The Cubs and the Red Sox squared off Saturday in the annual Major League Championship of Hamilton-Wenham Little League in a game that was certainly worthy of a title match.
Despite the fact that they were facing the Cubs -- who many considered the odds-on favorite -- the Red Sox came out swinging, scoring two runs in the first through patient hitting by Johnny McKenna and Gavin Cann and by a timely double by Cooper McGrath.
As was the theme of the day, however, every time the Red Sox scored, the resilient Cubs seemed to respond. In the first, with a man on, Phil Durgin took a Nick Grammas' fastball deep over the Center Field fence to tie game at two. In true championship form, however, the Red Sox were undaunted, and responded with staunch defense behind the leadership of Grammas who displayed courage and leadership on the mound in his final Little League game. The Cubs also received solid pitching performances, first from Jake Lanciani, then from Durgin.
The game remained tied at two runs apiece until the fourth when the Red Sox offense came alive again beginning with singles from McKenna and Gavin Cann, and followed by a bases-clearing double from Aidan Cann who came up big in his first year in the Majors. The Cubs responded in kind, however with a fourth inning rally of their own behind Cullen Zampell Alec MacDonald who produced two runs to knot the game at four going into the season's final two innnings. In the fifth behind the aggressive base running of Sam Webber, the Red Sox put up another two innings to take the lead 6-4. The lead was short-lived however as the Cubs responded with a four-run inning sparked by the hitting of Lanciani and a bases-loaded double by Durgin that gave the Cubs the lead for good, and the championship.
While disapointed by not being able to capture the title, Red Sox coach Matt Cann was pleased with the effort he received from his team throughout the season – reaching a league Championship game against a very competitive field. Cann lauded the efforts of several players, especially his 12-year olds—Nick Grammas, Chris Seger, Bryson Cala, Will O'Neill, Gavin Cann and Nick Grammas -- who were playing in their final Little League game. Cann also cited the solid foundation that will return to the team for another playoff run next season.
In the victory, Cubs manager Phill Durgin also shared his praise with for his players who "stepped up many times through the season to ensure that the captured the Championship." Durgin went on to thank his 12-year olds -- Bargerhuff, Jake Laciani, Alec MacDonald, Evan Potorski, Hunter Wilichoski, and Cullan Zampell --who finished up their Little League careers in style.