By RICH KELLY
For the Star Beacon
Earlier this week, I was able to share the names of the many great citizens, who represent Ashtabula District 1 Little League, and helped make the State Little League tournament at Cederquist Park be such a successful event.
Under the direction of Frank Cole, those aforementioned folks have continued to do yeoman’s work throughout the week as the weather has been less than cooperative
It’s important that we all recognize the hard work that goes into putting a project like this tournament together.
As is to be expected, not all volunteers named made the previous story earlier this week. These good folks are Tim Lesperance, Andrew Lesparance, Katie Boomhower and Lou Wisnyai. All have been part of everything since Day One, and Wisnyai, in particular, almost fell victim to an injury from a home run ball while carrying out his work making Nappi Field and Tulino Field so beautiful and ready for play.
Immediately after a game concluded on Nappi Field, Wisnyai was delicately manicuring the pitcher’s mound.
Alas, with all the long home runs being hit this week, one cannon shot from Tulino came within five feet of nailing Wisnyai from behind.
Shake up the Ashtabula County football Hall of Famer? Nah, he just set his rake down, retrieved the ball and went back to his work at hand.
Another group of volunteers needs to be mentioned with due respect and admiration — the umpires.
They are, in no particular order, John Birch, Kevin Lambert, Mark Ferron, Mike Kilroy, Zack Quick, Tommie Colbert, Tim Lesperance, Scott Baker, Kent Marks, Phil Kearney, Luke Sawicki, Buddy French, Bob Ziefle, Mike Sanford, Steve Quick, Kurt Smith, Andy Holloman, Dave Hendershott, Larry Wilson, Phil Garcia, and Todd Tulino.
The logistics of planning something like this goes far deeper than most of us know, and Cole and company have been truly outstanding in representing the Ashtabula District 1 Little League family for the rest of the state to see, and should be commended.
Almost on cue, the weather battered the area again during Saturday’s title game when Hamilton, of District 9 near Cincinnati, and New Albany, of District 6 just east of Columbus, were set to square off for the state crown.
Starting in a steady drizzle progressing into a steady shower, the teams managed to get an inning and a half in before the field needed a break for groundskeepers to go to work again.
The game ended up being delayed until today at 1 p.m.
Hamilton has been blasting home runs all over the park this week. Nick Shroyer of New Albany, set Hamilton down 1-2-3 in the top of the first inning, including a pair of strikeouts to start the game.
Obviously fired up to play and needing only to win one game for the state title, New Albany came out with all cylinders firing.
Jacob Snyder led off against Cameron Tenhundfeld with a line drive single to left, but was erased on a fielder’s choice. Shroyer sent a shot toward the hole between first and second that was gloved but not held, and in recovering to make a great play, the first baseman threw the ball away, setting up runners at first and third with one out.
A wild pitch plated the first run for the winner’s bracket champions. A passed ball scored another, a hit batter followed, bringing Ben Smith to the plate. He had homered earlier in the tournament to give New Albany a thrilling win over Hamilton. He only singled this time, a run scored, and after a strikeout and walk, Sam Smith drilled a 3-run homer down the right field line to cap a six-run first inning.
Hamilton hits, though. and before an out could be recorded in the second inning, Hamilton had seven runners cross the plate to take a 7-6 lead.
Tenhundfeld hit the first pitch he saw for a homer to right. After a walk, Matthew Myers drilled a 2-run shot to right, and two walks, a hit batter, and single by Montan Allgaier loaded the bases and sent two more runners home.
Caleb Owens drilled a single to left, two runners scored, and Shroyer retired the next three hitters as Hamilton took a lead with 12 batters stepping to the plate in the inning.
After an hour rain delay, the crew of umpires decided to hold off, with a less-than-friendly weather forecast coming, until 4 p.m.
At that time, it was decided to postpone the game at that point until 1 p.m. today.
Again, Cole’s crew will be put to the test to prepare the field’s to hold the delayed state title game.
If this past week has been any indication, they’ll be up to the task and a tournament will conclude that never could’ve began without all the hard work of those volunteers.
Kelly is a freelance writer from Jefferson.