New Orleans wins 2015 AAABA championship

New Orleans wins championship

Boston impresses with runner-up finish

By Brian Varmecky

  New Orleans 13 - 2 Boston  Team Logo in 7 innings

    1 2 3   4 5 6   7 8 9   R H E
New Orleans   1 2 1   4 2 3   0 X X   13 17 2
Boston   2 0 0   0 0 0   0 X X   2 5 1

Click here for photos from the championship game

The New Orleans Boosters are the 2015 AAABA national champions. It is the fourteenth championship for the New Orleans franchise and first since 2009. They defeated Boston 13-2 in a 7-inning mercy rule on Sunday night to claim the title. Boston was coming off an exhausting 4-hour nightmare game earlier in the day and the final score does not reflect the poise and grit displayed by the team against New Orleans. The Dixielanders had survived their own double header on Thursday by coming from behind against Columbus and Chicago-Metro in an elimination doubleheader. The Boosters returned to form this year with their traditional pitching depth and powerful offense.

“We’ve been working hard for this the whole summer, and it means so much to us,” said New Orleans left fielder Troy Lewis. “We’ve come out here so many times--this is my third time--and we hadn’t won one so it’s nice to close a chapter in life with a championship.”  

“We meshed really well,” said New Orleans star pitcher and tournament MVP Brooks Vial. “I remember from the first practice, we didn’t even really know each other very well, but we got together and all summer we just clicked.”  

“This [tournament] is a great experience. I loved it as a player, it’s even better as a coach, especially to finish it this way,” said first year New Orleans manager Joe Teuton. "This is what we look forward to coming every year, the people here put on a great show, the Old Timers, the AAABA, it’s just an honor to be a part of this deal." 

“It was a great week, we had a lot of fun, especially playing at this stadium with all the fans and all the kids coming out watching the games asking for hats and balls, it’s just a great experience,” said Boston infielder Sam Steeves. “It didn’t end the way we wanted it to, but just being here until the last day and at this ceremony, it was a great experience.”

New Orleans starter Carlo Graffeo Boston's Sean Webster stole
second base in the first inning
New Orleans right-fielder Daniel Lahare's
RBI single in the second

Lead exchanged in open frame

The game started two-and-a-half hours behind schedule due to the length of the afternoon game and formal protests filed by the Altoona side. When things finally got underway, New Orleans quickly jumped on the board. A throwing error from the third baseman let Troy Lewis reach safely and Cody Ducote’s single moved him to third. Jordan Romero then placed a perfect bunt down the first base line which allowed him to reach safely and also score Lewis from third.

Fans would have excused the first-year Boston club if they had played this game with low energy and lots of mistakes considering their situation. They were coming off a four-hour game that included several delays, two protests, a plethora of hit batsmen, and was all played under the hot afternoon sun. While the earlier game may have exhausted reports and fans, the Astros showed that they still had plenty of energy left for the championship and had no intention of giving up.

An error from the short-stop let Sean Webster reach safely for the Astros. After stealing second, he scored on Miguel Lorenzo’s single up the middle to tie the game. A single down the first base line from starting pitcher Nick Powers and an ‘excuse-me’ bunt single from Lionel Danielson loaded the bases. When the New Orleans third baseman missed the ball on Jamel Vilmont’s infield hit, it allowed Lorenzo to score from third and give Boston the lead. New Orleans ended the inning with a 5-2-3 double play.

“I’m really proud of the guys for sticking with it, because these were 9 inning games and we were running out of pitchers, so we were having position players pitch,” explained Boston coach Thomas Patterson Junior. “The way that the kids played throughout the week, it was great to watch.”  

Cole Freeman (right) stole third and home
on a wild pitch in the fifth
Boston's Frankely Gonzalez Freeman stealing home
on a wild pitch in the fifth

New Orleans offense opens up

The Boosters responded immediately with two runs of their own. Owen Magee blooped a single into centerfield and advanced to third on a stolen base and wild pitch. Daniel Lahare scored Magee with a single. With two outs, Cole Freeman stole second base and scored on Troy Lewis’ double to centerfield. New Orleans starting pitcher Carlo Graffeo retired the Boston side after only three batters courtesy another double play. The Boosters led 3-2 after two innings.

