One game, Salem vs. Rye, for the state Little League title
Members of the Rye Little League team celebrate thier victory over Salem on Sunday evening in Manchester. The two teams are now tied one game each in the best of three series that will conclude Tuesday night. (Bruce Preston / Union Leader)
Dean Borrelli was drafted by the Oakland Athletics in the 20th round of the 1998 Major League Baseball draft. He played eight seasons in the minors, three on the Triple-A level.
A catcher who was drafted out of UMass-Amherst, he is now the manager of the Salem Little League All-Stars.
Today at 5:45 p.m. at Manchester Central Little League’s Sam Harris Field, Salem meets Rye in the third and deciding game of the New Hampshire 11-12-year-old Little League Tournament.
Having played, coached and seen hundreds of games throughout his lifetime, Borrelli said there’s only one thing teams can do when involved in a deciding game.
“You have to control what you can control out on the field and not worry about the results,” said Borrelli. “Just go out, play to the best of your ability and let the rest take care of itself.”
To that, Rye manager Ron King added “Confidence is half the game. You have to enter that game with confidence if you want to win.”
On Saturday, District I champion Salem opened the best-of-three tournament with an 8-4 win. Rye, the District II champion, responded with a defensive 2-1 decision powered by solo homers by Max Malila and winning pitcher Dylan Chase, who struck out 10 batters in a complete-game win.
“That Saturday game was our first loss of the year,” said King, whose team went undefeated during the round-robin format of the District II tournament. “We’ve been here before, know the situation and we responded to that loss with a great effort Sunday.”
Two years ago on the 9-10-year-old state level, Rye battled back from an opening round loss to Bedford in a best-of-three series to win the state tournament.
“We lost by the 10-run rule to Bedford in the first game and came back to win the next two,” said King. “The core of our team is very competitive, confident and knows how to win. That’s all good going into the last game of this series.”
Pitching will be a factor entering today’s game and, according to Borrelli, Salem is in good shape.
“We have Max Morasse and Jake Delaney (Saturday’s starter) both available for 85 pitches apiece,” said the Salem manager. As for Rye, King said he will not have Chase or Malila available because of the pitching rule.
The starting nod may go to either lefthander Jon Swenson, Dylan King (who is the starting catcher) or 11-year-old Nick Guerin.
“Pitching has been great from both teams and I will expect the same for Game 3,” said Borrelli.
King called Salem a “big team which hits the ball well and they will continue to hit. We need to counter it with offense of our own and rely on our speed on the base paths.”
Said Borrelli: “We’ve got a lineup where any one of our players is capable of hitting the ball out of the park,” he said. “I’m not worried about our hitting. I told our team after Sunday’s loss, we’re just moving on to the next game.”
A win in the next game means a trip to Bristol, Conn., for the 2013 New England Regional Baseball Tournament beginning Aug. 2.
And for Borrelli and everyone else connected to today’s game, a lot is at stake.
“These are two evenly-matched teams and as a coach, I have to say I’m as excited as the kids playing in the game,” said Borrelli.