Cardinals Rule: Capture 2017 NEAA Baseball Championship
By Phil Orlandella
Posting a 6-4 record in the North End Athletic Association (NEAA) regular baseball season, the Cardinals, the defending 2016 championship team, became the number one seed in the playoffs.
The Cards went on to beat both the Cubs and Indians in four consecutive games capturing back-to-back playoff championships.
The Tigers also participated in the playoffs but were eliminated by the Indians in the first round.
In the series, the Cards defeated the Cubs 2-0 and went on to beat the Indians 2-0 as well, sweeping both series taking home the crown.
In the first semi-final game versus the Cubs, the Cards struck for three runs in the bottom of the 1st.
Jo-Jo Brienze led off with a triple, scored on a ground out by Eamon Vraible. Jesse Sablone walked, Rian Finn doubled placing runners on second and third for Mike McLaughlin who delivered a clutch double.
The Cards added a run when Matthew Griffin walked, stole second and was driven home by Brienze.
The Cubs got on the board in the 3rd. Richard Bova singled, went to second on a single by Nik McHugh and was driven home on a second hit of the game by LeBlanc.
The Cards answered when Vraible double with two out and again was driven home by McLaughlin in the 3rd.
In the last inning with the Cards leading 6-2, the Carbs mounted a rally.
William White walked and with two out James Heath did the same. McHugh hit a double scoring two runs closing the score to 6-4.
Cards closer Vraible kept his composure and struck out the next batter giving the Cards a 1-0 series lead.
In the second game, the Cards took a commanding 9-0 lead and it appeared the game was going to be a runaway. However, the Cubs mounted a serious rally closing the score to 9-8.
The Cubs scored two runs in the third making it a 9-2 game. James Heath walked and raced home on a LeBlanc triple. LeBlanc scored on a ground out.
A six-run explosion by the Cubs cut the lead to one run. The big blowout was a three-run homer by Richard Bova and when the dust settled it was a 9-7 game. They scored again in the 5th for their ninth and final run.
The Cards gave themselves some breathing room scoring three runs in the fifth. Brienze, Everett and Vraible hit back-to-back to back doubles scoring three runs for a 12-9 final.
The Cards moved on to play the Indians who swept the Tigers 2-0 in the semi-finals. The games promised to be a terrific series and it was.
A pitching duel developed during the first game of the series. The Cards used three pictures Joe Everett, Eamon Vraible and Matthew Griffin. The Indians countered with Stephen Fabiano, Phil Boncore and Pat Keefe.
Scoreless in the bottom of the third the Cards scored three runs. Jo-Jo Brienze and Joe Everett walked. Vraible and Jesse Sablone doubled for a 3-0 Cards lead.
The Indians struck back in the 4th. Adam Whitney led off with a single and scored on a Donis Rodrigues triple. An RBI single by Boncore made the score 3-2.
Numerous strikeouts by Keefe, Vraible and Boncore kept the game at 3-2.
The Indians threatened to tie the game in the 6th. Rodrigues doubled, he reached third on a ground out but was stranded when Everett struck out the last batter. Series 1-0 Cards.
The second game saw the Indians come out swinging and built a 3-0 lead with hits by Rodriguez, Sonny Blazo and Desmond O’Hearn.
Cards tied it in the third behind Everett, Vraible and Sablone hits.
Indians took a 4-3 lead in the third but a great defensive play by second baseman Max Mendoza ranging to his left with the bases loaded saved further damage.
The defensive gem fired up the Cardinals and they took a 6-4 lead. Johnny Sanderson led off with a single, Abraham Dagher walked, Brienze singled in Sanderson. Everett walked and Jesse Sablone knocked in two more runs and the Cards appear to be on the home stretch.
Leading 6-4, playoff MVP Joe Everett caught hold of a fastball and drilled it over the fence giving the Cards an 8-4 lead.
The Indians did not go quietly cutting the lead to 8-5 and had the red-hot Sonny Blazo at the plate. He hit a two hopper down the third base line that Mike McLaughlin made a backhanded play and stepped on third to end the game.
Cards Sonny Blazo and Tigers Joseph Broderick were named MVPs of the playoffs.
Ralph Martignetti and John Pregmon were the Cards coaches.
Pallotta All Stars capture NEAA All Star Game 12-11
By Phil Orlandella
Trailing 9-1 after two innings, the James Pallotta All Stars staged a great comeback to win the 2017 North End Athletic Association (NEAA) All Star Game held at Langone Field.
The Donnaruma All Stars surged to a 9-1 lead after two innings before the Pallotta team scrambled back tying the game at 11-11 entering the bottom of the last inning. (6th)
A clutch two-out, bases-loaded, single by Jo Jo Brienze to centerfield clinch the contest for the Pallotta All Stars 12-11.
The Donnaruma All Stars had a great offensive game but the heroics of Brienze left them one run short.
Special All Star awards were presented to several players. Sonny Blazo (MVP) Pallotta team and Joseph Broderick (MVP) Donnaruma team. The play of the game went to Jo Jo Brienze for his game-winning hit.
Players, parents and other attendees not only saw a terrific and exciting baseball game, they were treated to free Regina pizza, water and juice, frozen lemonade, potato chips, and twizzle sticks. A raffle was also held.
Major Sponsors were: The Larson family and St. Mary’s Housing Corporation. Sponsors: The McHugh family, Vincent and Denise Sablone and Tresca Restaurant.
South End sweeps North2South series 2-0
By Phil Orlandella
Langone Field on Commercial Street was the site of the second game of the North2South annual baseball classic, sponsored by State Representative Aaron Michlewitz for the past four years.
The South won the first game 11-8 in an offense slug-fest.
Richard Bova, had three hits including a home run, capturing the John Romano North End MVP award
The Jason Burell South End MVP award went to Samir Aine who hit a home run, a double and hurled a scoreless inning.
The second contest was held at Langone Field in the North End with the South End team winning, sweeping the series.
Vinny O’Byne was selected as the John Romano North End MVP.
David Castilo was named the Jason Burell South End MVP.
Representative Michlewitz also provided the team shirts and hats and has indicated he plans to continue the community series for as long as possible.
Through the North2South annual classic players from both teams have been able to interact with another neighborhood.