“Once we got through that shaky first inning, we were able to really get things rolling,” said New Orleans manager Teuton. “I think we put it all together this last game. We pitched good and then after that we got some timely hits and we were fortunate those guys were a little bit gassed.”

Romero’s one-out double off the Screen Monster in left field put 2 runners in scoring position in the third inning. A fielder’s choice scored Dylan Weston, who had been hit by a pitch.

New Orleans really started to pull away in the fourth inning. Lewis singled to score Freeman, who had stolen second base. A run-scoring double from Cody Ducote chased pitcher Powers for reliever Frankely Gonzalez, who had been playing at shortstop. The first batter he faced was Dylan Weston who reached second base when the first baseman and rightfielder collided while attempting to catch his pop up to shallow right field. A pair of walks and a fly-out brought in two more runs. Zachary Clark was caught stealing by Lorenzo to end the inning.

“The New Orleans squad is a really good hitting team,” said coach Patterson. “You can’t mistakes to those guys, everything has to be on point. They’re great hitters and they play the game right. I like playing against teams like that.”  

Two more runs were added to the New Orleans total in the fifth. Justin Nussbaum led with a double and scored when Gonzalez was called for a balk. Freeman reached on a double, and then stole both second and third on the same wild pitch to bring the score to 10-2 New Orleans.

In the sixth, Magee singled home Romero (who had been walked) before Daniel Lahare hit a home run to right field, scoring himself and Magee and putting the 10-run mercy rule into effect.

Graffeo allowed a one-out hit and walk in the bottom of the sixth, which brought Jonathan Ebersole to the mound. Catcher Romero caught Vilmont stealing second and Ebersole struck out Bryanne Toney to end the inning.

Boosters celebrate their championship Boston's Miguel Lorenzo, Frankely Gonzalez,
and Youngstown's Bobby Goodall (not pictured)
tied for the RBI Title with eight each
New Orleans manager Joe Teuton
accepts the championship plaques
from tournament director Bob Wolfe

Boston was competitive through it all

The Boston Astros showed great poise throughout the game, especially considering that they had endured four hours of sunny baseball against Altoona earlier in the day. Even after the long day and down by 11 runs, their fielding efforts in the seventh were still quick and crisp. However, Boston batters were retired in order in four of their seven innings by the strong pitching duo of Graffeo and Ebersole.

We asked Dixie manager Joe Teuton if he was surprised by Boston’s strong play in the championship game considering the circumstances: “No, I tell ya, after watching those guys all week, those guys worried me more than anybody in the tournament. Those guys competed their butts off from the first pitch to the last pitch. It didn’t surprise me one bit. Those guys are fighters all the way through.”  

“Regardless of the score, we always play the game hard. That’s the way the game is supposed to be played, so that’s how we do it,” said infielder Steeves. “We didn’t have enough pitchers to make it through this tournament on the winning side but the defense was still crisp.”  

In the bottom of the seventh, Ebersole pitched a pop out to left, a strike out, and ground out to short as the New Orleans Boosters mercy-ruled the valiant Boston side 13-2 for the championship.

Boston fielding against New Orleans Boston manager Stephen Lewis Tournament Most Valuable Player
Brooks Vial (Virginia Commonwealth)

Boston surprises and is surprised

No one quite knew what to expect from the first year Boston team. Brooklyn manager Jerry Katzke had played them earlier in the year and expected them to be competitive, but the Beantown boys went a step further and became legitimate title contenders. If the club had had more pitching depth, they very well could have taken home the championship. It will be exciting to see if Boston can become a legitimate threat every year. Their 2016 and 2017 title hopes will have to begin at a regional, however. If they can make it past that qualifying round, it seems as though Johnstowners are eager to welcome the Astros back to town.

“It was a different type of tournament for us; the way that the crowd backed us was surprising,” said Boston coach Thomas Patterson, Jr. The first year franchise was welcomed with open arms by the local fans and gained support as their impressive run pushed further into the week. Many fans at the championship game were cheering for the Bostonians to win. “We definitely want to come back. The people were great to us even up until the last day. That’s something different and we really appreciate it.”

