Great debut: A-West falls one win shy of Babe Ruth World Series

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AWest Bill LeConey/The Atlantic West 13-year-old All-Stars, runners-up in the Babe Ruth Mid-Atlantic Region tournament. ATLANTIC CITY - For a team that didn’t even exist a year ago, the Atlantic West “Flying A’s” made a pretty special run in the 2014 Babe Ruth Mid-Atlantic Region Tournament.

Make that very special.

The A-West 13-year-old All-Stars lost to Broomall-Newtown (Pa.), 11-1, in five innings in the championship game Wednesday at the Sandcastle, coming up one win shy of a trip to the Babe Ruth World Series in Glen Allen, Va.

But they were certainly a wonderful summer surprise on the local front, especially in their hometowns of Galloway, Mays Landing and Egg Harbor Township.

“It was a great run by these kids,” said A-West coach Craig DiFabio. “They fought ‘til the end. If we had a break or two early we’d be right in that game. We left seven guys on base, couldn’t get the timely hit when we needed to … It just wasn’t our day, plain and simple.”

Atlantic West won five straight games in the tournament, including an exciting opener against local and familiar rival Atlantic Shore, which had beaten them four days earlier in the South Jersey championship game.

A-West qualified for the regional championship with a 7-6 win over Piedmont (DE) in a semifinal earlier Wednesday at the Sandcastle.

Ironically, Atlantic Shore, the host of the 10-team tournament, lost to Broomall in Wednesday's other semifinal, 5-3, spoiling what would have been a rare and memorable all-local treat in the final.

Instead, Wednesday’s final was pretty forgettable for the A’s, who sport the uniform colors and style of the three-time champion 1970s Oakland Athletics, even down to the names on the back of the coaches’ jerseys (Bando, Hunter, Rudi).

Ferriero Bill LeConey/Atlantic West's Jason Ferriero stands on first base after his RBI single in the second inning. Jason Ferriero of Galloway drove in the only run of the game for Atlantic West, knocking in Ryan Lomangino for a 1-0 lead in the second inning after Lomangino had doubled to lead off the inning.

“We fought hard,” said Ferriero, who will be a freshman at Cedar Creek High School in the fall. “I just wish it could have ended better. We kept making mistakes, and it felt like we couldn’t make any plays.”

Jay Heard of Mays Landing started the game on the mound for Atlantic West but was hurt by some shaky defense behind him and a somewhat controversial balk call that plated the go-ahead run for Broomall in the second inning.

Zach Fryling and Sam Daggers also pitched for Atlantic West. Fryling also made a nice play at shortstop in the second inning, nearly turning a double play that would have ended the inning with the score tied.

It was Fryling who had pitched a complete game against A-Shore in the tournament opener and sparked the winning relay with a bunt single and two stolen bases.

Both Ferriero and Heard said they would have rather played Atlantic Shore in the final than the unfamiliar Pennsylvania squad.

“We didn’t know this team coming in,” said Heard, 13, who will attend Oakcrest High School in the fall. “And we know (AtlanticShore), because we played them a lot.”

Despite the sour ending, there were no complaints from the coaches, parents or players about a very successful debut season for Atlantic West.

“First year we did Atlantic West, and it’s unbelievable,” DiFabio said. “The parents are great, and everybody helping out … It’s a lot of work, a lot of (90-minute) trips to different parks, and everybody sticking together. It’s just crazy – you can see they’re all happy, heads up …

“They had an unbelievable run - states, districts and the regional. It’s a great accomplishment for these kids, and we’re so proud of ‘em. They definitely have great futures in baseball.”

heard Bill LeConey/Atlantic West pitcher Jay Heard of Mays Landing. marker Bill LeConey/Atlantic West's Tim Marker singles in the fifth inning. fryling Bill LeConey/Zach Fryling of Galloway pitches for Atlantic West in the championship game. celebrate Bill LeConey/Atlantic West players can only watch as Broomall-Newtown celebrates its Mid-Atlantic Region championship and a trip to the Babe Ruth World Series.


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