CRANFORD - Joe Meola finally got the championship he always wanted.
Meola went 3-for-4 with five RBI to lead Cranford past Bergen Catholic, 10-0, in the North Region Last Dance World Series Championship on Wednesday at Skylands Stadium.
"It's been such a journey," said Meola. "I love this team so much. It's been a dream of mine to go to a state championship since I was a little kid. We showed up to play, and there's nothing like it with this atmosphere and the fans. Everyone came to support us, and there's just nothing like it."
Every batter in Cranford's lineup 1-9 reached base at least once. Ryan Jaros went 2-for-4 with a triple and an RBI. Jake DiClerico finished 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI. Mike Murphy added two hits and two RBI. Aiden Plick also drove-in a run.
Rob Salvatore got his second start of the tournament and made easy work of the private school powerhouse, tossing a six-inning three-hitter with six strikeouts.
"I was actually supposed to pitch yesterday (against Don Bosco Prep)," said Salvatore. "It was switched to Will (Gallagher) and I was going to relieve. Will ended up doing a great, great job, and during the game yesterday, I was told that tomorrow was my game. I'm happy they switched us. Everything fell into place."
"Rob throws strikes," said Cranford head coach Dennis McCaffery. "He threw three pitches for strikes today, and we were fortunate to get a good pitched game today on the mound. When you do that and have timely hitting and put the ball in play, you have a chance to win."
Through Cranford's seven Last Dance games, the Cougars have outscored their opponents 69-17, which includes three shutouts.
"It's just our bond," said Meola. "I wouldn't even say that we're better than everyone else. We do have pitchers, we do have hitters, but it's just everyone that plays on this team comes together and it's a family."
Cranford will take on the South Region Champion Jackson Memorial for the overall championship on Friday night at Arm & Hammer Park in Trenton at 7 p.m.