WOOD-RIDGE, NJ – Four titles in four years.
The Wood-Ridge Moonachie Little League (WRMLL) 12-year-old All-Stars captured the New Jersey District 5 Little League championship with a 3-2 victory over Lodi, on July 10. It marks the fourth straight year that this age group has won its district championship.
The NJ District 5 champs then advanced to the New Jersey Major Baseball Section 2 tournament, where they were eliminated by Nutley American, 10-3, on July 17.
WRMLL swept through District 5, going 5-0 in pool play, and winning both of their elimination games to win the crown. The pitching was led by Trey Packen, Tommy Schmidt Michael Castellano and Gianluca Phelan. The offense was paced by Braden Negro at the leadoff spot, a heart of the order that included Michael Sarlo, Packen, Phelan and Schmidt, and timely hitting at the bottom of the order.
WRMLL 11, Lyndhurst 1
WRMLL 14, Saddle Brook 0
WRMLL 8, North Arlington 0
WRMLL 13, Rutherford 2
WRMLL 15, Hasbrouck Heights 5
The rematch in the playoff game with Rutherford would be more eventful than the first meeting, as WRMLL had to rally twice, including once down five, in the final innings, to edge Rutheford 8-7 in seven innings.
Down a run following a Rutherford home run in the top of the seventh, Michael Castellano and Nicolas Pfeiffer singled, putting runners on first and second. Owen Caprio’s sacrifice bunt was mishandled to load the bases. Negro then tied the score with a single to left, reloading the bases. Packen then lined a shot down the first base line for the game winner.
The championship game saw the team’s defense and pitching come through once again, defeating Lodi, 3-2 with a run in the bottom of the fifth to capture the District 5 crown.
The Section 2 tournament would not go as smoothly as WRMLL suffered its first loss of the post-season, 14-3, to Nutley American on July 15. The following night, in an elimination game, WRMLL defeated Fort Lee, setting up a rematch with Nutley American. Nutley American once again came out top, this time by a 10-3 score, ending Wood-Ridge Moonachie’s post-season run.
Nutley American Little League would fall to Washington Park (Jersey City) in a bid to go to the New Jersey State Little League tournament, held in Kittatinny, NJ.
Players: Owen Caprio, Michael Castellano, Joseph Caputi, Gavin DeRobertis, Braden Negro, Trey Packen, Nicolas Pfeiffer, Gianluca Phelan, Nicolas Roncioli, MIchael Sarlo, Tommy Schmidt.
Manager: Paul Sarlo. Coaches: Tom Negro, Tom Schmidt, Marc Caprio and Bob Packen
(Thanks to Tom Negro from Wood-Ridge Moonachie Little League for contributing to the story.)