LIVINGSTON, NJ -- The Livingston 11U Baseball team finished in third place in the Little League State Tournament, which has been contested this week at the Livingston Little League Complex.
Livingston had lost to Madison in the opening game of the double-elimination tournament last Saturday, but then bounced back with a 4-2 victory over Millville the next day to stay alive. Rain and then wet grounds pushed the semifinal round back two nights to Wednesday, when the Lancers lost to Brick, 8-1.
Livingston had qualified for the state tournament after sweeping three games to win the Section 2 championship, beating Hoboken, 5-1, in Fort Lee last week.
"I think I can speak for the players, coaches and parents in saying that this was a great experience for everyone involved," said Livingston 11U head coach Dave McLaughlin. "Being 11 years old, these kids hadn't been this far before. Last year, when they were 10, they fell one game short of qualifying for the states."
The Livingston 11U championship baseball team included Ryan Zhu, Nick Mullin, Sean Mullen, Christian Giordano, Will Atkinson, Nate Vays, Adam Goldberg, Jaden Tang, Beau Belcuore, Jack Silberman, Mack Dockx, Jimmy Bonardi and Ridhit Beri.
"The loss to Brick did not take anything away from what these kids accomplished," McLaughlin said. "Baseball in Livingston is very popular. It has a great following. It starts right at the top with Pat Ippolito, who does such a great job running the Livingston Little League."
McLaughlin was impressed with how much development-both in terms of skill and maturity--he saw from this year's team.
"The kids without a doubt grew so much from the beginning of this season," said McLaughlin, who coaches third base for the Livingston High School varsity team coached by Mickey Ennis. "Before some of these games, you could see them getting a little nervous as they realized that these are big games, but they handled it really well.
"The goal is for them to be better at the end of the summer season than they were at then beginning, and we saw that without a doubt. We hope we keep them on the right track and that one day they can make to the high school as varsity players. We also hope the younger kids who saw these games will want to be doing this, too."
The coaching staff was comprised of McLaughlin, Mike Sorrentino, Greg Bushwell and Shane McLaughlin.