Mourning Ben, Little Leaguers Fall One Game Short in Playoffs

Bill O'Brien Photo It was a very emotional time for the 11 and under young men who played a lot of baseball four of the past five days in the Little League playoffs and in the aftermath of the tragic death of their friend, Ben.

Bill O'Brien Photo Many of the players were close friends of Ben Callahan, 10, who drowned in the Branford River in a tragic accident July 7.

Bill O'Brien Photo The team took that emotion, painted their faces with the initials BC on one cheek and the #2 on the other in memory of their friend, and played their hearts on Saturday and Sunday winning two big divisional game over North Haven, 12-7, and West Haven, 6-3.

Bill O'Brien Photo The back-to-back victories put Branford in the District Playoffs, which started this past Tuesday and their emotional charge continued that night, with a hard fought 13-6 win over a very good Orange team.

Bill O'Brien Photo They were on a roller coaster since the news of the tragedy, and all that followed. Games the next two days following the loss and the moving memorial service on the Green on Sunday night attended by an estimated 2,000 residents and out of town guests were followed by two more baseball games.

Bill O'Brien Photo Unfortunately, all that emotional stress on these young boys caught up with them on Wednesday, and they ran out of gas, falling 12-0 to the same North Haven team they defeated five days before.

Bill O'Brien Photo “I was proud of what they did during this stretch,” said coach Jake Palluzzi. “At the end I think they were just drained emotionally after all that happened over the past few days. They showed a lot of grit during that period that’s for sure.”

Bill O'Brien Photo Here Tim Rice gets read to tag a runner at third.

Here Anthony Fusco fouls one off.

Bill O'Brien Photo And here Will Henderson grabs a fly ball to center.

Bill O'Brien Photo As for the game, a combination of miscues in the field, not making routine plays, only getting one hit (a hard hit single by Harry Smith in the third inning) and a strong pitching performance by North Haven’s Chris Labanana created the lackluster shutout loss.

Bill O'Brien Photo It was easy to understand why.
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