss

The first game of group play seemed to validate the let-down narrative. A late evening game on a cold November night, the Lightning did not look sharp against a team that should not have presented much of a threat, the Hudson Valley Select 11U. Nevertheless, the Lightning took a 3-1 lead into the 5th inning. The bottom of the 5th began with a couple of fielding errors, which gave the opposing team baserunners and extra chances at bat. The next batter doubled, bringing in two runs to tie the game, and advanced to third on the throw. 

At that point, relief pitcher Nate T. entered the game to try to salvage the lead. He promptly struck out the next two batters. Then the most controversial play of the tournament happened. Lewisboro, mistakenly believing that it was three outs, came off the field into a team huddle. The other team also thought it was three outs, and the runner on third began to walk to the dugout. At that point, someone pointed out that there were only two outs. The umpires, rather than calling time and getting the matter sorted out, allowed the runner who had seemed to give himself up, to run back to step on the plate and score the go-ahead run. That was the difference in the game, as Lewisboro was unable to get anything going in the top of the 6th inning. The Lightning dropped the first game 3-4. 

Game 2 - Lewisboro Outlasts Opponent in a Back-and-Forth Slugfest

The Friday evening loss in the opener put Lewisboro in a difficult situation. Only the top 4 of the 8 teams in the tournament would advance to the semifinals on Sunday. To advance to the playoffs on Sunday, Lewisboro would need to win both games on Saturday against club teams - the D2 East Coast Elite and the D3 Blue Sox Baseball.

The 11U boys were unfazed, and they showed up ready to play on Saturday morning. Maxim W. started the game on the mound for Lewisboro. Both teams started with hot bats despite the frosty temps. The Lightning kicked off a two-out rally when Nate T. drew a walk, Dean S. singled on a line drive to center field, driving in a run, Hugo S. walked, and then Matthew S. got the big hit of the inning, sending a line drive into the right-center gap for a triple.  Lewisboro took a 3-0 lead.

However, the top of the lineup for the Elite lived up to their team name, especially their leadoff hitter who was 3 for 3 on the day. The Elite started off their first turn at the plate with a single, walk, single, another single, and an RBI groundout, quickly tying the game at 3 runs a piece. At that point, Maxim W. locked in, and struck out the next two batters to strand the go-ahead run on third. 

The next several innings had three lead changes. The Elite took a one-run lead in the bottom of the third on an RBI groundout. But the Lightning came right back in the top of the fourth. Matthew S. drew a walk. Jack W. followed up with a single to left field, which was misplayed by the left fielder, allowing Matthew to score and Jack to advance to third.  Jack then scored on a wild pitch to take back the lead, 5-4. In the bottom of the fourth, the Elite answered with an RBI double, scoring a runner who had reached on an error.

With the game tied again, and a runner on second with no outs, Lewisboro's defense locked down to prevent the Elite from taking back the lead. A ground out to first base enabled the runner to advance to third. But Maxim struck out the next batter, and the final out came when the runner on third attempted to advance home on a wild pitch. The catcher, Nate, quickly recovered the ball and tagged the runner out. 

In the fifth inning, Lewisboro pulled away for good with a big inning at the plate. Dylan O. drew a leadoff walk. Chase V. followed up with a single to right-center, driving in a run. Maxim W. helped his own cause by driving in Chase with a line drive into right-center. 

But the Lightning weren't done. Far from it. After a pop out to shortstop, Dean S. doubled on a line drive to left, driving in a run. Hugo S. singled, driving in another. After Matthew S. walked, Jack W. drove in 2 more with a single to right.

By the end of this offensive outburst, Lewisboro had built up a comfortable 6-run lead.  That was more than enough for the Lightning pitchers, who shut out the Elite for the remainder of the game. Maxim earned the win. He gave up 5 runs (4 earned) on 6 hits and 1 walk in 5 innings, striking out 6. Hugo pitched the 6th inning, giving up no hits, walking 1, and striking out 2.  Final score: 11-5. 

Game 3 - Lewisboro Scores Late Runs to Claim Victory

In their second game on Saturday, our boys faced off against the Blue Sox Baseball 11U team. As with every game in this tournament, Lewisboro lost the coin toss and would play as the visitors. But also as in every game, Lewisboro struck first and scored in the top of the first. Maxim walked with 1 out and promptly stole second base. With a runner in scoring position, Nate singled on a hard ground ball to right. 

