BRIARCLIFF MANOR, N.Y. – Briarcliff won the New York District 33 Little League tournament in the 11/12 baseball division on Sunday after a doubleheader that ended with two wildly different results.
Briarcliff had gone undefeated through the winners bracket of the double elimination tournament until Sunday, when it lost the first game to Brewster, 4-2, at Ryder Park in Briarcliff Manor. But Briarcliff’s bats exploded in the second game to the tune of an 18-2 victory and the championship.
The victory gave Briarcliff its third consecutive district championship. The team now advances to the sectional tournament in Harrison, although the road there was not an easy one.
“Probably this is the hardest one (of the three) though because this is the only one that we went into the second game and it was really nerve-wracking going into the second game,” said pitcher Jack Ryan, who started game two Sunday.
After a close, low-scoring first game, Briarcliff hit the cover off the ball game two. Briarcliff led 11-0 after the top of the second inning, 11-2 after two innings and 17-2 after three innings.
Different Briarcliff players had different reasons for the extreme turnaround in game two.
“In the first game, we didn’t really pitch that well. We weren’t throwing strikes,” said Joe Marinaccio. “But in the second game, Jack Ryan, he pitched really well. He threw strikes and just got everybody out.”
Kevin Manganello finished Sunday with two home runs, a double and a single. He pointed to energy as the difference between the two games.
“We just came out excited to play,” Manganello said. “We knew we had it and we just played our best.”
The players on this team have won district championships as 10-, 11- and 12-year-olds. Manganello offered an explanation for Briarcliff’s success in the last three seasons: playing as a team.
“We’re all really close friends. We all like each other,” Manganello said. “We have good leaders and everybody’s part of the team.”
Briarcliff manager Chris Ryan said no team from Briarcliff has ever won the sectional tournament. This year, he hopes, will be different.
“We’d love to get a shot to try to do that,” Ryan said. “It’s closer to us than it was last year, so as far as traveling to and from the tournament, it won’t be as bad and we can get more families and more support there. So that will be good for us, too.”