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More on Streetplay
• Stickball Hall of Fame
• Tribute: Steve Mercado, FDNY
• Beating the Big Kids
• Ouch, That Buick Hurts!
• Angel Quinones, Sr. and Jr.

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Look out Curtis, here's an up and comer looking to make his mark wih keen play by play analysis.

Youngbloods Take Manhattan Honors

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Andre Liberato was this week's longball winner with a mammoth 320 foot blast.
Several Manhattan teams hoped they'd claim the 2001 Manhattan Stickball Classic; however, it was the Youngbloods, a top team from the Bronx that that won the rights to represent the borough.

The competition took place on 109th street between 2nd and 3rd Ave, a favorite location of the East Harlem Stickball League. With 5 teams poised to play, event organizers decided to split the street into two fields to allow simultaneous games. Still, it was a surprisingly long day of stickball.

On the eastern side of the block the initial game was between two Manhattan teams, Top Secret and Sugar Hill. On the western side, the Bad Boys Manhattan's top team took on the Youngbloods, the team Streetplay credited as being Stickball's all around champion for 2000 (see story).

Sugar Hill destroyed Top Secret in a lopsided 17 to 1 victory. The game had been close until the 5th inning when Sugar Hill scored 5 big runs. They continued the onslaught, scoring another 8 runs in the 6th. The heavy scoring and use of the Stickball Classic option of 2 strikes per hitter (instead of the traditional 1 swing) caused this contest to take significantly more time than a typical game. Even so, Sugar Hill clinched their berth and a bye against the Emperors well before the Bad Boys and Youngbloods match was completed.

While Sugar Hill had been piling on the runs, the Bad Boys and Youngbloods were locked in a defensive struggle. The Youngbloods brought in a run in the 2nd inning and it wasn't until the top of the 5th that the Bad Boys evened the score. There, at one a piece, the game stood through the regulation 7 innings and a number of extra innings as well. Each team had several chances to score, but offensive failures and a couple of defensive gems kept the game tied. The Bad Boys posed their most serious threat in the 9th when Andre Liberato, the winner of the longball competition hit mammoth drive with two runners on. In a hotly disputed call, the ump remained firm that the ball had landed in foul territory (albeit by about a foot).

In interest of time and recognizing that two more games had to be played, the captains agreed to open the 12th inning with a runner already given 2nd base, thereby making it much easier for a team to score. The Bad Boys were unable to advance their player. However, in the bottom half of the inning, Carlos Santiago hit a deep drive that bounced into 3rd Ave for ground rule double, automatically scoring the runner. The Youngbloods took the win, and advanced to play the Emperors for the 2nd game.

The Bronx Emperors last year's Stickball Classic Champions, came to play in Manhattan after Bronx rainout last week. Early in the game, the Emperors let in 3 big runs on defensive lapses where they did not adequately cover the plate. The Emperors could not capitalize on several offensive opportunities. Unable to make up the deficit, they were defeated 3-1.

For the final game, it was Sugar Hill against Youngbloods. The Youngbloods scored in 2 runs in the 4th inning and played a tight defensive game stopping Sugar Hill from getting anything going at all. The powerful display of hitting they showcased during the previous game was nowhere to be found. In fact after 6 innings 18 players had appeared at the plate, the minimum possible given 3 outs an inning. Two of Sugar Hill's batters did reach base in the 7th, but the Youngbloods clamped down and secured the final out.

The Youngbloods, joined by some friends from other Bronx teams who played under their banner, are this year's winners of the Manhattan Stickball Classic.

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