Stepping into the batter’s box in the top of fifth, Ramapo’s Justin Rabrich had a feeling it was going to be the last at-bat of his Little League career, and he wanted to make it special.
On a 1-0 pitch, Rabrich broke a 2-2 tie by belting a two-run homer deep over the center field wall. Ramapo would go on to beat Pearl River 4-2 thanks to the homer, giving Ramapo an unbeaten title run through the ARC Tournament, an eight-team tournament held at Zukor Park in New City made up of local 11-12 all-star teams.
“I got a pitch right down the middle and just hit it,” he said. “It feels really good to help the team win a game.”
The homer was also a bit of redemption for Rabrich. In the top of the fourth, Ramapo trailed 1-0 and had the bases loaded with one out. Rabrich was on second when Nick Cimillo crushed a one-hopper off the center field wall, but he only advanced one base, leaving the bases loaded.
“I was surprised when he didn’t score,” said Ramapo Head Coach Bill Cimillo. “Justin’s one of the fastest guys on the team. He can usually score from anywhere.”
Rabrich said he went back to the base to tag up and advance just in case the ball was caught. Once he realized the ball wasn’t caught, Rabrich started running, but by the time he got to third the ball thrown to the cutoff man and the third base coach held him.
He did come around and score on a single by Will Tenzer, but Ramapo left the inning with just two runs and a one-run lead.
“We definitely missed an offensive opportunity that inning,” Cimillo said. “Pearl River’s a great team with a lot of big hitters. They can score a bunch of runs real quick. I thought we needed to score at least four runs in that inning, especially since they had their big hitters coming up.”
Ramapo’s lead lasted all of five minutes, as Pearl River’s Joe Sassano led off the bottom of the fourth with a home run to dead center to tie it at two.
Cimillo said the biggest reason for his team’s undefeated run to the ARC championship was pitching. On Friday, Jason Contreni pitched 5.2 innings, giving up just two runs. Cimillo took him out with a 2-0 count on Sassano with two outs in the sixth because Contreni was nearing his pitch limit and Cimillo thought his starter was tiring.
“He didn’t have as much on his fastball anymore,” Cimillo said.
Tenzer came in and closed out the game.
The tournament raises funds for ARC of Rockland, and it was announced that this year the tournament raised more than $5,000 for ARC, about $1,000 more than last year.