Webb McNamee stole home plate to give the Dodgers a wild walk off win against the Cardinals in a South End Youth Baseball regular-season finale on Saturday afternoon.
“First [the fielder] dropped it when I was running and then he recovered it quickly so I started to run back to third base,” the 12-year-old pitcher recalled after the 6-5 victory at Peter’s Park. “Then I just did a Matrix [move] and he dropped the ball and I scored.”
McNamee also hit a solo home run in the fourth inning to put the Dodgers up 5-2 before the Cardinals got two runs back in the fifth and tied the game on Brandon Tejada’s sixth-inning home run.
“I thought the bats would come alive after that but the Dodgers put us down,” said Cardinals coach Geovanni Chevere, who noted that the home run was Tejada’s first of the season. “The best part of the game was [Tejada] told me ‘I’m never going to hit a home run as a 12-year-old.’ That’s what was most exciting.”
The playoffs open Monday night with the No. 6-seed Cardinals playing the defending champion and third-seeded Angels.
“They are last year’s champs but we’re going to come strong,” said Chevere, whose team finished the regular season 6-7. “We’re a good team.”
The fifth-seeded Dodgers (8-5-1) drew the No. 4-seed Yankees on Monday night.
“The Yankees, we’re like equal to them so that will be a good game,” McNamee said. “I think there’s a chance we could go to the World Series.”
The Dodgers and the Yankees split their two meetings this season.
“The playoffs, the way they structure them is there’s a lot of baseball in one week,” Dodgers coach Evan Pepe said. “So pitching is huge. They try to make it so you can’t win with one pitcher. A lot of teams have one dominant pitcher so really for any team it’s going to come down to your second, third and fourth pitchers.”
Pepe, whose team missed the playoffs by a half game last year, said he might not pitch his ace, David Conforti, against the Yankees because the second round of the playoffs is a three-game series. He said Conforti did not pitch in their regular-season win against the Yankees.
“That’s the thing, we’ve beaten them without him,” Pepe said. “So that’s why we’ve kind of gone back and forth, ‘Can we get away without pitching him and saving him for the next series?’”
But while Pepe and League Commissioner Mike Kudisch said the Cubs, Orioles and Angels are a tier above the other teams going into the playoffs, Kudisch said anything can happen in youth baseball.
“Especially at the youth level pitching can dominate if a pitcher is really doing well," he said. "So in that sense everyone has a shot."
"It’s a competition but it’s a friendly competition," he added. "When the championship game is over the losing team is upset for a few minutes and the winning team is happy but not far after you’ll see them hanging out together.”
To view a full playoff schedule and standings click here.