Bike Connection rides big innings to 2022 Little League City Championship

Bike Connection felt no ill effects from its loss to Agile on May 21 in the first game of the 2022 Palo Alto Little City Championship. Bike Connection bounced back, in a winner-take-all Monday night final, to beat Agile, 17-7, and was crowned the 2022 City Champions. The game was played before a packed crowd at Middlefield Ballpark.

Agile, which won only three regular season games (while Bike Connection won fifteen), shocked many by emerging from the losers bracket of the City Championship to hand Bike Connection its season’s only loss on Saturday, by a score of 11-3. Paxton Liu pitch a complete game for Agile. Coming from the losers bracket, Agile coach Dave Kassel kept telling his team, “We are playing with house money!” The win on Saturday set up a PALL Monday night baseball season finale.

In the ultimate game, Bike Connection was determined not to play from behind, as they had in the previous game, and started strong with four runs in the first inning, highlighted by James Young’s two-out, three-run double.

Agile had scored an average of more than eleven runs per game during their four-game tear through the losers bracket, but Bike Connection’s starting pitcher, Tiran Zia, cooled off Agile’s hot bats and Agile trailed, 4-1, after two innings. Agile avoided bit trouble in the second inning when shortstop Liu started a rally-closing, inning-ending double play.

Clutch hitting was the hallmark of Bike Connection throughout the season, and Alex Tran delivered a two-out single in the third, as Bike Connection increased its lead to 7-1.

But Agile had faced deficits earlier in the tournament and was not about to fold. Agile answered with three runs in the bottom of the third, with a rally started by Sebastian Tung’s leadoff single (Tung hit .696 in the tournament’s six games and reached base ten of eleven times in the team’s last three games) and Darren Chan’s two-out, RBI single. Mark Burton, Agile’s manager, said “No one gave us a chance in the tournament. Starting as a number five seed, we turned this into a positive.”

Bike Connection, the 2022 regular season champion, showed its mettle in the fourth inning and exploded for ten runs! The heart of the order provided the spark. Victor Hernandez blasted an inside-the-park home run and a triple, Arjum Ahluwalia collected two of his game high four hits, Andrew Reed got two hits, and James Young laced his second double of the game, all in the fourth.

Agile rallied for three runs in the bottom of the fourth, but Zia settled down, quelched the rally, and came away with a complete game victory when the game was ended early because of the ten-run rule.

Bike Connection showed why it was the league’s best team; Ahluwalia, Hernandez, Reed, Tran, Young and Zia all had multiple hit games. Bike Connection manager, Rich Kimble, said, “This was a special group of kids.” In the championship game, they scored seventeen runs, pounded out sixteen hits, drew six walks, and benefitted from two errors by Agile—all in only four innings.

Stephen Shu and Tung each had two hits for Agile in their losing effort. Ever gracious in defeat, Burton said, “We found the momentum and … it was quite a run. Congratulations to Bike Connection and Rich Kimble and his staff.” And congratulations to Agile for an outstanding season and making the post season memorable.

Agile made a similar run at the City Championship in 2021. The team rose from the losers bracket only to suffer a heartbreaking 3-2 loss to Alhouse-Deanor on a eighth inning walk off home run by Jack Yu.

Bike Connection roster: Arjum Ahluwalia, Baadj Ahluwalia, Jay Hartmann, Victor Hernandez, Roman Kimble, Liam Murphy, Andrew Reed, Alexander Tran, Asher Vermaire, Zachary Yap, James Young, and Tiran Zia. The team was managed by Rich Kimble and coached by Wes Hartmann and Chris Murphy.

Agile roster: Henry Butler, Darren Chan, Matt Chen, Emmett Gruin, Bradley Hong, Julie Kassel, Paxton Liu, Finn Rich, Cal Robles, Tyler Savard, Steven Shu, and Sebastian Tung. The team was managed by twenty-five-year PALL veteran Mark Burton and coached by Dave Kassel and Matt Robles.