Senior All-Stars Diary
The Senior (15-16 year old) All-Stars have won the Eastern Regional Title and are currently in Bangor, Maine along with 9 other teams from the US, Asia, Europe, Canada and Latin America competing for the Senior League World Series Championship. This is first time any Freehold Twp. team has won the Eastern Regional and earned a bid to the World Series. This team becomes only the second team from Monmouth County to play in the Senior League World Series - the first team was Howell Central LL in 1992.
Click here to follow the teams progress
After 16 games, capturing District, Section, State and Eastern Regional Titles - which all began with the team announcement in mid-June, the Freehold Twp. Senior League All-stars have reached Step 5 in their quest - a trip to the Senior League World Series. The day has finally arrived!!
Click here for the World Series Photo Album
Here's a Daily recap of what it's like at the Senior League World Series - including game recap
We will be adding more to complete this in the coming weeks.... thanks for your support
Sunday, August 22nd:
After only a few hours of sleep, many of us helped our families begin their journey home at 5 AM. They all wanted to be back before the team arrived at MJT park for the welcome back celebration.
At 8 AM the team boarded a bus with the Asia-Pacific team and headed for Portland, ME Jetport. The bus ride was 133 miles and many of the tired players slept for most of the ride. The coaches spent most of the ride talking - they also were concerned with the drivers habit of driving a bit too far to the left of the road while in the left lane.. everything worked out fine.
We arrived at Portland Jetport around 10:05 AM - our flight was not scheduled to leave until 12:50 PM. After navigating through a short line at the airport (much shorter than Philadelphia) we made our way to a restaurant to get some some lunch. We spent just short of two hours there before going through the final security check and the gate area. During the check-in and meal, the team was approached by some people who had seen the highlights on TV and in the newspaper. The players thought this was great and couldn't wait to get home to see everyone - mostly just to get to their own house...
Our flight was delayed for about 10 minutes and we then boarded a small jet (held about 50 people) - most of the taller boys had to bend down to get into their seats. This would be only the second flight for three of our players... After the flight we arrived at Philadelphia Airport about 15 minutes later than planned. The team made it's way to the baggage area and met the driver for the ride home. It took over 30 minutes for our bags to arrive before we could begin to head to Freehold. About 3:15 we started the ride.
When we reached the Freehold border we were met by Township police and were escorted to MJT park. The boys were delighted when they saw signs, balloons and almost150 people clapping and chanting for them. They had made this trip by field # 3 many times for practice with a virtually empty parking lot. Today was different - even News 12 NJ was there, the Asbury Park Press and many local dignitaries. It was almost hard to get off the bus but the players made their way into the cheering crowd.
After several speeches congratulating the team were given by FTLL President Lou Piccola, District 19 Admin Buddy Coates, Mayor Avalone, Sheriff Oxley, and Manager Brach - the World Championship plaque was held up high for all to see. The team was reminded of the impact they have had on the entire community and the memories that will last forever.
The team then thanked all of those in attendance and especially the parents and fans that followed them on this journey. Special thanks to Township Committeeman Anthony Ammiano, Lou Piccola and Randy Elo for coordinating this welcome back.
Saturday, August 21st:
Short on time & it's late - We are the World Champions as we beat a fine team from the US West 10 - 1.. we will update this after we finish celebrating... Some pictures are already posted - more coming!
Please welcome the team back on Sunday as we expect to arrive at Michael J. Tighe Park at 4 PM. The boys would appreciate seeing everyone. Thanks for your support - we really appreciated it!
Friday, August 20th:
The day started early for Mgr. Brach and Coach LaCava who attended a 7:30 breakfast meeting/presentation.
The team boarded the 9:30 AM bus for batting practice prior to our 11:30 AM game. Today would be a real test as we would surely be facing Florida's left handed hard thrower. Brad was ready to pitch batting practice as he has done for us all week (thanks Brad) and today's focus was fastballs.
Jay 'Hollywood' Elo was on the hill and we knew could win as long as we played 'D' and were able to bring some runs across. Jay did an outstanding job throwing strikes (48 out of 73 pitches were strikes) and he made them hit the ball - fortunately we made the plays. We had a few opportunities but their pitcher did an excellent job keeping the hits down until the bottom of the 6th. Shawn reached on a walk and advanced to 2B on a passed ball. Jason Nardi then got a base hit to right center scoring Shawn for the only run of the game. Hollywood held them in the 7th and we're going to 'Ship!
