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North Syracuse teams appear in Babe Ruth regionals

13-year-olds fall in close Mid-Atlantic semifinal

— Only one of two North Syracuse Babe Ruth Baseball All-Star teams made it to elimination play during last week’s Mid-Atlantic Regionals, despite the teams sharing equal 2-2 records in round-robin play.

It was the 13-year-old squad that got past the first stage in their tournament in West Winfield, N.J., by claiming the middle two games in its five-team bracket, though its title run would be cut short in the semifinal round.

In the Aug. 4 tournament opener, North Syracuse lost, 4-2, to Atlantic Shore (N.J.). Now almost needing a win, North Syracuse got two of them, starting Aug. 5 with a 12-2 romp over Frederick County (Md.).

Two days later, North Syracuse beat Washington Township (N.J.) 5-2. Tom Benz pitched and earned the win as Anthony Spataro, Rob Wiegand and Michael Wright all got key doubles.

That win clinched a spot in the next round, despite a 14-7 to Branchburg (N.J.) at the close of the round-robin phase last Monday. North Syracuse fell despite Antonio Nesci’s triple and doubles from Spataro and Wiegand.

To win now, North Syracuse had to get through three elimination games. It passed the first hurdle, beating host West Windsor 10-5. Key hits from Mike Copani, Antonio Nesci and A.J. Nesci helped the visitors as David Verett was the winning pitcher.

Advancing to Wednesday’s semifinal, North Syracuse met Branchburg (N.J.), undefeated in the tournament so far. But in a tight, hard-fought contest, Branchburg prevailed 8-7, ending North Syracuse’s title dreams. Branchburg went on to lose the final 10-1 to Atlantic Shore.

Meanwhile, North Syracuse’s 14-year-old All-Star team had the same 2-2 mark in its Babe Ruth Mid-Atlantic Regional in Williamsport, Pa., but did not advance further.

It looked good at first, as on Aug. 3 North Syracuse opened with a pair of easy wins, rolling past College Point (N.Y.) 9-1 and Frederick County (Md.) 10-4. But host Williamsport slowed the visitor’s momentum a day later, blanking North Syracuse 10-0.

Rain and weather forced North Syracuse to the sidelines for two days. When it returned, on Aug. 7, it had to beat North Burlington (N.J.) to advance, but instead took a 4-3 defeat.

Though both sides finished 2-2, North Burlington had the head-to-head tie-breaker and moved ahead. Bridgewater, the champions of Northern New Jersey, beat College Point 9-8 in the title game.

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