PELHAM, N.Y. Michael Labriola did what most athletes have undoubtedly done at some point in their careers. He found himself in a pressure situation and imagined the worst-case scenario.
Labriola stepped up to the plate in the bottom of the sixth inning in the New York District 20 Little League championship game Monday night. New Rochelle Pacific led Pelham, 9-8, with one out at Tocci Field.
When Labriola got to the plate, he had a negative thought but pushed it out of his mind.
I was very nervous. I thought I was going to get into a double play, Labriola said. But I just had confidence and I got the hit.
Labriola roped a line drive into the outfield and two runs scored to give the Pelham Little League 11-under team the 10-8 win and the district championship in the Williamsport Tournament. Pelham will now move onto the sectional tournament, which begins next week.
Another doubt crept into Labriolas mind after the ball hit the bat.
I thought he was going to catch it, Labriola said. But it ended up being a two-run single.
Catcher Kevin Coleman had nothing but faith in his teammate.
I thought he was going to get the hit the whole way, Coleman said. Thats all you have to think of, the positive stuff, not negative.
Labriola, who also came in as a closer in Monday's game, received some good-natured ribbing from his teammates as they celebrated after the game, as they jokingly told him that "pitchers can't hit."
Pelham lost in the district championship last year but got the job done in 2012. First baseman Nicholas Milanese had six simple words after the long two-year journey to the district title that ended with a seesaw battle against New Rochelle.
Feels good, Milanese said. Feels better than losing.
Coleman said he is looking forward to the sectional tournament and had utmost confidence in himself and his teammates.
Its going to be tough, Coleman said. But if we play our best, nobody can beat us.
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