Toms River, NJ East Little League targets their focus on New York ahead of Metro Championship game
It was an action-packed, nail-biting, thrilling game played by Toms River East Little League on Wednesday night as they topped Fairfield, Connecticut 3-1 featuring a top-tier pitching performance by Logan Macchia who also hit a massive two-run homerun to go along with stellar defense by the entire team.
"We knew it was going to be a tough challenge and we told the kids before the game -- just leave it all out there, give it everything you got, support each other and just go get it and whatever happens, happens but give us everything that you have and they did that," TRELL Manager Mike Mendes tells Townsquare Media-Jersey Shore/Shore Sports Network. "We needed a really good start from Logan (Macchia) having to come back two days later to play again if we won, we needed him to give us at least five-strong and he did more than that. He gave us two big moments in the game that kind of pumped our kids up -- obviously, the big home run in the first helped juice us a little bit, and then in that 2nd inning, Connecticut was making a run and you could hear their crowd -- I mean, they're only an hour and a half from here so they packed the stands -- and it's pretty loud, and when he barreled down and got out of that bases loaded, no out jam, I think it kind of deflated them (CT) a little bit and pumped some air into us."
While TRELL is coming off a thriller over Connecticut, it's time to turn the page to New York and take that next step on the road to Williamsport and that starts with the pitching which won't include Macchia who threw 85 pitches on Wednesday night.
"There's no tomorrow so everybody that is available will be ready to go at a moment's notice," Mendes said. "Logan's the only one not available -- we have everybody else and we're just going to give it our best and see where we go but pitching-wise, we got Brady Gillen and Christian Mascaro and Tyler Todaro and Declan Sloan and a couple of other guys if we need 'em."
TRELL needs the tight and crisp defense and stellar pitching exhibited in the victory Wednesday to be present in their battle with New York on Friday night, six days after falling to that very same team 6-3 in extra innings in the first game of the Metro Regional Tournament.
"They're (New York) a great baseball team, probably the best we've played all year -- they and Connecticut are probably the two best teams we've played," Mendes said. "I know they're going to be tough, they've got hitters all through the lineup, they've got a couple of guys that can throw the ball pretty well from the mound, they've got a great defense, their shortstop is an absolute stud. We've got some notes from the first game but the bottom line is going to be who wants it more and who's going to lay it out there more, who's going to get the breaks because I honestly believe that we're evenly matched -- they're a good team, we're a good team and it could really go either way."
While TRELL is riding a mini two-game winning streak topping Rhode Island and Connecticut, you can throw the records out from this tournament because whoever wins tomorrow, moves on to Williamsport.
"We just keep preaching to them -- just keep working together, keep laying it out on the line, play every game, every pitch, every inning like it's your last, and just lay it out there for each other, be unselfish players and support each other," Mendes said. "Over the last two games -- and they did that in the New York game too -- but they've really been doing that and supporting each other and are there for each other and just working together and relying on the hard work that got them to this point."
These moments in a playoff game such as the ones TRELL is playing right now can be tense and stressful, but Mendes knows the team that's out running out there is capable of anything.
"These boys are great -- I'm proud of all 13 of them, and they're just doing a fantastic job," Mendes said.
TRELL battles New York Friday night at 7:00 pm and can be seen on ESPN.