RANDOLPH, NJ- In a rematch of old rivals, the Randolph West 12U All Stars met the Ridgewood 12U All Stars in the Sectional Championship for the third consecutive year. After dropping the championship to Ridgewood in 2014, and getting revenge by winning in 2015, Randolph took the rubber match game in 2016 by a score of 10-7.
Having defeated Ridgewood 16-1 earlier in the week, leading up to the finals, Randolph knew this game would be a much closer contest. It proved to be that and more, as the back and forth affair featured some big contributions from a few of the unsung heroes on the Randolph roster.
Ridgewood came out swinging, opening up 2-0 lead in the first. A solo HR by Joe Reed got Randolph on the board in the third, cutting the lead to 2-1.
In the fourth, Randolph was sparked by clutch hitting from a few of their lesser known stars. After Eric Recchia, (one of the usual suspects), led off with a single, consecutive hits by Jacob Wilson and an RBI single from Anthony Carlucci tied the game at two apiece, with two men still on base.
“Having coached these kids for a few years now, we have a lot of confidence in every one of them,” head coach Dave Tamres said. “We tell them all that whenever they get an opportunity, to make the most of it.”
Up to the plate came Ethan Mueller, who certainly took advantage of his big opportunity by belting a 3-run home run to put Randolph West up 5-2.
Tamres added, “I am proud of Jacob, Anthony, and Ethan, they were clutch in our big fourth inning.”
Ridgewood charged back in the bottom of the fourth, knocking in three of their own runs to tie the game back up at 5-5.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, Ridgewood hit back-to-back home runs to take a 7-5 lead going in to the final inning.
Randolph West was not fazed, as they responded with a huge 6th to take control. Dylan Haun led off with a walk, followed by a Paul Recchia double to Right. An intentional walk to Joe Reed loaded the bases, and Matia Clement hit a fielder's choice that knocked in a run to make it 7-6.
After Eric Recchia was intentionally walked, Jake Hart made Ridgewood pay for that decision when he ripped a two run double that put Randolph West up for good at 8-7. Nick Errico beat out an infield hit that pushed another run across to make the score 9-7. The barrage concluded when Hart came home on a passed ball to give Randolph the 10-7 they would not relinquish.
In the bottom of the sixth, Paul Recchia came in to pitch after Ridgewood opened the inning with a lead-off double. A diving catch behind the plate by Dylan Haun, and a deep fly to left caught by JJ Tamres put Ridgewood on the bring with only one more out needed to end the game.
After a single and a walk loaded the bases, Ridgewood had the winning run at the plate, their number three who had just hit a home run his last time up at the plate. After fouling off two pitches, Recchia struck him out swinging to clinch the win and the sectional title for Randolph West.
“That is such a tough spot for a pitcher to come in relief,” Tamres said. “But we have a lot of confidence in Paul’s ability on the mound, and he got the job done for us.”
Randolph West now heads to the state finals as one of four teams remaining in the state. Randolph is also one of only two teams in the state to be undefeated this summer, as well as the only team from last year's final four that returns to the state finals.
A very strong team from Section 3 (Freehold, who knocked off last year's state champion Bordentown in the Sectional Finals) awaits them in the first round. The other two teams to advance to states include Upper Township (who won the state and Regional title as 10-year olds in 2014) and Rutherford (who also went to the final four as 10-year olds).
The first round game (RW v Freehold) will be this Thursday (7/28) in Gloucester City at 8PM (Earl Moore Memorial Field).