Ask any 12-year-old baseball player what his ultimate goal is and the answer will be “Williamsport,” the location of the Little League World Series.
The first step in getting there is winning your local district championship.
For Lawrence Little League, it was 42 years in the making.
It had been 1976 when the Lawrence Little League baseball team had last won the New Jersey District 12 Tournament title.
On July 8, Lawrence ended that long dry spell when it defeated Hamilton Township Recreation Baseball Association, 3-2, in extra innings at Van Horn Field in Hamilton to claim the 2018 District 12 championship.
In its quest to claim the title, Lawrence won four games, all in either extra innings or by one run. In fact, the team needed to climb back through the elimination bracket after dropping its initial game against the defending district champion, HTRBA.
Their first game of the tournament was a 12-11 victory over Bordentown Little League.
Lawrence then fell in an extra inning battle with HTBRA, which forced Lawrence to win three straight games in order to claim the title.
Lawrence proceeded to defeat a district power, Robbinsville,with a walk-off victory in the bottom of the sixth. Then came the championship battle.
Lawrence faced the challenge of having to defeat HTRBA twice to win the championship.
In the first game, both teams battled to a 4-4 tie after the regulation six innings. After three additional scoreless innings, the Lawrence bats came alive in the top of the 10th with three home runs and en route to an 11-4 victory.
Not to be denied, in the winner-take-all game, Lawrence would once again battle back from an early deficit to tie the game with two outs in the bottom of the sixth.
This game would then go to extra innings and Lawrence would once again walk off with the victory as it scratched across the winning run in the bottom of the seventh.
Sean Kelly serves as the Lawrence manager while his assistant coaches are AJ Moore and Marcos Lopez.
The Lawrence team consists of Gio Brogle, Daniel Dryzga, J.T. Gorden, Jacob Jordan, Rohun Kaistha, Robert Kelly, Marcos Lopez, Drew McGuire, Kellen Moore, T.J. Niemann, Ben Pawlak, Riley Rivera and Ben Weeks.
Lawrence will now move on in its quest to reach Williamsport when it plays in the New Jersey Section 3 State Tournament that opens this Saturday in Ocean Township.