Baseball – Jackson Begins Quest For Little League World Series Tuesday
At last year’s Little League Mid-Atlantic championships, Mo’Ne Davis was too much for any lineup to crack during her Philadelphia team’s run to the regional title and the Little League World Series. This year, it remains to be seen if anyone in this Mid-Atlantic Field – or anywhere else, for that matter – and slow down the bats of the Jackson Little Leaguers.
The Mid-Atlantic tournament begins Monday in Bristol, Conn., with Jackson drawing a first-round bye to Tuesday. Jackson will open its tournament Tuesday at 1 p.m. against the winner of the first round game between Capitol City Little League of the District of Columbia and Delmar of Maryland.
Jackson reached the Mid-Atlantic Tournament by winning the N.J. state title in dramatic fashion, with cleanup hitting and outfielder-slash pitcher Tommy Cartnick belting a game-winning, tie-breaking home run in the bottom of the sixth inning last Monday.
Cartnick’s home run capped a run during the state finals in which he hit six home runs in five games, including five in the last three.
Jackson’s offense has been nearly unstoppable throughout the summer. Its lowest offensive output during the district, section and state tournaments came in a 12-1 loss to Somerset Hills in the state finals, and Jackson answered by scoring 12 runs against Monroe, 20 in game one vs. Somerset Hills and seven in the walk-off win in game two – all elimination games.
The home run ball has been a significant part of Jackson’s offense, which has produced power up and down its lineup and even off the bench. Cartnick, Matt Potok, Jake Wendell, Ryan Lasko, Sean Slusak, Tyler Beck, Jared Caruso, Caden Brooks and Justin Burkert have all produced as starters, and Zack Rogacki, Austin Parikh and Joey Arcarese have supplied power off the bench.
Jackson will have its pick of pitchers from a balanced pitching staff for Tuesday’s opener. Slusak has been the recent hot hand after throwing 5 2/3 innings of a combined no-hitter in Jackson’s state final opener. He also battled through five innings in the final game against a potent Somerset Hills lineup.
Cartnick and Potok have also been steady starters throughout the summer and Wendell and Lasko are also proven pitchers. Lasko earned the win in the walk-off winner last Monday by throwing a scoreless sixth inning – no small feat against a Somerset Hills team that averaged a shade under nine runs per game in three match-ups against Jackson.
It will take three consecutive wins for Jackson to win the Mid-Atlantic region and advance to the Little League World Series out of the winner’s bracket. The championship game is scheduled for Sunday at 4 p.m. Jackson is seeking to become the first team from N.J. to reach the LLWS since Parsippany in 2012 and the first Shore area team to go to Williamsport, Pa. since Toms River National in 2010. Two Shore area teams have won the LLWS – Toms River East American in 1998 and Lakewood in 1975.