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Youth baseball: CP Bulldogs win Cal Ripken World Series title

The Crown Point Bulldogs Cal Ripen 12-year-old squad wWorld Series title last week Hammond defeating Kingsbridge (N.Y.) 5-4 championship game.

The Crown Point Bulldogs Cal Ripen 12-year-old squad won the World Series title last week in Hammond, defeating Kingsbridge (N.Y.) 5-4 in the championship game. | Anthony Nasella~For the Star

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Updated: August 20, 2013 12:41PM



Even though Crown Point dropped its final pool play contest 12-1 to South Lexington last Tuesday at the Cal Ripken Major/60 World Series, the team had already secured a berth in the quarterfinals and possessed the confidence that it could reach the championship at the Hammond Optimist Youth Sports Complex.

After defeating Grand Forks, N.D. 7-4 on Wednesday and Hammond Optimist 4-3 on Thursday, Crown Point did, indeed, reach the championship of the World Series and faced hot-hitting Kingsbridge (Bronx), N.Y. in Friday’s title game.

And despite Crown Point starter Logan Ryan giving up a pair of home runs to Kingsbridge slugger George Valera, the team was still in striking distance down 4-2 when Nick Geisen relieved Ryan after three innings. From there, Crown Point scored three more runs and Geisen, as he had for just about the entire World Series, shut down the opposition down the stretch and the team came away with a thrilling 5-4 championship victory.

For his performance, Geisen was named the Series Most Outstanding Player, clubbing four home runs, pitching 15 innings, striking out 35 while giving up just two earn runs for a microscopic 0.93 ERA. Catcher Sammy Krutz was named to the all-defensive team.

When Crown Point was faced with an early 3-0 deficit against Kingsbridge, it was a scenario that was nothing new to the team. And just as Crown Point, again and again, was able to execute with its back against the wall during the season, that played out in dramatic fashion against Kingsbridge as the team scored two runs in the fourth inning and the go-ahead run in the sixth to hold on for the victory.

“It’s been this way the whole season and the whole five years we’ve been together,” CP head coach Bob Bauner said. “The ability to never quit and never give up has been ingrained in this team. Apparently they were listening. When we practice, we practice every aspect of the game. I’m just glad that it sunk in.

“How could it end any better than this? It just can’t.”

Marek Bauner drilled an opposite field double to lead off the sixth and scored on a passed ball to give Crown Point its first of the night – a lead that the team would hold even as Kingsbridge threatened in the bottom of the sixth by putting a runner on second base.

Kingsbridge’s Sammy De la Cruz launched a shot into deep right field off Geisen with two out, but Crown Point’s Luke Bianco snagged the ball at the wall for the final out.

“I really thought I dropped the ball,” Bianco admitted. “I really thought I was going to drop it.”

The player of the game for Crown Point, Logan Ryan, struck out eight Kingsbridge batters and kept the game close enough for Geisen. Ryan also delivered a big two-run single in the fourth to tie the game at 4-4.

“I can’t even talk right now,” an overwhelmed Ryan said. “Oh my gosh!”

Kingsbridge drew first blood on a three-run home deep to right field off Ryan by George Valera. Ryan, however, rebounded after the homer, striking out three batters in four faced to close out the inning.

Crown Point cut the deficit to 3-1 in the second inning, as Alec Matalin scored on a wild pitch with two outs that advanced runners to second and third, but Crown Point was unable to score either runner.

CP pulled within 3-2 on a passed ball in the third but stranded runners on second and third for the second straight inning as Candelario struck out the final Crown Point batters. Valera then clubbed a home run to deep center field in the third to extend Kingsbridge’s lead to 4-2.

Ryan tied the game up with the two-run single to right field, as Crown Point capitalized on two walks and three wild pitches by Candelario. Kingsbridge loaded the bases in the bottom of the fifth with one out on a double and two walks by Geisen, but Ryan threw out the potential go-ahead run for the second out, Geisen struck out the next batter for the third out.

“We kept our composure all game,” Geisen said. “

In the semfinal win over Hammond, Geisen was faced with a challenge that every pitcher dreams of and dreads at the same time — a bases-loaded scenario in the final inning in a one-run game with two outs. But Geisen again delivered under pressure, getting one of Hammond’s most lethal hitters, Randall Perrin, to ground out for the final out.

“I was super nervous,” Geisen said. “I couldn’t even catch my breath. I was thankful that he (Perrin) hit the ball to me, but then I knew I had to get the out. We’ve been dreaming for this for five years, and now it’s come true.”

“There’s not much you can say about Nick,” Bob Bauner said. “You can’t ask for any more than what he’s given us. Hammond played such a great game. That was a tough one to lose for either team, but these kids did amazing. Sometimes it’s long ball, and sometime it’s small ball. But these kids played great ball tonight.”

After falling behind 1-0, Hammond scored two in the bottom of the first — the first compliments of a wild pitch and the second on an RBI double by Daniel Villareal. CP starter Ryan struck out three batters in the inning, but he also issued three walks in a 35-pitch inning.

Marek Bauner led off the game with a single and advanced around the horn on three passed balls for an early 1-0 lead. Hammond starter Randall Perrin, though, struck out three batters in the first and duplicated that effort in the second, third and fourth.

The Bulldogs extended their lead to 3-1 in the second on a passed ball, as Ryan Labored with another 25 pitches. Ryan, however, started to find his stride in the third, striking out the side on just 16 pitches.

Crown Point rallied in the top of the fourth to tie the game at 3-3, scoring its runs on a wild pitch and passed ball. Geisen relieved Ryan in the fourth, and he struck out three batters.

With a championship under his belt as a coach, Bauner said that he can now happily hang up his coaching uniform for the last time as a satisfied and fulfilled coach — and a wet one as several CP players gave him the traditional “Gatorade” bath.

“This is it for me,” he said. “Besides, I’m too old for all of this. Even after we won the championship, my heart was beating so hard. What a way to go out.”



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