The North End Dodgers went into the Lou Tompkins All-Star Baseball Tournament of Champions as the #1 seed. In order to win the championship the Dodgers were going to need to win three games in three days against three stellar opponents. Led by the pitching of Greg Bilikas and Ryan Colbert and the all-around outstanding play of Bobby Mello, Mike Martignetti, Ryan Carvalho, Vin Lopriore, Nick Iudiciani, Rick Martignetti, DJ Wilson and Frank Iudiciani the Dodgers were able to accomplish a feat that once looked impossible when they had a 4-5 record and were sitting in 4th place. The Dodgers bench featuring Pat O’Donnell, PK Baez, Jack Ditomassi and Keiji Hammond also contributed to this complete team effort whenever called upon.
Friday August 3rd: The NEAA 19u Dodgers snuck past the Stoneham team 8-5 to advance to the semi-finals of the Lou Tompkins All-Star Baseball Senior Tournament of Champions. The Dodgers jumped out to an early 3-0 lead in the 2nd inning when Bobby Mello singled and with one out advanced to 3rd on a single by Nick Iudiciani. Greg Bilikas followed with an rbi single to centerfield giving the Dodgers a 1-0 lead. After both runners advanced on a wild pitch Ricky Martignetti chased them both home with a clutch two out two run double deep over the left fielders head. For Ricky this production continued his uncanny streak of coming up big in playoff games. After throwing two scoreless innings to start the game the Stoneham team rallied to score twice off Vin Lopriore in the top of the 3rd. A combination of sloppy defense and a big two out single by Adam Lumb helped Stoneham cut the lead to 3-2. The Dodgers answered in their half of the 3rd when Mike Martignetti walked with one out, stole second base and was driven home by Bobby Mello. It was the 2nd of what was to be a 4 hit day for the Dodger’s superstar centerfielder. Stoneham refused to die and rallied for 3 more runs in the top of the 4th taking a 5-4 lead and chasing Lopriore from the game. When the Dodgers went scoreless in the 4th the #1 seed found themselves trailing 5-4 at the end of 4. Keiji Hammond pitched a scoreless 5th inning for the Dodgers and then the Dodger bats took over. The Dodgers pushed across 3 runs in the bottom of the 5th to take a 7-5 lead. Ryan Carvalho led off with a walk. He went to 3rd on a double by Mike Martignetti. Next up Bobby Mello delivered his 3rd hit of the game, this one a two run double giving the North End the lead for good. Mello came home on an error by the Stoneham 3rd baseman and the lead was 7-5 after 5 inning. Coach Ralph Martignetti went to his ace to close out the game and Greg Bilikas delivered two hitless innings and the Dodgers advanced to the semi-final with a 8-5 victory.
Saturday August 4th: Dodgers battled past Maynard to claim spot in the championship game by a score of 3-1. Playing the 3rd game in 3 days and with a possible finals match-up against the talented South End looming on the horizon Coach Ralph Martignetti was pacing the dugout trying to figure out who would pitch this key game. All season long the Dodgers had used a tremendous three man rotation featuring Greg Bilikas, Mike Martignetti and Vin Lopriore. Martignetti had pitched Thursday and Lopriore Friday. Bilikas had closed out Friday’s game and was slated to start in the Championship game on Sunday. With the season on the line Coach Martignetti turned to the youngest of all Dodgers Ryan Colbert. Colbert had started a few games during the season but was mostly used out of the bullpen. The recently turned 16 year old was solid all year but this was the semi-finals and the 19 and under Maynard team could really hit. Would Colbert respond under that type of pressure? The Dodger’s got a glimpse of the answer when Colbert mowed through the Maynard batters pitching a scoreless first inning. The Dodgers fired early as Vin Lopi led off the 1st inning with a double. He went to third of a sacrifice and was driven home by Mike Martignetti to give the Dodgers a 1-0 lead. Colbert walked the first batter he faced in the 2nd inning but then retired the next three hitters. It would be the start of Colbert retiring 13 in a row including having a 3 pitch inning in the 5th. Meanwhile the Dodger’s batters were struggling with the Maynard pitcher. They scored single runs in the 1st and 2nd inning and then managed to plate another in the 5th when Bobby Mello drove home Ryan Carvalho to give the Dodgers a 3-0 lead going in to the 6th inning. In the 6th Colbert started to tire in the 95 degree weather and Maynard pushed across a run and had 1st and 2nd with two outs. Coach Martignetti went to his bullpen and Greg Bilikas once again got the call. Greg was greeted by a scorched line drive base hit up the middle toward center fielder Mello. The Maynard runner rounded third and headed home. Mello came up clean and fired a strike to Carvalho cutting down the runner at the plate and killing the rally. Bilikas then threw a 1-2-3 7th inning and the Dodgers were off to the Championship game.
