Albany Athletics Beat Tampa For AABC National Championship
What a finish. Dan Barbero hit a two-out 3-run homer in the bottom of the ninth inning to propel the Albany Athletics past Tampa Elite Ray, 7-5, and win its first AABC National Championship in Port St. Lucie, Florida.
“This is a true dream come true. As a kid, everyone dreams of winning the World Series, and winning the World Series on a walk-off home run. This group of players never quit all season long and showed a lot of heart from start to finish in the World Series," said Athletics manager Joe Altieri.
Tournament MVP Ben Paniccia (9-for-19, 6 RBI, 6 runs in 6 games) singled to start the ninth and came around to score on a sacrifice fly by Al Barbato with the bases loaded. With two men on, Barbero then smashed a homer over the right field wall to end the game.
Albany was down 4-0 after four innings but mounted a slow comeback, getting an RBI single from Jason Martin in the fourth inning then an RBI single from Mark Teson in the fifth, and a solo homer in the eighth from Barbato to pull within 4-3.
Righthander Pat Landers relieved starter Chris Smith in the sixth and yielded only a hit and one earned run to earn the win.
The Athletics dropped their opening round game to Northwest then recorded victories over Connecticut, Cincinnati, Tampa, then Northwest and Tampa today to win the title.
“This achievement is a tribute to the hard work and sacrifice of this team. We had 22 players and coaches put their lives on hold for six days to go to Port St. Lucie to represent the Twilight League and the North Atlantic Region, and work hard to win the highest honor in Stan Musial baseball this year. It’s an incredible feeling to be the best in the nation, especially considering how we won with a walk-off homer in the ninth inning, and it’s a memory and experience our program will have for a lifetime," said Altieri.
It's been an incredible season for the Athletics including: First Albany Twilight League team and Upper NY Stan Musial Team to win the World Series, second North Atlantic Team to win the World Series since 1977, third New York Team to win the World Series since 1935 and sixth North Atlantic Team to win the World Series since 1935.
It was the Athletics second appearance in the World Series.
The Athletics kept rolling along when they shut out Nolan Propane, 15-0, to win their fourth straight Albany Twilight League championship and sixth overall.
No team in the league's 82-year history has ever won four consecutive titles.
Albany righthander Pat Landers threw a complete game four-hitter.
Playoff MVP Jason Martin hit a 3-run homer in the second inning rally and collected a 10-for-19 (6 RBI, 7 runs) ATL postseason. Barbero hit a 2-run double in the second inning and later singled twice for a total of 4 RBI while Barbato doubled and singled in a run. Justin Meagher added to the offense with a pair of RBI singles in the game.
"Winning the Twilight League Championship truly completed a dream season for us," said Athletics' 17th year manager Altieri, who now owns a 574-216 career record since 1996. "This group of guys is special.They may be one of the greatest teams the league and North Atlantic Region has ever seen and that is evident in the record, the achievements, and the statistics this season. I'm very proud of this team accomplishing every single goal it set out for in the beginning of the season."
Chris Wilgocki doubled for Nolan Propane who finished with a 33-16 overall record and League Runner Up for the second time in three years.
The Athletics finished the season with a 47-7 overall record and 22-2 in the Twilight League. Along the way they set the following records or milestones during the season:
* 18 consecutive league wins (most in ATL history)
* 204 runs scored in the league (most in ATL history for wood bat era...3rd in overall ATL history...1984 Sons-223, 1988 Orange Motors-221)
* 22 league wins (2nd most in ATL history)
* 47 wins (most in franchise history)
* 47 overall wins is most by any ATL franchise (Sons of Italy was 46-2 in two leagues in 1986)
* 446 runs scored in all games (most in franchise history).