Northampton U11s battles back to take District 30
The fate of the Northampton Under-11 district baseball team certainly follows the wisdom of Yogi Berra when he said, “It ain’t over ‘til it’s over.”
The talented and determined boys in gray definitely flexed their diamond muscles as they roared through pool play in the District 30 championship playoffs. They outscored their opponents by a 40-7 margin. In recording a perfect 3-0 mark, they dominated Newtown by a 12-1 score, defeated Warwick 11-8, and crushed Holland, 17-8. Boasting those impressive offensive stats, Northampton rightly earned the nickname “the Bombers.”
The prohibitive favorite when the actual playoffs started, Northampton certainly lived up to their name as they beat Lenape Valley 12-0 in a game stopped after four innings due to the mercy rule. Leftfielder Jake Barder swung the hot Louisville as the Bombers struck early.
With one down in the first, Barder lined a solid double to left. He moved to third on Bubba Wilkinson’s single and scurried home on Shane Walter’s sacrifice fly to center. Starting pitcher Mike Rabayda then aided his own cause by singling home Wilkinson.
In the bottom of the frame, Northampton proved they were not just a proverbial “good hit, no field” kind of team. The Lenape Valley leadoff man doubled to start the inning. He was quickly erased when the next batter grounded out to first. Rather than remaining content with a single out, first sacker Walter fired across the diamond to Luke Gregory who nailed the sliding Lenape runner for the unconventional twin killing.
The Bombers went immediately back to work in the top of the second as Gregory led off with a single and Jack Rebholz followed with a walk. After Nick Gallo grounded into a force out at second, the hot-hitting Jake Barder strode to the plate and promptly doubled home two more runs.
With Mike Rabayda using both craft and accuracy on the mound to keep Lenape Valley at bay, the Bombers quickly got another shot to erupt in the top of the third. Walter singled to right. After Rabayda flied out, Emilio Pallante singled. Catcher Luke Meakim doubled home Walter. Gregory followed, plating pinch runner Joey Danko with a single. Gallo closed out the scoring in the third, doubling in two more runs.
The rout continued in the fourth inning when Walter reached safely on a throwing error. Rabayda showed he had legs to match his strong pitching arm by beating out an infield single. Pallante loaded the bases with a bunt single. Meakim took full advantage of the opportunity and batted in two more tallies with a single. After Rebholz singled, Barder completed his perfect 4-for4 day, blasting his third double of the day, sending both Meakim and Rebholz home.
The convincing 12-0 win set up a second round contest with the ever dangerous Warwick team, winners of last year’s District 30 Under-10 playoffs. The Bombers seemed unfazed by the Warwick program’s reputation. It appeared the only thing Northampton could not win was the coin toss determining the home team.
Playing the role of visitors, they unleashed a display of raw slugging ability in the top of the first. Nick Gallo led off and poled the second pitch of the game deep over the right field fence. Jake Barder followed with
Mike Rabayda makes the putout at first base.
Luke Gregory goes for high throw at third base.
Luke Meakim tags out sliding Warwick baserunner.
Shortstop Jack Rebholz scoops up a ground ball.