WEST WINDSOR: WW 12s open with back-to-back wins

Hosts eye berth in Final Eight

By Rich Fisher, The Packet Group
   Facing the first interview of his young life, Sean O’Brien wore a sheepish smile.
   ”I don’t know what to say,” he said.
   But O’Brien knew exactly what to do on the field, which was a heck of a lot more important.
   Sean pitched a complete-game one-hitter Tuesday night as West Windsor’s 12-year-old All-Star team took a 10-0 win over Princeton in a District 12 Little League Pool C game.
   O’Brien allowed a leadoff double, which would be Princeton’s only hit in a game shortened to four innings by the 10-run rule. He also helped his cause with a leadoff double that sparked a seven-run second inning.
   ”I felt real good,” O’Brien said. “We’ve all been doing good. We’re working as a team, talking to each other.”
   ”Sean only threw 43 pitches, he threw well,” said manager Pat O’Brien, serving as spokesman for his modest son. “He kept the pitches down and let his team field behind him. He didn’t do it alone, but he threw a nice game.”
   After stranding Princeton’s Jeff Gleason on third in the first inning, O’Brien got defensive help from Matt Duplak in the second when the rightfielder made a running, backhand catch on Jack Buyske’s sinking line drive.
   In the bottom of the inning, the WW bats went to work.
   After escaping with a 6-5, seven-inning win over Cranbury-Plainsboro Monday, West Windsor removed any such by batting around and hitting for the cycle in one inning.
   O’Brien led off with a double, Adam Gostomski singled and O’Brien scored on an outfield error. One out later Austin Lindner reached on a fielder’s choice that left runners at the corners. Zach Bacall walked to load the bases and Duplak hit a two-run single.
   After a pop-out, Josiah Foster crushed a triple off the rightfield fence to make it 5-0 and Christian Waters blasted a two-run homer to complete the uprising.
   Sid Kumar hit a solo homer in the third and in the fourth, Robert Armus singled, Alex DeSanctis tripled and Foster lined a single to right to invoke the 10-run rule.
   ”All my team was expecting me to do was hit it to the right side and not try to do too much,” Foster said. “I didn’t have to try to hit a two-run homer, we only need one run.
   ”We never gave up in that first game, and it was nice to have a little cushion tonight,” Foster added. “Sixteen runs in two games isn’t too bad. We’ve cleared up all our pre-tournament tension and now it’s a smooth ride into the season.”
   West Windsor’s lineup has shown tremendous balance, as eight different players had hits against Princeton and 10 different players reached base against C-P. That game was decided by Kumar’s sacrifice fly in the sixth. Sid also had an RBI single and eventually scored the tying run in a two-run sixth that forced extra innings.
   Waters threw outstanding, striking out 10 batters including seven in a row at one point and Aaron Akbar threw outstanding in relief.
   ”Christian threw an absolute great game,” Pat O’Brien said. “Monday night these guys showed the heart they had as a team. I’m surprised it came together so early, but it was a pleasant surprise the way they battled.
   ”(Tuesday night) they came out here ready to go. It was very, very impressive. This is a hitting team and they proved it tonight. We kept the errors down over what we did last night, and we were hitting up and down the lineup. Everybody contributed. No certain portion of the order does all the hitting, it’s all of them. Even the relief hitters come off the bench and hit.”
   The victory went a long way in helping West Windsor advance out of the pool. After C-P beat HTRBA in the second game, it left both of those teams at 1-1 while Princeton is 0-2.
   If WW loses to HTRBA at home tonight and C-P beats Princeton, that leaves all three teams at 2-1. Because each team would have beaten one of the other two, the head-to-head tiebreaker is neutralized and it comes down to runs allowed by defensive innings.
   Entering tonight, West Windsor is in control of that situation, allowing six runs in 11 innings, while C-P has allowed seven in 12 and HTRBA has yielded 13 in 12. So, barring a complete meltdown by West Windsor’s pitching and defense, it should be in good shape.
   Of course, WW would rather just win and go 3-0 in pool play.
   ”I’m looking forward to tonight’s game,” Pat O’Brien said. “We’re coming back home so there will be even more energy there.”