Berlin 9-10 All-Stars Fall in State Title Game
BERLIN- After five tension-filled games in five days, the Berlin Little League 9-10 All-Stars finally ran out of gas and fell to Conococheague, 13-3, in the state championship game at Cambridge on Monday.
Berlin's 9-10 All-Stars won the District 8 championship last week to advance to the state tournament for the first time in several years. For five days starting last Thursday, the Berlin Little Leaguers embarked on a wild five-game journey that left them on the doorstep of a state title, but the tank was nearly empty at that point.
Despite a valiant effort, the never-say-die Berlin team fell behind Conococheague early, thanks to a plethora of defensive lapses, and never really got back in the game. Berlin fell behind 8-0 after just two innings but kept battling and answered with three runs of their own in the third to keep the game close, albeit briefly. Conococheague held on the rest of the way and took the state championship, 13-3.
The loss did little to tarnish what was an amazing run for the Berlin team, which captured its first District 8 title in several years last week just to reach the state tournament. Berlin cruised through the District 8 playoffs relatively unscathed, sweeping five games, including four shutouts, to take the title.
In the state tournament, however, the teams got a little tougher and the pressure got a little tighter as each day and each game came up on the schedule. Berlin dropped its first game in the state tournament last Thursday to Arbutus, 3-1, in what turned out to be the lowest scoring game of the weekend.
Berlin rebounded from that early loss and won the next three in a row to reach the state championship. On Friday, Berlin beat D.C. Capital City, 12-8, in a high scoring game. Chris Poole picked up the win and helped himself at the plate, collecting two doubles.
Back in action on Saturday, Berlin topped Frederick American, 12-7, to improve to 2-1 in the tournament, setting up a semifinal game with North Calvert. Justin Meekins got the win in the Frederick American game and contributed to the offense with two hits. Jacob Hickman also collected two hits in the Frederick American game, which saw its share of drama and lead changes.
Berlin played its heart out and left everything on the field in the semifinal against North Calvert on Sunday, which might have left them a little tired and a little overwhelmed going into the championship game on Monday. The North Calvert game went nine innings with Berlin coming back over and over again after falling behind early. A regulation 9-10 Little League game is just six innings, and the two teams played another half of a game before Berlin settled the issue and advanced to the title game.
Berlin trailed 5-1 early and came back to pull even at 5-5. North Calvert scored three more runs to go back ahead, 8-5, and it appeared the magical run by Berlin was coming to an end, but the local team kept battling and eventually won the game, 9-8, in nine innings.
The disheartening loss did little to put a damper on what was a memorable post-season for the Berlin 9-10 team. They will hoist a District 8 banner at their home complex in the near future and despite a loss in the state title game will have a lifetime of memories and wealth of experience to show for their mid-summer run through the playoffs.