Explosive offensive performance vaults New Jersey past New York, into Little League World Series

Published on Saturday, 10 August 2019 22:56


BRISTOL - Heading into Saturday night, New York’s Little League team had deployed the deadliest offense in the Mid-Atlantic Regional, scoring 11 runs per game. 

New Jersey proved even more lethal. 

Behind an incredible 20 hits, New Jersey hit .540 as a team in an explosive 19-4 victory over New York, with the top five players in its batting order combining to go 13-for-20. 

In front of a loud, packed house at Breen Field, the win captured a regional championship and secured New Jersey’s spot in the Little League World Series. 

“I’m so proud of this group of boys and our coaching staff [assistant coaches Louis Aponte and Sal Garcia],” New Jersey manager Jairo Labrador said. “These boys mean everything to us. Since 7 years old or 6 years old, we’ve been together. I can’t stop saying how much I love them.”

It only took six pitches for Sal Garcia to set the tone, New Jersey’s shortstop destroying a line-drive leadoff double down the left-field foul line. From there, it was a nonstop laser show.

Yady Mateo’s pair of smoke-shot singles to left, Jayden Capindica’s RBI line drives for a one-run single and two-run double, Yamil Soto’s two-RBI single banged to center, or Joel Sanchez’s smash-job run-scoring double ripped to left field. 

Pick your poison, it didn’t matter. The early merry-go-round hit parade led to a 9-0 advantage less than 40 minutes into the game, the second-inning cushion eventually evolving into an 11-1 lead in the third and eight more runs tacked on in the sixth. 

“We were ready for a war. That’s a great team out there,” Labrador said. “That score is not indicative of that team over there. That is a very good team. Every team here was a battle.”

Its offense came in a surprising fashion because of who it came against. New York starter Jaden Quezada and reliever Gabriel Reyes had been nearly untouchable during the tournament. Reyes had not allowed a run or a hit in six innings in two separate outings, and Quezada had allowed only one earned run on five hits in 4 ⅔ innings. 

Riding the high following a Friday night victory over Washington D.C., Labrador was confident when he boasted about his talented pitchers, saying he didn’t believe New York had seen high-leveled arms like New Jersey’s. 

Hard to argue that he was wrong. 

New Jersey starter J.R. Rosado fired 11 strikeouts with just two walks in 4 ⅓ innings (85 pitches). 

The right-hander didn’t allow a hit until the third frame, when he quelled a three-run New York rally with an inning-ending strikeout. Rosado rung up six consecutive punch-outs, including an immaculate inning in the fourth. He followed that with another strikeout on three straight pitches in the fifth on his final batter of the game. 

Rosado (4-for-5, two RBI, two runs) also led a balanced New Jersey offense featuring strong performances from Garcia (3-for-6, three runs), Mateo (2-for-4, two RBI, two runs), Capindica (2-for-3, four RBI, three runs), Soto (3-for-5, four RBI, two runs), Sanchez (3-for-4, two RBI) and Derek Escobar (2-for-2, two RBI, two runs, three walks).   

That contingent will look to parlay the momentum from a strong regional tournament into the World Series, Aug. 15-25, in Williamsport, Pa. 

“It’s a dream. We’re not ready to wake up,” Labrador said, before turning to the rest of his team. “And we’re ready. We wanna see the Northwest [Regional champs], right boys?”

In unison, the team hollered a resounding “Yeah!” with all smiles. 

“It’s definitely one game at a time, but without sounding like,” Labrador said with a pause. “We knew. We knew how good this team is, and we have high expectations. We had high expectations, and this is the next step. Why not? Why not us?”

Zack Carpenter can be reached at (860) 973-1811 or zcarpenter@bristolpress.com

Posted in The Bristol Press, General Sports on Saturday, 10 August 2019 22:56. Updated: Saturday, 10 August 2019 22:58.