(Aug. 6, 2021) The Berlin Little League Junior League All-Star team beat Talbot County Little League twice to win the state championship title last week.
Berlin, of District 8, which hosted the state tournament, was 3-1 going into its competition with Talbot of District 6, on Thursday.
Talbot scored one in the third, but Berlin answered with a run in the fourth. Talbot made it 2-1 in the bottom of the inning.
Berlin pulled ahead with two runs in the top of the fifth, but the lead didn’t last long, as Talbot tacked on three in the bottom of the inning.
Berlin scored two in the sixth to tie the game, 5-5. The home team tallied two in the eighth to win, 7-5.
“It was a great game,” said Manager Mike Gaylor. “These games are played with a lot of heart. We played good defense. I just told them to ‘give me one more shot to go out and hit the ball,’ and that’s what they did.”
Tony Martin was 3-for-5 in the game. Caleb Loring went 2-for-5 with two RBIs. Justin Udzielak also had two RBIs.
Spencer Gaylor and Kyle Springle had one RBI a piece.
Ethan Cowder and Jackson Cheung combined for seven strikeouts and allowed five hits in the victory.
“Phenomenal pitching by them,” Gaylor said.
The win, Gaylor said, shifted the momentum in Berlin’s favor.
“We had a plan and it worked out. [It was to] not jump on the first pitch, make sure you’re thrown strikes and what you swing at, hit hard,” he said. “There was a lot of screaming and cheering after the game, but I told the boys, ‘we’re not done yet. We still got one more.’”
Because it was a double-elimination tournament, Berlin had to beat Talbot twice to clench the title.
The two teams met again the next day.
“‘Today is the day when we finish what we started,’” Gaylor told his players before the game. “We had the same game plan - to wait [the pitcher] out and get the pitch you want to hit.”
Berlin jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning.
“That made us feel a little better. We kept the pressure on them,” the coach said.
The team added three more runs in the third to gain a 6-0 advantage.
Talbot scored its only two runs in the fourth.
Berlin won 6-2 and captured the state title.
“It was a total team effort,” Gaylor said.
Nate Berzonski had two RBIs, and Martin, Udzielak and Mason Edelmann tallied one each.
Loring pitched all seven innings. He struck out four, walked one and gave up four hits.
“I’ve had these boys since they were 8 years old and we’ve had the same goal in mind - the state championship,” Gaylor said. “It was even sweeter to win at home. It was really cool to win it in our back yard, with all our fans.”
Cheung got the game ball and presented it to Gaylor, he said.
“He said, ‘here you go coach. We did this for you,’” Gaylor said, a bit choked up.
The local squad opened tournament competition on July 24 against Talbot Little League. Talbot won 12-9, handing the Berlin squad what would be its only loss of the all-star season.
Berlin bounced back the next day, defeating District 5 representative, Rising Sun, 20-1, in four innings.
Last Monday against Laurel of District 4, Berlin won 13-2 in five innings. Berlin then played District 7 St. Mary’s last Wednesday, and came out on top, 12-4, setting up the championship battle with Talbot.
Berlin advanced to the state tournament by winning the District 8 championship. The squad received a first-round bye, then hosted West Salisbury on July 14. Berlin earned a 18-3 victory in five innings (10-run rule). On July 16, Berlin outscored Delmar, 19-1, in four innings on the road to claim the title.
“We only lost one game the whole season, so that’s pretty good,” Gaylor said. “The regular season we went 12-0; districts, 2-0; and 5-1 in states.”
He also praised his assistant coaches, Mitch Loring and Derek Berzonski.
“I couldn’t have done it without them,” he said.
The 13-player team consists of four 14-year-olds and nine 13-year-olds. Most of the boys played together during the regular season. A few players were added to the roster for the all-star competition.
Gaylor thanked the parents and volunteers for helping the tournament run smoothly.
The Junior League All-Star team wasn’t the only Berlin squad to win a state title. The Junior League Softball team won its second consecutive state championship on July 17.
The Major League, Intermediate, and 10-11-year-old squads all finished runner up in their state divisions.