Concord Little League championship brings a welcome stress

  • Carter Cutrer (12) lifts the Sartorelli Cup after Kiwanis beat Davis & Towle, 7-6 in extra innings, for the Concord Little League championship on Tuesday night, July 28, 2020 at Grappone Park in Concord. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Luke Bedard (right) slides under the tag of Austin Proulx to give Kiwanis a 7-6, extra-inning win against Davis &Towle in the Concord Little League championship game on Tuesday night at Grappone Park. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Luke Bedard (right) celebrates after scoring the game-winning run in extra innings to give Kiwanis a 7-6 win against Davis & Towle in the Concord Little League championship game on Tuesday night at Grappone Park. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 7/29/2020 12:58:31 PM

Luke Bedard stepped to the plate with his team trailing by two runs and just three outs away from losing the championship.

“It was a little stressful,” the 11-year-old Bedard said.

In a year where kids have been stressed about too many things that adults are also finding difficult, Tuesday night’s Little League-induced anxiety at Grappone Park seemed like a welcome reprieve. It was for Bedard, who delivered a two-run double to tie the game and eventually came home with the deciding run to give Kiwanis a 7-6 win, the Concord Little League title and a chance to play for the city championship in Friday’s Hilliker Cup against the Concord Northeast champ.

“I thought (the season) went great. The kids loved it. It gave them a little bit of normal playing with their friends, and get out and get some exercise,” said Derek Mercier, the Concord Little League president. “For my kids this was the only time they were around their friends. And we had an increased number in Little League. We had four teams last year and this year we had five, so a lot of people were encouraged.”

The win gave Kiwanis the inaugural Sartorelli Cup, which just last week was, ironically, named after Mike Sartorelli, a coach for Davis & Towle, the team on the other end of Tuesday’s title game. Sartorelli has been coaching Little League in Concord for 50 years, and while he would have liked hoisting the trophy with his name freshly engraved on it, he fully appreciated the game.

“From the very first pitch to the very last pitch it was a close game, you can’t ask for more than that,” Sartorelli said. “That’s why I stick with it.”

The game was so close it needed extra innings, but that wasn’t a surprise considering the history between Kiwanis and Davis & Towle. The teams went 2-2 against each other during the COVID-shortened regular season, Davis & Towle beat Kiwanis in the first round of the double-elimination playoffs and Kiwanis beat Davis & Towle, 5-1, on Thursday in the first game of the Sartorelli Cup, setting up Tuesday’s winner-take-all finale. 

“That’s the way it’s been between the two of us all year, we battled back and forth,” Kiwanis coach Rickey Gaudreault said.

Key hits from Austin Proulx (two runs, two hits), Brody Rossetti (two runs), Finn Gfroerer (two hits, run) and Jackson Gfroerer (RBI), and solid pitching from Henry Thresher, helped Davis & Towle build a 4-2 lead through four innings. Kiwanis came through with a run in the fifth after Koltan Gaudreault reached on an error, went to third on a double from Charlie Belnick and scored on a wild pitch. And Kiwanis tied things in the bottom of the sixth to force extra innings when Lucas Golden reached on an error and scored on a double from Carter Cutrer (two hits).

Davis & Towle bounced back with two runs in the top of the seventh after Rossetti scored on a ground ball and Proulx came home on a single from Ian Mamos. Down to its last three outs, Kiwanis responded as Belnick walked and JD Nkurunziza singled, setting the stage for Bedard, who lined a double to the center field fence to tie the game at 6-6.

“Just came off the barrel so great,” Bedard said.

He eventually scored on a ground ball from Cutrer, sliding into home plate with a run that set off a team-wide celebration.

“What I like about this team is that everybody gives it their all and plays hard, it doesn’t matter what your ability level, they’re all part of the team and they all do something to help the team,” coach Gaudreault said. “That’s what I try to instill and these guys did that, and more times than not that helps you pull together in games like this, so I’m proud of them.”

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