Staff Writer N.Y. champs edge Toms River East for Regional title Bronx stars prevail 2-0 in pitchers’ duel The Rolando Paulino Little League All-Stars, from the Bronx, N.Y., were deserving winners of the Junior League (ages 13-14) Baseball Eastern Regional Championship held last week at the Marlboro Little League Complex. However, it was Toms River East, champions of New Jersey, that stole the show. With nine members from the TRE team that won the Little League World Series in Williamsport back in 1998 and making a return trip in ’99, East showed all the character and heart and love of baseball that made them Series champions. They also put their wealth of talent on full display as they played their way through the loser’s bracket to meet the Bronx for the Eastern Regional title on Friday night. Because the Regional is played in a double-elimination format, Toms River was going to have to beat the Bronx twice to win the title. But no one who had seen the TRE all-stars win five games in four days in sweltering heat doubted their ability to do it. Toms River East fell into the loser’s bracket in the very first game of the tournament back on Aug. 4, when a walk-off grand slam home run in the bottom of the eighth by Ben Campbell propelled East Hampton Little League, the champions of Massachusetts, to a 9-5 win. That meant the TRE would have to win seven games in five days to get to the Junior League World Series in Taylor, Mich. There was no margin for error. That alone will test a team’s resolve, but add to it last week’s record-breaking heat and humidity and you really have to love your baseball to push on. And, as everyone in the Region would find out, Toms River East loves its baseball, and they happened to be pretty good at it. It’s easy to see how TRE has become a Little League powerhouse. They picked themselves up off the ground and rolled off five straight wins. The comeback began with a routine 7-0 win over Edgewood-South Elmwood Little League from Rhode Island behind Joe Dehart’s shut-out. Toms River East flirted with elimination in its next game, a heart-stopping 5-4 thriller over the Dover Little League from Delaware. Chris Fontenelli picked up the win with relief help from Casey Gaynor, who picked up a save. After slipping by Dover, Toms River faced its longest day, two games, last Wednesday in the oppressive August heat. Undaunted, Toms River East rolled to an 18-3 win over Norwich (Conn.) Little League and 9-1 over Grove City Little League from Pennsylvania as their bats began to warm up. Gaynor and Chris Cunningham were providing tape-measure home runs over the left field fence at Marlboro, endangering cars in the parking lot. On Thursday, TRE got a rematch with East Hampton, which turned into a 19-0 thrashing by the New Jersey state champions. Eric Campesi pitched a complete game shut out, as TRE proved once again its has a host of quality arms. Meanwhile, the Bronx cruised into Friday night’s showdown hardly breaking a sweat. They were undefeated with one-sided victories over Rhode Island (11-2), Bangor, Maine (14-1), and East Hampton (13-4). Their combination of speed and ability to string hits together put constant pressure on defenses and eventually wore everyone out. Both finalists featured high-powered offense. Toms River had more power, but the Bronx could light up the scoreboard as well, as it proved with double-figure runs in all three wins. Both teams could play little ball, moving runners up when they needed to. Both could run as well with the Bronx having an overall edge in speed. But offense would take a back seat to pitching on Friday night. A late-afternoon to early-evening downpour pushed the start back three hours but didn’t affect either starter. New York’s Ernesto Soriano and Toms River East’s Chris Fontenelli were in control from the start, quieting the red-hot bats. Soriano flirted with danger more often than