The Lightning failed to capitalize further, after getting two outs on the base paths. 

Maxim started off on the mound for Lewisboro again, but was on a limited pitch count due to his heavy workload in the day's first game. He made the most of it, however, pitching in a highly efficient manner and making good use of the tournament rule that started counts at 1 ball, 1 strike to make quick work of several batters. Indeed, in the bottom of the first, Maxim managed to retire the side on just 6 pitches (with 2 Ks)!

Before hitting his pitch count ceiling, Maxim hurled three shutout innings, giving up 0 hits, 1 walk, and striking out 4. He faced the minimum number of batters through three, as catcher Nate caught the sole base runner when he attempted to steal third. 

The Lightning tacked on a run in the top of the 4th, when Ryan Q. walked with the bases loaded to make it 2-0. 

The Blue Sox finally broke up the shutout in the bottom of fourth, tying up the game on a 2 RBI double.  However, the Lightning relief pitcher, Hugo was able to to recover and limit the damage by striking out the next batter and then inducing a ground out to end the scoring threat. 

Both teams were held in check in the fifth inning, with Hugo striking out the side in the bottom of the fifth. 

The Lightning pulled away in the top of the sixth, when Hugo helped his own cause. His fly ball to left-center split the outfielders for an RBI double. 

Jack W. and Ryan Q. followed with RBI singles each, extending the lead to three. Dean S. pitched a scoreless bottom of the sixth to close out the game.  The final score was 5-2. 

Game 4 - Semifinals

By winning 2 of 3, the Lightning qualified as one of four teams for the single-elimination playoff round on Sunday, November 12. Their first opponent was the Danbury Hat City Bombers, another D2 11U team.

With an 8 am start, there was still frost on the field at game time. Nevertheless, the Lightning once again started the game with sizzling bats, jumping out to a four run lead in the top of the first. After two walks, Dean tripled on a line drive to left field, driving in two.

Hugo followed that with a double to center, scoring another run. 

After Hugo advanced to third on a passed ball. Jack grounded out, driving him in for the fourth score.

As it turned out, those four runs would be more than enough for Lewisboro to cruise to victory, as the Lightning's starting pitcher, Nate, was dominant. He pitched a six inning, complete game shutout, striking out 12 batters. 

Ryan helped Lewisboro tack on another insurance run in the top of the 4th, executing a fine sacrifice bunt that brought Hugo into score. 

The Lightning pitcher got plenty of help from his defense. In the sixth inning, they really flashed the leather. First, second baseman Jack fielded a hard hit grounder, threw to shortstop Dean, who relayed to first baseman Chase for the 4-6-3 double play. Chase saved the double play by scooping a tough short hop on the throw.

The last out of the game came on an outfield assist from Seth T. to Dean to catch the runner trying to advance to third on a double down the left field line. The final score was 5-0.

Game 5 -Tournament Championship

The championship game was a rematch against the Blue Sox Baseball 11U team. The outcome was the same as the first game -- a 5-2 victory for Lewisboro. 

The Lightning put two up on the board in the first. Matthew singled and Nate walked. After Dean lined into a tough luck out, Hugo picked up his teammate with a 2 out, infield single, scoring one run. Nate scored from third on a passed ball to make it 2-0.

Dean was the Lewisboro starting pitcher for the final game. He went the distance, keeping the Blue Sox at bay for six innings, giving up 2 runs on 6 hits, 1 walk, and 6 strikeouts. Dean got solid support from his fielders. Dylan ran down a sharply hit fly ball to right field in the bottom of the first...

... and Ryan snagged a low line shot to third in the bottom of the second.

The Blue Sox pulled within 1 run in the bottom of the fourth. Their leadoff batter singled, made his way to third with 1 out, and then tagged up and scored on a fly ball to Matthew in center field, who made a good attempt to cut the run down at the plate. 

The Lightning struggled to hit the Blue Sox starting pitcher, garnering just 3 hits versus 7 strikeouts. But by drawing 8 walks, Lewisboro managed to keep the base paths busy. 

Seth had the clutch hit of the game. With the bases loaded and 2 outs, Seth laced a line drive to center that went over the center fielder's head, driving in two, and providing a comfortable cushion going into the Blue Sox's last at bats.

The Blue Sox managed to get one back in the bottom of the sixth, but that wasn't enough. The Lewisboro Lightning celebrated third 5-2 victory and received their first place trophies from the Ossining Baseball organizers. Go Lightning!

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