VALHALLA, N.Y. – Joel Goncalves and Dante Paolucci initiated a power trip for New Rochelle Saturday in a first-round Section 4 Little League Baseball Majors Championship game.
The duo hit consecutive home runs in the first inning and Jack Riina delivered a three-run shot in the second, sending New Rochelle to a 13-6 win over Eastchester at Pat Henry Field.
New Rochelle will play Stony Point (District 18 champion) at 1:30 p.m. Sunday at Brentwood Park in Harrison in a winners bracket game. Eastchester will play at 5:30 p.m. Monday at Pat Henry Field in a losers bracket game.
Along with its’ three home runs, New Rochelle received a huge lift from pitcher Joe Burns. He relieved starter Johnnie Rodopoulos in the first inning with runners on second and third, no outs and three runs in, and did not allow a run. Burns went 5 2/3 innings, allowing one run on two hits and striking out seven.
Despite a 3-0 deficit, Paolucci said, New Rochelle was not worried before it came to bat in the first inning.
“We knew it was only the first inning and the game wasn’t over,” said Paolucci, 12, a seventh-grader-to-be at Albert Leonard Middle School. “We picked each other up and said we had to come back with our bats.”
New Rochelle closed to 3-2 on the Goncalves and Paolucci homers before taking the lead in the second. With two outs, Rodopoulos scored on a Goncalves force out, Paolucci singled home Timmy Flynn, Burns doubled and Riina crushed a pitch over the center field fence for a three-run homer.
“Joel’s homer got us started and back into the game,” Paolucci said. “When Jack hit his home run, that gave us the momentum again.”
Arthur Liebowitz and Paolucci each had two hits and two RBI and Mat Almonte tripled and drove in two runs.
Tsubasa Yuhara hit a three-run homer and had a run-scoring single for Eastchester. John Doherty and Matt Stern doubled and Alston Tarry scored two runs.
Eastchester 310 002 – 6 9 1
New Rochelle 261 40x – 13 11 1
RBI – E: Tsubasa Yuhara 4; NR: Jack Riina 3, Dante Paolucci 3, Mat Almonte 2, Joel Goncalves 2, Arthur Liebowitz. 2B – E: John Doherty, Matt Stern; NR: Joe Burns. 3B – NR: Mat Almonte. HR – E: Tsubasa Yuhara; NR: Dante Paolucci, Joel Goncalves. WP – Joe Burns. LP – Tsubasa Yuhara.