Baseball – Toms River East Survives Again, Moves One Game From Little League World Series
BRISTOL, CONN. -- Logan Macchia once again led Toms River East Little League to the edge of the finish line in his team's quest for a second straight Little League World Series berth, but in order to get across the line, he needed some help from his defense, as well as Little League's replay role.
Macchia homered in bottom of the first and pitched 5 2/3 innings before an overturned call at second base ended the game, giving Toms River East a 3-1 win over Fairfield, Conn. in an elimination, semifinal game Wednesday night.
Macchia's first-inning, two-run shot to right-centerfield staked Toms River East to a 2-0 lead and the right-hander then pitched his team to the top of the sixth with a 3-1 lead. Macchia recorded the first out and up against the 85-pitch, single-game limit, he gave up a single to left field by Brooks Fonseca that left fielder Tyler Todaro tracked down and threw to second for the out, with Phillip LaGrossa applying the tag for the second out of the sixth.
Fonseca's hit game on Macchia's 85th pitch, meaning Toms River East would need a second pitcher to record the final out. Todaro replaced Macchia and surrendered a single to Will Hathaway. On the following at-bat, Todaro uncorked a pitch past catcher Ryan McHugh and to the backstop, but McHugh made a perfect throw down to second. The initial ruling was that Hathaway slid under the tag safely, but Toms River East manager Mike Mendes called for a replay review.
The replay showed that Toms River East shortstop Jayce Cappello applied the tage just before Hathaway's foot made contact with the base and the umpire crew announced an overturned call to officially end the game, with TR East advancing and Fairfield's season ending in heartbreaking fashion.
Fairfield cut Toms River East's lead to 2-1 in the top of the fifth on a solo home run by Drew Kane to dead centerfield off Macchia.
Toms River East, however, answered in the bottom of the inning when Michael Mendes raced home to score on a wild pitch to extend the lead to 3-1 and cap the scoring in the game for both teams.
After losing its Metro Region opener to Massapequa, N.Y. in extra innings, Toms River East has won a pair of competitive games against teams from Rhode Island on Sunday and Connecticut Wednesday to earn a trip to Friday's championship and another shot at the Massapequa team that upended Toms River East on Saturday.
TR East is seeking to become the first team from New Jersey to reach back-to-back Little League World Series since Toms River East made it to both the 1998 and 1999 LLWS, including the 1998 world championship.
After Macchia exhausted his pitch limit Wednesday night, Toms River East will have both Christian Mascaro and Brady Gillen fully eligible to pitch, with Mascaro representing the hot hand for Mendes.
Friday's championship game will be broadcast on ESPN at 7 p.m.