Sunday August 5th: Dodgers complete their journey; Take home Lou Tompkins All-Star Baseball Senior Championship with a 4-2 victory over the South End. It was hot and steamy at 3pm on Conney field in Beverley but the Dodgers were feeling cool. They were in the finals against their archrival South End Astros but the Dodger’s had ace Greg Bilikas ready for the start. Bilikas had closed out both wins in the previous two days and had only taken 20 pitches each game to do so. The Dodgers felt their ace would be fresh, however the game did not get off to a great start for the Dodgers. The Cruz Santana led off and reached on an error. After a fly ball out to center field the next Astro Brandon Ruiz singled sharply to left field giving the South End 1st and 2nd with one out. Coach Randy Foley sensing a needed momentum shift called the Dodgers pick-off play and after faking to 2nd Bilikas whirled and fired to 1st base and caught the Astro baserunner off the base giving the Dodgers a much need 2nd out. The Dodgers were still in trouble however when Jordan Matos reached on an error giving the South End 1st and 3rd with two outs. Again the Dodger’s reached into their bag of tricks and again they were rewarded. A fake pick-off at 3rd led to the Astro baserunner leaning at first and the quick feet of Bilikas caught him again for the third out of the inning. The Dodger’s had worked on these pick-off plays all winter long a Coach Foley’s Move for Youth Baseball School and that work paid off when needed most. The fired-up Dodgers came out swinging in the first inning. After Vin Lopi lined out on a scorching ball to the left fielder, Ryan Carvalho and Mike Martignetti laced back-to-back singles. After Martignetti stole 2nd Bobby Mello got both runners home when he stung a ground ball to the shortstop hole and the shortstop overthrew his firstbaseman making the score 2-0 Dodgers and Mello on 2nd base. Mello then stole 3rd base and came home on a sacrifice fly by Greg Bilikas giving the Dodgers a 3-0 lead after one inning. That was all the runs the Dodger’s Ace pitcher would need as his combination of blazing fastball and biting curveball kept the South End at bay all day. Whenever the Astros did attempt to rally the Dodgers were quick to flash the leather and snuff it out. The Astros scratched across a two out run in the 4th on an rbi single by Christopher Morreta and then again in the 6th when Jordan Matos drove in Cruz Santana to make it a 3-2 game going into the bottom of the 6th. The Dodgers got a little breathing room back when Mello beat out a grounder to short, stole 2nd, was singled to 3rd by Nick Iudiciani and came home on a grounder by Greg Bilikas. The Dodgers took a 4-2 lead into the 7th and it was nail biting time for Coaches Martignetti and Foley and all the Dodger fans who turned out to support this talented team. Jonathan Bonnila led off the 7th for the South End and crushed a ball to the gap in right center. Dodger’s centerfielder Bobby Mello got on his horse and ran hard towards the gap and made an impossible diving catch to keep the lead runner off base. The crowd erupted at that play and the Dodgers were injected with life. Kevin Arroyo popped out to Bilikas for the 2nd out the fans, led by Linda Lopriore, Janine and Trinity Martignetti, and Connie Iudiciani started standing and clapping. The last out of the game would come fittingly enough on a fly ball to center field by Astro Jose Jimenez. As the ball settled into centerfielder Mello’s glove the Dodgers swarmed ace Bilikas and the stands erupted in applause. The NEAA Dodgers were the 19u Lou Tompkins Senior Division Champions!