After winning their opener on Tuesday, the North Bellmore-North Merrick Rebels lost their second game of the 12-year-old Little League state tournament in Rocky Point on Wednesday, making their road to the Little League World Series a lot more difficult.
In a game that came down to the very last play, North Bellmore-North Merrick lost 9-6 to Rockland County’s Stony Point Little League, bringing their record in the tournament to 1-1.
“We gave ourselves chances throughout the game right down to our final out with the tying run aboard,” said Mike Conry, assistant coach of the Rebels. “The difference was they came up with the big hit where we could not today.”
The tournament is double elimination, so a team is out after losing twice. The Rebels will try to stave off elimination at 2 p.m. Thursday at North Shore Little League’s Rocky Point complex as they take on Fredonia Little League, a team from Chautauqua County.
State tournament games will continue throughout the week until four of the six teams have lost twice, eliminating them from contention. The finals are scheduled for Sunday at noon.
The winner of the state championship then heads to Bristol, Conn. to compete in the regional tournament for the chance to be the Mid-Atlantic Representative at this year’s Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa.
“I think they’ll do whatever they can to get back into the winner’s bracket,” said Gina Bitsimis, assistant Section 6 coordinator.
North Bellmore-North Merrick won their first game of the state tournament on Tuesday with a score of 7-5 against Colonie Little League from Albany County.
In Wednesday's game, the Rebels were down by four heading into the bottom of the sixth, the North Bellmore-North Merrick Rebels sparked a two-out rally. After Matt Conry was hit by a pitch, Matthew Nilsen doubled to right field before a single off the bat of Nick Valeriano drove in a run to bring the score to 9-6. Alec Acri drew a walk to load the bases, but Stony Point picked up the clutch strikeout to extinguish the Rebel's rally and close out the game.
“So now we’ll have to go the long way around,” said Conry. “But our confidence in our team’s abilities is in no way diminished and we expect to be in the money game this weekend.”
The Rebels won Long Island’s Section 6 championship game on Saturday against Commack South to earn a spot in the 12-year-old division of the state tournament.
Brian Porricelli threw a 16-strikeout game that was a key part of his team’s win. That game was supposed to be played Friday night, but was postponed due to rain, something that has turned into an unfortunate disadvantage for North Bellmore-North Merrick.
Porricelli has not yet pitched in the state tournament because of Little League rules. If a pitcher throws 66 or more pitches, Little League rules requires four days rest before that pitcher can throw in a game again. Porricelli threw 89 in his last appearance and has been ineligible to pitch.
“They haven't had Porricelli. He hasn’t been available because of the rest rules,” said Bitsimis. “He’s available for the first time tomorrow since the sectional final Saturday and that will certainly help their team.”