Diamond Certified: Brothers in (batting) arms
Diamond Certified: Brothers in (batting) arms
The 2014 Pappo Athletics, celebrate their first place finish for regular season gameplay. Photo by Bill Collins.
Brothers playing baseball together. Seeing the two (or three, or four) young men racing out to the diamond for the first time all dressed up in their uniforms is a memory that lasts a lifetime. This is an exciting time for new baseball parents.
When the young boys are ready to play on a Little League team, they often have to play on separate teams or levels. T-ballers are around 4 or 5 years old when they start. When the parents have sons with more than a year and a half difference in age, they usually can’t put them on the same team.
But as they get older, the rules change, and these young boys who once were required to play separately can finally join forces and play together on the same team! This happens commonly at Triple A and Majors levels.
Such was the case when Mike Barnes coached his Pappo Mudcats back in 2012. Brothers Eli and Diego Ottaviano, played together on that team and have played together on others, including this season. Another pair of brothers, Dante and Aeneas Pardo, never played together, until this season. For the first time, they are playing together on the Marlins team – with the Ottaviano brothers.
Yet another pair of brothers, Ryan and Connor Sparks, only one grade apart, have always played separately at the higher league levels. They haven’t played together since Farm ball, way back at the beginning of their Little League careers, when they played together on the Royals.
While Aeneas and Dante could be twins, without a noticeable difference in height, they play similarly and are fierce competitors. Aeneas is a great catcher, a great, thinking baseball player’s mind to have behind home plate. On the other hand, Eli and Diego couldn’t be more different. Eli, tall and athletic, with more thoughtful and controlled gameplay, is a natural on the pitching mound and first base, while younger Diego was built for third base and shortstop; squirrely, spry and super quick on his feet, no grounder or line drive gets past this young player’s glove. I have seen him throw out base runners from his knees, at 10 years old.
Unfortunately, the Marlins were eliminated from the playoffs two weeks ago, when they lost game three, their second loss of the playoffs, against the Yankees. Every team, from first to worst, qualifies for playoffs in this league, which have a “lose two and you’re out” format. While one team parent told me the best team managers snatch up the best players and usually are at the top of the wins roster, at the end of regular season play, when playoffs begin, each team starts with a clean slate.
The Pappo Athletics don’t have any “brother” teammates this season, but team member Eric Jarecki has played with his twin brother Andrew for four or five seasons. Twin siblings teammates qualify for the same league level, season after season. With three other siblings and 18 seasonal years of game play with Alameda Little League, the Jarecki family – whose name is one many in Alameda will recognize – certainly qualifies for some type of special baseball trophy.
As of yet, I still haven’t seen twin boy/girl sibling teammates, but I bet it will happen sooner or later. Have any of my readers seen this happen?
Coach Mike and his Pappo Athletics, are in a very good playoff position, with three wins under their belts. They finished the regular season tied for first with the Twins, with a record of 14-3. But the Twins have already lost one game in the first round of the playoffs, so they currently stand at 3-1.
One of the advantages of never losing in the playoffs in the Majors is teams with better playoff records play fewer games. Coach Mike’s team ended up playing only four playoff games in 2013, all of which they won, a clean sweep! Because Coach Mike and the Pappo Athletics have three wins, they are in contention for the championship game. Watching the A's Jackson Rodriguez hit one over the fence his first at bat and strike out seven batters as a replacement pitcher was a very strong precursor for the championship game, which starts at 9 a.m. this Saturday, June 7 at Majors Field in Rittler Park, corner of Grand Street and Otis Drive.
Each team that plays in the championship round has the opportunity to lose one game without being eliminated. But even one loss means playing a minimum of six games for a chance to be crowned the champion. And that’s where the winning advantage kicks in to high gear! Because the Twins lost their first game in the playoffs – against the Majors team with the worst record, no less – they now must play six playoff games. And even though the Pirates won two playoff games they also lost two, and are now, sadly, eliminated.
So who’s in the Majors championship game? The Pappo A’s are guaranteed a spot ... but who will be their competitor? Will it be Jack Gibbons and his Red Sox? Will it be Jim Quilici and the Twins? Or will it be Elon Chertock and the Orioles?
Tune in next week to find out.
If you’ve got Alameda Little League news or stories to pitch about your team, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact me via Twitter @WilliamRCollins.