Baseball continues to reign as America’s Past Time because it can evoke nearly every emotion to an person watching casually and especially those rooting intensely for their team.

Middletown wins their first game in the Mid-Atlantic Regional Tournament (CourtesY FaceboookO

It can trigger the most nit-picky of arguments over any number of stats that are kept track of and debated in the same ways the rise and falls of civilizations fall.

But, when baseball reaches the playoffs or in this case, elimination tournament play, you can pretty much throw the scholarly convention out the window, and view it as more of a prizefight.

Middletown Little League, who dub themselves “The Green Machine,” have experienced an epic level of ebb and flow that would make most 12-year-olds crack.  But, the summer has proven that these youngsters are well beyond their years in terms of demeanor, attitude, resiliency, talent and the ability to shake off any negative and come up big when it counts.

After winning the New Jersey State Tournament, Middletown came flying out of the gate to win their first game of the Mid-Atlantic Regional over Maryland’s Berlin Little League 6-2.

The victory put Middletown in the driver’s seat to win just two games and reach baseball immortality by advancing to the Little League World Series in Williamsport.

Baseball continues to reign as America’s Past Time because it can evoke nearly every emotion to an person watching casually and especially those rooting intensely for their team.

It can trigger the most nit-picky of arguments over any number of stats that are kept track of and debated in the same ways the rise and falls of civilizations fall.

But, when baseball reaches the playoffs or in this case, elimination tournament play, you can pretty much throw the scholarly convention out the window, and view it as more of a prizefight.

Middletown Little League, who dub themselves “The Green Machine,” have experienced an epic level of ebb and flow that would make most 12-year-olds crack.  But, the summer has proven that these youngsters are well beyond their years in terms of demeanor, attitude, resiliency, talent and the ability to shake off any negative and come up big when it counts.

After winning the New Jersey State Tournament, Middletown came flying out of the gate to win their first game of the Mid-Atlantic Regional over Maryland’s Berlin Little League 6-2.

The victory put Middletown in the driver’s seat to win just two games and reach baseball immortality by advancing to the Little League World Series in Williamsport.

But, achieving true greatness often requires overcoming adversity and defeating a nemesis.  That nemesis has come in the form of New York’s Mid Island Little League, which quickly knocked Middletown from the winner’s bracket with a 5-2 win.

“They were definitely one of the better  teams we’ve seen in the past 15 games,” Manager Tim Naughton said.  “We started off a little slow with the bats, though we finally got them going a little bit in the fourth, fifth, and sixth innings.”

While the Middletown manager was pleased the load the bases and even have the potential tying runs on base in the final frame, he conceded that his team left too many runners on base in key spots.

In speaking to the man at helm of this “Green Wave” all-star team, which has been together for around five years, Naughton continues to stress confidence and does not believe his team is out-of-their-league or inferior to any of the competition standing between the Mid-Atlantic Regional and the mecca of Little League Baseball, Willlamsport, PA

He consistently conceded that the New York team was the best they’ve faced in these all-stars, and did not speak delusional when he emphatically stated that they were one hit from tying or winning the game, and endured backbreaking strikeouts looking when they were just trying to put a couple of balls in play.

“We had a couple of key opportunities where we could have done some damage,” Naughton explained.

But, he recalled something far more important than anything inside the white lines.  As he scanned his bench during a tense moment in the game, he saw zero fear in the eyes of these 12-year-old young man.  While those types of moments do not always show up in box scores, they are the type of qualities that every manager or coach scours the ends of the earth for.  That quality is the type of championship stuff that has to burn inside these athletes.

Of course, they are still 12-year-old boys and the loss to New York led to some dejected moments immediately after the game, but that was short-lived.  The manager quickly reminded his team that the loss merely meant they would get to play one more game, and if victorious, aim to get redemption against the New York team in a would-be final with Williamsport on the line.

The Middletown boys lived out every boyhood’s dream on Thursday as they got to tour the ESPN facility in Bristol before a light practice day.   Naughton wanted to keep things loose, simple, and normal as his team embark on the potentially most importantly 48 hours of their lives.

They did receive some news as they went out about their business on Thursday around Bristol.  The same Maryland team they defeated in their first game of the Regional shut out Pennsylvania’s Keystone Little League 6-0, which means Middletown and Maryland will battle again for the right to face New York in the Regional Finals with every little leaguer’s dream hanging in the balance:  a trip to Williamsport.

To get there, the Green Wave will have to get through a pair of second dates.

First, they must get through Maryland for a second time this evening at 7 p.m. in a game nationally televised on ESPN.

If the boys are able to take care of that business and not look ahead, they will then get the championship game that they are clamoring for where the aforementioned stakes could not be higher.  And unlike past tournaments where a team sometimes has to be defeated two times, no such rules apply here.  New York’s Mid Island Little League merely waits for the winner of Middletown and Maryland in Saturday’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Tournament Championship Game on August 11 at 7 p.m.  That title game is also on ESPN.

