By PAUL ANTONELLI
Amsterdam 11-and-under coach Bill Murphy knew early on that his team would be at a big disadvantage in the weekend-long American Amateur Baseball Congress New York State Championships at Isabel's Field.
Two of the qualifying teams recruit from all over upstate New York while Murphy puts out a community-based squad that includes 10 players from Amsterdam and one from Mayfield.
Yet that didn't stop Amsterdam from almost doing the unthinkable -- advancing to the AABC Gil Hodges 11U World Series this weekend in Brooklyn.
Amsterdam marched all the way to the state championship game before losing a 10-1 decision to the powerful Tri-City Bombers on Sunday.
Tri-City, a team comprised of youngsters from Brunswick, Guilderland, East Greenbush, Schenectady, Altamont, Clifton Park and West Sand Lake, will leave for the World Series on Thursday. Double-elimination play starts Friday with teams competing from all over the country.
"I thought we contained them (Tri-City) as good as anybody," said Murphy, who gets coaching assistance on the basepaths from Art Ausfeld and Rich Williamson. "Every position was solid defensively. They have three or four big bats and the rest can hit as well."
The Bombers qualified for the state championships after an impressive showing in the June Madness Tournament in Ballston Spa and continued solid play in the double-elimination state format at Isabel's Field, winning all four games via the eight-run mercy rule. Tri-City opened play Friday night with a 16-8 victory over North Colonie Blue Bison. On Saturday, the Bombers defeated Amsterdam 10-2 and South Troy 8-0 to reach Sunday's state final with Amsterdam. Both North Colonie Blue Bison and the South Troy Dodgers were eliminated Saturday. Tri-City finished with 10 home runs in the four-game stretch.
"I thought we played Bomber baseball," said Tri-City coach Lance Eldred. "We live and die by the home run."
Dalton Maxon tossed a complete-game two-hitter and helped himself with a home run -- his fourth of the tournament.
"We had a tough time figuring him out and when we did, it was too late," Murphy said.
Amsterdam got both of its hits and its only run in the fifth inning when Nic Hernandez and Matthew Murphy lined consecutive singles and Hernandez scoring on Nicholas Antonelli's groundout to second base.
Matthew Murphy started and allowed four runs over four innings before handing the duties over to Nic Carbone.
It was the second loss to Tri-City in as many days for Amsterdam, who left 10 runners on base in Saturday's 10-2 defeat that put them in the loser's bracket.
The highlight of the tournament for Amsterdam was a 10-9 victory over the South Troy Dodgers, another regionally recruited squad.
"That was our signature win," Murphy said of the Friday night thriller that ended at 10:45 p.m. "It shows we can compete with these regionally recruited teams. We never gave up."
Amsterdam captured the win after Michael Rocas smacked a one-out walk-off single to center field to score Tyler Williamson in the bottom of the seventh inning.
Amsterdam trailed 5-2 before taking a 6-5 lead with a four-run outburst in the fourth inning. Peyton Ausfeld ripped a two-run double and Antonelli followed with a two-run single to highlight Amsterdam's run-scoring barrage.
South Troy added three runs in the top of the fifth to lead 9-6, but Amsterdam came right back, courtesy of a bases-loaded double by Carson Cotugno.
Ausfeld had a double, single and three RBIs to lead Amsterdam's hit attack. Tommy Ziskin chipped in with two singles.
Matthew Murphy started and pitched four solid innings before handing the duties over to Cotugno, who hurled the final three innings of relief. Each pitcher struck out four.
Amsterdam will take some time off before competing in the Guilderland Labor Day Tournament Aug. 28-31.
The squad will also begin preparations for next summer's appearance in the Cooperstown Dreams Park tournament -- a gathering of more than 100 teams from all over the country. The team will stay on the Cooperstown Dreams Park grounds for the entire week. Also, there will be Opening Day Ceremonies and a skills competition in Little Majors Stadium. There are 22 lighted enclosed baseball stadiums, 104 clubhouses in a baseball village on 150 acres.
"This experience was a great one for our kids," Murphy said. "This will help us down the road. The kids never gave up. There was cheering all weekend and they had a lot of fun."