NAUGATUCK — Ryan Dykes picked a good time to pitch his best game of the season.
The Marlins won the Union City Little League Major Boys’ championship for the second consecutive season, thanks to a timely pitching performance from Dykes, who had not started a game on the mound all season. The Marlins beat the Yankees, 3-2, in the “if game” of the UCLL post-season tournament.
Dykes tossed a complete game and scored the game-winning run in the bottom of the fifth after Matt Johnson singled to left.
“He was unbelievable,” said Dennis Sigetti, the Marlins head coach, about Dykes. “Especially for a kid that hasn’t pitched that much. Ryan stepped up and he wanted the ball.”
It took a great performance to top the pesky Yankees, who entered the tournament as the No. 3-seed. The Yankees had to beat the second-seeded Phillies and the Marlins in back-to-back games to win the title—and they almost did it.
After defeating the Phillies, the Yankees beat the Marlins, 6-5, to force a winner-take-all game. And in the final game, the Yankees broke a scoreless tie in the fourth.
Alan Young singled home Patrick Hughes, who led off the fourth with a walk. In the bottom of the inning, the Marlins answered as Andrew Rivera blasted a solo homer to tie the score.
The Yanks regained the lead in the fifth, but not before the Marlins displayed some flashy defense. The combination of Hunter Allison (center field), Rivera (shortstop) and Cody Sigetti (catcher) completed a relay to the plate to stop the Yankees from taking the lead. However, with two outs and Corey Gros at second, Colin Sheedy delivered the go-ahead single to give the Yankees a 2-1 lead.
In the bottom of the fifth, the Marlins took the lead back for good. Matt Festa and Dykes delivered singles, and after an error, advanced to second and third.
Festa scored on a passed ball, and Johnson singled home Dykes to give the Fish a 3-2 advantage. It was a dramatic end to a memorable championship round.
The Yankees forced a final game thanks to some late-game heroics in the previous matchup with the Marlins. The Marlins took the lead in the fifth, and the Yankees fought back.
Tyler Suarez, who singled to begin the rally, eventually scored on an RBI groundout by Allison. Johnson also singled and eventually scored on a wild pitch. Rivera later added an RBI single to give the Marlins a 5-4 lead.
But the Yankees fought back.
Hughes tripled, and Toroked walk in the sixth. Young followed by reaching on an error that led to two runs, which gave the Yankees a 6-5 lead.
Hughes came in relief to earn the win for the Yanks, while Rivera pitched five innings for the Marlins.
“They never gave up,” Dennis Sigetti said of the Yankees. “They gave it 100 percent all the time.”
The Marlins finished the season with a record of 13-4. The team was a mix of new and returning players, with seven players competing for the first time at the majors level.
“It was a great year,” Dennis Sigetti said.