Toms River, NJ team is one game away from Little League World Series
It was an action-packed, nail-biting, thrilling game played by Toms River East Little League on Wednesday night as they topped Fairfield, Connecticut 3-1 featuring a top-tier pitching performance by Logan Macchia, who also hit a massive two-run homerun to go along with stellar defense by the entire team.
"We knew it was going to be a tough challenge and we told the kids before the game: Just leave it all out there, give it everything you got, support each other and just go get it and whatever happens, happens but give us everything that you have and they did that," Manager Mike Mendes said.
The team from Ocean County now plays the team from Massapequa, New York, in a regional final on Friday night that will decide which team goes onto the World Series game.
The game will be broadcast 7 p.m. Friday on ESPN.
The Toms River team has already played the World Series four times.
"There's no tomorrow so everybody that is available will be ready to go at a moment's notice," Mendes said. "Logan's the only one not available. We have everybody else and we're just going to give it our best and see where we go but pitching-wise, we got Brady Gillen and Christian Mascaro and Tyler Todaro and Declan Sloan and a couple of other guys if we need 'em."
The team needs the tight and crisp defense and stellar pitching exhibited in the victory Wednesday to be present in their battle with New York on Friday night, six days after falling to that very same team 6-3 in extra innings in the first game of the Metro Regional Tournament.
"They're (New York) a great baseball team, probably the best we've played all year — they and Connecticut are probably the two best teams we've played," Mendes said. "I know they're going to be tough, they've got hitters all through the lineup, they've got a couple of guys that can throw the ball pretty well from the mound. They've got a great defense, their shortstop is an absolute stud."
While Toms River East is riding a mini two-game winning streak topping Rhode Island and Connecticut, you can throw the records out from this tournament because whoever wins tomorrow, moves on to Williamsport.
"We just keep preaching to them just keep working together, keep laying it out on the line, play every game, every pitch, every inning like it's your last, and just lay it out there for each other, be unselfish players and support each other," Mendes said.
These moments in a playoff game such as the ones Toms River East is playing right now can be tense and stressful, but Mendes knows the team that's out running out there is capable of anything.
"These boys are great. I'm proud of all 13 of them, and they're just doing a fantastic job," Mendes said.