Spring’s promise of hope was in the air as some 400 players ages 5 – 12 representing 35 teams joined with their families to launch the Falls Church Kiwanis Little Leagues’ 61st season on Saturday, April 18, at Westgate Park.
Welcomed by league president and returning Iraqi veteran Mike Deeley, the enthusiastic players and their vocal supporters whooped and hollered in a collective call to “play ball.”
Following an invocation by Fr. Daniel Hanley of St. James Church, President Deeley was joined by several former Little Leaguers who have gone on to play high school baseball in the area. In addition to Fr. Hanley, ceremonial “first pitches” were thrown by Michael Ong, Tom Pachecho, Shane Mills and Greg Goldsmith, all currently playing for the George Marshall High School varsity squad. Doing the honors as catchers were players representing the Falls Church Little League’s Majors division, including Daniel Butler, Nationals; Austin Clark, Red Sox; Patrick Evans, A’s; Evan Tracy, Yankees; and Ben Torpe, Cubs.
A full slate of games followed throughout the day on Saturday on fields throughout the region, as players and their families reveled in the perfect weather that greeted the lofty aspirations of a new season.
Bees v. Express: The opening game of 2009 between the Bees and Express ended Saturday, April 18, in a 3-3 tie after the game was called due a time limit in the bottom of the fifth inning with the home team Express at bat, bases loaded and no outs.
Katie Mills scored the first run for the Bees in the top of the first inning, which included an impressive catch of a pop-fly catch by Express first baseman Jakob Wegmueller. A lead-off single by Caleb Parnell singled got things started for the Express. Parnell eventually came around to steal home, with additional runs scored by Wegmueller and Cyril Contessa.
The score held at 3-1 over the next three innings, which included sparkling defensive play by the Bees’ Garrett Mays, who recorded two outs in the third inning. The Bees rallied in the top of the fourth inning with runs from John Lukke and Andrew Borman. As the tension mounted, the Express loaded the bases in the bottom of the fifth. But, time expired, leaving both teams anxious to face each other again.
Pirates v. Cardinals: The Pirates made a gutsy comeback to beat the Cardinals in a nail-biter of a season opener, eventually prevailing 18-15 over the Cardinals. The Cards’ Connor Freeman put in a powerful pitching performance in the first two and a half innings, while his teammates scored 14. The Pirates’ offense came to life with an eight-run rally in the third inning behind clutch RBI doubles by Alexa Tracy and Dylan Galt. A fourth-inning Pirate rally was capped by Aiden Phillips’ RBI triple. The Pirates shut down the Cards in the third and fourth innings behind excellent fielding and the strong pitching of Cristian Kelly, who grabbed a grounder and tossed the final out.
Yankees v. Orioles: In the season opener, the Yankees prevailed over the Orioles 13-3. Doubles by Evan Tracy and Barrett Nixon sparked the Yankees to a ten-hit, nine-run first inning. Yankee pitcher Evan Davis struck out eight batters in three and two thirds innings of work on the mound. Jordan Cole had two hits and caught the final out in centerfield for the Yankees. For the Orioles, Jack Manon had a key hit and struck out three Yankees. Josh Rankin added a double for the Orioles.
Nationals v. A’s: Chris Meador blasted a two-run home run, adding to an earlier single and triple, leading the Nationals to an 8-5 win over the A’s in opening day play. Meador combined with Nate Thatcher in striking out 13 batters to lead a strong Nationals defensive effort that yielded only seven hits. Thatcher opened the game by striking out 4 or the first 5 batters he faced. Clutch hitting by Cole Casteel, who went two-for-two on the day, and Noah Anderson helped the Nationals’ cause. The A’s were lead by Patrick Evans who ripped a solo home run, and George DeMars who pitched three innings for the A’s, while adding two hits of his own.
Cubs v. Red Sox: In the final game of the day, the Cubs turned in an impressive hitting performance as they defeated the Red Sox 14-4. The Cubs’ lineup was solid from top to bottom, as veterans Ryan Leonard, Wesley Coupard, and Will Iacobucci were joined by new teammates Johnny Peterson, Thomas Beddow, Chris Loyd and Gray Adcock in tagging the opposition for hits. Anchored by the superb catching of Ben Torpe, the Cubs’ defense was led by solid pitching of Daniel Schlitt.