On a scorching hot late Saturday afternoon during the annual Jericho Athletic Association picnic, the Hanson Place Dental Mets defeated the Gaines Berland Pirates 13-8 in a quarterfinal playoff game to win the right to face the Sheft Kahn & Co. Angels in the National League championship game. The two teams had met twice previously during the season with each team winning once.
(L-r): Top - Coaches Jim Kraly, Frank Davis, Michael Kirchblum, Alfie Birnbaum. Middle - Virun Kathait, Matt Loeb, Lance Perlman, Ben Davis, Shane Birnbaum, Harris Fein, William Coyle, Max Horowitz. Bottom - Evan Kirchblum, Steven Schwartz, Chris Kraly, Nicholas Barilla. Not pictured: Adam Toporovsky.
The Mets took an early lead in the bottom of the first inning. After loading the bases with no outs on a single by Steven Schwartz (2 runs scored), the Mets scored on a fielder's choice by Ben Davis (2 for 3, 1 RBI). However, Dustin Shorr of the Pirates then got one of his six strikeouts of the day to get out of the jam. The Mets then added three more runs in the bottom of the second inning, highlighted by a two run double by William Coyle (3 for 3, 3 RBIs) and five more in the bottom of the third inning on consecutive hits by Nicholas Barilla (1 for 3), Davis, Shane Birnbaum (1 for 3), Chris Kraly (2 for 3, 2 RBIs) and Matt Loeb (1 for 2, 2 RBIs), to take a 9-0 lead.
Meanwhile, the Pirates were shutout for the first three innings by the Mets' pitcher, Ben Davis. The Pirates finally broke through in the top of the fourth inning on a walk to Justin Rudolph and an error permitting Shorr to reach base. Scott Weinberger then hit a three-run home run to cut the Mets lead to 9-3. The next batter, Joey Ramson then hit a line drive to center field which was caught by Steven Schwartz in a Tommie Agee-like catch. Davis then retired the side to keep the Mets comfortably ahead.
The Mets then added a solo run in the bottom of the fourth inning and three more in the bottom of the fifth highlighted by a two run double by Lance Perlman (1 for 2, 2 RBIs). The Pirates made things slightly more interesting in the top of the sixth inning, including a run scoring single by Greg Oxenberg (1 for 3) before Davis cut short the Pirates rally to seal the victory.
Ben Davis went all the way for the Mets, giving up only four hits while striking out six. The Mets truly had a team effort with every player contributing, including Adam Toporovsky at third base, and great defensive plays by Viron Kathait, Max Horowitz, Harris Fein and, especially, William Coyle behind the plate.
When, in the playoffs, a team plays excellent defense, has pitching that rises to the occasion and almost doubles the number of hits of its opponents, that team should end up winning the championship. The Hanson Place Dental Mets, who came into each playoff game as an underdog, used that formula in outplaying each of its opponents in the playoffs, including outhitting its opponents by an aggregate 48-25 and ended up winning the 2000 JAA championship by defeating the American League champion, the Morrison Pastry Angels 10-8. While both teams showed the jitters which you would expect to see in a championship game, the Mets buckled down when they had to behind the strong pitching of Ben Davis, who had complete game victories in both the quarterfinal game and this championship game.
The Angels came into the game with the best record in both leagues and had their dominant pitcher, Alex Siegel, on the mound. The Mets, however, were able to score three times in the top of the first inning to take the early lead. Steven Schwartz walked to start the game for the Mets. Steven ended up 2 for 2 on the day and reached base in 10 of his 11 at-bats during the playoffs, scoring seven times in the process. After William Coyle singled Steven to second, one of three hits on the day for William and Lance Perlman (1 for 2, 2 RBIs) walked to load the bases, Ben Davis drove in the first run of the game and Shane Birnbaum doubled into center field to score two more runs. The Mets then scored twice more in the top of the second inning. After Evan Kirchblum (2 for 3, 2 runs scored) singled, Virun Kathait (2 for 3, 2 RBIs) tripled him home. Virun then scored on a single by William Coyle to give the Mets a 5-0 lead.
The Angels scored one run in the bottom of the second inning on a RBI single by Adam Kronengold (2 for 3, 1 RBI) and then cut the lead to 5-3 in the third inning on a double by Max Wattenberg (2 for 3, 4 RBIs) which scored Lucas Paley and William Hahn. The Mets, however, scored three more times in the top of the fifth on a booming triple by Lance Perlman (1 for 2, 2 RBIs) and an RBI single by Harris Fein (2 for 4, 1 RBI), which increased the Mets lead to 8-3. A critical moment of the game occurred in the bottom of the fourth inning. The Angels loaded the bases with no outs on a lead-off walk to Ryan Saunders (2 for 2) and a single to Brian Harris (2 for 3) and David Fusco (1 for 3); however, Ben Davis was able to get the next three batters on ground outs, two of which were back to him, and the Mets entered the fifth inning with an 8-3 lead. They were able to score twice more in the fifth inning. After Nicholas Barilla (3 for 3) singled and Chris Kraly (1 for 2) walked to lead off the inning, Virun Kathait doubled home Barilla with Evan Kirchblum, who had reached base on a force out, taking third. Then, with a 2-1 count on Max Horowitz, Kirchblum took off for home to try to steal a run. The Angels catcher, Brian Harris did a great job at blocking the plate but Evan, who had easily beat the throw home, was able to get a leg on home plate and the Mets had an insurance run, a run which would end up being crucial. The Mets entered the bottom of the fifth inning with a seemingly comfortable 10-3 lead. However, the never-say-die Angels were not about to give up without a fight. Brett Novick (2 for 3) singled and Lucas Paley (3 walks) and Ben Kriegel walked to once again load the bases. Max Wattenberg then doubled home two runs. After a walk to John Goldsmith, Ryan Saunders and Brian Harris each singled runs home to cut the Mets lead to 10-8. However, Davis shut the door on the Angels at that point to hold the Mets slim lead. After Ryan Saunders, in relief of Alex Siegel, shut out the Mets in the top of the sixth inning, the Angels came to bat in the last of the sixth inning down by two runs. The first batter lined out to Kirchblum at second base. After Kronengold singled, Davis got his seventh strikeout of the day for the second out of the inning. The next two batters for the Angels reached base to load the bases, putting the winning run on first base; however, Davis got the final batter to ground back to him and the Mets were the Jericho champions. Matt Loeb, Adam Toporovsky and Eddie Mishan all contributed greatly throughout the season as well.
The coaches on the Mets were very pleased with the success of their team and felt that every player on the team made significant contributions throughout the season and the parents were a great help also.