Milltown’s run at state title comes to an end

Staff Writer

Staff Writer

MILLTOWN — The Milltown Post 25 Senior American Legion finished the season 26-5, but fell just short of advancing to the regional tournament with a fourth-place finish in the state tournament.

Chester was crowned state champs while Lyndhurst finished second to advance to the regions also. Hamilton edged out Milltown for third place.

"The only two teams that beat us are off to the regions," Milltown Post 25 head coach Glenn Fredericks said. "It’s a compliment to our ball club that nobody beat us but the best."

Milltown advanced to the state tournament with solid play at Memorial Stadium at New Brunswick High School in the Senior Legion District 3 Tournament. The team opened with a 9-0 win over Seaside Heights Post 351.

"Playing in District 3 was not an ideal situation," Fredericks said. "There were a lot of good teams in our district and it was a battle to advance."

After the opening round win, Milltown found itself in the loser’s bracket after a 4-3 loss to Chester.

"Chester got off to an early lead when they put three runs on the board in the first inning," Fredericks said. "Eric Hines settled down and pitched a solid game after the first, but we couldn’t scratch out the tying run."

Milltown’s first test in the loser’s bracket came in the form of North Broad Street Post 339.

"We had just seen Broad Street score 15 runs in one inning against Millburn so we knew we’d have a battle," Fredericks said. "Most of their players are from a top 10 team in the state [Hamilton West High School] and they are a good hitting team."

Milltown stayed alive with a 12-2 win to meet Edison for a third time this summer. The two teams locked horns in the Middlesex County Championship game last month.

"It’s tough to beat a good team twice in a row," Fredericks said. "They’ve been a solid team all summer, but we were able to come out on top."

Milltown topped Edison 7-5 to set up a meeting with Brook Lawn for a trip to the state tournament.

"We played the game against Edison and came right back on the field, and we never stopped hitting," Fredericks said. "They hit a grand slam in the final inning to make the game look closer, but we were in the driver’s seat the entire game."

With the 11-9 win the team was off to FirstEnergy Park in Lakewood to face District 1 runner-up Lyndhurst in the opening round of the state tournament.

Milltown took an early 4-0 lead, but Lyndhurst slowly chipped away at it to take the advantage in the seventh inning. Milltown rebounded to tie the game at six in its half of the seventh and the game was decided in extra innings. Lyndhurst exe­cuted a textbook suicide squeeze to earn a 7-6 victory.

Milltown survived elimination with its own 7-6 win over Oakhurst in the loser’s bracket to earn a trip to Atlantic City and the home of the Atlantic City Surf.

Carteret had the misfortune of meeting Milltown in the opening game in Atlantic City. Milltown recorded a 15-1 mercy-rule win in seven innings.

"I’ve never seen a hitting barrage at this level like we put together against Carteret," Fredericks said. "We tallied eight consecutive hits at one point and Andrew Silver’s home run over the back wall and onto the launching pad at the airport was phenomenal. He said, ‘The first one I get, I’m hitting it out of here,’ and he crushed one."

Willie Beard, a sophomore at Spotswood High School, recorded the win for Milltown.

"I sent out my youngest player to pitch and he performed with the poise of a col­lege player," Fredericks said. "He pitched a complete game two-hitter and was lights out."

Milltown now faced Lyndhurst for a second time and all-state pitcher from Rutherfoord High, Vin Mazzaro.

"It took us six innings to get to him, but we put up six in that inning to come back from an 8-1 deficit," Fredericks said. "We kept fighting, which is something that this team has done all season. In fact, the six-run rally came with two outs."

Unfortunately, the game was changed from a nine-inning game to a seven-inning contest, which put Lyndhurst at an advan­tage. Lyndhurst was able to record just four more outs to squeak out the 8-7 vic­tory.

"Our defense let us down at times and we left a couple of runners in scoring posi­tion, but that’s what makes baseball such a tough game to figure out," Fredericks said. "I expected to go as far as we did with the given roster. I’m getting kids that have played at a high level with experience playing in big games."

Despite the tough loss to Lyndhurst to finish the season, this summer was a suc­cess on many different levels.

"Chris Affinito was spectacular this summer with seven home runs and 30 RBIs, and he was the one people were com­ing to see," Fredericks said.