Fontenelli but seemed to have the ability to put a little something extra on his fastball and throw it by the TRE hitters when he needed to. Fontenelli used a sharp-breaking curve ball, backed up by his fastball, to keep the New York stars at bay. The game remained scoreless as the tension mounted, until the bottom of the fifth, when an RBI single by Brian Class broke the deadlock and gave New York the 1-0 lead. Alvin Garcia provided insurance in the last of the sixth with a run-scoring single. The two runs were all that the hard-throwing Soriano would need as he registered 14 strikeouts and was at his best when TRE had runners on base. The 2-0 win meant there wouldn’t be a need for a second game. The Rolando Paulino Little League stars would be the team that represents the East this week in Taylor, Mi. They were most deserving winners, sporting a 4-0 mark during the week. The Rolando Paulino Little League stars are: Ernesto Soriano, Elbert Garcia, Albert Gonzalez, Alvin Garcia, Ramon Cueto, Rafael Sanchez, Anthony Garcia, Miguel Marinez, Jesus Hernandez, Brian Class, Alex Todman, Pedro Guzman, Juan Adorno and Junior Jimenez. Luis Garcia is the manager, and Miguel Marinez and Luis Montas the coaches. TRE did themselves proud, winning five elimination games before falling just short in Friday’s pitching duel. The TRE stars are: Jeff Burgdorff, Eric Campesi, Steve Bernath, Joe Dehart, Clancy Doyle, Zack DelVento, Chris Fontenelli, Casey Gaynor, Dave Capello, Chris Cunningham, Mike Casale and Troy Bayer. Rich Cunningham is the manager, and Vinnie Cassele and Mike Gaynor are the coaches. The Junior League Baseball World Series runs from Monday through Saturday. Cliff Radisch, president of the Marlboro Little League and director of the Eastern Regional, will be umpiring at the World Series. By tim morris
BY TIM MORRIS Staff Writer Holmdel girls also win BY TIM MORRISStaff Writer Host Matawan did not leave its Huskie Relays empty-handed. The boys captured the Division I championship Saturday, outscoring Shore Regional, 92-71. Four Matawan relay teams were victorious, two on the track and two in the field. On the track, Sean Gibbs, Melvin Finley, Ted Okosi and Jay Jackson won the 800-meter relay in 1:34.1. In the 1,600, the team was Gerard King, Tre Walden, Isaiah Lowe and Jason Simmons. They ran a 3:39.4. Kevin Edwards and Andy Trolian were first in the high jump with combined jumps totaling 11 feet 6 inches. In the pole vault, Matt Bradley and Adam Garcia won with a 23-6. Matawan’s girls were fourth (49 1/2) in Division 2. The Lady Huskies picked up one victory, that in the 1,600 relay. Michelle Cornachia, Peggy Lau, Asha Stephens and Jessica Adams were first in 4:17.9. In Division II, Holmdel’s girls edged Ocean Township, 72-67. The Hornets had three championship teams. Morgan Newman, Marybeth Lesbirec, Sam Teijelo and Caitlin Santora won the 400-meter relay in 53.0. The trio of Francesca Picasia, Heather Sedlacek and Jane Zilao were first in the shuttle hurdles in 3:51.5 for the Hornets. Holmdel’s third win was in the field where Santora and Teijelo won the javelin with their throws combining for 189-9. Monmouth Regional had a pair of wins in the field. Teneika Warren and Amanda Neis won the shot put (63-2 3/4) and Christie Skove and Lauren Elsen, won the pole vault (7-6). Holmdel’s boys struck gold in the javelin with Kevin Waldon’s and Al Keally’s best throws combining for 300-0 even. Over in Division I, Raritan’s girls won the javelin and discus competitions. The common denominator was Jess Bandy. She hooked up with Patty May in the javelin (221-7) and with Kelly Rozing in the discus (193-9). Holmdel High School will be the site for the next stop on the early spring relay tour, hosting Saturday’s Holmdel Relays. The April 2 Rebel Relays at Howell High School, postponed by the torrential rains that weekend, have be rescheduled for April 23.
