NAUGATUCK — Mason Audi stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and his Indians trailing 5-2 in the last inning of the Peter J. Foley championship game against the A’s. Audi got into a pitch and sent it to the base of the right field wall for a bases-clearing, three-run double to tie the game.
On the relay throw the ball got away for an error and Audi was awarded home plate as the Indians charged out of the dugout in celebration of the 6-5 walk-off win.
“I could not be more proud of my team,” Indians head coach Chip Delaney said. “They fought all year long and improved with every game. They knew what it took to get to this point and they were willing to work for it. They deserve to be champs.”
The Indians were just 7-10 in the regular season but came alive in the playoffs. The Indians knocked off the A’s in the first round and the Giants in the second round to reach the championship game.
In the first-round win over the A’s it was a grand slam home run by Nate Delaney that provided the spark for the Tribe’s run through the playoffs.
Third baseman Stephan Bergeron and catcher Brayden Alves were key to the defensive effort of the Indians along with outfielders Tyler Blend, Mason Bedard, Kevin Healy and Cody Ile.
The A’s began the season red hot, winning seven of the first nine games before injuries took their toll. Cameron Neep and Ryan Brink, the number four and five hitters in the lineup, went down with injuries and the A’s took a tumble.
Tyler Markey in left field along with Matt Borsey and Chris Langlais began to create some noise in the second half of the order, and the 11-7 A’s began to find their way back into the win column going 4-5 down the stretch.
“Losing both of your RBI spots in the batting order really created a waterfall effect,” A’s head coach Ryan Murphy said. “But a lot of the younger kids playing in unfamiliar positions helped us to get it back heading down the stretch.
“Justin Ramos, Nick Grant and Jake Murphy are three of the best defensive players in the entire league and Ray Hess was a workhorse for us behind the plate. All in all we were happy to be playing for the league championship. We just ran into the Indians who were the hottest team in town and played their best ball at exactly the right time.”
In the championship game the Indians broke out on top when John Braziel blasted a first-inning solo home run to stake starting pitcher Tommy Ayash to a 1-0 lead. Both pitchers settled in and delivered magnificent performances fitting for a championship game.
The A’s Ryan Brink struck out 12 of the next 19 batters he faced after surrendering the home run to Braziel. The Indians Ayash threw four shutout innings before the A’s got on the board in the fifth.
Jake Murphy and Austin Herb scored off a two-run double from the bat of Mitch Langlais to put the A’s out in front by a slim 2-1 margin. It appeared that the A’s wrapped up the game pushing three more runs across the plate in the sixth.
Felix Carillo led it off with a single and Elijah Ramos was hit by a pitch. Justin Ramos then reached on a throwing error followed by Nick Grant and Ray Hess delivering run-scoring singles handing the A’s a commanding 5-1 cushion.
“Congratulations to the A’s and all of these kids,” Delaney added. “They delivered a gem on a perfect day for a baseball game. Both teams battled hard and showed why they belonged in this game. It certainly was an exciting last inning in front of a packed house.”
The Indians came up for their final at bat trailing by four runs when Ben Kloc got things started working out a walk. Justice Rivera hit a rope down the third base side into left field for a huge one out single.
The Tribe was just warming up. Delaney drew a bases-loaded walk to chase home a run making it a 5-2 ball game. Audi came up and cleared the bases to tie the game before coming home with the winning run on a throwing error.
The Indians then took their celebratory victory lap putting an end to an exciting season and champion game for Peter J. Foley Little League.