Holbrook Holds On, Faces Another Game Tomorrow

The Holbrook Little League All-Stars triumphed over Santa Margarita in an elimination game Monday night. (Photo courtesy Little League Baseball and Softball)

SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. – The Holbrook Little League All-Stars’ bats boomed Monday.

Holbrook erupted for 16 hits in its 12-9 win over Santa Margarita (Calif.) in an elimination game in the United States Bracket of the Little League Baseball World Series at the Howard J. Lamade Stadium.

R.J. Vashey keyed the assault, blasting a solo homer and a two-run homer. Charlie Meglio slugged a two-run homer.

Located in Jackson Township, Holbrook will meet the survivor of Monday night’s Washington State-Connecticut game at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in another elimination game on ESPN2.

Margarita, located in Rancho Santa Margarita, took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning on a two-out wild pitch by Garrett Drew.

However, it was all Holbrook the rest of the way.

With one out in the second, Vashey planted the first pitch he saw into the bushes in dead center field to tie the game at one. Drew reached first base on an infield single and Meglio launched the first offering for a two-run homer to center and a 3-1 lead, putting Mid-Atlantic Regional champion Holbrook ahead to stay.

Holbrook pushed its lead to 12-1, exploding for nine runs in the third in which it banged out nine hits.

With one down, J.R. Osmond singled to right-center and special pinch runner Anthony Abbonizio scored on a two-run homer to center by Vashey.

Photo courtesy Little League Baseball and Softball

“R.J. sure had quite a game for himself,” said Jim Osmond, a Holbrook coach. “I think he told me he was up four times and hit the first pitch all four times. He is one of our big bats in the middle of our lineup. What makes us so tough to beat is that it is a case of one guy after the next. If you get one guy out, the next guy is just as dangerous as the guy before. It has been different guys coming through in every game. Every guy on the team can hurt you. R.J. means as much to the team as anyone else.”

Drew singled on the first pitch and went to second on a fielding error on a ball hit by Meglio. Drew and Meglio advanced to second and third on a wild pitch and Mike Arent lofted a sacrifice fly to right field, pushing the lead to 6-1.

Abbonizio, Tai Mann and Chris Cartnick hit run-scoring singles to expand the lead to 9-1.

Osmond connected for a two-run double to center for an 11-1 lead and scored on a wild pitch to put Holbrook in front 12-1. During one white hot stretch, Holbrook connected for six straight hits.

“They’re sitting dead red (looking for the fastball) on everything we’re throwing,” losing manager C.J. Ankrum, wired live on ESPN2, told his pitcher, Joey Gray. “It is what it is. I just came out to say, ‘Hi.’ Keep battling.”

Holbrook often ripped hits early in counts.

“Prior to the game, we talked about the fact we knew they were light on pitching because of previous games,” Osmond said. “They had several guys who were not eligible to pitch. We felt we had a chance to feast on somebody so we said, ‘Lets do it.’ We have a deep lineup. If one guy does not get you, the next guy will. The more we hit, the more confident we get. It’s a case of our guys saying, ‘If he can do it, I can do it,’ and it kind of snowballs from there. We had innings like that (the third) all summer.”

Osmond said Holbrook is not sure of its starting pitcher for Tuesday.

“We have to sit down as a coaching staff and figure things out,” he said. “We are trying to structure our pitching so that we can make a run at the whole thing. We will map it out and hash it out and in the end we will have the best structure for our team to have the best chance to continue to advance.”

West Region champion Margarita pulled to within 12-6 with five runs in the third.

Drew Rutter hit an RBI double. Gray and A.J. Gamulao singled home runs. Pinch-hitter Matt Haddad plated a run with an infield out and Danny Lawler capped the scoring with an RBI single.

Margarita scored three runs in the sixth to produce the final score. Rutter keyed the inning with a two-run double.

Shortstop-pitcher Chris Cartnick kept Margarita at bay in relief, throwing 56 pitches. He ended the game with a double play and an infield out.

Margarita stroked 11 hits. Each team made two errors

Holbrook fell to Fairfield (Ct.) 7-6 in the first round last Thursday.

Osmond said Holbrook’s injury woes are minimal.

“We have a lot of sore bodies, but no injuries,” he said. “It has been a long summer. Our kids are not used to playing this many games in so many days. By this time, they are usually in their swimming pools and finishing up their summer homework. One of our biggest strong points is our emotional strength. It is probably harder on our coaches and fans than it is on our kids.”

“I wanna win this whole thing,” Jackson manager Rob Grano said on ESPN2 on a visit to the mound with Cartnick and his teammates in the sixth. “We need to win this one. It’s you. Can you get me one more out? If you don’t get me one more out, your parents will pass out. So will your coach.”

On Saturday, Holbrook downed Great Lakes Region winner Grosse Pointe Woods-Shore Little League 15-5 in four innings at the Howard J. Lamade Stadium.

Striking for nine runs on eight hits in the fourth inning, Holbrook pushed its lead to 15-5.

Cartnick went 3-for-4, including two homers in the same inning, drove in six runs and hit one double. Teammate Ryan Kinsman was 2-for-2 with a walk, two doubles and three runs batted in.

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Chris Christopher covers sports for Micromedia Publications Inc. with knowledge, pride and passion. His beats are the high school, college, professional, youth and recreational scenes. A three-time New Jersey Press Association award winner for sports writing, Christopher was inducted into the Shore Football Coaches Foundation Hall of Fame in 2015 for his work in the media. The Lakewood resident enjoys taking walks in Ocean County Park and on the boardwalks in Ocean and Monmouth counties and rooting for the New York Mets.