EBBL’s 9s take district title, look to states next

EDISON — The Edison Boys Baseball League’s 9-year-old All Stars captured the district title this weekend with a 6-2 win over South Plainfield in the finals.

Starting pitcher Ben Vietze went the first three innings allowing just one hit and keeping South Plainfield scoreless. Reliever James Lombardo pitched the final three, and scattered four hits and two runs, to protect the six run lead.

"The difference in the game was, our pitchers threw strikes and we made the plays," Edison head coach Rick Pychewicz said. "In the first inning, they only plated four hitters, and in the bottom half of the inning, we scored all six of our runs and I think it really deflated them."

The Edison offense tallied 10 hits, and Lombardo, Matt Woody and Dylan Shine combined for six. Tory Manfre and Rick Pychewicz were both 1-2, and Manfre’s double drove in a pair. Justin Duran finished the game 1-3 with one RBI.

South Plainfield scored its two runs in the sixth to make for some added drama, but Edison continued to play solid defense to close out the contest.

"At 9 years old, if your pitcher throws strikes and you play defense, you will usually win most games," Pychewicz said. "Our pitching and defense carried us through the tournament."

In the opening round of the districts, Edison topped Iselin 5-4 July 15 before locking horns with South Plainfield in the first of two meetings. In their second-round meeting, Edison needed extra innings to win 11-10.

Woody led the offense, going 3-3 with a walk and the game-winning hit in the seventh. Pychewicz was 3-4 with three runs and a walk, while Chad Barrall was an effective 2-4 at the plate. Manfre and Ian Maccarella contributed a hit apiece.

Pychewicz’s team is on a roll and should be tough to contend with in the state tournament that begins next week in Manalapan. The team is currently 3-0 in its own EBBL tournament and 1-0 in the Clarke Tournament.

Watchung had the misfortune of meeting Edison in the opening round in Clarke. Watchung also failed to take advantage of the mercy rule in a 29-5 beating. In the tournament, a manager does not have to concede the win, so the Watchung manager decided to continue playing despite a 10-run deficit. As a result, the teams continued to play and Edison put on a hitting clinic.

"I would never want to run the score up on an opponent," Pychewicz said. "It was one of those games where our kids kept hitting the ball and they didn’t make the plays."

— Shawn Layton