2003 New Jersey State Little League® Tournament Results
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New Jersey State Tournament
Major Baseball Division

Toward the past

Toward the present

New Jersey State Tournament
Host - South Vineland (District 3)
At Landis Park

Participating Teams
Section 1 Champions Ridgewood National (District 4)
Section 2 Champions Livingston American (District 8)
Section 3 Champions Freehold Township American (District 19)
Section 4 Champions East Vineland (District 3)

Tournament Results:

Opening Round (Saturday, July 26):
Freehold Township American 5, East Vineland 3
Livingston American 5, Ridgewood National 3 (8 innings)

Loser's Bracket Semifinals (four teams remain) (Sunday, July 27):
Ridgewood National 3, East Vineland 2 (elim.)

Winner's Bracket Finals (Sunday, July 27):
Freehold Township American 11, Livingston American 2

Loser's Bracket Finals (three teams remain) (Monday, July 28):
Ridgewood National 11, Livingston American 6 (elim.)

Championship Series (Tuesday/Wednesday, July 29 and 30):
Ridgewood National 2, Freehold Township American 1
Freehold Township American 3, Ridgewood National 0 (TITLE)


South Vineland Little League's Landis Park received an extensive, three-year makeover in advance of the 2003 New Jersey state Little League tournament. New lights, a new fence, a new sprinkler system and a host of other improvements that cost the league and city in excess of $100,000 awaited the four teams that reached the state tournament. Perhaps the crown jewel of the park's upgraded amenities was the 26-foot tall scoreboard erected just beyond the right field fence.

Unveiled for the first time at the state tournament, the new board not only displayed the score, but told the story of the tournament. After his team's 11-2 win over Livingston American in the winner's bracket finals, Freehold Township American catcher Chris Bresnahan sidled up to manager Anthony Cirillo, Sr. and pointed to the scoreboard.

"See that, coach?", said the Freehold player. "No errors."

"Our defense was flawless," explained Cirillo, Sr. "The other teams made three or four errors a game and we made none. We played tremendously."

While each of the other tournament entrants struggled through at least one four-plus error game, Freehold Township committed only two errors in its four state tournament games, and none in its three victories. The steady glovework, combined with stellar pitching from Mike Miranda, Anthony Cirillo, Jr., and Bresnahan, helped lift the District 19 champions to their first-ever state championship.

Miranda and Cirillo, Jr. pitched Freehold into the championship round with wins over East Vineland and Livingston American. After Ridgewood National forced a deciding game, Bresnahan threw a one-hit gem and blanked a potent Ridgewood National offense as Freehold claimed the championship with a 3-0 win.

Bresnahan was spectacular in the deciding game, carrying a no-hitter into the sixth inning before allowing Geoff Mandell's clean bloop single down the right field line with one out. The right-hander needed only 68 pitches in his complete game effort, striking out seven, walking one, and going to a three-ball count on only four hitters.

"Everything was working for Chris," said Cirillo, Sr. after the championship game. "I knew after the first two batters that he was on top of his game."

Ridgewood manager Warren Clark concurred. "I was standing in the coaching box trying to get my guys going, but I was admiring his work as much as anything," said Clark.

While Bresnahan held Ridgewood in check, Freehold used a pair of long balls to power their win. John Morrill capped a 7-for-11 performance in the tournament with a two-run homer over the left field fence in the third, and Cirillo, Jr. led off the fourth inning with another blast to left.

"We didn't get much hitting, but that was enough," said Cirillo, Sr.

Morrill's homer was his second timely homer of the tournament. In the opening round matchup with East Vineland, Freehold trailed for the first time in twelve tournament games when Morrill jumped on a hanging curveball and lined a two-run homer in the third inning to tie the game. Later in the inning, Jerry Plescia doubled in Steve Talbott with the go-ahead run as Freehold pulled away for a 5-3 win.

"That was a pitch I called from the dugout and it cost us two runs," said East Vineland manager Randy Cerena of the curveball Morrell drove over the right-center field fence. "(Otherwise) the kids played well."

"East Vineland is a very good team, but they didn't have too much left after that," said Cirillo, Sr.

