For a while last night the chants of “WE ARE TR” were about as feeble as the at-bats for the Toms River Little League All-Stars.

Winning pitcher Jonathan Giordano (Kevin Williams, Townsquare Media NJ)

However, as the game went on the cheers became louder and so did the sound of the bat hitting the ball for the 12-year-olds from Mapletree Road, who rallied from an early 4-0 deficit to beat Wood-Ridge/Moonachie 7-4 on the opening night of the New Jersey State Little League Championships in Bayville.

A first-inning grand slam gave Wood-Ridge the early lead and starting pitcher Nick DeRose was gone after getting just two outs, but fortunately for manager Pete Avallone he had Jonathan Giordano to bring in to pitch while moving DeRose back to shortstop. Both moves would pay off.

Giordano was dominating the rest of the way, allowing just one hit and striking out 10 while adding two hits, an RBI and a run scored at the plate.  However, it was the long ball that proved to be the difference as DeRose tied the game with a 2-run homer in the fifth inning, and an inning later “Big Hit” Bill Fleury snapped that tie with a 2-run blast that would be the game-winner.  You can see the home runs and other video highlights at

With the victory, Toms River moves into the winner’s bracket final, where it will meet Ocean City/Upper Township on Friday night (7:30) at the Berkeley Township Little League complex.  A win in that game would put Toms River in the driver’s seat to claim the state title for the second time in five years.  Meanwhile Wood-Ridge faces Somerset Hills Friday with the loser out of the tournament.

There was also good news for the Toms River East team playing in the state Junior League Tournament in Berkeley as they rallied from an early two-run deficit to beat Elizabethport 9-4.  Next up for the Windsor Avenue crew is a Friday evening day with Parsippany-Troy Hills East in the winner’s bracket final.

There is no baseball today with a laser tag tournament scheduled for the Little League complex well as a barbecue for the Junior League teams, while tonight The Cove Waterfront Bar & Grill will host a 75th anniversary Little League celebration.  TD Bank is the title sponsor of the tournament with other sponsors including Community Medical Center, Perlmart Family ShopRites, Modell’s, Dairy Queen of Bayville, Blackbeard’s Cave, the Hershey Motel in Seaside Heights, the Seaside Heights BID and Ocean County Tourism Advisory Council. Our Shore Sports Network and the Asbury Park Press are official media partners