Baseball: Mystic 11s fall in dramatic pitching duel to Wesport; deciding game for state title up next

Baseball: Mystic 11s fall in dramatic pitching duel to Wesport; deciding game for state title up next

The Westerly Sun
reporter photo

EAST HAMPTON, Conn. — Getting a runner on base is a major accomplishment when the opposing pitcher is throwing as well as Rhys Jamali was Thursday for the Westport Little League baseball 9-11 All-Star team.

The Mystic 11s found that out.

One win away from the state championship, Mystic was stopped by Westport, 1-0, in a game that went nine tense innings at Seamster Park.

The loss was the first for Mystic in the double-elimination state tournament, so the two teams will meet again on Friday at 5:30 p.m. at Seamster in a showdown for the state title. Mystic beat Westport last Sunday, 3-0.

Jamali was dominant. Mystic couldn’t catch up to his fastball and was left waving at his offspeed pitches. The right-hander struck out 14 and allowed one hit and zero walks in eight — that’s right, eight — shutout innings.

“He was brilliant,” said Westport manager David Goldshore, adding it was the best-pitched Little League game he’s witnessed since Chad Knight hurled a one-hitter with 14 K’s to send the Westport 12s to the Little League World Series in 2013.

“He had command of his fastball the whole night. He’s just as calm a kid as I’ve ever coached in my entire life. He was calm. He was confident. … It was a special performance.”

Westport pushed across the lone run of the game in the bottom of the ninth on Andrew Oppenheimer’s RBI single. Appropriately, Jamali scored it.

Jamali walked to lead off the inning, advanced to second on a wild pitch and to third on a throwing error. The next batter, Oppenheimer, followed with a single through a drawn-in infield with the sun having set behind the trees at the East Hampton Little League facility.

Jamali was economical with his pitches, too. He threw the exact maximum of 85 before being relieved by Oppenheimer to open the ninth.

“We just couldn’t figure him out,” Mystic manager Jason Pollard said. “He definitely mixed his speeds really well, and he threw strikes. He mixed it up, and he was quick.”

Despite Jamali’s dominance, Mystic’s starting pitcher was up to the task. Liam Joyce wasn’t as overpowering, but he blanked Westport on two hits through five innings.

Joyce struck out nine, walked five and stranded four runners in scoring position.

“He was a bulldog,” Goldshore said. “His curveball was phenomenal. He was outstanding.”

Mystic’s best chance to score came in the sixth, when Finn Eck drove a ball over right fielder Eli Haskol for a triple with two outs. Hayden Chappel followed with a shot to the gap in right-center field, but Haskol was able to track it down for out No. 3.

“I tell you what, I thought that was it,” Pollard said. “They made a great play. A couple more inches and it drops, we go up 1-0, and we finish in the sixth.”

In Friday’s title game, Oppenheimer, Westport’s closer who threw 20 pitches Thursday night, will get the start, Goldshore said. Mystic will counter with Dylan Joyce, Liam’s twin brother, who shut out Westport over 4 2/3 innings last Sunday.

The winner advances to the Tournament of Champions on July 31-Aug. 5 in Beverly, Mass. The second-year tournament features state champions from the New England and mid-Atlantic states.

“We’re in a great spot. We’ve got Dylan going,” Pollard said. “He’s seen that team before, and he goose-egged them. It’s gonna be a battle, but our kids like the fight.”












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