RANDOLPH, NJ- Arriving in Maine on July 19, the Randolph All-Stars competed in the East Regional Little League Senior League Tournament with the hopes of punching a ticket to Easley, South Carolina for the Little League Senior League Baseball World Series. Although they came up short of that goal, (leaving one week later after falling in extra innings to the State Champs from Pennsylvania ), the State Champs from New Jersey won the hearts of locals because of their offensive production and solid defensive capabilities.
Finishing third among the ten teams at the East Regional tournament makes the 2019 Senior League All Stars of Randolph the most successful baseball team in the town’s recreation baseball program history.
After handily defeating their first two opponents from New York and Maryland at Shawn T Mansfield stadium in Bangor, Maine, Randolph lost to the team from Delaware - Naamans, home of last years’ Senior League World Series US Champion and World runner-up. A day later, they fell just short of the finals after an 11-10 extra inning loss to Elk-McKean, state champions from Pennsylvania.
While many of the teams in the tournament draw players from a multi-town area, the All-Stars of Randolph all come from a single location, Randolph Township, New Jersey.
In the semi-final game against Pennsylvania, Randolph saw pitchers Niko Floris and Eric Recchia give it all they had, combining for 7-regulation and 3-extra innings. Randolph fought back from an early multi-run deficit and found themselves behind by three runs in the top of the 7th.
Coming to the plate for what they believed to be their last at bats, Randolph showed incredible patience and discipline at the plate. DJ Della-Badia drew a lead-off walk, and advanced to second when Eric Recchia’s at bat yielded the same result. Then with one out, Christian Guarente ripped a triple to deep left field, closing the gap to 7-6.
The next batter, Joe Reed, sent a hard-hit ground ball to the shortstop. On the fielder’s choice, Pennsylvania opted to go home with the ball but failed to catch the speedy Guarente as he slid safely across the plate, tying the game and sending the New Jersey fans into a raucous celebration.
The game went into extra innings, and through the eighth and ninth, NJ and PA matched scores frame by frame. In the bottom of the 10th inning, Elk-McKean scored the winning run on a suicide squeeze bunt down the first baseline.
After returning home, Coach Dan Toscano reflected on the journey.
“These last several weeks have been remarkable, I feel privileged to have coached this talented group of young men,” said Toscano. It amazed me to see how quickly this group of rising sophomores and juniors, who never played together before, gelled because of one common love, baseball. By the end of the season, this team played selfless, ‘team’ baseball, and I hope they are long remembered as one of the great Randolph baseball teams.”
While the All Stars were disappointed to fall short of the World Series tournament, they were thrilled to represent Randolph and the State of New Jersey. After they walked off the field for the last time, Manager Dave Tamres reminded the boys that they were all champions through and through, having defeated high caliber opponents across the state of New Jersey and other local state champions.
“Every family sacrificed to get the boys from Randolph to here, and it was well worth it, said Tamres. “It is hard not to smile when I think about the experience. I love these kids and our baseball family. “
Now the players look forward to the day when their collective accomplishments will be put on permanent display with new signage at the Senior League field at Freedom Park, commemorating their successes in the storied history of Randolph and New Jersey Baseball.
The players were led by volunteer coaches Dan Toscano (a former Randolph Little League and Senior League baseball player and current student at University of Maryland), Eric Haun, and Dave Della-Badia as well as Manager, Dave Tamres.
“Playing at Shawn T. Mansfield stadium was a dream come true,” said Brendan Laqui, after catching his final game behind the plate. “I’ve never played on such a beautiful field. To do so with such a great group of baseball players while representing our hometown and state has been one of the biggest honors of my life.”
The Little League Senior League State Champion roster includes:
Matia Clement, 1B
DJ Della-Badia, SS
Christian Guarente, CF
Niko Floris, P, 1B, 3B
Dylan Haun, 1B, 2B
Danny Kaiser, 2B, P, C
Brendan Laqui, C, 3B
Aidan Lavin, 2B
Mitch McKechnie, 2B
Eric Recchia, 3B, P
Paul Recchia, P,C,1B
Joe Reed, RF,P
Mickey Swenson, LF,P
Jason Tamres, LF
Mason Torster, P, 3B
Jonah Tullman, RF
Dan Toscano, Coach
Eric Haun, Coach
Dave Della-Badia, Coach
Dave Tamres, Manager