Bonac Nine-Tens Win Title Again

Future looks bright if the kids keep playing
Winning a District 36 championship earned East Hampton’s 9-to-10-year-old Little League baseball team fire truck rides on their return home Saturday Durell Godfrey

North Shore, mighty North Shore, has fallen! 

This past weekend, East Hampton Little League’s 9-to-10-year-old traveling all-star baseball team, coached by Mike Hand, Matt Meehan, and Andrew Rodriguez, shocked the North Shore Nationals and Americans on successive days to become, apparently for the first time in East Hampton annals, back-to-back District 36 champions.

Having gone 3-0 in the pool play, the young Bonackers, six of whom played on last year’s championship team, faced off against the North Shore Nationals at Pantigo Friday evening, and, with Andrew Brown, Livs Kuplins, and Kai Alversa pitching, defeated the visitors 8-3. 

“Their starting pitcher was good — he was dealing,” Mike Hand said during a conversation Tuesday morning. “They went up 1-0, we came back with a run in the second — we were the ‘visiting’ team — and then we scored five runs in the third, which gave us some breathing room.”

The big hit for East Hampton in the third was a bunt by Bruno Sessler with runners at first and second base, catching North Shore off guard. “The wheels came off — they threw the ball around and two runs came in,” Hand said. “Bruno went all the way to third. Then Livs, who got on base all four times he was up, drove him in. . . . By the end of that inning we were up 6-1. That win put us in the final.”

The district final was played the next day at a complex with six baseball fields “on the Miller Place-Rocky Point border. It was supposed to have been played at a neutral site, but oh well. It was like going into the lions’ den. Their 11-12 team had just come off the field, there were a lot of their fans there, though we had a good showing too.”

Kai Alversa, whose father, Vinny, coaches East Hampton High School’s varsity team, started.

“In the top of the first — we won the coin flip and were the ‘home’ team — their first hitter,” Hand said, consulting the scorebook, “reached on a slow infield grounder, then a bloop single, and a hit batsman to load the bases with no outs. Then there was an overthrow to the catcher on a grounder to second. Bases still loaded, still no outs. Panic was beginning to set in as far as the coaches were concerned. The players were cool, though.”

“The next kid popped out to Kai. He then got a strikeout. A force at third got us out of it with only one run having scored.”

“We took the lead in the bottom half. Kai led off with a walk. Then there was a lineout, and then Luke Rossano doubled Kai in and Andrew doubled in Luke. We sailed from that point on. Kai pitched beautifully. He pitched three innings and VictorEddy Diaz pitched one. We scored nine runs in the second and went on to win 13-1.”

Asked to recount the nine-run second, Hand said, “Trevor Bock, our youngest player, singled, my son flied out deep to left, then there were . . . one, two, three, four singles and a double by Trevor Meehan and a triple by Luke Rossano. They got him at home, though I forget how that went. Then there were three more singles. We batted around. We were up 10-1 after two innings.”

“Kai and Livs have been our top two hitters, but they all played great, the starters, the subs . . . they all, all 12 of them, stepped up,” he added. 

When the team returned here at around 3 p.m., East Hampton Fire Department trucks were at the turnoff near the Il Mulino restaurant in Wainscott to escort them through the village to the Pantigo fields, where they were welcomed by relatives and friends who had not made the trip.

It was on to Section IV play Tuesday, versus Sayville in Oakdale. “There are four teams in the sectional tournament — us, Sayville, Half Hollow Hills, and East Meadow,” Hand said. “The winner of this goes to the states. There will be eight teams in that tournament, which starts on July 21st, two from each of the state’s four sections.”

East Hampton, by the way, has three young teams playing in the Brookhaven summer league. Meehan, with Hand assisting, coaches the 10-and-unders, Henry Meyer, Alversa’s varsity assistant, coaches the 11-and-unders, and Ken Dodge coaches the 12-and-unders. 

“It’s hard work all around — the parents should get a pat on the back too — but it’s paying off,” said Hand. “We practiced in the Montauk Playhouse’s gym on Sundays in the winter, in January, February, and March. The varsity and jayvee coaches have been involved all along. If the kids keep at it, East Hampton baseball will rise again.”

Never before in East Hampton annals has a 9-10 baseball team, as the above one did, won back-to-back District 36 championships. Kristen Alversa