Click Here for Game 5 - Update vs. US South
Freehold Twp - US East - 1 vs. Dade City, FL - US South - 0 (Semi-finals)
During the after game celebration Coach LaCava got hit in the mouth and is now sporting a swollen/black & blue lip. A small price to pay for victory. The team assembled for pictures in front of the scoreboard and on the third base line. A special picture was also taken with our supporting fans - the team also gave the 'Maine-iacs' a chant. The boys also took pictures with their Mom's. For 8 of the 12, tomorrow will be their last Little League game. What a way to end your Little League career!
Tonight we went to the Senior League World Series Banquet at the Bangor Civic Center. The Tournament Committee and volunteers expressed their appreciation and congratulations to all the Champions, Umpires and volunteers that participated in this years World Series. Umpires attended at their own expense from places as far away as Guam. Each team, their players and coaches was introduced and presented with a Certificate of Champions, a Senior League World Series medal and World Series pin. The US East and West teams were introduced last as the final '2'. These two teams were asked to remain in the front of the room for the coin toss to determine home team in tomorrow's game. The West was given the option to call the toss since they had traveled further than the East. They won the toss and selected Visitor - so we are Home for tomorrow's game - this suits us fine and would have been our choice if we had won the toss. Following the toss the US East & West teams exchanged handshakes and best wishes for tomorrow's game. In addition, all teams except for US East & West were presented with World Series Participant plaques. The US East & West will await their awards following tomorrow's game. It's starting to sink in - the top 2 teams out of 32,000 in Senior League - what a feat & honor!
The championship game is on Saturday vs. California (US West) at 1 PM. Potential rain may delay the start but the game will not start earlier than 1 PM. All efforts will be made to play the game on Saturday.
Thursday, August 19th:
The day started with our 8:30 AM bus ride to the field for 9 AM batting. Today's game was vs. Latin America @ 10 AM. Our goal was to win but we would make the semi-final round win or lose. Latin America needed to win to guarantee a spot in the semi-final round. It was a very emotional game - we had good pitching by Dom and Jay Nardi. There were a number of opportunities to win or lose the game - after a 7th inning homerun by Shawn to tie the game, we unfortunately lost in 9 innings 4-2. We completed pool play at 3-1, in second place to Latin America. Although we have the same record, the first tie breaker is head-to-head results - since they beat us they finish first. After the game Mgr. Brach and the Coaches reminded the boys that although it was hard to see the unbeaten streak come to an end, we would have had to win 2 more games even if we had won. We are in great shape by advancing and having our first 3 pitchers available and rested. The focus is on tomorrow. Jay 'Hollywood' Elo will be on the mound.
Click Here for Game 4 - Update vs. Latin America
Freehold Twp - US East - 2 vs. Latin America - 4 [9 Inn.]
After the game the boys were disappointed but realized what was ahead and thought it would be best to get their mind off the loss. They set out for Blackbeards after lunch. After Blackbeards, some of the boys played racquetball. For dinner some went to Miller's Buffet and others went with the fans to the Ground Round. Many of the parents sat outside the pool area - it was a nice night but rained later in the evening.
Curfew tonight is 10:30 PM. Our game is 11:30 AM and batting is at 10 AM - we'll be on the 9:30 AM bus to the field. The Coaches will be attending a breakfast meeting @ 7:30 AM.
Wednesday, August 18th (pictures will be posted at a later date - as we don't have the cable from Mrs. C's camera):
Today was our off day and they had some touring planned for us. The team, some fans and parents boarded the bus at 9 AM. The first stop was the stadium to pick up a cooler of drinks and our two escorts - Aaron & Joseph - both teenagers as well. We left the stadium and made our way to Trenton Market to pick up lunch for later in the day. Archie, our bus driver was very knowledgeable and entertaining - the boys really enjoyed him - Andrew especially took a liking to him and let him know that.