Boston’s Sam Steeves: “A big ‘thank you’ to Johnstown. We feel like we were welcomed with open arms, and treated very kindly though out this whole experience, and I definitely want to return next year for another shot at it.”

2015 Tournament Awards

National Championship - New Orleans Boosters
National Runners-up - Boston BASE Astros
Tournament Most Valuable Player - Brooks Vial (New Orleans)
Tournament Batting Champion - Billy Goodall (Youngstown)
Tournament RBI Champions - Billy Goodall (Youngstown), Frankely Gonzalez (Boston), and Miguel Lorenzo (Boston)
Team Sportsmanship Award - Columbus Jets

Unofficial Play-by-Play Recap 

NEW ORLEANS:
1 - Carlo Graffeo; 2 - Jordan Romero; 3 - Dylan Weston; 4 - Cole Freeman; 5 - Owen Magee; 6 - Justin Nussbaum; 7 - Troy Lewis; 8 - Zachary Clark; 9 - Daniel Lahare; DH - Cody Ducote

BOSTON:
1 - Nick Powers; 2 - Miguel Lorenzo; 3 - Adam Woodhead; 4 - Cruz Santana; 5 - Sam Steeves; 6 - Frankely Gonzalez; 7 - Jamel Vilmont; 8 - Sean Webster; 9 - Lionel Danielson


