EASTCHESTER, N.Y. – Harrison found itself in unfamiliar situations Saturday in the District 20 Little League Baseball 11-year-old championship game against Kensico.
Harrison, which had outscored its three previous opponents by 32 runs, found itself trailing after three innings and then having to go to extra innings in order to decide the game.
When the final out was recorded, Harrison had overcome a determined Kensico team, 11-8 in eight innings, at O’Rourke Field.
This is the second consecutive District 20 title for Harrison, which has 10 players from the 2011 minors champions.
Harrison advances to the Section 4 Championships July 20-28. Harrison has a bye and will play the District 21 (Southern Westchester)-District 18 (Rockland County) winner at 5:30 p.m. Sunday (July 22).
Christian Pizzutello punched a single between first and second in the eighth, scoring Frankie Nannariello and Michael Arlotta. Joe DiDonato drove in winning pitcher Billy O’Meara and Pizzutello came in on a wild pitch.
“Coach gave me the take sign on the first three pitches, and then when I had a strike, he told me to swing away,” said Pizzutello, 11, and a sixth-grader-to-be at Louis M. Klein Middle School. “When I saw my pitch, I hit it and I was relieved when it got through the infield. This just feels amazing.”
Pizzutello was drenched with water bottles by teammates Michael Arlotta and Nannariello during the interview.
Harrison trailed for the first time this summer as Kensico led, 4-2, through three innings. After evening the score at 4-4 with two runs in the fourth, Harrison scored three in the sixth to grab a 7-4 lead. However, Kensico responded with a two-out, three-run rally in the bottom of the inning.
“It was really exciting, but we were also nervous when we scored three runs and then they scored three runs and then we went to extra innings,” said a cooled-off Pizzutello.
“I spoke to the boys before the game that we would be in for a tough one and they would have to be ready,” said Harrison coach Joe Nannariello, a top player during his Eastchester High School career. “The boys responded as I thought they would and fought hard all game.
Two of Harrison’s wins this year were by the 10-run mercy rule, including a 16-2 triumph over Kensico in the winners bracket final.
“I give credit to Kensico. They played a great game and gave us all that we could handle.”
Arlotta led Harrison with a triple, double, single and three RBI. Peter Hoffman added three hits and scored two runs, Jack Woolf had two hits, including a solo home run and O’Meara doubled twice.
“This is a special win for this team because this is a close-knit group and they have all contributed throughout the tournament,” Nannariello said. “It’s been great to spend all this time with my son, Frankie, and that makes it more special for me.”