Our first tour spot was the Lobster Hatchery & Museum. Waiting our turn for the presentation on lobster fishing the group viewed some of the exhibits in the museum - Andrew entertained us by putting on the fisherman's rubber outfit. One of the tanks housed a very large lobster - if you guess the weight correct you will be shipped free lobster equaling that weight. When it was our turn for the presentation, we filled up the small seating area. The presentation & the questions from the team and fans was amusing to everyone. The question of the day was from Bobby - he asked if the lobster's claws came out of the sea already rubber banded! They also tried to get the presenter to tell them how much the contest lobster weighed. There were other comments and questions, although not bad, it's best not to put them here..
Next stop was Pirate's Cove miniature golf. As soon as we got there we ate lunch. After lunch we split up into different groups and played a round of golf. Mgr. Brach and Coach LaCava played with our escorts. Several of us won some free games and gave them to Aaron & Joe since they live nearby - these guys fit right in and enjoyed the company. The shot of the day was by Michelle, she managed to hit it off the rocks, the course and into the big pond - the yellow ball was still floating there after we left.
Our next stop was Cadillac Mountain, the highest point on the eastern seaboard. The bus took us to the summit and we all got out to take some pictures overlooking Bar Harbor (pronounced Bah Hah-bah by the locals). The view was great. Archie shared a lot of facts about the mountain and surrounding lakes, etc. At the bottom of the mountain one of our escorts, Joe, left us to go to football practice.
Our next stop was Bar Harbor. Archie dropped us by the waterfront and we then had an opportunity to walk around the coast and in the shops. Seems like a real nice place - some of us hope to drive back there to sample the restaurants (about 1 1/4 hours away from Bangor). we only had an hour here since we wanted to be back to watch the Central vs. Southwest game at 5 PM.
We started our ride back - due to traffic it would take us almost 1 1/2 hours to return to Bangor. Most of the team, including Coach LaCava took a nap on the ride home. We arrived back at Mansfield Stadium around 5 PM - just in time for the game and some dinner. Everyone enjoyed the day and it was a nice break from the hectic game schedule that we have been keeping since July 10th. The fans helped to lighten the mood - they are very funny..
At the stadium, many of the parents and players took a look at the action photo's that they have been taking. They are real nice and everyone is looking to pick some out before we leave. We then ate some dinner and watched the US Central vs. Southwest. The Central team won their first game dropping the Central team to 2-2. That helped to ensure us a spot in Friday's semi-final round. We will finish first in our pool if we beat Latin America, otherwise we will finish second. Naturally, the team is looking to win and keep the streak going. The local newspaper, TV and website is promoting Thursday's match up vs. Latin America. That should help the boys get psyched.
After the game we returned to the hotel. Some of us decided to skip the school bus ride and take a 35 minute walk back instead. The boys went to a local recreation place called Blackbeards to ride go carts, swing in the cages, etc. They have been waiting to do so all week and given our schedule tonight was a good night. It's only walking distance from the hotel. Tonight's curfew is 10 PM - our game on Thursday is 10 AM and they know how important this is to them.
We got some more surprise visitors tonight and others have mentioned that they may be coming before Friday. We appreciate all the support. Time for bed...
Tuesday, August 17th:
The boys decided to catch up on their rest again this morning... today was the nicest day of all - sunny and warm!
The coaches went to watch Latin America beat US Central 5-2...
The boys grabbed some late breakfast at a nearby Dunkin Donuts and relaxed until it was time to take the 3 PM bus to the ball park
We were the visitors today and took batting at 3:30 PM & infield at 4:30 PM... this was the game of the unbeaten teams in Pool B - both 2-0 and undefeated in overall tournament play. We took an early lead and worked hard to keep it that way and it stayed 2-1 until the fourth when we sent 12 men to the plate scoring 9 runs - 4 on Jay Nardi's grand slam to left. This was the first Senior World Series grand slam since it's been held in Bangor. Brett pitched a 2 hitter... we need to get our 'D' back to where it should be... Freehold Twp. remains the only undefeated team in Pool B (3-0) and is now 19-0 in tournament play.
Even the famous author Stephen King decided to come to the game - he heard it was supposed to be a good one. He spent some time sitting and talking with our fans (see pictures). He left wearing Bobby's Freehold Twp. hat... he also told the radio DJ's that our fans were like creatures in his book... Perhaps the Creatures of Liberty Oak Park... what a nice guy - he is a local in Bangor and lives behind the stadium which he donated $1 million to build..
