WEST WINDSOR: Big win keeps 12s baseball alive

WW returns to action today in another elimination game

By Bob Nuse, Sports Editor
   ROBBINSVILLE — When the West Windsor Little League 12-year-old all-star baseball team fell into the losers’ bracket of the District 12 tournament with a 10-7 loss to Bordentown on Monday, it made the path to a championship a little tougher.
   But that didn’t mean West Windsor was ready to back down from the challenge.
   Faced with the prospect of winning five straight games to claim the District 12 title, West Windsor got started on the task by knocking off Millstone-Roosevelt, 10-0, on Wednesday. The win set up a game tonight at 6 p.m. against Robbinsville for a chance to play in the losers’ bracket final against the loser of tonight’s second game between Bordentown and Nottingham.
   All of the remaining games in the tournament will be played at Robbinsville.
   ”We played against a very good team and we needed to be a bit better than we were in the game against Bordentown,” West Windsor manager Steve Lichtenstein said after his team exploded for 10 runs in the first two innings on the way to its 10-0 win on Wednesday. “So now we are where we are. It’s a matter of us coming out and playing hard right from the start.”
   West Windsor started quickly when Ryan Strype hit a two-run home run in the opening inning for a 2-0 lead. They broke the game open in the second inning with eight runs. Dylan Welch and Sahl Thube each had singles and Blake Brown followed with a ground-rule double to score a run. Jared Panson followed with a sacrifice fly to increase the lead to 4-0. Matthew Michibata and Cole Millinger each plated a run with a single, and Welch then doubled in a couple of runs before scoring himself on an error.
   ”Everyone in our batting order can hit,” Lichtenstein said. “We did score seven runs against Bordentown. But we gave up 10 and that is not the way we can win games. We made a few mistakes and we were in the losers’ bracket.”
   The offense was more than enough for the trio of pitchers who shut down Millstone-Roosevelt. Millinger, Ben Goldstein and Strype, who came on to throw one pitch and record the final out, combined for the win.
   ”We have everybody eligible for Friday,” Lichtenstein said. “If we win we get to play on Saturday and then we get a day off. It’s a long road back but we can only think about one game at a time.”
   If they play the way they did against M-R, any game is winnable. The pitching and defense were solid, and offense was clicking all the way through the lineup.
   ”That is how we have to play,” Lichtenstein said. “We have 12 players and they all contribute in one way or another. We can’t think about how many games we have to win. We just have to think about playing the next game. There are only four teams left in the tournament and they are all very strong teams.
   ”We feel like 1-9 we can put out a lineup where everyone is expected to hit. We got a couple RBIs today from Dylan Welch, who is hitting in the seven hole. Ryan set the tone early with his home run in the first inning.”
   Strype’s home run got West Windsor started and gave the whole team a lift.
   ”We’re very confident that we can still go far,” Strype said.