I don’t want to sound like I’m being critical of Little League Baseball but for an organization that spends so much time promoting safety and concern for its players it’s fair to question the format being used in the East Region Junior League Tournament in Freehold. 

Mancheter LIttle League Junior League champs at the tournament in Freehold (Bob Anthony, Townsquare Media NJ)

I’m sure the same thing is going on throughout the country but I’m aware of this one because a team from Manchester Township has reached the championship round but what they would have to accomplish to win the region might be just too much to ask of any group of 14-year olds.

A little background for those of you who have not followed this team which is managed by Ed Carney and has been together for the most part since they were 8-year olds.  Manchester won the District, Section and State Championships on the Junior League level which is one age group up from the kids who try and get to Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

That state title propelled them to the East Region and it came with a bonus: while teams from as far away as Maine had to make travel and hotel arrangements, Manchester could easily drive back and forth to Freehold which has hosted the regional for the last nine years.

The 10-team, double-elimination tournament began on Saturday and Manchester won its first game over a team from Maine.   They beat the state champs from Delaware on Sunday to go 2-0 but a Monday loss to Pennsylvania dropped them into the loser’s bracket which meant one more loss and their summer of baseball was over.

However they beat Maine again on Tuesday to stay alive and yesterday beat Massachusetts 3-2 in a 1pm game and them after about a 30-minute break went out and avenged an earlier loss to Pennsylvania 9-5.  That was their sixth game in five days and their reward was a spot in today’s championship finals where they will face a team from Massapequa Park, New York, a team, by the way, that has only played 3 games to this point.

So the last two teams standing play at 10am (weather permitting) and if Manchester wins they’ll get a brief break and then have to beat New York again at 1pm to advance to the Junior League World Series in Taylor, Michigan.

14-year olds are often filled with boundless energy and these kids are living a dream by playing baseball every day.  But if they play two games today that will be 8 games in six days which might be a bit too much for the players and is certainly too much for the Mothers who have to do the laundry.  Good luck guys. And Moms.