Click Here for Game 3 - Update vs. US Southwest
Freehold Twp - US East - 12 vs. Texas - US Southwest - 1 [5 Inn.]
The boys decided to stay at the hotel for pizza - some went bowling, others just hung out and watched a movie. Many of the parents went to dinner... the lobster was good.
Wednesday is our off day & they have a whole day tour of Bar Harbor, Cadillac Mountain, mini golf, etc. planned for us.. the bus leaves at 9 AM... look for the pictures... Thursday we play our last pool game vs. Latin America - a win guarantee's us first in the pool.
Monday, August 16th:
The boys slept in after last nights game... we all went to watch the Southwest vs. Latin America game at 1 PM. The Southwest won 2-1.
The team relaxed in the afternoon until the fire alarm went off again around 4:30 PM..
At 6:30 PM we all left for the game. Batting practice for us - the home team was at 7 PM. After Europe's close game with the US Southwest on Sunday night, the plan was for Brett to pitch this game. After jumping to a quick 5-0 lead, Mgr. Brach decided to use 5 of our pitchers for an inning each. This will make everyone eligible for tomorrow. The team had great hitting and pitching - Dom hit a blast to right for our first Bangor home run. Several fans from Bangor showed up to cheer for us in their US East shirts - they added to the noise level from our great fans... the local TV station came over to film our fans.. Thanks we appreciate it.
Click Here for Game 2 - Update vs. EMEA
Freehold Twp - US East - 16 vs. Rotterdam - EMEA - 2 [5 Inn.]
The rain started right after the game ended - we got this one in just in time!
After the game we all went to eat at the Ground Round - they were happy to see 40+ people show up after 10 PM. Time for bed... next game is at 5 PM so the boys can sleep in again.. some of us want to go & see the US Central vs. Latin America game at 10 AM. Good night...
Sunday, August 15th:
The entire hotel is woken at 12:30 AM by the fire alarm system - everyone is told to leave their room. They suspect that someone pulled the alarm..
AJ gets mistakenly woken by his parents at 4:30 AM - they had accidentally changed the alarm clock when the fire alarm went off.
Players awoke for breakfast, some went to church.. there was no rain but gloomy skies as of yet.
At 10:30 AM the team headed for Mansfield Stadium and the opening day ceremonies. The rain began shortly before but did not stop the ceremonies. The color guard and a bag pipe band led the procession followed by the US East and the other teams. After some speeches, the ceremonial first ball, a fly over and fireworks, the ceremonies were concluded.
During the ceremony the crowd and players were reminded that these 9 championship teams and host district champions from Maine were 10 of the 32,000 Senior League teams that competed this year around the world for the right to be at the World Series. Quite an accomplishment and honor - you could feel the goosebumps and see the tears in the parents eyes.
As the rain continued the first game of the day was delayed until 2 PM - Freehold would now play immediately after. The team ate lunch at the stadium and some of the boys returned to the hotel to kill some time. At 1:15 PM the rain finally stopped and the tarp was removed by the numerous volunteers.
The parents/fans visited the souvenir stands to by the East hats and shirts to support the team. Plenty of nice tournament souvenir's to buy - plenty of money spent...
Our first game is against US Central: Humboldt Park Little League - Chicago, Illinois - they were 15-0 coming in. We were 16-0 - someone would have to lose their first game - something that we didn't want to do.
2:30 PM - time for batting practice - thanks to Mr. Rusbarsky and Brad for throwing to the boys
The team watched the conclusion of the South vs. West game - with the South coming out on top. Next it was our turn. As the visitors we took infield first. Given the rain, it was quite impressive to see that the field was in great condition and the weather was getting better.. unfortunately the rain brought out the gnats (or black flies as the locals call them). Jay Elo got a close look at one and needed to change his contacts as a result. Despite the insect repellent, they seemed to swarm overhead - Coach LaCava set the record for 3 gnats in his eyes. The grounds crew restocked the water, gatorade and nuts that were provided in the dugout.. can't say enough about the stadium.
Time to play our first game - the teams are announced and the national anthem is sung. The fans are excited and their presence is felt and appreciated by the team - even the radio station comments on the level of excitement. Nothing like our fans dressed in Hollywood Elo glasses and the team posters hanging on the stands - one poster captures it all '12 boys + 3 men = 1 dream'. The fans bought supplies to create more signs - got to love their dedication. Some fans at home listen to the game being broadcast on internet radio... others make cell phone calls looking for updates... the battle of the 'unbeatens' begins..