By Julian LindenRafa Nadal and Maria Sharapova were both knocked out of the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells after stunning upsets at one of the world’s biggest tournaments outside the four grand slams.Nadal was sent packing by Ukraine’s Alexandr Dolgopolov 6-3 3-6 7-6 (7-5) after Sharapova fell to Italian qualifier Camila Giorgi 6-3 4-6 7-5 as last year’s men’s and women’s singles champions both crashed out.Nadal blew a 4-2 lead in the deciding tiebreak after the Spaniard had fought his way back from 5-2 down in the deciding third set.“I wanted to play very well here. I had good success in this tournament in the past, a tournament I always feel good about,” said Nadal, who will now turn his attention to the Sony Open in south Florida.“I’m going to keep working hard to try to be ready to play better in Miami.”Nadal beat Dolgopolov in the final of the inaugural Rio Open last month but the Ukrainian got his revenge on the world number one in the Californian desert.“I feel great, as after every win, of course. I beat the defending champion and the number one in the world,” said Dolgopolov, whose next opponent is Fabio Fognini after the Italian saved two match points in a 6-2 3-6 7-5 win over Frenchman Gael Monfils.Giorgi, a 22-year-old ranked 79th in the world, made the fourth round of the U.S. Open last year as a qualifier, but her win over the world number five Russian was the biggest of her career.“I did not play a good match at all,” said Sharapova, who dropped serve eight times and committed 58 unforced errors.“I’ve never played against her, but she’s someone that doesn’t give you much rhythm. She’s quite aggressive, but some shots she hits incredible for a long period of time.“Sometimes they go off a bit. But, if I’m speaking about my level, it was nowhere near where it should have been.”Giorgi will play her countrywoman Flavia Pennetta in the next round after she beat Australian Sam Stosur 6-4 3-6 6-1.There were no other major surprises although Britain’s Andy Murray was forced to dig deep to see off promising Czech Jiri Vesely and avoid a similar fate.The Wimbledon champion won 6-7 (7-2) 6-4 6-4 but only after clawing back from the brink of defeat against the 20-year-old Vesely.Murray lost the opening set despite going up an early break but then struggled on serve against the left-handed Vesely, ranked 77th in the world.The Scotsman was broken six times in the match and trailed in both the second and third sets but fought back each time, reeling off four consecutive games to seal victory.“It was just one of those matches where there wasn’t one period where I thought that the level of tennis from both of us was high at the same time,” said Murray.“That can create a lot of breaks and a lot of sort of back and forth swings in the match. It wasn’t just the start of the match that was frustrating. The whole match was.”Murray will play Canada’s big-serving Milos Raonic in the next round as he bids to win one of the few North American hardcourt titles to have eluded him.Switzerland’s former world number one Roger Federer also advanced after he was pushed all the way by Russia’s Dmitry Tursunov before winning 7-6 (9-7) 7-6 (7-2).Federer, who won his 78th career singles title in Dubai earlier this month, will play either German Tommy Haas or Japan’s Kei Nishikori in the fourth round.“I feel like I’m in a good place,” said Federer, a four-time champion at Indian Wells. “I know what my solid level is. Even if I won 6 and 6 today, I just feel like I was calm and served for the set.“Okay, got broken. Still managed to stay calm. Down … in the second; stayed calm and came back. So those are the moments where you feel there is confidence around somewhere.”Australian Open champion Stanislas Wawrinka extended his unbeaten run this year to 13 matches with a ruthless 6-0 6-2 win over Italy’s Andreas Seppi in just 49 minutes before joining forces with Federer in the doubles.China’s Li Na, the top seed in the women’s draw, had no problems booking her place in the fourth round, beating Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic 6-3 6-4.
