The New Providence PAL 14u baseball team recently put the finishing touches on a season in which the team advanced to the North Jersey State Final and a deep run in the Babe Ruth Mid-Atlantic Regional Tournament.
Even though New Providence fell short in the North Jersey State Final and just missed qualifying for the Mid-Atlantic Regional Final, this season is arguably considered the best in the squad’s history.
“Sal Nesto (the PAL baseball commissioner) confirmed that to his recollection, this is the farthest any PAL team has gotten,” head coach Joe Licari said.
After suffering a heart-wrenching 1-0 loss to Cranford in the North Jersey Final, New Providence’s overall body of work was enough to earn the team an invite to the Mid-Atlantic Regional Tournament at the nationally-renowned Williamsport, Pennsylvania ballparks.
Bad weather at the beginning of the week changed the tournament’s format from standard pool play to a double elimination tournament that minimized every team’s margin for error.
New Providence took the unforeseen challenge head-on and responded with a dominant, tournament-opening win.
“We opened the tournament by defeating the Maryland State champions, Frederick County, 9-2,” Licari said.
After giving up two early runs to Frederick County, the Pioneers answered with four runs in the bottom of the second inning. The Pioneers never looked back after the second inning onslaught.
The combination of the Pioneer bats and pitching combination of Nick Bissacia, Zach DeGeorge, and Matthew Demarewski proved too much for Frederick County.
The next opponent for New Providence was a rematch against their opponent in the North Jersey Final, Cranford. The Pioneers came out on top this time around in beating Cranford, 5-4, in what Licari said was one of his team’s best games in recent memory.
The Pioneers suffered a 14-0 setback in the next game against Atlantic Shore, NJ, the defending Mid-Atlantic Regional champions.
“Atlantic Shore was a bit too much for us to handle and without playing flawless, it was tough to compete with them,” Licari said. “We would have loved to have played them again and I’m sure it would have been a much better game.”
Atlantic Shore’s dominant win over New Providence clinched their spot in the Final. As for the Pioneers, the loss to Atlantic Shore put them in a must-win predicament.
In order to get the much-wanted rematch against Atlantic Shore, the Pioneers would need to beat Upper Darby, Pennsylvania.
Unfortunately, the Pioneers fell short, 3-1, and would not get another crack at Atlantic Shore in the Finals. The loss to Upper Darby also meant the team would not have the chance to represent the Mid-Atlantic Region in the 14U Babe Ruth World Series in Texas.
The loss and missed opportunity did nothing to dispel the team’s success dating back to their 8U playing days.
“This team’s success over the year included several league championships, many tournament championships, one district runner-up, two state tournament appearances with one state runner-up finish and one state final four finish,” Licari said. “This team’s successful run was capped with a great run in the Mid-Atlantic Regionals in their final year.”