Diver’s former team reigns in PJF league

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NAUGATUCK — At Peter J. Foley Little League’s opening day ceremony, league President Bob Dibble announced the season would be dedicated to the memory of the late Dustin Diver. It was only fitting that one of the last ceremonies of the season was held before the final game of the championship round, where Diver’s former team, the Giants, went out to center field along with the Indians team and stood around Diver’s number 17, which was emblazoned in the grass, for one last cheer of ‘Diver’ as the players shook hands before the game.

Diver was a member of the Giants from 1987-1990 and won the leagues sportsmanship award. He went on to captain the 1996 Naugatuck High School baseball team in his senior year before going on to play and coach at Southern Connecticut State University.

“He was really a special kid who just loved the game of baseball,” said Giants manager Joe Magnamo. “I had the absolute privilege to have coached Dustin, and he was a great example of what little league baseball is all about. … What makes this season so much more special is that Dustin’s former team went out and won the championship in his honor.”

It took an effort from every player on the team to realize the dream of becoming the Peter J. Foley 2010 Champions. The front-running Giants concluded the regular season with a 13-5 record, with the Indians and Cardinals right on their heels, both finishing at 12-6. The young Red Sox improved along the way and were certainly a handful during the double-elimination tournament of champions.

The Giants managed to squeak by the upstart Red Sox by a slim, 4-1 margin in the opening round of the playoffs. Starting pitcher Jason Bradley and relief pitcher Zach Mason gave the Red Sox a chance by holding the hot-hitting Giants in check for most of the game.

Bradley had a single and a run scored, and Dave Riddick doubled for the only two hits of the game for the Red Sox. Colin Leary was at his best, pitching a perfect game through four innings for the Giants and was relieved by Dave Klock, who surrendered one run on two hits while striking out six to secure the victory.

The Red Sox gave the Indians all they could handle in the second round before the Tribe pulled out the extra-inning win to move on in the tournament.

The Giants moved on to the championship round by upending the Cardinals by a 6-2 margin. Corey Plasky of the Cardinals and Colin Leary of the Giants were hooked up in a pitchers duel, with the game tied at 2-2 entering the bottom of the fourth inning.

Kyle Pyshna, Kevin Stephenson and Plasky all singled to spark the Cardinals offensive attack. D.J Wisniewski came on in relief in the fourth for the Cardinals and got the first two before the Giants staged a rally that sent them to victory.

Dave Klock and Chris Yacavone each contributed two singles to pace the Giants. Aaron Yourison and Steve Marinaro added singles with Leary busting a run-scoring double and a single as the Giants plated four runs in the fourth to put the game away.

Yourison worked the final three innings on the hill, registering eight strikeouts and sending the Giants to the championship round.

The Indians came out of the loser’s bracket of the double-elimination tournament with their backs to the wall. They needed to win the final two games to win the championship. E.J. Gunnison gave the Indians the kind of performance they needed as he spun a three-hitter and struck out ten. The Indians pushed across four runs in the fifth on two hits and four walks to put the game away. Gunnison sparked the Tribe bats with a single and a double. Chris Briney, Brandon Santiago, Connor White and Jake Custer each had hits for the Indians. Colin Leary, Brandan Caldwell and Devan Aviles had the three Giants hits. Matt Whitney came on to strike out the final two batters, and the Tribe was headed to a winner-take-all final showdown.

Dave Klock of the Giants and Joey Viveiros of the Indians got the starts on the hill for the final showdown. Klock got into trouble early, loading the bases with no outs in the first. Two stellar defensive plays limited the damage as Mike Macary hauled in a deep sacrifice fly to center and third baseman Steve Marinaro cut down a run at the plate as the Indians managed just one run.

In the bottom of the frame, the Giants took the lead for good. Klock worked out a two-out walk and Yourison cranked a two run homer to give the winners a 2-1 advantage.

Brendan Caldwell sent a sharp single to right that got all the way to the wall as he came all the way around to score, bringing the score to 3-1.

Viveiros buckled down and held the Giants scoreless the rest of the way. In the top of the second, the Indians cut the deficit when Paul Cavagnulo and Jake Custer singled to make it a 3-2 game.

Yourison came on to slam the door on the Indians, striking out 12 of the last 14 batters he faced and giving the Giants and Dustin Diver’s former team the 2010 Peter J. Foley Championship.