Middletown Little League starts Little League World Series run
BRISTOL, Connecticut — Can World Series magic happen to a New Jersey team 20 years after Toms River East took home the championship?
The Middletown Little League plays its first game in the Mid Atlantic tournament in Bristol, Connecticut on Monday afternoon against Maryland. The winner of the tournament advances to the championship round in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.
It was 20 years ago that Todd Frazier's Toms River East team won the Little League championship, the last team from New Jersey to win it all.
"They're absolutely thrilled. It's a great group of boys. Most of them have been playing in the MIddletown Recreational League since they were 5 or 6 years old so they're known each other for a pretty long time," manager Tim Naughton told New Jersey 101.5. "They play very confident baseball. Great fundamentals."
Many fans will be watching the game on ESPN at the Applebee's in Middletown.
Naughton's son Timmy plays third base for the team and is the cleanup hitter.
Middletown won the Joe Graziano State Little League Championship with a 4-1 victory over Elizabeth’s Elmora Youth last Monday.
The team arrived on Saturday and had a weekend filled with barbeques,practice, a challenge game and watching some of the weekend's game. The team got a break from playing over the weekend because of a bye that rotates among all the teams.
The team is very focused on the game because of a lot of tight, one-run wins.
"This team stays pretty calm. We just keep trying to get the wins. They're certainly confident when they get into these games since they've won so many close games," Naughton said.
"Nobody seems to get rattled. If somebody's having a bad game one of their teammates will come up with a big hit. It's an absolute team effort."
Last year the Holbrook Little League team from Jackson lost to a team from Fairfield, Connecticut to end their World Series run.