By Josh Davis, Associate Editor
(Aug. 9, 2018) The Berlin Little League All-Stars stayed alive on Tuesday, slugging out an 18-7 win over Mamie Johnson Little League of Washington, D.C. in the 12-year-old division of the Little League Mid-Atlantic Tournament in Bristol, Connecticut.
The tournament is the last stop before heading to the 2018 Little League World Series finals in South Williamsport, Pennsylvania.
Berlin advanced to the tournament after winning the Maryland state championship game 6-0 over Chesapeake City Little League, July 28 in Hagerstown.
Playing in Bristol, Berlin is now 2-1 in the double-elimination tournament. The team shut out Milton, Delaware on Sunday, 5-0, then fell to the Middleton, New Jersey Little League team 6-2 on Monday.
Playing on Tuesday morning against the Washington, D.C. squad, Berlin jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning thanks to a two-run homer by Owen Knerr.
D.C. scored five times in the bottom of the inning, but Berlin reclaimed the lead for good in the third, pulling ahead 8-5.
The Berlin All-Stars added two more in the top of the fourth, three in the fifth and five in the sixth inning to finish with the 18-7 win.
Foster Smith, coming on in relief during the first inning, pitched four frames and allowed two runs on five hits, striking out three and earning the win.
“We settled down after that first inning and giving up a bunch of runs,” Coach Cameron McDonough said. “We struggled out of the gate, but Foster Smith did a fantastic job coming in and steadying the ship.
“He got us back to where we could get out of trouble and get back in and keep hitting – and we definitely did that today,” he added.
Over three games, Knerr leads the team with four homeruns and eight RBI.
Lukas Loring and Stephen Wade have three RBI each, and Alex Navarro and Adam Gardner have driven in two runs each.
Navarro, batting .500, leads the team in average.
Also driving in runs during the first three games were Case Tilghman, Kannon Cropper, Nate Berzonski and Smith.
Riley Calloway leads the team with five steals.
On the mound, Wade leads the Berlin All-Stars in strikeouts with 11, and has yet to allow an earned run over 4 2/3 innings. Wade and Smith have each earned wins.
Knerr is 0-1, but leads the team in innings pitched at five, and is second in strikeouts, also five.
Berlin’s next game is scheduled today, Thursday, at 7 p.m. against either Delaware or Pennsylvania. The championship game is Aug. 11.
McDonough, during a fundraiser for the team in Berlin last Friday, predicted success in the tournament.
“This is a really good group,” he said. “We’re really excited and I think we’re going to do well up there.”
McDonough was also on the coaching staff in 2014 when the 13-year-old intermediate all-stars finished second in the U.S. in the Little League World Series in Livermore, California. That team went 6-0 in regional play and 15-2 overall, averaging nearly 12 runs per game.
“This is much different for me,” McDonough said on Friday. “My son [Tristan] was on that other team and I had those guys for five or six years leading up to that, so I knew them inside out.
“This group here, I would say they’re more talented,” he continued. “They don’t have as much experience playing together, so that other group was a real tight-knit group, but these guys are getting there. This team is, overall, more talented.”
The all-stars last week held several fundraisers to help pay for travel and other expenses and a GoFundMe, as of Tuesday, had raised $2,805 of a $5,000 goal.
McDonough said the team would continue to fundraise as it attempts to climb through the regional tournament and compete for another appearance in the Little League World Series finals.
“We’re trying to cover hotels and stuff like that for all the families to be able to go,” McDonough said. “We had a long week up there in Hagerstown, Maryland when we were up there for eight nights, so we’ve already had those expenses and we’re just trying to take the pressure off the families.
“The community has been wonderful. It’s been unbelievable, the outpouring of support,” he added.
As for the kids?
“I know, for them, it’s super special,” McDonough said. “They grew up their whole lives watching the Little League World Series on TV and seeing other teams from the this area have success at that level, so I know it means a lot to them to be able to go and share in this experience.”
To donate to the Berlin Little League All-Stars, visit www.gofundme.com/berlin-ll-1112-all-stars-to-states?member=457128.