Click Here for Game 1 - Update vs. US Central
Freehold Twp - US East - 7 vs. Chicago, Ill. - US Central - 4
Following the game the parents and fans congratulate the team on their first win. The team waits for the bus and boards it back to the hotel. After dropping off their equipment they board another bus for dinner at Miller's Buffet with Coach LaCava. The team enjoys the food, especially operating the soft ice cream dessert machine - this one let you select customized flavors. Shawn & Mike discuss today's difficulties at the plate and joke that when they return to the room they will stay in the corner. Coach LaCava reminds them that one game does not make a slump, to remember their pitch selection and that the sign of a good team is when everyone picks up for each other. The team got 11 hits [without the 4 & 5 hitters] today but to remember how they hit in the regional's. Relax and watch what happens. Most of all remember Mr. Brach's comment - the most important stat for the team is the 'W'. The boys agree - tomorrow's another day, they are confident that they get back to helping the offense..
The team returns back to the hotel. Manager Brach and Coach DiCaro stay at the stadium to get a look at the US Southwest vs. EMEA match up. It's been a long but successful day.. time to get cleaned up and prepare for the 11:00 PM curfew.. need to stay focused on the dream.
Next game on Monday under the lights @ 8 PM vs. EMEA (0-1 - they dropped a 2-1 lead and lost to US Southwest 5-2)
The fans get the orange ready as Brett will be on the mound for game 2 - 'It's all about the orange!' will be Monday nights theme
Saturday, August 14th:
The team and manager/coaches are wished well by parents / friends and leave Michael J. Tighe Park at 6:45 AM for Philadelphia Airport and their flight to Portland, Maine. On the flight is their first opponents from Chicago representing Central US.
Approximately 40 parents & friends follow shortly after by car traveling approximately 8 hours to Bangor, Maine.
After the team arrives in Portland, ME they board a bus with the Central US team and drive 133 miles (approx. 2.5 hours) to Bangor.
|At 3:30 PM, the team lines up outside a room and is proudly issued their US East uniforms for use at the World Series. In addition, they receive their own hat, t-shirt and windbreaker. The US East colors are black & silver. The excitement builds as the players stare at the World Series logo and 'EAST' embroidery on the hat. The coaching staff is issued World Series shirts and hats and everyone gets ready for pictures.|
Other teams arrive and collect their uniforms - players exchange greetings and the opponents become more visible.
At 4:30 PM, the team boards a shuttle bus for their first view of Mansfield Stadium and their team picture. Everyone is in awe.. the stadium is incredible. The assistant tournament director shares the history.. he tells us that the stadium was built with money donated by author Stephen King. He told the team that when King's son completed Little League he was disappointed with the condition of the fields for players 13 and over. The result was the creation of Mansfield Stadium. The team assembles in Right Field and the team picture is taken. Everyone then begins to walk the field. The grounds crew is preparing for bad weather that is expected for Sunday's opening. The volunteers are overlaying the infield clay with FieldTurf - to absorb the rain. Another group of volunteers are spray painting the World Series logo's behind home plate. Wow! The stadium looks even bigger from behind the plate.
Time for dinner - the teams are hosted for a cookout outside the stadium. The choices include local favorites like Maine lobster as well as BBQ chicken and pork, and chicken fingers and fries. Several players try lobster for the first time - the team had a picture of a lobster taped in the dugout during the Regional's to represent their goal. Now the real lobster was right in front of them. This is great!
After dinner the team returned to the hotel to unwind from their day of travels. Many of the family members arrived from their journey and got their first glimpse of the uniforms. It's all starting to set in..
The coaching staff attends a meeting to learn the World Series specifics... the lights at the stadium are on and it looks like daylight. The volunteers roll out the tarp to cover the infield in case the expected rain arrives.
10:30 PM - curfew time... it's been a long day! Opening ceremonies are planned for 11:30 AM on Sunday and our game is scheduled for 3 PM vs. US Central. The weather forecast unfortunately is not expected to be good on Sunday... let's hope they're wrong.
Stay tuned for daily updates and comments from the players and coaching staff...