2002 Little League® Baseball Mid-Atlantic Region Tournament
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Mid-Atlantic Region Tournament

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Mid-Atlantic Region Tournament
Host - Eastern Region Headquarters; Bristol, Connecticut
At Breen Field; A. Bartlett Giamatti Little League Leadership Training Center

Participating Teams City League
Delaware State Champions Frankford Lower Sussex LL
District of Columbia Champions Washington D.C. Capitol City LL
Maryland State Champions Preston South Caroline LL
New Jersey State Champions Hamilton Square Nottingham LL
New York State Champions New York City Harlem LL
Pennsylvania State Champions Bethlehem Lehigh LL

NOTE: The 2002 Mid-Atlantic Region Tournament used a two-phase tournament format. Each participating team played four games in a round-robin schedule, and the top four teams then advanced to single-elimination semifinal and championship round games.

Click here to view State Tournament results for Mid-Atlantic Region Tournament participants.

Tournament Results:

Sunday, August 4:
Lower Sussex (Delaware) 2, Nottingham (New Jersey) 0
Lehigh (Pennsylvania) 5, Capitol City (Washington D.C.) 3

Monday, August 5:
Capitol City (Washington D.C.) 6, Lower Sussex (Delaware) 5
Harlem (New York) 5, South Caroline (Maryland) 1

Tuesday, August 6:
Lehigh (Pennsylvania) 10, South Caroline (Maryland) 2
Nottingham (New Jersey) 5, Harlem (New York) 2

Wednesday, August 7:
Lower Sussex (Delaware) 6, Lehigh (Pennsylvania) 5
Nottingham (New Jersey) 4, Capitol City (Washington D.C.) 0 (7 innings) (NO-HITTER)

Thursday, August 8:
Lower Sussex (Delaware) 9, South Caroline (Maryland) 4
Harlem (New York) 6, Capitol City (Washington D.C.) 5

Friday, August 9:
Nottingham (New Jersey) 7, South Caroline (Maryland) 5
Lehigh (Pennsylvania) 6, Harlem (New York) 4



Lower Sussex (Delaware) 3 1 15
Nottingham (New Jersey) 3 1 9
Lehigh (Pennsylvania) 3 1 15
Harlem (New York) 2 2 17
Capitol City (Washington D.C.) 1 3 20
South Caroline (Maryland) 0 4 31

Ties are broken based on records in head-to-head competition among tied teams. In the event of a three-way tie, the initial tie is broken based on fewest runs allowed per defensive inning played. The tie between the remaining two teams is then broken based on head-to-head record.

Semifinal Round (Saturday, August 10):

Lehigh (Pennsylvania) 10, Nottingham (New Jersey) 3
Harlem (New York) 7, Lower Sussex (Delaware) 5

Mid-Atlantic Region Championship Game (Tuesday, August 13):

Harlem (New York) 5, Lehigh (Pennsylvania) 4 (7 innings; TITLE)


Little League Baseball's roots stretch back to 1939, when Carl Stotz promised his nephews that he would organize a youth baseball league in which they could play. As the title of Stoltz's autobiography "A Promise Kept" suggests, Little League's founder was true to his word, and the seed he planted ultimately became the world's largest youth sports organization.

Fifty years later, Harlem, New York, residents Dwight and Iris Raiford made a similar promise to their son. The deal: nine-year-old Joshua would enroll in piano lessons, and in exchange his parents would start a Little League Baseball program in Harlem. The Raifords kept their promise, and in 1989, the Harlem Little League played its first games. The program, which had 129 participants in its first year, quickly blossomed into one of the crown jewels in Little League Baseball's Urban Initiative. By 2002, nearly 700 children participated in Harlem's program.

Thirteen years after it was established, Harlem's program achieved success of a different kind: a trip to the Little League World Series. Julian McWilliams dashed home from third base on a two-out wild pitch in the bottom of the seventh inning in the Mid-Atlantic Region championship game to give Harlem a come-from-behind 5-4 victory over Lehigh Little League (Bethlehem, Pennsylvania) at the A. Bartlett Giamanti Little League Leadership Training Center in Bristol, Connecticut.

"That was such a nail-biter game," said Harlem manager Morris McWilliams. "I don't even know what it feels like to feel like I'm going to Williamsport."

Harlem struggled just to get to extra innings in the championship game. The first-time New York champions needed a two-run rally in the top of the sixth to subdue Lower Sussex Little League (Frankford, Delaware) 7-5 in the semifinal round, and found themselves trailing Lehigh by a 4-0 margin in the fourth inning of the title game.

Harlem rallied, and tied the game. Javier Lopez opened the bottom of the fourth with a single, and Alibay Barkley drove a two-run homer over the center field fence to halve the lead. Jorge Lopez singled, and after a sacrifice, Andrew Diaz also reached when the Lehigh left fielder lost his fly ball in the lights. One out later, pinch hitter Fernando Frias drilled a two-run double just past the reach of Lehigh's center fielder.

Lehigh manager Sam Murray then brought reliever Joey Orlando to the mound, and the curveball specialist quickly ended the inning with a strikeout before also fanning the next six Harlem batters he faced. But with the New Yorkers held in check, Lehigh couldn't capitalize on its opportunities, and stranded runners on third base in every inning from the second through the sixth.

Harlem finally broke through in the seventh. Frias grounded out, but Julian McWilliams poked a single past shortstop, and one out later scampered to third on Javier Lopez's double. Barkley was intentionally walked to load the bases, but the second pitch to Jorge Lopez bounced in the dirt and skipped to the backstop, allowing McWilliams to bring home the winning run.

