It started with a simple email inquisition. The question was posed: Would the North End under 9 year old All-Stars like to scrimmage their counterpart from the Pine Tree State? After a rigorous exchange spanning a few weeks, the game was on and the date was confirmed; that is, until Mother Nature intervened and washing out our plans, forcing us to either adapt and reschedule or cancel. Working around Independence Day and traveling plans of players and families on both sides, July 12th was the new date and the stage was set for a game that certainly did not disappoint.
Starting pitcher Will Previte had two Ks (strike outs) in two innings and was aided by some fancy defense by shortstop Luciano DelloRusso to blank the Maine All-Star team through two frames. In the bottom of the first Will led off, helping his own cause by ripping a double into left center. After two walks and two outs, Previte would come around to score on a bases loaded walk drawn by Anthony Sapienza before the third out was made. In the bottom of the second, Leonardo DelloRusso knocked in his brother Luciano on a base hit to right center and, at the top of the lineup, Will Previte again reached base, pushing Wyatt Boucher across the dish. After two innings it was North End: 2 and South Berwick: 0.
South Berwick answered with five runs of their own in the top of the third inning. Bases loaded hits by players Connor Desmarais and Branston Larck propelled South Berwick to the lead after their half of the frame. Leading off the bottom of the third, Aidan Previte belted a base hit to left field. After an out and two walks to Ferdinand Carangelo and Nick Caruso, Brennan Bergson dug in and cracked a two-run single into center field. A few batters later, Ben Puopolo and Leo Dello Russo drew back-to-back bases loaded walks before the third out was made. After three innings it was North End: 7 and South Berwick: 5.
Four hits, including a leadoff triple from Brevin Lavin, enabled South Berwick to score three more runs in the top of the fourth inning. South Berwick was set up nicely to pile on more runs, but two stellar defensive plays by third baseman Nick Caruso thwarted what seemed to be a very promising inning for the Berwick bats. After snaring a line drive to start the inning, Berwick had a man on first after an RBI single by Sam Gennaro. A base hit to left field by Sawyer Reimels saw the cut off throw go to first base after a very wide turn. Gennaro, seeing the ball go behind him, dashed for third, first-baseman Aidan Previte threw a laser to Caruso who slapped the tag on the advancing runner, cutting down a key runner and hanging the second out of the inning on the board. Berwick scored three in the inning, but the defensive efforts of the North End kept them only down a run after three and a half innings. The North End went 1-2-3 in the bottom of the fourth and, entering the fifth inning, it was South Berwick: 8 and North End: 7.
South Berwick added three more runs in the top of the fifth inning to go up 11-7. The North End fought back. After a bases loaded single by Bergson to gain a run back, Luciano DelloRusso stepped into the box. The North End byproduct slapped an 0-2 fastball the other way into right-center field, driving in two runs. The North End rally was enough to pull them within a run heading into the final inning. After five innings the score was South Berwick: 11 and North End: 10.
In the top half of the sixth, the North End gave the ball to up-and-coming prospect Anthony Sapienza. Down one run, Sapienza gave coaches Rick Martignetti & Michael DelloRusso exactly what they were looking for. After a leadoff strikeout, the Junior Cardinals Ace outed the next two batters, retiring the South Berwick batters 1-2-3 for the first time in the game. Anthony received some help from fellow minor leaguer Owen Flanagan manning third base. Owen put out the next two players (L5, 5-3). The duo had done their job and given the North End a spark heading into their last at bat.
After a leadoff K, North End players Leo DelloRusso and Nate Ginsburg walked back-to-back. A pass ball with Payton Fabiano at the plate allowed the runners to move to second and third. With runners still on base and two outs, Javian Vatel stepped into the box. Javian hit a 2-1 pitch into right-center field, DelloRusso crossed the plate and Ginsburg came in right behind him. The North End had walked off in the inaugural meeting with South Berwick!
Final score North End: 12 and South Berwick: 11.
After the game, the teams and coaches celebrated with pizza from Rocco’s Waterfront. Special thanks to: The South Berwick team and coaching staff lead by Gregg Sessler; The overseer of all-things North End Baseball Ralph Martignetti; and to the man whose idea the exchange was, Nolan Previte. Also, the generosity of the Previte & Larson family, which led to new uniforms for all players and coaches and delicious pizza after the game. The North End hopes to continue this new found exchange, making it a summer staple. This goes to show you, an idea and some action – that is all it takes for some magic to happen!