The Westchester 14 and under baseball team capped off an improbable run in the Babe Ruth League World Series Aug. 24, finishing third overall in the nation with a 9-8 loss to a New Jersey club in the semifinals.
Westchester, the Pacific Southwest Regional champion, put forth two comeback attempts but the New Jersey team sealed the victory on a walk-off single to quell Westchester’s hopes for a national championship. Despite the loss, the boys from Westchester had overcome numerous elimination games throughout the tournament with defeats over Utah and Missouri, respectively.
Starting for Westchester in the semifinal round was left-handed pitcher Matthew Kaplan. Although he did record the loss for the club against Florida the previous Sunday, he bounced back to retrieve the save in the team’s defeat of home-state host Utah just two days before the semifinal match up.
New Jersey opened up the game with a 3-1 lead after three innings. However, in the top of the fourth frame, Grant Craddolph belted a home run 390 feet over the left field wall to give Westchester its first lead of the ballgame, 4-3.
But the lead did not last long. New Jersey stormed right back, scoring three runs in the bottom of the frame as well as one more in the bottom of the fifth inning to set the score at 7-4 in favor of the East Coast club.
Just as Westchester had done against Utah and Missouri, they took the lead one more time, scoring four runs in the top of the sixth inning. After the team got the first two runners on, Anthony Chavez drove in two runners with a single, stole second base and then scored on another base hit. Westchester would score one more run in the inning to take the 8-7 lead after five and a half innings.
New Jersey tied the game in the bottom of the sixth inning and doubled to lead off the top of the seventh. With one out, New Jersey singled softly to right field to not only score the final run and win the game, but end Westchester’s season.
The Babe Ruth League has over 1 million youth members from ages 4 to 18 and is played in all 50 states as well as six countries.
Westchester’s run to the Babe Ruth baseball World Series lasted for multiple weeks across multiple tournaments. The team went 8-0 in the district and state tournaments, in addition to winning five out of six games in the Pacific Southwest Region tournament, where it faced teams from all across the Western section of the country.
“We had an amazing run. No one expected us to go this far, and I’m excited to be part of this team,” said Christian Amador, a defensive specialist on the Westchester club. “(Manager John Lopatto) did a great job putting 15 fantastic players together, each with different skills. I can’t wait for next season when we win it all.”
The 15 members of the Westchester All Stars are Avery Allen, Cristian Anador, Jordan Caines, Reggie Castro, Anthony Chavez, Grant Craddolph, Angel de la Torre, L.J. Gilliam, A.J. Inatsugu, Carlos Jacobo, Matthew Kanfer, Matthew Kaplan, Ethan Lazar, Mario Morales and Jason Zeidman. The team was managed by John Lopatto and coached by Barry Craddolph and Alex Galaviz, according to parent Scott Zeidman.
“This World Series has truly been an amazing experience,” said assistant coach Barr Craddolph. “To have the privilege of playing against competitive teams from across the country is unforgettable. I must say I am so proud of our boys because of the way they have banded together and fought together no matter what the situation. Go Westchester!”