The 8-year-old North Howell Little League All Stars beat Cherry Hill Atlantic to win the South State Championship.
This District 11 Champion All Star Team has been playing since June 20, when the District 11 Tournament began. The team played in the final winner take all game on July 31 in Toms River, where the team captured the state title. The team, led by Manager John Caracciola, consisted of 13 players who brought home the victory.
Throughout each game the coaches and players never gave up on believing that they had what it took to win the states and bring the title home to North Howell Little League. The win marked the sixth straight elimination game win for North Howell Little League and clinched the leagues, first state title.
Caracciola, along with fellow coaches Scott Seiferheld, Rob Tinneny, Bruno Negro and Lou DeFilippo, reminded the players every game that focus and dedication would mean everything when playing this level of baseball. Throughout the tournament and in the final game in particular, the team picked up one another when necessary and came alive to clinch the win.
Certainly, when playing for the title of 8-Year-Old South Baseball Champions the win did not come easy. The opposing team was undefeated and ready to win. North Howell entered the sixth inning trailing 10-6 after Cherry Hill Atlantic scored 5 runs in the bottom of the fourth to take the lead. Coach Caracciola said “I never stopped believing in these boys and told the team during the sixth inning, ‘the only one that can beat you, is you.’ ”
After struggling on the mound, Connor McBride, stepped up and roped a shot to start off the rally that ended up with an 11-run top of the sixth. When the top of the sixth inning was over, Caracciola’s team had a 17-10 lead and needed three outs to win the game. While the pitch count rule made for some difficult decisions, the energy of the families and spectators — along with the team’s closing pitcher Gianluca “Iceman” Pizzano, who sent the final pitch across the plate to close the game with a 17-11 victory — the team came out on top.
Manager Caracciola said “and now they are champions.”