Middletown’s manager is not looking past Maryland because he knows they are a difficult and dangerous team, especially after they just trounced Pennsylvania’s squad.  And if Middletown makes it through the first gauntlet, they know first-hand how tough New York is.

Still, Naughton likes his team chances.  He says they have bounced back before and believes they can do it again.  And with the the potential games coming on a summer weekend, just over 3 hours to Bristol by car from Middletown, many of the Green Wave faithful are expected to be on-hand to help root their boys to biggest little league show on earth.

And for those who cannot make the trip, there are no shortage of house parties, restaurants, and other venues holding watch parties around Middletown.

Manager Naugthton and his team are humbled and full of gratitude by the amount of love and support their hometown community continues to show.

“It really pumps ups the team to hear that the parents and grandparents and people from all over Middletown are tuning in and paying attention and cheering us on,” Naughton explained.  “We really appreciate the support and we’re hoping to keep it going for them.”

That would mean Williamsport, a potential life-altering notion for everybody involved in this magical and wild ride.

They dream in Middletown.

But, achieving true greatness often requires overcoming adversity and defeating a nemesis.  That nemesis has come in the form of New York’s Mid Island Little League, which quickly knocked Middletown from the winner’s bracket with a 5-2 win.

“They were definitely one of the better  teams we’ve seen in the past 15 games,” Manager Tim Naughton said.  “We started off a little slow with the bats, though we finally got them going a little bit in the fourth, fifth, and sixth innings.”

While the Middletown manager was pleased the load the bases and even have the potential tying runs on base in the final frame, he conceded that his team left too many runners on base in key spots.

In speaking to the man at helm of this “Green Wave” all-star team, which has been together for around five years, Naughton continues to stress confidence and does not believe his team is out-of-their-league or inferior to any of the competition standing between the Mid-Atlantic Regional and the mecca of Little League Baseball, Willlamsport, PA

He consistently conceded that the New York team was the best they’ve faced in these all-stars, and did not speak delusional when he emphatically stated that they were one hit from tying or winning the game, and endured backbreaking strikeouts looking when they were just trying to put a couple of balls in play.

“We had a couple of key opportunities where we could have done some damage,” Naughton explained.

But, he recalled something far more important than anything inside the white lines.  As he scanned his bench during a tense moment in the game, he saw zero fear in the eyes of these 12-year-old young man.  While those types of moments do not always show up in box scores, they are the type of qualities that every manager or coach scours the ends of the earth for.  That quality is the type of championship stuff that has to burn inside these athletes.

Of course, they are still 12-year-old boys and the loss to New York led to some dejected moments immediately after the game, but that was short-lived.  The manager quickly reminded his team that the loss merely meant they would get to play one more game, and if victorious, aim to get redemption against the New York team in a would-be final with Williamsport on the line.

The Middletown boys lived out every boyhood’s dream on Thursday as they got to tour the ESPN facility in Bristol before a light practice day.   Naughton wanted to keep things loose, simple, and normal as his team embark on the potentially most importantly 48 hours of their lives.

(Middletown LL Facebook)

They did receive some news as they went out about their business on Thursday around Bristol.  The same Maryland team they defeated in their first game of the Regional shut out Pennsylvania’s Keystone Little League 6-0, which means Middletown and Maryland will battle again for the right to face New York in the Regional Finals with every little leaguer’s dream hanging in the balance:  a trip to Williamsport.

To get there, the Green Wave will have to get through a pair of second dates.

First, they must get through Maryland for a second time this evening at 7 p.m. in a game nationally televised on ESPN.

If the boys are able to take care of that business and not look ahead, they will then get the championship game that they are clamoring for where the aforementioned stakes could not be higher.  And unlike past tournaments where a team sometimes has to be defeated two times, no such rules apply here.  New York’s Mid Island Little League merely waits for the winner of Middletown and Maryland in Saturday’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Tournament Championship Game on August 11 at 7 p.m.  That title game is also on ESPN.

Middletown’s manager is not looking past Maryland because he knows they are a difficult and dangerous team, especially after they just trounced Pennsylvania’s squad.  And if Middletown makes it through the first gauntlet, they know first-hand how tough New York is.

Still, Naughton likes his team chances.  He says they have bounced back before and believes they can do it again.  And with the the potential games coming on a summer weekend, just over 3 hours to Bristol by car from Middletown, many of the Green Wave faithful are expected to be on-hand to help root their boys to biggest little league show on earth.

And for those who cannot make the trip, there are no shortage of house parties, restaurants, and other venues holding watch parties around Middletown.

Manager Naugthton and his team are humbled and full of gratitude by the amount of love and support their hometown community continues to show.

“It really pumps ups the team to hear that the parents and grandparents and people from all over Middletown are tuning in and paying attention and cheering us on,” Naughton explained.  “We really appreciate the support and we’re hoping to keep it going for them.”

That would mean Williamsport, a potential life-altering notion for everybody involved in this magical and wild ride.

They dream in Middletown.