By Swati PandeyAustralia batsman Phillip Hughes remained in critical condition in a Sydney hospital on Tuesday after undergoing emergency surgery for a sickening head injury sustained when struck by a ball during a domestic match.The 25-year-old was transferred to St Vincent’s hospital’s intensive care unit after surgery and his condition was not expected to become clear for 24-48 hours.“He is still critical, he is in ICU,” a hospital spokesman said.Fitted with a ventilator to aid his breathing, Hughes was rushed from the Sydney Cricket Ground in an induced coma, having collapsed to the ground when struck in the helmet by a short-pitched delivery from New South Wales fast bowler Sean Abbott.Hughes, touted to replace injured Australia captain Michael Clarke for next week’s Test match against India, had scored 63 runs for South Australia before being hit.Apparently dazed by the blow, the left-hander stooped over and put his hands on his knees before falling face first onto the pitch, causing players and medical staff to rush to his aid.Though often viewed as a gentile game, cricket’s fastest bowlers regularly deliver the ball at speeds of over 140kph and batsmen defend themselves with a wooden bat less than a metre long and about four inches wide.A cricket ball is roughly the same shape and size as a baseball but heavier and harder. While batsmen are heavily padded, they often sustain painful and perfectly legal blows from fast bowlers who have full license to launch deliveries that bounce up at head height.Balls occasionally strike batsmen on the helmet, often drawing blood on impact, but the seriousness of Hughes’s injury shocked seasoned cricket writers and players alike.“Thoughts are with Phil Hughes. Terrible to see and just shows how dangerous our game can be,” Australia leg spinner James Muirhead tweeted.After the blow, Hughes was placed on a motorised stretcher and taken to the boundary where medical staff performed mouth-to-mouth resuscitation before he was rushed to hospital by ambulance.The match was called off for the day.Australia captain Michael Clarke arrived at the hospital to check on Hughes’ condition, where the batsman’s mother and sister were also present.“As you all will be aware Phil Hughes suffered an injury this afternoon,” the statement read.“He is presently undergoing surgery and the outcome of that surgery is unlikely to be known in the next 24-48 hours.“In the meantime, we would really appreciate if you look after his family and friends and respect their privacy please.”News of the injury sparked a wave of sympathy from the global cricketing community and fans on social media.“Our thoughts and prayers are with Phil and his family! He is a great fighter and a great young man!” Australia coach Darren Lehmann tweeted.The English Cricket Board tweeted: “Thoughts with Phil Hughes and his family from all at ECB. Get well soon.”A popular team man born in a small rural town in northern New South Wales state, the pint-sized Hughes has played 26 Test matches and 25 one-day internationals for Australia, but never quite cemented his place in the national set-up.Hughes has long struggled to shake off perceptions of vulnerability against short-pitched bowling, but with Clarke injured, he was backed to re-gain a spot in the test team for the first match in Brisbane against India starting Dec. 4.
By Martyn HermanAndy Murray eased past Fernando Verdasco at the Aegon Championships on Thursday but an expected quarter-final showdown with the man who beat him at Wimbledon last year was scuppered by Luxembourg left-hander Gilles Muller.Top seed Murray, bidding for a record-equalling fourth title at the prestigious Queen’s Club, fended off some typically ferocious hitting by Spaniard Verdasco to win 7-5 6-4 and delight a large Centre Court crowd.Earlier defending champion Grigor Dimitrov, who stunned Briton Murray in the Wimbledon quarter-finals last year, became the latest high-profile seed to fall, losing 6-4 7-6(5) to Muller.Bulgarian Dimitrov, the sixth seed, struggled to deal with Muller’s dangerous serve as he joined French Open champion Stanislas Wawrinka and 14-times major winner Rafa Nadal on the casualty list of a tournament boasting increased prize money and ranking points this year.The 32-year-old Muller has served 56 aces in two matches so far and will now take aim at Murray for a place in the semis.“It’s these challenges that I’m working for to play those matches on the big courts against the best guys in the world,” Muller, who has battled his way back into the top 50 after sliding to 374 in the ATP rankings in 2013 after elbow problems.Muller broke in the 10th game when Dimitrov made some sloppy mistakes and then hit back from 0-3 in the second set tiebreak to clinch victory with a wrong-footing forehand winner.Murray, dressed head to toe in white, made a fast start against left-hander Verdasco and marched into a 3-0 lead.Verdasco, who was two sets up against Murray in the Wimbledon quarter-finals two years ago before the Scot came back to win and went on to claim an historic title, warmed to his task though and levelled it up at 4-4.Murray took the opening set when Verdasco netted a forehand in the 12th game but had to fend off several break points early in the second set, coming back from 0-40 down at 1-1.Serving at 4-5 Verdasco self-destructed, serving three double faults before seeing two aces chalked off on match point down because the ball brushed the net tape whizzing through.Another forehand error sealed his fate as Murray took his career record over the 31-year-old to 11-1.“It was a tricky match. Fernando is obviously an extremely powerful guy and you don’t have a chance to get into some of the rallies,” world number three Murray said on court before looking ahead to his next opponent.“Gilles Muller served 37 aces in the first round – I haven’t served that many all year!”