Miranda, Freehold's starting pitcher, made sure East Vineland's bats stayed quiet. The left-hander retired seven of the game's final eight batters, and finished with a three-hit complete game.

Freehold Township's win set up a matchup with Livingston American, who edged Ridgewood National 5-3 in eight innings in the other opening round game. Ridgewood committed six errors in the game, and all of Livingston's runs were unearned.

"We made six errors and almost got away with four of them," said Clark. "Our characteristic has always been great defense, but you can't get away with six errors in a recreation game, let alone a state tournament game."

The next day, defense again played a factor. Ridgewood National was the beneficiary, committing only one miscue and taking advantage of four East Vineland errors to eliminate the local team from the tournament 3-2. In the second game, Freehold Township capitalized on seven Livingston errors and scored nine unearned runs in an 11-2 rout of the District 8 champions.

"We made some mistakes, and once that happens, it's kind of a roller coaster with kids," said Livingston American manager Joe Cunningham.

Livingston grabbed an early lead on Zach McGehee's two-run homer to center in the top of the first, but Freehold tied the game with help from a pair of errors in the bottom of the inning. Cirillo, Jr. shut down the Livingston offense on four hits for the remainder of the game, and Freehold pulled away. A pair of bases-loaded walks fueled a four-run second inning rally, and Freehold added two more runs in the third and three in the fifth. Bresnahan and Morrill led the attack with three hits, while Cirillo, Jr. and Danny Klinsky had a pair each. Cirillo, Jr. and Bresnahan scored three times, with Morrill and Klinsky each driving in a pair of runs.

"This is a team that, whenever the other team starts making mistakes, they jump on them," said Cirillo, Sr. after the game.

Livingston's loss gave Ridgewood National an opportunity to avenge its opening round defeat. Michael Kanen launched two long home runs as the Bergen County team rallied for an 11-6 victory.

Ridgewood trailed 4-1 after two innings before Kanen pushed his team into the lead. Michael Belli and Justin Clark opened the third with singles, and Greg Thumm drove home Belli with a double over the third-base bag. Kanen then launched the next pitch well over the tall scoreboard beyond the right field fence. The blast traveled an estimated 350 feet, and pushed Ridgewood into a 5-4 lead. Ridgewood added five runs in the fourth inning, with Kanen's two-run homer over the center field fence capping the rally.

"Those two home runs were the game," said Cunningham. "That kid had a heck of a game."

Kanen was at the top of his game again the next day, pitching and hitting his team to victory over Freehold Township American. He allowed a pair of leadoff singles that led to a Freehold run in the top of the first inning, but settled down to retire eleven in a row and 18 of the last 20 batters he faced as Ridgewood forced the tournament to an 'if' game with a 2-1 win. The Ridgewood hurler needed only 60 pitches, 48 of which were strikes, in the complete game effort.

Ridgewood's winning rally came as Freehold committed its only errors of the tournament. In the fifth inning, Kanen lashed a 3-2 pitch into the right-center field gap to score Thumm from first base, and the Ridgewood pitcher would up on third base after an errant relay throw sailed over the catcher's head. Bicknese then tapped a roller to first, but when the Freehold first baseman bobbled the ball, Kanen scored the go-ahead run.

The next day, Freehold returned to its error-free ways, and Bresnahan pitched his team into the region tournament.

"It wasn't meant to be for us," Clark said after the title game. "All our hard hit balls went right at them. But take nothing a way from their pitcher because he pitched a fabulous game."

He also had a strong defense backing him up.

"Defense was the key," said Freehold second baseman Gerry Plescia after the game. "The whole tournament, we were on and off with out hitting, but our defense was great the whole time."

Among the teams battling at Landis Park, only Freehold Township American could make that claim. It paved the way for the Monmouth County team to make another bold claim.

State champions.

Follow Freehold Township American at the Mid-Atlantic Region Tournament -- click here to view results.


