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State Little League tournaments kick off

Beginning Tuesday, the New Jersey State Little League Tournament returns to Ocean County for the first time since 1994 and for the first time ever, the Junior Little League Tournament also will take place in the same location – District 18 Host Berkeley Township.

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Berkeley Little League President Bob Everett is hoping the seven-day event helps boost tourism for the township and the county as it continues recovering from Superstorm Sandy.

“We’re enjoying showing off all the benefits of Ocean County from the Bay, to the boardwalk to the beaches and we hope folks come down and have a good time,” Everett said.

The tournament opens Thursday with a banquet.

We have lots of special guests coming to that honoring the four Little League teams. The following day, Wednesday, we kick off with all the baseball games. We’ll be playing four different baseball games with the two different levels of Little League that we’re hosting,” Everett said.

Two Toms River teams will be featured in this year’s tournaments. Everett said the next step after the state championships for teams that advance is the regional championships.

“Which, for the Little League Team is in Bristol, Connecticut. If they win the Mid-Atlantic Division, then they would go to Williamsport (to the World Series). We’re two steps away at this point,” Everett said. “For the Junior League Team, they go to the Regional in Freehold.”

Everett is hoping baseball fever is in the air.

“Little League baseball is a fantastic family experience, watching the passion and pure joy that the kids play sports with is just  thrilling. Everybody seems them on ESPN. All through the month of August, all the great baseball that you see, now you get a chance to see that level of play right here live,” Everett said.

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