Singles order of play on the showcourts at the Wimbledon Championships on Wednesday (play begins at 1200 GMT unless stated).Centre CourtVasek Pospisil (Canada) v 3-Andy Murray (Britain)1- Novak Djokovic (Serbia) v 9-Marin Cilic (Croatia)Court One12-Gilles Simon (France) v 2-Roger Federer (Switzerland)4-Stan Wawrinka (Switzerland) v 21-Richard Gasquet (France)
Manager Louis van Gaal said he wanted to “kiss” Memphis Depay after the Dutch midfielder scored two and set up the third in Manchester United’s 3-1 win over Club Bruges in the first leg of their Champions League playoff at Old Trafford on Tuesday.Memphis, who was deployed in his favoured starting position on the left rather than as a traditional No. 10, showed the kind of form that led United to pay PSV Eindhoven a reported 25 million pounds ($39 million) for the 21-year-old in May.“When you score a goal then you are the hero,” Van Gaal told reporters.“I want to kiss him tonight, because when you score two goals and give an assist also, then normally in the world you are the hero,” the manager added.United left back Luke Shaw, who along with Memphis was one of the best players on the pitch, also praised his team mate’s performance and first goals for the club.“Of course I am really happy for him today,” the England international said.“Now he’s off the mark, hopefully it can bring him many more goals.“I think our relationship is starting to build up. We have played a couple of games together and I am starting to understand how he wants to play,” he added“It is great to be playing with him, he can beat a man and he likes the attacking support from me as well — which is something I like to do,” the 20-year-old said.Shaw also hailed the importance of Memphis’s late assist for Marouane Fellaini, which ensured that United take a two-goal cushion into the crucial second leg.“We knew that we needed one more goal to make us feel more comfortable when it comes to the next game,” Shaw said.“The Fellaini goal was massive for us, we are glad we got that and now we can look forward to next week,” he added.Fellaini acknowledged that his late header was important, but insisted that United still had work to do when they visit the Belgian club in the return leg on Aug. 26.“I think it was important to score a third goal and we did, so that’s fantastic,” the 27-year-old Belgium international said.“It’s a win but now we have to be careful in Bruges. Normally it would be not easy, but we have the quality to win there as well,” he added.
By Martyn HermanNewcastle United slumped to the foot of the Premier League table after a 2-0 defeat at West Ham United on Monday left manager Steve McClaren still seeking a first win in charge.Dimitri Payet was Newcastle’s chief tormentor, scoring early in each half to lift West Ham into the top five with three wins and two defeats from their opening five games.If West Ham are unpredictable, Newcastle have been predictably uninspired under new boss McClaren and they offered little to excite their fans at Upton Park.After being delayed en route because of pre-match traffic and needing to walk the last mile to the ground, Newcastle’s players began slowly and went behind after nine minutes when Frenchman Payet took a pass from Mark Noble and placed a rising shot into the top corner from the edge of the penalty area.Payet, impressive since signing from Marseille during the transfer window, doubled West Ham’s lead three minutes after the interval when he calmly volleyed the ball home from close range after Victor Moses struck the underside of the crossbar with a fierce drive following a counter-attack.Newcastle, who have two points and dropped below north east rivals Sunderland because of an inferior scoring record, enjoyed plenty of possession without forcing West Ham goalkeeper Darren Randolph into a difficult save.They have found the net only twice this season, the lowest total in the top four divisions, and former England manager McClaren is already under pressure to turn things around.“I don’t know what it was, whether it was the journey, late getting here, the 10-minute warm-up, but we said before no excuses, deal with it, and maybe we didn’t deal with it.“It was a big wake-up call for everybody because in this Premier League if you are not at 100 percent you get beat,” he said.West Ham’s first home win of the season after defeats by Leicester City and Bournemouth edged them up five places, six points behind leaders Manchester City, and gave manager Slaven Bilic plenty of reasons to be cheerful.He even had the luxury of sending on injury-plagued England striker Andy Carroll in the closing stages for his first action since February.“The second half I was very proud of the team, we were very solid,” former West Ham player Bilic, who as Croatia coach in 2007 masterminded a win over England that cost McClaren his job, told Sky Sports.“This is proof that we are on the right way and proof we did well in the transfer window.”