  Opening Round 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 R H E
East Vineland 0 3 0 0 0 0 3 3 2
Freehold Township American 1 0 3 0 1 x 5 5 0
  Opening Round
Livingston American 0 0 0 0 2 0 1 2 5 5 2
Ridgewood National 1 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 3 4 6
  Elimination Bracket Semifinal
Ridgewood National 2 0 0 0 0 0 1 3 5 1
East Vineland 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 2 6 4
  Winner's Bracket Final
Livingston American 2 0 0 0 0 0 2 6 7
Freehold Township American 2 4 2 0 3 x 11 10 0
  Elimination Bracket Final
Ridgewood National 1 0 4 5 0 1 11 10 1
Livingston American 3 1 0 0 0 2 6 9 5
  Championship Series
Ridgewood National 0 0 0 0 2 0 2 6 1
Freehold Township American 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 3 1
  Championship Series
Ridgewood National 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 2
Freehold Township American 0 0 2 1 0 x 3 8 0

2003 New Jersey District Champions and Sectional Tournament Results:

District Champions
in Section 1
District Champions
in Section 2
D1 - Randolph East
D2 - Clifton Western
D4 - Ridgewood National
D17 - North Hunterdon National (High Bridge)
D20 - Walkill Valley (Hamburg)

Section 1 Tournament
Host - Randolph (District 1)
At Freedom Park

Tournament Results:
1 - North Hunterdon National 4, Walkill Valley 0
2 - Ridgewood National 5, Clifton Western 1
3 - Randolph East 3, North Hunterdon National 2
4 - Clifton Western 3, Walkill Valley 2 (elim.)
5 - North Hunterdon National 9, Clifton Western 0 (elim.)
6 - Ridgewood National 6, Randolph East 4
7 - North Hunterdon National 3, Randolph East 1 (elim.)
8 - Ridgewood National 3, North Hunterdon National 2 (TITLE)

D5 - Rutherford American
D6 - Teaneck Southern
D7 - Lincoln Park (Jersey City)
D8 - Livingston American
D9 - Clark

Section 2 Tournament
Host - Edgewater (District 6)
At Veterans Park

Tournament Results:
1 - Clark 15, Lincoln Park 3 (4 innings)
2 - Livingston American 4, Rutherford American 2
3 - Teaneck Southern 5, Clark 1
4 - Rutherford American 14, Lincoln Park 5 (7 innings; elim.)
5 - Clark 12, Rutherford American 2 (5 innings; elim.)
6 - Livingston American 7, Teaneck Southern 1
7 - Teaneck Southern 7, Clark 0 (elim.)
8 - Livingston American 4, Teaneck Southern 0 (TITLE)

District Champions
in Section 3
District Champions
in Section 4
D10 - Woodbridge
D11 - South Wall
D12 - Ewing
D18 - Brick American
D19 - Freehold Township American

Section 3 Tournament
Host - South Wall (District 11)

Tournament Results:
1 - Brick American 7, South Wall 0
2 - Freehold Township American 4, Ewing 0
3 - Woodbridge 2, Brick American 0
4 - South Wall 4, Ewing 2 (elim.)
5 - Freehold Township American 12, Woodbridge 1
6 - South Wall 8, Brick American 7 (elim.)
7 - Woodbridge 8, South Wall 1 (elim.)
8 - Freehold Township American 4, Woodbridge 0 (TITLE)

D3 - East Vineland
D13 - Cherry Hill Eastern
D14 - Audubon
D15 - West Deptford Township
D16 - Greater Wildwood
D21 - Franklin Township

Section 4 Tournament
Host - Multiple District Sites
Championship Game Host - Franklin Township (District 21)

Tournament Results:
1 - East Vineland 9, Audubon 1
2 - Franklin Township 13, West Deptford Township 2
3 - East Vineland 6, Cherry Hill Eastern 3
4 - Greater Wildwood 4, Franklin Township 1
5 - Franklin Township 15, Audubon 4
6 - Cherry Hill Eastern 6, West Deptford Township 3 (elim.)
7 - East Vineland 3, Greater Wildwood 1
8 - Cherry Hill Eastern 6, Franklin Township 0
9 - Greater Wildwood 12, Cherry Hill Eastern 1 (5 innings; elim.)
10 - East Vineland 13, Greater Wildwood 0 (TITLE)

Toward the past

Toward the present

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Last revision: 06/12/2004