The Port Washington Dragon earned a berth in the Championship Series of the Queens Junior Baseball Association (QJBA) with decisive victories in the first two rounds of the playoffs. Incredibly, the Dragons outscored their two strong playoff opponents by a combined 21-8 margin.
On Wednesday, June 19, the Dragons defeated the Astoria Clippers by a score of 9-4 in a midweek game at Bush Park in Woodside, Queens. Astoria earned the right to play Port in this quarterfinal game when it defeated a tough Boy's Club team. Will Rizzo and Matt Podobinski each scored three runs in the game. Alex Donatelli, William Frappaolo and Nick Pellerito also crossed the plate. Adam Bethon had three RBIs off of two hits and a sacrifice. Colin Kerr hit a long triple and knocked in two runs. James Garcia hit extremely well, tagging a pitch to deep right field. Port's pitching staff was solid as a rock. Eric Ellegaard and Adam Bethon limited Astoria to two hits in six innings. Closer Colin Kerr took the mound in the final frame, striking out the last two batters he faced. Port's hurlers received tremendous support from outfielders Tyler Fernandez, Alex Donatelli and Peter Rizzo, who handled everything hit to them flawlessly. The defensive play of the game occurred in the top of the fifth when Port third baseman Matt Podobinski made an amazing grab of a hot line-drive. Podobinski jumped three feet off the ground, backhanded the ball in this outstretched glove and held onto it after hitting the ground hard in a horizontal position. Port finished the season with a 3-0 record against the Clippers.
On Saturday, June 22, Port squared off against St. Mathias, the 2002 QJBA Western Division Champion, in an intense competition at Kissena Park, in Flushing, Queens. This St. Mathias team won the QJBA 11-year-old division in 2001 and was favored by many to repeat this year. St. Mathias was responsible for Port's first, and only lop-sided loss of the year - a 12-4 decision when the teams met in early May. The Dragons responded to this challenge with confidence and determination. Port turned the tables on St. Mathias and won Saturday's playoff game by a score of 12-4, the identical score of the prior meeting of the two teams.
There were so many heroes in this quintissential team victory. Port pitchers Eric Ellegaard and Colin Kerr combined to strike out 14 and gave up only four hits. Alex Donatelli hit an opposite field home run and scored three runs. Nick Pellerito, playing in only his fifth game for Port, hit two long triples, knocking in five runs and scoring twice. Colin Kerr and Matt Podobinski each had three hits. Nick Inella, who played a solid game at second, walked twice and scored. Peter Rizzo and William Frappaolo each singled and scored two runs. James Garcia hit a long double and scored. Tyler Fernandez played flawlessly in right field and had an RBI. Adam Bethon played solid defense at short, third and in left field. Will Rizzo had the only unassisted double play of the game when he snared a hot line drive and stepped on second to double up a runner. The game ball was presented to catcher Alex Caruso by the umpire who remarked that he had never before seena catcher hold onto so many tipped strikes in one game. It was really a major league performance by all and one of which all of Port Washington should be very proud.
The Dragons now take their 12-3 record into the best two of three games. Championship Series against a very strong team from Whitestone, Queens. The two teams met just once this spring when, in the first game of the season, the Dragons beat Whitestone by the score of 5-3 in a see-saw battle that was not decided until the last out of the game.