By Sean Reilly
Emmett Robinson was presented with a question to ponder after his Diamond Elite team defeated the Bonnie Robins, 8-7, in dramatic fashion to win the championship of the 12U Youth World Series tournament on Monday night at Diamond Nation.
Robinson unloaded a two-run, go-ahead home run off the scoreboard in right-center field for a 7-5 lead with two out in the top of the fifth inning. Around two hours earlier, he launched a home run well beyond the fence when his team beat Grit 12U Black, 17-6, in the semifinals.
In the tournament final, he also took over the pitching duties with two out in the bottom of the second inning and his team trailing, 5-1. He proceeded to pitch solid relief the rest of the way as his team posted the comeback win, and he was selected the 12U tournament’s Most Valuable Player.
So which aspect of his game pleased him the most?
“Probably the pitching,” he said. “Our team really battled.”
The score was tied, 7-7, entering the sixth and final inning. Diamond Elite went ahead when Yaniel Escalera began that frame with a home run over the fence near the left field corner. The blast was one of more than a half-dozen hit by the Maryland-based team in the semi and final. Aside from rallying from 5-1 down after two innings in the championship, it also came back from a 6-1 second-inning hole in the semi. The prime weapon in both rallies was the long ball.
Still, the championship was ultimately sealed by pitching and defense.
After the Brooklyn-based Bonnie’s scored twice in the bottom of the fifth (all of its runs in the game came with two away) to tie, and still had runners on the corners, it tried a first-and-third base running play designed to score the go-head run from third while the trail runner got caught in a rundown. But Diamond Elite snuffed out that bid by tagging the runner between first and second base before the lead man could score.
Things got really dramatic in the bottom of the sixth. After taking the lead on the Escalera homer, Diamond Elite made a defensive change before that inning, with strong-armed Braden Marlow taking over at catcher.
With one out, Bonnie’s leadoff man Wade Margolies (2-for-2, two walks) reached on a base on balls. He stole second and advanced to third with the next batter at the plate. The count went full before Robinson got a strikeout. But not only that, Marlow fired a throw to third base after the play, with Brandon Cromer applying a tag on the runner for a game-ending, championship clinching double play.
“Thanks to my catcher Marlow, he showed confidence in himself to get that runner out, and we got him,” Robinson said.
Robinson pitched in parts of three games over the course of the tournament. In the championship, he worked a total of 4 1/3 innings, with two hits and two runs allowed while striking out six and walking four.
“It was a competitive game,” he said. “It was kind of a dogfight. The team believed in me that I could throw strikes. I just pounded the zone.”
The Youth World Series marked the first time that the team, made up of players from Maryland, Pennsylvania and Delaware, had played together. It had other big hits in the final, including a two-run double in third from Kolt Kendall and a two-run single in the fifth by Jaxson McLain.
“This was our first time together,” Robinson said. “It’s tough to win here, there’s really good competition. We bonded well, we had a few practices and it just came together.”