HomeExaminerExaminer SportsMillstone Intermediate 13U had season to be proud of

Millstone Intermediate 13U had season to be proud of

By Wayne Witkowski

Millstone’s Intermediate 13U Little League team, carrying its first District 12 championship, found some formidable competition with lineups of older players in the Section 3 tournament in Middletown last week but came away proud of the season.

“This was a unique group in that it was an all-star team without a star. It was a group of 13 players of similar ability and talent that each took turns stepping up and contributing to the team’s success,” said manager Mike Pallitto, who was assisted by Chris Blotto. “They are an extremely closely knit-group of friends who really had fun over the last few weeks playing and practicing together. They gave themselves nicknames, and listening to them talk to each other in the dugout was truly hysterical.”

For Pallitto, it was refreshing seeing the players mesh as a team after many had separated to play for different travel teams in recent years, which is typical for some towns.

“They haven’t all played together as a group since their earliest days of baseball. Watching them come together and play as one team, with the name “Millstone” on their chest, was the best thing for me to see,” Pallitto said. “Being made up of all 11- and 12-year-olds, we certainly had our hands full in the sectionals playing against big towns like Edison and Jackson with 13- and 14-year-olds on their rosters, but I am extremely proud of how they handled themselves and the effort they gave. My only regret is that the season is over. I’ll miss watching them play.”

Millstone’s Intermediate All-Stars season ended with an 11-1 loss to Jackson, but Pallitto felt afterward that the July 7 game was closer than the score indicated. All but three of the players on Jackson had moved up from the 12-year-old Little League team that was one win away last year from advancing to the Little League World Series. Jackson had won district, section and state titles and went on to win the Mid-Atlantic Region before losing in the finals of the Eastern Region bracket to Redland, Pennsylvania.

Mike Doran pitched what Pallitto called a gutsy performance on the mound, throwing strong against the powerful hitting Jackson lineup that broke away in the last inning. Ryan Lasko tagged a grand slam that brought an early ending to the game. Doran also plays shortstop in an infield that included first baseman Jack Mangrella, second baseman Nick Blotto, third baseman Dean Mitchell and catcher Charlie Pallitto. The outfield usually included Frank Marra in left field, Jack Sacco in center field and Will Wiedau in right field.

In its Section 3 opener July 6, Millstone fell behind, 3-0, early but rallied in the bottom of the second inning to tie the score before Edison broke out with 12 unanswered runs — many of them in the late innings — for a 15-3 victory. Charlie Pallitto lined a two-run double to left center field, and Mitchell smashed a run-scoring single to cap the comeback to the 3-3 tie.

Millstone earlier advanced into the section tournament when pinch hitter David Egbe tagged a walk-off home run in the seventh inning for an 11-10 victory over Princeton July 3 for the District 10 championship. Millstone received strong pitching from Doran, who went 5.2 innings, and closer Wiedau, who picked up the win.

Gavin Elwell, Scott Bruett , Hunter DelGuercio and Marra contributed several hits.

Sacco made several strong plays in center field to keep the game close, and Blotto fielded a grounder to second base and fired a strike to Pallitto at home plate to cut down the potential go-ahead run in the top of the seventh inning and keep the score tied at 10.

Millstone won the first game of the best-of-three series July 2 with a strong combination of Mike Timeberlake on the mound and Pallitto behind the plate to limit the Princeton offense and secure a 6-3 win. Mangrella and Doran each had two hits and two RBIs.

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