NAUGATUCK — Little League can provide life lessons. Just ask the Robert A. Cole Little League all-stars from Beacon Falls.
RACBL made an unlikely run to the Little League District 3 tournament championship run that ended with a 13-1 loss to Seymour July 12. RACBL won five consecutive elimination games during its run, including two extra-inning games.
“They are proof that hard work, perseverance, team work and a will to win will get them far in life,” RACBL manager Bill Butterworth said.
Perhaps the defining moment of the team came in a nine-inning victory over Shelton National on July 11 to advance to the title game.
In RACBL’s last at-bat, Justin Butterworth capped a four-hit effort with a single to advance Jason Hicks and put runners on first and second with no outs. The next two batters were retired and Kyle Macek (two hits) reached on a walk to load the bases with two outs.
The next batter was Zach Bedryczuk, who found a new way to provide a walk-off run.
Bedryczuk swung at the pitch and his bat hit the catcher’s mitt. The umpire awarded him first base on catcher’s interference, bringing in Hicks for the winning run.
Macek and Bedryczuk also had run-scoring hits in the first to get the RACBL offense started. The duo also scored in the two-run rally to tie the game at 4-4 in the eighth.
RACBL made it to the eighth thanks to its pitching. Bedryczuk started and struck out nine through six innings before Hicks tossed a scoreless inning of relief.
In the bottom of seventh, Butterworth reached on a misplayed ball, however was out at second when Justin Marks hit a fielder’s choice grounder to short.
With two outs Albert Pangrac III smacked a double. Marks tried to get home but was called out on a controversial call by the umpire, who then ejected Marks for making intentional contact with the catcher.
“The catcher was set up to the left of the plate, Marks tried to slide to the right of the catcher, and touch the plate with his right hand,” Bill Butterworth said. “It was an awkward slide for sure, but certainly not intentional.”
In the ninth, Macek came into pitch in relief of Pangrac and shut Shelton down with two Ks and pop up to Tyler Tomasella at first before the game-winning rally.
Bill Butterworth also credited the outfield defense for the win.
“Our outfielders were also solid,” he said. “Alex Kalentek, Jason Hicks, Jackson Henry, Ryan Swanson and Dante DiRubba all played well.”
Pangrac and David Kiernan pitched the next night against Seymour at Peter J. Foley Little League in Naugatuck. They faced perhaps the best offensive team in the district.
Pangrac pitched into the sixth and produced five strikeouts before reaching his mandated pitch limit.
After the game was the awards ceremony, where RACBL received the Connecticut District 3 Little League Majors runner-up trophy and each player received a Little League pin.
“Seymour showed their class by inviting our team to join them in a lap around the field with the banner, with fans from both teams giving them a standing ovation,” Bill Butterworth said. “It was an amazing scene.”
The two-week run created special memories and will be remembered.