Sayreville 12U’s season ends in Section 3 championship game

After another strong season, the Sayreville 12U Little League team lost to Holbrook, 17-1, in the Section 3 championship round on July 21.

Sayreville needed to win on July 21 to force a winner-take-all game against Holbrook on July 22. Sayreville had lost to Holbrook, 8-6, on July 18, but beat South Wall, 10-7, in eight innings on July 19 to keep its season alive and advance to the championship round of Section 3.

All of the Section 3 tournament games were played at the Hamilton Township Recreation Baseball Association’s Van Horn Park in Mercerville.

Despite the loss, Sayreville manager Mike Novak was proud of his players.

“No one can take away what we accomplished this season,” Novak said. “We are the first Sayreville team to be district champs since 2007 in our age group. Not to mention, we made it all the way to the sectional final game. That’s special. We made our hometown proud.”

Novak was proud of his players for battling against a strong Holbrook team. The Holbrook team, which plays out of Jackson, has now won the Section 3 tournament three years in a row and has won the last two state tournaments at 10U and 11U.

The Holbrook 10U team went on to win the Mid-Atlantic Regional. Holbrook will play Washington Park Little League at the Kittatinny Little League Complex in Newton on July 27 for its first game in the regional.

“We knew we had our hands full,” Novak said. “That Holbrook team is really good. They had a couple of days off and we only had one of our top pitchers available for the game, so it was a tough task. I’m just proud that we never gave up and stuck it out to the end.”

Novak has managed the players since they were in 8U together. He said that he’s happy to see how this team has grown over the years and is excited for what lies ahead.

“I’ve been with these guys for four years now,” Novak said. “This is our last year of Little League. There’s a whole new challenge that awaits them next year. All of these guys have a ton of potential. I can’t wait to see them develop and grow.”

Novak noticed early this year that the team was different and that it’s experience helped the athletes become better players, teammates and young men.

“I think they just learned how to compete,” Novak said. “We had a lot of talent last year, but we had to learn how to compete. We did that this year. This has been an amazing year for a number of reasons. We learned about the game of baseball and learned a whole lot of life lessons this summer.”

Novak wanted his team to know how special this year was and to remember the moment.

“I want them to continue to work hard at the game of baseball,” Novak said. “I want them to enjoy it and to cherish this summer. It’s a memory that they’ll have forever. Every 12-year-old baseball year is the year you never forget. I hope they can hold onto this summer’s memory for a long time.”