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District champs

Belmont 12s hold off Gilford, claim title

by Jeff Lajoie
Sports Reporter

The Belmont 12U All-Stars captured the District 6 championship on June 26 with a 5-1 win over Gilford in Game 3 of the best-of-three series. In the top row: coach Al Gilbert, Dylan Greer, coach Dave Garrett, Austin Garrett, coach Dave Gilbert, Cam Magerer, Aaron Simonds and coach Brett Sottak. Bottom row: Connor Young, Lucas Mathieu, Jackson Ruelke, Griffin Embree, Nick Sperduto, Nate Sottak, Zack Gilbert and Will Robarge. Courtesy Photo. (click for larger version)
June 30, 2014
FRANKLIN In the end, the defending champs showed their mettle.

After dropping the opening game of the best-of-three championship series in heartbreaking fashion, the Belmont 12U All-Stars allowed just three runs over the next two contests, coming back to win the final two games over Gilford to capture the District 6 Cal Ripken Tournament on June 26. Belmont picked up a 5-1 win over Gilford in the decisive game three at Odell Park to advance to this weekend's state tournament.

"I cannot say enough about this group," said Belmont manager Brett Sottak. "We lost two heartbreakers (in the tournament), and both times instead of hanging their heads and feeling bad for themselves, they went out and played better and got the job done every time they had to. I have coached most of these kids since they were 8 and 9 years old... to see them raise their games to the very highest level that they have fills me with immense pride. I am so happy for all of them, they deserved this district championship and were not going to be denied."

In the decisive game three, it took two days to play the full six innings. Weather forced a postponement of action after just a few batters to the next night, though Belmont did jump on the board before the rains came in thanks to an RBI single from Austin Garrett to score Nate Sottak for a 1-0 lead. That advantage grew to 2-0 when played picked up one night later, as Cam Magerer singled home Garrett as the first batter up during the new night of play.

The lead got to 3-0 in the second inning, as Nick Sperduto was hit by a pitch and took second on a sacrifice bunt by Zack Gilbert. Sperduto would score when leadoff hitter Griffin Embree launched a double to right center.

The offense kept coming in the third inning, as Sottak reached on a dropped third strike and Garrett took first on an error. Magerer registered his second RBI of the night when he singled home Sottak, and Garrett would eventually score on a wild pitch to extend the lead to 5-0.

Gilford closed the gap to 5-1 with a run in the bottom of the fourth, but Magerer settled in and kept them off the board from there. Things did get a touch interesting in the sixth inning, as Magerer's only walk of the game led things off. Garrett made a huge diving catch one batter later from his shortstop position however, and then a ground out and fly out to right fielder Sperduto closed things out and secured the championship for Belmont.

Magerer went all six innings on the hill, allowing just four hits and one walk while striking out one on 82 pitches.

"It was another great game. Cam did exactly what the team needed him to do and the team went out and made every play for him," said Sottak, who also lauded the play of Gilbert behind the plate as his catcher. Both Gilbert and Magerer received game balls for their efforts.

The championship road going through Gilford was certainly fitting, as the two teams played some absolute barn burners all summer long leading up to the district tourney.

"My hats off to Gilford, the games were epic battles," said Sottak. "Gilford brought out the very best in my team their coaches and players should hold their heads up high, they played great."

Belmont advanced to the state tournament for the third straight year, scheduled for July 5-10 in Lancaster.

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