The Future of Nutley Baseball
After a long, successful season for the Nutley Little League boys, everything came down to their semi-final game. Up against Maryland, Nutley American pulled through with a 13-3 victory allowing them to advance to the Intermediate Division World Series in California. The team headed there on July 26th and began competing on the 27th. The team's players include Jonathan Breihof, Rocco DeLitta, Anthony DiPaolo, Myles Gomez, Joey Haines, Kevin Jiratatprasot, Jake LoMonaco, Ryan Roque, Chris Sarno, Erik Thompson, and Jayden Velez. The team is coached by Pete Breihof, Joe Haines, and JP LoMonaco.
This team has been playing together since farm league, the league below, when they were only nine years old. Having played together for four years, the boys proved to have good chemistry during their important games. Coach Joe Haines says, “the thing about these boys is that they come to play. They make coaching easy.” Although the team wanted to make it to California, it was not a goal from the beginning. Their first goal was to win states because no team in Nutley has ever done that. Coach Joe stated that they wanted to win, but “we wanted to make it fun and just play baseball.” Being able to compete in the state tournament was an accomplishment itself and winning it and advancing to the Intermediate Division was an even bigger one.
The success of this team was not only shared among the boys, but the entire town celebrated. During their televised games, the town held viewing parties in their houses along with a big one, with over 100 people, at the Nutley Parks and Recreation Center. Even Giants quarterback Eli Manning showed support by posting a video congratulating the boys. Manning stated, “Congratulations to the Nutley Little League for making the Little League World Series. It’s a great honor. Enjoy this journey and good luck this weekend with the big game.”
With the overwhelming support, the boys knew they had a lot to live up to. Catcher Joey Haines expressed, “we had shown everyone that we can do a lot more than you would expect from a small town in New Jersey.”
The team first faced off against Alabama. Coach Joe explained, “the boys were pretty nervous when we got there. They knew there were cameras and that they were being streamed back home.” He continued, “I was nervous myself.” The boys fell to Alabama 11-2 and lost again to a California team 10-8. However, the boys pulled through for one last win against Australia with a big lead of 15-6. Joey expresses, “when we lost, we were very upset.”
Though their time in California may not have been exactly what they had hoped for, the boys still received an experience of a lifetime at such a young age. The boys show high hopes for each of their futures along with the future of Nutley Baseball.