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Labor Day Stickball On Little Italy Streets In San Diego

Video by Katie Schoolov

Find a stick and ball, close off some of Little Italy's streets, and bring in out-of-towners from New York City. Those are essential ingredients for San Diego's annual Labor Day stickball tournament.

Little Italy played host to another Labor Day Stickball Tournament this past weekend. Three teams from New York City made the cross-country trip to play with nine local teams. The game was played Brooklyn style. That means no pitcher with batters bouncing and hitting the ball.

Here's a Monday recap from tournament director Louis Centanni:

The opening games began with slight controversy as the No Parking signs were removed the night before and Lasorda Field (Church) had to be modified. However, as true stickballers, the show went on. In the morning games, the Asphalt Kings and the Bronx Gold played a back and forth game that entered the top half of the seventh with a 7-6 advantage for the San Diego team. This, however, was nothing new for the veteran Gold, who proceeded to put up six runs in the top half and eliminate their counterparts. On DiMaggio Field (Firehouse), the Royals and Rough Riders played an extremely tight game -- highlighted by a head-long diving catch in mid-outfield by the Rough Riders (turned into a double play). However, after Rough Riders' second baseman dislocated his shoulder throwing a ball, the energy seemed to deflate and the Royals scored 8 runs in the bottom of the fifth to guarantee a berth in Round 2.

Once the 11 a.m. games began, the streets were filled with fans. The top-seeded Fishsticks brought their lumber once more, putting up enough runs to stave off elimination against the Bronx Ravens, who fought valiantly. The Ravens brought the potential go-ahead run to the plate in the final frame, only to fly out to end the game. Meanwhile, the Youngstars and Shockers played a battle that ended in a 7-2 victory for the hard-hitting Youngstars.

The semifinals brought high intensity as each game featured a Bronx team against a San Diego opponent. The Youngstars battled the Bronx Royals, scoring enough to secure a spot in the championship. On the other field, the Fishsticks defeated the Bronx Gold to set up the first ever all-San Diego championship (in tournaments featuring out-of-town teams).

The championship game pitted two of the best hitting teams in stickball against one another. Fans thought they'd be in for a barn-burner after Chris Urteaga led off the game with a home run for the Youngstars, but the defenses began to shine. The score was knotted at 1 into the fifth inning when the Fishsticks took the lead. The Youngstars threatened in the sixth inning, but were held to a single run after a strikeout ended the inning. After letting their bats do the talking all weekend, the Fishsticks rallied to score three runs in their final at-bats -- securing their second consecutive Labor Day title and beating the "undefeated curse," going 9-0 in the tournament. Pat Colwell earned MVP honors for the tournament, playing some of the best third base in stickball and having a hand in four of the six runs during the championship game.

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