For the first time in 20 years, the New Jersey State Little League Tournament will be held in Ocean County, and if we’re going to have a local representative, then it will be the boys and girl from Toms River Little League. 

Toms River's Connor Cino (left) and Christain Wood (Kevin Williams, Townsquare Media NJ)

That’s because Toms River won the District 18 Tournament with a dramatic 5-3 victory over Holbrook last night at the Toms River East complex.  Trailing 3-2 in their final at-bat, Christian Wood led off the sixth inning with a game-tying home run, and later in the inning, Connor Cino sent the Mapletree Road contingent into a frenzy with a two-out, game-winning 2-run homer.  In what was a very well-played game between the district’s two best teams, Toms River managed to beat Holbrook twice in as many nights to advance to the Section 3 Championships in Sayreville beginning Sunday.

Toms River with their championship banner (Kevin Williams, Townsquare Media NJ)

Not to be lost in the celebration of the late home runs was the outstanding pitching performance by Jonathan Giordano, who tossed a complete-game five-hitter and struck out eight.  By the way, I mentioned earlier the boys and girl because Kayla Roncin is a first baseman on the Toms River team, with her father Dr. Ray Roncin, serving as a coach for manager Pete Avallone.

The 37th annual U.S. Army All Shore Gridiron Classic will be played on Thursday at Brick Township High School.  The game is a summer tradition at the shore with recently-graduated football players from Ocean County taking on those from Monmouth County.  For only the second or third time I will miss the game as I’ll be taking what is honestly a very well-deserved and badly-needed vacation.

(Townsquare Media NJ)

My biggest regret in missing the game is not being there for the halftime ceremony when four new members are inducted into the Shore Football Coaches Foundation Hall of Fame.  Heading up the quartet is Ed Sarluca, who has been my broadcasting partner for 17 years but before that spent 27 years as an assistant football coach whose passion for the game is second to none.

Joining him will be Joe Adelizzi, one of the founders of the game during his more than 30-year tenure at the Asbury Park Press.  Joe was a sports writer, sports editor and later a columnist and was a two-time New Jersey Sportswriter of the Year during his prestigious career.  I will surely miss being there when former Toms River North coach Bob Nani is honored because he was always one of my favorites during a tremendous career in which he coached the Mariners to three state championships and four division crowns and personified “Rock Solid.”

Last but certainly not least is Bob Generelli, who had success at both Middletown South and Raritan.  “The General” produced three undefeated teams, three state titles and six division champs between the two schools.  Thursday’s game at Brick kicks off at 7 p.m. and will be broadcast live on the Shore Sports Network’s 105.7FM.