Marblehead loves its sports — from the Magicians and beyond.
And, roughly 30 years ago this week, one of the town’s sports teams reached the mountaintop, when the Marblehead 11-year-old Bambinos claimed victory in the New England Regional Babe Ruth Championship. The Bambinos tore through the tournament in 1993, going undefeated until the penultimate game.
In that game, the Bambinos lost, 2-1, to the Hollis, N.H., forcing the second game — for all the marbles.
It ultimately took two games, 13 innings, and five runs on no hits for the Bambinos to claim their 7-6 victory and the tournament in its entirety. In the second game, the Bambinos had to overcome a four-run deficit in the bottom of the sixth inning (deemed “seemingly insurmountable”) to defeat Hollis.
“The kids hung in there. That’s the greatest thing,” Marblehead coach Bill Gleason is quoted as saying of his team’s comeback. “It was a pitchers’ duel in the first one. I think both teams even played error-free. In the second game, we came apart in one inning, and they came apart in another. It’s a shame that they came apart when they did but…”
“… But that’s baseball,” Hollis general manager George Lencsak lamented.
Hollis’ ace pitcher, Jordan Jarry, having already pitched a flawless relief inning in game one, cruised through game two. He faced no more than four batters in four of the five innings he pitched.
But things fell apart in the sixth inning, with Jarry sidelined.
Reliever Chris Boyce loaded the bases on walks, before yielding to Derek Skillings, who walked in a run and hit the next batter, bringing the score to 6-4. Skillings’ replacement, Mike DeBoisBrand got Jeff Rogow to chop back at the box, cutting down the lead runner to secure the first out in the inning. But, back-to-back walks to Steve Gorynski and Kevin Wilson knotted the game at 6-6.
DeBoisBrand exited the game, ceding the mound to first baseman Mike Liberty, who volunteered to pitch with the regular Hollis staff exhausted. Liberty got a flyout to first but gave up a two-out walk to cede the game-winner.
“It’s a shame that they had to be disappointed, because they have everything to be proud of. This team fought hard all year and they always came back. They came out of the losers bracket to win in the district tournament, the states, and they almost did it here. They don’t know the meaning of the words ‘lie down,'” Lencsak is quoted as saying. “These kids play with their hearts and their heads.”
“Really they epitomize what baseball is all about,” he added.
Marblehead manager Rod Comeau said his team came into the finals preparing for an uphill battle.
“We had seen the team in warm-ups (at the start of the tournament) and you knew that they’d be all business. And they were. They were fundamentally sound, they hit the ball and were great defensively,” he said. “They’re a great team and I’m sure we’ll see them next year in Sebago Lake.”