Gareth Bale said Real Madrid are determined to wrest back the Spanish league title from Barcelona this season after going four years without tasting La Liga success.Bale has won the Champions League twice and the King’s Cup since joining the Bernabeu club in 2013, but the league title has proved elusive.Real missed out on the league to Barcelona on the final day of last season by a point and have not won the title since 2012, when they collected a record 100 points under Jose Mourinho.Real have won their opening two league games this season, with Bale scoring twice in their 3-0 win at Real Sociedad. They continue their campaign following the international break at home to Osasuna on Saturday.“It’s important we win the league this year because it’s been a long time since we last won it,” Bale said on Wednesday at an event organised by Adidas.“That’s our focus this year although we want to win every trophy, including La Liga. I’m excited about our game with Osasuna, they will make things difficult for us but it’ll be fantastic because we’ll have our full team available.”Real boast more La Liga triumphs than any other team in Spain with 32 titles but arch rivals Barcelona have claimed six of the last eight, while neighbours Atletico Madrid have won the league more recently than Real, lifting the trophy in 2014.“In Madrid we dream about winning everything and when we enter any competition we want to win it, the cup, the league, the Champions League, we want them all,” added Bale.On the international front, Bale built on the rich vein of form he showed for Wales at Euro 2016 by scoring twice in a 4-0 win over Moldova on Monday, moving within four goals of equalling their all-time top scorer Ian Rush’s record of 28 strikes.“People have told me that I haven’t got long to beat Rush’s record but that’s not important, I just want to perform well so we can qualify for major tournaments,” said Bale.“If we keep doing well, I’ll be able to keep scoring goals and beat the record.”
FIFA said on Friday it had completed a 22-month internal inquiry into allegations of high-level corruption and criminal misconduct that buffeted world football and handed its report to Swiss authorities.“FIFA will now return its focus to the game, for fans and players throughout the world,” said FIFA President Gianni Infantino, elected last year to replace Sepp Blatter, who is under criminal investigation in Switzerland.In a statement, FIFA said that more than 2.5 million documents were reviewed during the investigation and that the report it shared with Swiss authorities ran to 1,300 pages and included more than 20,000 pages of “exhibits”, or documentation.The investigation began after several dozen soccer officials, mainly from Latin America, were indicted in the United States in 2015 on corruption-related charges, sparking the worst crisis in FIFA’s 113-year history.Some of the suspects have pleaded guilty and await sentencing, others face trial and some are in their native countries where they are fighting, or have avoided, extradition.FIFA said its report would also be made available to U.S. investigators.In Switzerland, the attorney general’s office has begun criminal proceedings against Blatter and former FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke on suspicion of offences including criminal mismanagement“FIFA is committed to conducting a thorough and comprehensive investigation of the facts so we could hold wrongdoers within football accountable and cooperate with the authorities,” Infantino said in the FIFA statement.Swiss prosecutors “will continue to pursue those who enriched themselves and abused their positions of trust in football”, he added.The statement from Zurich-based FIFA gave no further details and said that, because of the criminal inquiries under way, it was “legally restricted from releasing or commenting on the findings from its internal investigation”.FIFA said the Swiss authorities had acknowledged its “close and consistent cooperation”.Blatter has already been banned for six years and Valcke for 10 by FIFA’s own ethics committee. Both have denied wrongdoing and Valcke has appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). Blatter has already lost an appeal at CAS.In September, FIFA opened a new ethics investigation into Blatter, Valcke and former finance director Markus Kattner for possible violations including bribery and corruption.FIFA said then that the allegations were in the context of salaries and bonuses paid to the three.