NAUGATUCK — The Union City Little League Yankees proved it ain’t over ‘til it’s over.
The Yanks overcame a nine-run deficit and defeated the Pirates, 14-12, on Tuesday night to win the league’s “Major Boys” division postseason tournament.
“They never quit,” Yankees manager Chris Sheedy said. “They had the heart of a champion.”
The Pirates, who won three straight games in the double-elimination tournament to earn a bye to the championship round, scored 11 runs in the first three innings before the Yanks stormed back.
The comeback was capped in the sixth when the Yankees broke an 11-all tie and scored three times. Dillon Conway smacked a leadoff triple and eventually scored on sac fly from Jordan Andreozzi.
Zack Alves kept the rally going with a single and Jason Jacobs reached on an error. Tommy Stoehrer followed with a bunt that stopped rolling about five feet up the first-base line.
The bunt made for a difficult play and forced a rushed throw that wound up sailing past first base. Alves and Stoehrer scored on the play to give the Yanks a 14-11 lead.
The Pirates didn’t quit. Brandon Papp, who had an RBI hit in third, stroked a triple to the right center and scored on an overthrow.
“No matter what the score was, they always battled until the end,” Pirates manager Sergio Carreira said of his team. “They tried their hardest and fought until the end.”
Patrick Hughes, who entered the game in relief during the third, earned the win after recording the final out in the sixth. Hughes pitched scoreless innings in the fourth and fifth.
Jordan Carreira tossed a complete game and hit a three-run double in the bottom of the first for the Pirates.
Jacob Smith had a two-run single in a third-inning rally for the Pirates, who utilized numerous walks to score runs early in the game.
The Pirates scored three in the first, two in the second and six in the third.
The Yankees responded. During a five-run fourth, Alex Kosciuszek had a run-scoring single, Colin Sheedy smashed a two-run homer and Conway tripled and scored on an overthrow.
In the fifth, Kyle Torok and Kosciuszek had two-run doubles to tie the game for the Yankees.
Torok made his presence known in center field, too. With the bases loaded and two outs, Matt Pimpinelli lined a ball that Torok slid to make the catch and end the inning.
“I have no fear putting Kyle in any position at any time,” Chris Sheedy said. “That was a game-saver. It didn’t look like that at that point, but it ended an inning, ended a rally and gave us a spark.”
The Yankees forced an “if” game with a 5-0 win over the Pirates on Monday night. Corey Grohs threw a four-hit complete game for the Yanks.
Hughes had two hits, including a two-run homer. Andreozzi had two hits and two RBI.
For the Pirates, Tyler Deitlebaum pitched well and had two hits. Pimpinelli and Zach Williams also had hits for the Pirates.
“Just to be here was an honor for these kids,” Sergio Carreira said of both teams. “No matter win or lose, they deserved to be here. They never gave up. They battled throughout the playoffs.”
The Yankees manager agreed.
“The kids on both teams were amazing,” Sheedy said. “The Pirates played so hard for every inning. Even when we were scoring, they weren’t giving up. We had to earn everything we got.”
Tuesday night completed the 2011 Union City major baseball season. The Cardinals, who were eliminated by the Yankees in the tournament, won the regular season title.