HARRISON, N.Y. Gavin Astrella ripped a single up the middle in the second inning, driving in two runs and sending Kensico on its way to a 9-4 win over Rye in a winner's bracket semifinal of the District 20 Little League Baseball's 11-year-old tournament Friday at Brentwood Park.
Kensico will play Harrison in the winner's bracket final at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Volunteer Field. Rye moves into the loser's bracket and will face Sherman Park at 3 p.m. Sunday at Pat Henry Field.
Astrella, who also had a run-scoring single in the first inning, pitched three and two-thirds innings to get the win. Cameron Flynn closed out the game and was supported by three outstanding defensive plays.
Kensico scored four runs in the second to grab a 5-3 lead.
"We were being patient because we saw he was throwing balls," Astrella said of Rye's starter. "We were waiting for our pitch to hit when we got it."
Before Astrella's two-run single, Mike Ferrara and Bryan Goodman drew bases-loaded walks, scoring Patrick Gleason and Flynn. Henry Cetina came into the game for Rye to face Astrella.
"I saw he was throwing hard so I knew I had to swing early, and I was looking to drive it," said Astrella, 11, and a seventh-grader-to-be at Valhalla Middle School.
Rye closed to within two runs, 6-4, in the fourth. With runners at second and third and two outs, Jason Ciardiello hit a long fly ball to straightaway center field, but Ferrara caught it at the fence.
"I was hoping it was not another home run," Astrella said. "Mike's catch brought us back into the game."
Rye had consecutive home runs in the first inning by Cetina and Will Tepedino, who finished with two hits and two runs scored.
Kensico answered in the fourth when Gregory Palais crushed a solo home run.
Astrella and Palais made two fine defensive plays in the sixth. Rye had the bases loaded with no outs when Astrella, playing second base, leaped to grab a flare from Rick Burke. Palais, the third baseman, took a step to his right and snared a Finn Westerink line drive to conclude the game.
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