(Jeremy C. Fox for Boston.com)
The North 2 South Baseball Classic ended in a tie on Sunday, as the North End Little League All-Stars made a last-minute recovery from the South End team’s early lead.
Sponsored by Aaron Michlewitz, himself a youth baseball coach as well as the state representative for both neighborhoods, Sunday’s game was planned for six innings but went into a seventh when the North End tied the score in the bottom of the sixth.
Early in the game at the North End’s Langone Park, the South End team seemed destined to win on their opponents’ turf, as they scored runs in the top of the first inning and one more each in the third, fourth, and fifth inning.
But the North End team rallied, scoring three runs in the fifth. They clinched the tying fourth run in the bottom of the sixth, when the South End’s pitcher gave up three consecutive walks.
Winning the game’s most valuable player awards were center-fielder Thomas Marchi for the North End and catcher Ezequiel Pena for the South End. Coaches for the South End team are Pete Shults and Geo Chevere, while John Pezzuto, Chris Marchi, and Dave Wolf led the North End Team.
Speaking before the game, Michlewitz said who wins is less important than the opportunity the game creates for the cross-town players to come together in the spirit of good sportsmanship.
“This was something that, when I was running two years ago, I said, if I’m lucky enough to win, I represent two neighborhoods that don’t really interact very often … and are very similar in their makeup and character,” Michlewitz said. “So I figured this would be a perfect way to try to join the two neighborhoods together through baseball.”
Michlewitz said both neighborhoods have strong baseball traditions through their respective leagues, the North End Athletic Association and South End Baseball.
A North End native, Michlewitz said it was through playing youth baseball that he first began learning about the city’s other neighborhoods.
“It really opened my eyes as a kid to how other neighborhoods are and how other kids are living,” he said.
At last year’s inaugural North 2 South, each team won its home game, which Michlewitz said “worked out perfectly.”
“Both were good games, too,” he said. “The South End actually won their game last year on a walk-off home run at Peters Park. So both games were really exciting, and we’re hoping for two good games this year.”
John Romano, baseball coordinator for the North End Athletic Association, said the association’s 13- to 15-year-old traveling team has played against teens from the South End for years and at times even included members from the South End when it was short of players. But he said the North 2 South games provide a rare chance for younger athletes to play together and build relationships.
“I think sometimes baseball helps break down that, ‘Who’s that kid? I don’t know them,’” Romano said. “From baseball they get to know each other, and then when they see each other in other venues, now they’re friends instead of maybe adversaries.”
Romano has been involved with the athletic association for more than 20 years as an first an umpire, then coach, later director, and now coordinator. In his early years with the association, he actually coached a team that included the young Michlewitz, who recently turned 33.
“I’ll take credit for everything he knows,” Romano said. “Nah, just kidding.”
The two teams will meet again Tuesday at 6 p.m. at Luis Taint Field at Peters Park in the South End.
Email Jeremy C. Fox at email@example.com.
(Jeremy C. Fox for Boston.com)