"With off-speed pitching, the ball doesn't go all the way to the backstop as fast," explained Morris McWilliams after the game. "(Our strategy was) if it broke (away from the catcher), he'd go."

"You live by the curve, you die by the curve with a man on third," said Murray.

Lehigh had built a 3-0 lead in the third inning. Kevin Kowalishen blooped a single into center field to score Justin Rivera with the inning's first run, and David Zubia's sacrifice fly plated Rocky Sawyer. Kowalishen later scored on a two-out wild pitch.

Lehigh added another run on an infield error in the fourth inning.

Harlem emerged as the Mid-Atlantic champion despite winning only two of its four round-robin games. Barkley got the New Yorkers off to a stong start, allowing only three hits in five innings of work as Harlem downed South Caroline Little League (Preston, Maryland) 5-1 in its region tournament debut. Barkley snapped a 1-1 tie with a fifth inning double off the left field fence that scored Javier Lopez, and Jorge Lopez followed with a two-run homer.

The next day, Harlem suffered its first loss of the international tournament, dropping a 5-2 decision to Nottingham Little League (Hamilton Square, New Jersey). Nottingham managed only one hit, but Harlem's pitching and defense struggled through a four-run fifth inning rally in which the New Jersey champions capitalized on three walks, an error, a passed ball, and their only hit of the game.

Morris McWilliams shrugged off his team's shaky performance.

"Physical and mental errors cost us the game today," he said after the game. "It cost us, but we're still in it and the kids learned from this one."

After a day off, Harlem edged Capitol City Little League (Washington, D.C.) by a 6-5 score. Frias broke the game open with a third inning grand slam that gave Harlem a 6-1 lead before the New Yorkers held off a late Capitol City rally. The D.C. champions scored four times in the fourth inning and had the tying and winning runs on base in the sixth before Jorge Lopez induced a game-ending fly ball that clinched a semifinal round berth for the New York club.

With the four semifinalists already determined, McWilliams penciled his usual reserves into the starting lineup and gave them extensive playing time in the final round-robin game against Lehigh. The Pennsylvanians scored two runs in each of the first three innings en route to a 6-4 win.

Lehigh's early offense was a preview of what was to come in the semifinal round, when the Pennsylvania champions shelled an uncharacteristically flat Nottingham team 10-3.

Rocky Sawyer, Kowalishen, and Ben Eichman all homered for Lehigh, which led 7-0 after two innings. Sawyer's solo homer in the first opened the scoring, and Kowalishen broke the game open with a three-run blast in the second. The first four batters in the Lehigh batting order -- Rivera, Sawyer, Kowalishen, and Brendan Mohler -- all scored twice against a Nottingham team that had allowed only nine runs in its four previous games at Bristol.

Murray was not surprised by his team's hitting.

"I've seen them do it before . . . I've seen them explode," said Murray, whose team averaged ten runs per game at the Pennsylvania state tournament following a shutout loss in their opener.

In the other semifinal, Harlem survived five errors to edge Lower Sussex 7-5. After three scoreless innings, the game see-sawed back-and-forth with three lead changes and a tie. Harlem took a 1-0 lead on Jorge Lopez's infield single in the fourth, but two Harlem errors and Trevor Abbott's RBI double pushed Lower Sussex into a 3-1 lead.

Harlem struck back in the fifth by batting around and scoring four runs. Javier Lopez and Barkley provided the key blows with consecutive two-run singles that tied the game and gave Harlem the lead. Delaware responded with George Godwin's two-run double in the bottom of the inning that tied the game before Javier Lopez's two-run double in the top of the sixth put Harlem in front again.

Lower Sussex threatened once more in the bottom of the inning, advancing runners to first and second with one out, but Javier Lopez snared a liner back to the mound and threw to his twin brother Jorge to complete a game-ending double play that moved the New Yorkers into the championship game.

"I was scared to death," said Morris McWilliams said about Delaware's resiliency. "After they scored those runs to tie it, I told the kids, `We've got three more outs, so let's score some runs now.'"

"Our team showed a lot of heart," said Delaware manager Randy Bowden. "But our hats are off to New York. They are a good-hitting club and they hit all our pitching. And Javier Lopez just battled us."

Javier Lopez, Harlem's best pitcher throughout the international tournament, struck out eleven and walked only one in a complete game effort.

Harlem advanced to the Little League World Series with its win over Lehigh three nights later, but Morris McWilliams' team needed one more victory before beginning play in South Williamsport. Questions surfaced surrounding the residency status of three Harlem players, bringing inevitable comparisons to the Bronx-based Rolando Paulino Little League team that mired the 2001 international tournament in scandal. After Harlem league officials provided additional documentation, Little League officials ruled that all of Harlem's players met residency requirements, and denied protests related to their eligibility.

Little League President and CEO Steven Keener drew a clear line between Rolando Paulino, which was forced to forfeit all tournament victories, and Harlem.

"Harlem did not attempt to cheat to get here. Rolando Paulino did," said Keener.

Harlem won two of its three pool games at the Little League World Series before losing 5-2 to New England champion Jesse Burkett Little League (Worcester, Massachusetts) in the U.S. semifinals.


  Semifinal Round 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E
Lehigh 3 4 0 0 1 2 10 9 0
Nottingham 0 0 0 0 3 0 3 3 3
  Semifinal Round
Harlem 0 0 0 1 4 2 7 8 5
Lower Sussex 0 0 0 3 2 0 5 7 3
  Championship Game
Lehigh 0 0 3 1 0 0 0 4 6 1
Harlem 0 0 0 4 0 0 1 5 7 1

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Last revision: 01/11/2004