The Dodge Team Tops Its Pool

East Hampton’s 9-and-10-year-old traveling all-star baseball team has won the District 36 championship
Bring ‘em on: East Hampton Little League’s 11-12-year-old team brought a 5-1 record into District 36’s final rounds this week. Jack Graves

For the second year in a row, East Hampton’s 9-and-10-year-old traveling all-star baseball team has won the District 36 championship, and its 11-12-year-old team may not be far behind.

The older team, coached by Ken Dodge, won twice over the weekend to finish atop its seven-team pool with a 5-1 record. The 11-12s were to have played a crossover Final Four game with the North Shore Americans at the Pantigo fields here Tuesday. The 11-12 district final is to be played today at a site that was yet to be determined as of press time.

Riverhead, at 5-0, won the other pool, with the aforementioned North Shore Americans the second team, at 4-1. In East Hampton’s pool Moriches Bay also finished at 5-1, “though they allowed more runs than we did,” Dodge said. “We allowed seven, they allowed eight.”

The North Shore Nationals were also in the running for one of the top two spots. “They finished at 5-1 too, but they allowed three runs to Sag Harbor on Sunday, which brought their runs-allowed total to nine, and knocked them out,” said Dodge.

Dodge’s son, Zach, pitched all the way here on Saturday, dispatching, with the help of a grand slam home run by Jack Dickinson and a solo shot by Mike Locascio, the vaunted North Shore team with relative ease. The final score was 6-2, the visitors’ runs having scored as the result of a dropped fly in shallow center field in the first inning.

Each team finished with five hits, though East Hampton’s proved to be the more potent, namely Dickinson’s laser beam grand slam that treated the Bonackers to a 5-2 lead in the third. 

East Hampton, the “visiting” team, began that inning — after Tim Garneau had turned off the outfield sprinklers, which had come on unexpectedly — with a line single to center by Tyler Hansen. Nico Horan-Puglia drew a walk on a 3-2 pitch, and Locascio, following a conference on the mound, during which a pitching change was made, singled sharply through third and short, loading the bases for Dickinson, who, after fouling off a 3-2 pitch, lined the next delivery over the fence in right-center.

A single down the third-base line and a hit batsman put runners on first and second for North Shore, the “home” team, with none out in the bottom of the third. Another single followed, but Dickinson, who was catching, caught the lead runner as he retreated toward third base, and, with runners at the corners, Dodge hung tough, notching a strikeout — one of six he was to record that day — before getting the third out on a comebacker to the mound.

North Shore brought in its third pitcher in the top of the fifth. After retiring Horan-Puglia on a pop-up to second and starting off Locascio, who bats third in the lineup, with a strike, he served up a fat fastball that Locascio deposited high into the trees beyond the fence in left for a 6-2 East Hampton lead.

Dodge ended his complete-game win with two strikeouts.

Dickinson pitched for East Hampton at Hampton Bays the next day, but had to go only three innings, by the end of which the Bonackers led 16-0, triggering the 15-run mercy rule. 

The only bump in East Hampton’s pool play road was a 4-3 loss here to Moriches Bay on July 3. 

Dickinson, who started, and his teammates trailed 3-0 going into the bottom of the fourth, despite the fact that he had by that time struck out 10 Moriches Bay batters.

Facing Moriches Bay’s starter, Braydon Hronada, Locascio led it off with a single over third, and after Dickinson struck out, Dodge singled up the middle, putting runners at first and second with one out for Carter Dickinson, who was fooled by a 1-2 changeup, after which Justin Prince struck out as well.

Dodge relieved Jack Dickinson with the bases loaded and two out in the top of the fifth, but treated the visitors to a 4-0 lead as the result of hitting the first batter he faced before retiring the side on a flyout to left.

East Hampton made a game of it in the bottom half of the fifth as Horan-Puglia smoked a no-out two-run double to left that scored Chase Siska and Isaac Rodriguez, who had been on third and second.

After Locascio struck out, Jack Dickinson was intentionally walked. Dodge, who bats fifth, forced him at second, ending the inning with Moriches Bay leading 4-2.

Two flyouts and a batting-out-of-order call did the visitors in in the top of the sixth, and last, inning, leading East Hampton’s fans to wonder if they could pull it out in the last at-bat.

Carter Dickinson, the number-six hitter, who arguably has the sweetest swing on the team, stoked those hopes as, with the count 0-1, he launched a Ruthian clout high into the trees bordering the railroad tracks in left field, prompting a conference on the mound.

Milo Tompkins swung at the first pitch he saw and fouled out to the catcher. Then Kieran Conlon, with the count full, drew a walk, and Cassius Hokanson singled, putting runners at first and second with one out for Hansen, who flied out to right. Conlon, who had rounded second, barely got back in time.

That brought up Horan-Puglia with a chance to win the game or at least to tie it. 

With the count 2-2, he let Evan Kaloski’s next pitch, which appeared to be low, sail by. 

But the ump thought differently, signaling “Strike three!” as everyone in East Hampton’s camp moaned.