CROTON-ON-HUDSON, N.Y. – The Briarcliff Little League 10-and under team got its second wind after a nearly 24-hour hiatus, busting open a tie game to win the New York District 33 Little League championship game.
Briarcliff and Cortlandt American played seven innings Thursday night at Dobbs Park in Croton, but remained locked in a 13-13 tie when umpires suspended the game. When the game resumed at 5:30 p.m. Friday in the top of the eighth inning, Briarcliff exploded for eight runs to earn the 21-14 win.
Jacob Lazarus pitched the eighth and final inning for Briarcliff. He threw three straight balls to start the inning and loaded the bases at one point. But coach Rob Healy talked to him and he worked out of trouble to help lead his team to the title.
“I was really nervous just to be pitching,” Lazarus said. “It actually feels really good just to be champion and moving on to the sectionals.”
Briarcliff went undefeated through the double elimination tournament to win the title. Had Cortlandt American won the suspended game, the two teams would have started a second game immediately after to determine the champion.
“It was fun, yet nerve wracking because, if we lost, we had to play again,” said Briarcliff’s Brett Ostrover. “And we all kept going. We never gave up. We got here and we succeeded and won and now we’re onto the next run.”
Cortlandt American intentionally walked the batter before Matthew Zampolin in the eighth inning. Briarcliff had already scored a run to take the lead, but Zampolin provided some much-needed insurance with a two-run single.
“In the car coming up here, we were talking about how 2-0 is one of my favorite counts, and that was the count when I hit the single to score two runs,” Zampolin said. “So I’m pretty happy about that.”
Charlie Hite was the starting pitcher for Briarcliff in both games against Cortlandt American this season, including Thursday’s title game. The youngster said the quality of hitters on the opponent’s team forced him to throw curve balls and other pitches rather than try to blow his fastball by them.
The game was a slugfest, but Hite could barely contain his excitement that his team won the tournament.
“It feels awesome. I feel like,” Hite said before taking a long pause, laughing and flashing an ear-to-ear grin, “we’re just going to win.”