Florham Park, NJ- In the end, it was an all Randolph affair. The District 1 (Morris County) Little League 11U Championship game featured two teams stocked with players who not only battled each other on the diamond all spring long, but many also bumped elbows in the classroom at school.
The view from both dugouts was the same, with the opposite sideline full of familiar faces from both players and fans alike. It was Randolph West and Randolph East, the top two finishers, preparing to clash for the District One Finals showdown.
Randolph West Manager Dave Tamres spoke about the inter-town battle, stating, "Both teams played great and represented Randolph very well. It's hardest playing your friends, but it is nice to see that both teams have great respect for each other."
Randolph West Jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning, off of a two run double by Matia Clement.
Randolph East answered back, getting on the board after a beautiful bunt by Brendan Cox was followed by consecutive singles from Connor McDermott and Mickey Swenson. Their rally was cut short by a brilliant catch in centerfield by West’s Joe Reed, who then fired a bullet to home plate to double up McDermott trying to tag up and score.
West pulled away in the fifth inning with a big rally at the plate. Dylan Haun led off the inning with a textbook bunt down the line. The offense settled into a groove, collecting four consecutive hits. Singles by Paul Recchia, Joe Reed and Eric Recchia loaded the bases. Clement stepped to the plate and belted a bases clearing double.
Clement finished the game going 4-for-4 with three doubles and a single, totaling 5 RBIs. Ethan Mueller knocked in two more runs with a line drive hit to right field.
Nick Rusak helped rally Randolph East in the sixth inning with a run-scoring single, but that was all his team could muster against Paul Recchia, who pitched a solid, complete game for West. Recchia allowed seven hits and two runs to earn the win.
Second baseman Jason Tamres made the final two put outs of the game, including the final grounder to first to end the game with West taking home a 13-2 victory.
Mickey Swenson battled hard and pitched a great game for Randolph East in the loss.
After the game, all of the players came together in friendship, celebrating the accomplishments of both sides. They took pictures together and congratulated each other for an amazing summer.
Tamres commented, "They'll always remember that they were the two best teams in the county."
With the victory, Randolph West won their second consecutive District Championship, having won the 10U Championship last year.
Randolph West went undefeated (7-0) for the second consecutive year, and the team has won 17 consecutive District One Little League games to go undefeated in two years. They were the only team in all three years that finished the Districts without a single loss.
Next up for Randolph West is the Sectional Tournament, which they reached the finals in last year. This year, they return against Wayne, North Warren, Green Brook, and returning Sectional Champions Ridgewood.
Tamres was pleased with his team, stating, "I'm extremely proud of our players. They knew they had to work that much harder after winning it last season. They have been practicing every day, and all their hard work paid off today….. It was a great day for Randolph baseball."
Randolph West Roster:
Coaches: Matt Bibbo, Mark Roskam. Manager: Dave Tamres