The County Cup Little League tournament continued this past week, minus an outstanding Islanders team that represented Anna Maria Island. This Majors Division outfit, coached by Chris Moneuse and Mike Brusso, had an excellent showing in the competition, beating Manatee East champs Gatorade and finding itself in the top 12 and through to the knockout stages.
The opposition at this stage couldn’t be better than Gatorade, but the Beef O Brady’s team it faced had the edge over the season and a much higher win percentage than its opponents.
Beef O’Brady’s opened the Monday night contest by scoring three unearned runs on a shaky Islanders defense. But sterling defensive play by Johnny Mattay at first base, plus two impressive strikeouts by Justin Gargett, helped bring the inning to a close.
The second inning was over quickly as both pitchers stuck out the side. The Islanders couldn’t get anything going in the third, while Beef O’Brady’s pushed across another unearned run in its half of the inning, making it 4-0, with Gargett racking up two more strikeouts.
Coaches tried to rally the players as they went in to bat at the top of the fourth. Max Miller led off with a line drive, only to be tagged at first base. Gargett then singled to right and advanced to second on an error, but was stranded there as the next two batters fanned.
Gargett continued his mastery of Beef O’Brady’s in the bottom of the fourth with two more strikeouts and a nice play to first base.
In the fifth, Hambone Clark hit the ball hard, but was thrown out at first, Johnny Mattay singled to right and eventually reached third base, but was tagged out at home plate. Nick Papazian laid down a bunt single stole second and third then scored on a past ball. That’s all the Island squad could muster and it moved to the home half of the fifth trailing 4-1.
Beef O Brady’s came in to bat and it was done before it knew what happened, as Justin Garget struck out the side for the second time in the game, giving him a total of 12 and his team a chance as it went into the sixth inning.
But it was not be on this night, as the Islanders couldn’t manage any more offense and the game ended with a Beef O’Brady 4-1 victory.
This team has plenty to be proud of, however, finishing the season as one of the county’s top 12 squads. Coach Moneuse was full of praise for these young athletes and pointed out that they started the season as inexperienced players who were never expected to beat the likes of Gatorade, but did, and finished the season as a solid team.