1st INNING - New Orleans
Pitcher: Nick Powers
1FreemanOUT 1 - Pop out to second
21LewisE5 - Lewis to first
5DucoteHIT - Single to right field
23RomeroHIT - Bunt single to first; Lewis scores
22ClarkOUT 2 - Called strike out
27WestonOUT 3 - Fly out to right
1 R 2 H 1 E 2 LOB = New Orleans leads 1-0
1st INNING - Boston
Pitcher: Carlo Graffeo
2WebsterE6 - Webster to first on high throw
3GonzalezWebster steals second
OUT 1 - Ground out 6-3
4LorenzoHIT/1-RUN - Single up the middle; Webster scores
18PowersHIT - Single up the first base line
15DanielsonHIT - Bunt single on failed fielder's choice 1-5
14VilmontE5/1-RUN - Ground ball misplayed at third; Lorenzo scores
16SteevesOUTS 2 & 3 - Double play 5-2-3
2 R 3 H 2 E 3 LOB = Boston leads 2-1
2nd INNING - New Orleans
Pitcher: Nick Powers
7MageeHIT - Bloop single to center
2NussbaumMagee steals second
OUT 1 - Fly out to right
17LahareMagee to third on wild pitch
HIT/1-RUN - Single to right field; Magee scores
1FreemanOUT 2 - Fielder's choice 6-4
21LewisFreeman steals second
HIT/1-RUN - Double to centerfield; Freeman scores
5DucoteOUT 3 - Ground out 4-3
2 R 2 H 0 E 1 LOB = New Orleans leads 3-2
2nd INNING - Boston
Pitcher: Carlo Graffeo
9SteevesBase on balls
1SantanaOUTS 1 & 2 - Double play 6-3
2WebsterOUT 3 - Fly out to right
0 R 0 H 0 E 0 LOB = New Orleans leads 3-2
3rd INNING - New Orleans
Pitcher: Nick Powers
23RomeroHit by pitch
22ClarkOUT 1 - Fly out to center
27WestonHIT - Double off left field screen; Romero to third
7MageeOUT 2/1-RUN - Ground out 5-3; Romero scores
2NussbaumOUT 3 - Fly out to right
1 R 1 H 0 E 1 LOB = New Orleans leads 4-2
3rd INNING - Boston
Pitcher: Carlo Graffeo
3GonzalezOUT 1 - Line out to third
4LorenzoOUT 2 - Ground out 6-3
18PowersHIT - Dribble spins fair along third base line
15DanielsonHit by pitch
14VilmontOUT 3 - Called strike out
0 R 1 H 0 E 2 LOB = New Orleans leads 4-2
4th INNING - New Orleans
Pitcher: Nick Powers
17LahareHIT - Infield single to short
1FreemanOUT 1 - Fielder's choice 5-4
21LewisHIT - Ground ball single to right; Freeman to third; Lewis to second on throw home
5DucoteHIT/1-RUN - Double to left field notch; Freeman scores; Lewis to third
PITCHING CHANGE: Frankely Gonzalez for Nick Powers
DEFENSIVE CHANGE: Nick Powers to first base
DEFENSIVE CHANGE: Adam Woodhead to third base
DEFENSIVE CHANGE: Sam Steeves to short stop
23RomeroHIT/1-RUN - Double to right as fielders collide; Lewis scores
22ClarkBase on balls
27Weston1-RUN - Base on balls; Ducote scores
7MageeOUT 2/1-RUN - Fly out to left; Romero scores
2NussbaumOUT 3 - Weston caught stealing by Lorenzo
4 R 4 H 0 E 1 LOB = New Orleans leads 8-2
4th INNING - Boston
Pitcher: Carlo Graffeo
16SteevesOUT 1 - Pop up to first
9SteevesHit by pitch
1SantanaOUTS 2 & 3 - Line out to second, Double play 4-3
0 R 0 H 0 E 0 LOB = New Orleans leads 8-2
5th INNING - New Orleans
Pitcher: Frankely Gonzalez
2NussbaumHIT - Double off left field wall
17LahareOUT 1 - Sacrifice bunt; Nussbaum to third
1Freeman1-RUN - Nussbaum scores on balk
HIT - Double off left field wall
21Lewis1-RUN - Freeman steals third and home on wild pitch
HIT - Single up the middle
5DucoteOUT 2 - Fly out to center
23RomeroLewis steals second on wild pitch
OUT 3 - Fly out to center
2 R 3 H 0 E 1 LOB = New Orleans leads 10-2
5th INNING - Boston
Pitcher: Carlo Graffeo
2WebsterOUT 1 -Swinging strike out
3GonzalezOUT 2 - Swinging strike out
4LorenzoOUT 3 - Fly out to center
0 R 0 H 0 E 0 LOB = New Orleans leads 10-2
6th INNING - New Orleans
PITCHING CHANGE: Miguel Lorenzo for Frankely Gonzalez
DEFENSIVE CHANGE: Gonzalez to catch
22ClarkOUT 1 - Fly out to left
27WestonBase on balls
7MageeWeston to second on passed ball
HIT/1-RUN - Single up the middle; Weston scores from second; Magee to second on throw home
2NussbaumOUT 2 - Ground out 6-3
17LahareHIT/2-RUNS - Home run to right field; Magee scores; Lahare scores
1FreemanOUT 3 - Fly out to center
3 R 2 H 0 E 0 LOB = New Orleans leads 13-2
6th INNING - Boston
Pitcher: Carlo Graffeo
18PowersOUT 1 - Pop out to third
15DanielsonHIT - Single past short
14VilmontBase on balls
PITCHING CHANGE: Jonathan Ebersole for Carlo Graffeo
OFFENSIVE CHANGE: Bryanne Toney to hit for Adam Woodhead
20ToneyOUT 2 - Danielson steals third; Vilmont caught stealing second by Romero
OUT 3 - Swinging strike out
0 R 1 H 0 E 1 LOB = New Orleans leads 13-2
7th INNING - New Orleans
PITCHING CHANGE: Manny Peguero for Miguel Lorenzo
DEFENSIVE CHANGE: Bryanne Toney to first base
DEFENSIVE CHANGE: Bryan Guerrero to catch
21LewisHIT - Double to center
5DucoteOUT 1 - Ground out 6-3
23RomeroHIT - Single to left; Lewis to third
22ClarkOUT 2 - Swinging strike out
27WestonOUT 3 - Fielder's choice 6-4
0 R 2 H 0 E 2 LOB = New Orleans leads 13-2
7th INNING - Boston
Pitcher: Jonathan Ebersole
9SteevesOUT 1 - Fly out to left
10GuerreroOUT 2 - Swinging strike out
2WebsterOUT 3 - Groudn out 6-3
0 R 0 H 0 E 0 LOB = New Orleans wins 13-2

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