LINWOOD — It’s a year of unusual sports, so the District 16 Little League baseball championship game fit right in Sunday night.
Somers Point won the title even though the team lost 5-4 to rival Mainland in a six-inning game.
Somers Point edged Mainland, which is a team that consists of players from Northfield and Linwood, by winning the run-differential tiebreaker.
Somers Point gave up 26 runs in four games, while Mainland gave up 27.
The key hit was a grand slam by Somers Point’s T.J. McBall that tied it at 4-4 in the third inning and eventually gave his team the tiebreaker edge in fewer runs allowed.
Both teams finished 2-2 in the tournament, along with Hammonton, which gave up 32 runs.
Hammonton beat Mainland twice, Mainland beat Somers Point twice, and Somers Point beat Hammonton twice.
“It’s strange, but I don’t make the rules,” said Somers Point coach Nick Wagner, 43. “We knew going in what the situation was. But it was a great tournament with good competition, and it was fun to be a part of.
“I coached my older son, Nicholas, in 2017 and we won District 16. This year, I coached my younger son, Matt, and we won again. That means a lot to me.”
Somers Point advances to the Section 4 tournament that begins Friday in Waterford Township, Camden County. Six teams will compete in the single-elimination tournament.
District 16 typically consists of 12 to 14 teams, but due to COVID-19, only three competed this season.
“I have a list from the web of every District 16 champion since 1971,” coach Wagner said. “It may have been different this year, but Somers Point’s name will be on there.”
Mainland scored two runs in the first inning and two runs in the second.
McBall’s grand slam to right-center field tied it at 4-4 in the top of the third. As it turned out, the grand slam didn’t win the game but led to the championship. Somers Point had loaded the bases as Wes Andrews reached on an error, Anthony Nodado was hit by a pitch and Mike Baxter singled.
“it was a curveball on a 1-2 count,” said McBall, a 12-year-old Somers Point resident. “It was my first grand slam. I’m very happy to win the district. It was a lot of fun.”
Somers Point’s John Mullen pitched the fourth and fifth innings and didn’t figure in the decision.
“It was definitely one of the strangest games I ever played in,” said Mullen, a 12-year-old Egg Harbor Township resident. “It would have been good to win (the game), but we still won the district.”
Mainland scored the game-winning run in the bottom of the third on John Franchini’s RBI single.
Damon Herzchel had a single for Mainland in the second inning and a double in the fourth. Jake Blum added singles in the second and fourth innings.
McBall also singled to start the fifth inning, and Somers Point loaded the bases with no outs as Kyle Williams walked and Chip Clooney reached on an error. But Blum came on to pitch, and recorded a strikeout, retired Mullen on a hard liner to shortstop, and struck out the final batter.
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