2000-08-16 / Sports

South Vineland proves to be Eastern Region’s best

New Jersey champions beat Md. twice to go to Jr. League World Series

By tim morris

Staff Writer

MARLBORO — While host Marlboro provided the local interest with its wondrous run, the 2000 Junior League Eastern Region belonged to South Vineland, the state champion of New Jersey.

South Vineland, the Region runner-up in 1999, paraded to the Junior League World Series the difficult way, winning through the loser’s bracket. The New Jersey state champions certainly earned their trip to Taylor, Mich., site of this year’s Junior League World Series. They had to play four games in just over 24 hours and win three of them in a row to secure the championship.

With a team made up of many players from the ’99 team that had lost to Ed Walsh All-Stars from Connecticut last year and had marched through the state championships easily this summer, South Vineland was choice to win the 2000 Eastern Region. They seemed to have it all, pitching depth, defense and a punishing offense that can win by manufacturing runs with its speed or pound you with power.

South Vineland’s title bid, however, got off to a shaky start at the Marlboro Little League Complex. In the opening round against New York state champion Stony Point, South Vineland was one strike away from a 7-5 loss before rallying with three runs in the last of the seventh for an 8-5 win.

In the second round, South Vineland cruised, beating Swampscott, Mass. 10-0 as Albert Rivera authored a one-hit shut out.

Elkton, Md. made South Vineland’s task a marathon by beating them 8-5 in the battle between the tournament’s two undefeated teams. The win put Elkton into the next night’s final while South Vineland had to come back that night, Aug. 9, and play Norwich, Conn., which had emerged out of the losers’ bracket beating host Marlboro 13-0 in that final.

South Vineland stayed alive as Albert Rivera survived a three-run sixth inning rally and went the distance again in the 5-4 win.

That set-up a rematch with Elkton on Aug. 10 for the Region championship.

Chris Acevedo pitched a three-hit gem as South Vineland survived with the 5-1 win. Sean Rivera went 3-4 and it was his two-run home run in the third that gave Acevedo a 3-0 lead to work with.

South Vineland’s win forced the if-necessary game in the double-elimination tournament that night. In the one-game winner-take-all for the title, South Vineland was at its intimidating best routing the Maryland champions, 14-4. Abe Heredia was 2-3 with a double and four RBI. Acevedo was 2-2 with three runs scored and a solo home run. Alex Castillo was 2-3 with two runs scored and a pair of RBI. An 11-run third inning put this one away early.

Sean Rivera got the win in the game that went four-and-one-half innings.

South Vineland went 5-1 in the tournament and Elkton, 3-2.

Pitching is what carried South Vineland through. It is a tribute to the team’s incredible pitching depth that manager Abe Heredia Sr. never had to go to the bullpen following the loss to Elkton. Albert Rivera, Acevedo and Sean Rivera all went the distance in South Vineland’s wins. It is rare for a team to have that many quality hurlers. That bodes well for South Vineland at this week’s Junior League World Series.

The South Vineland squad consists of Acevedo, Castillo, Darren Ford, Justin Ford, Abe Heredia Jr., Thomas Lugo, Chris Martinez, Matthew Moore, Luis Nieves, Albert Rivera, Sean Rivera, Brandon Scholar and Hector Torres.

Abe Heredia Sr. is the manager and Hector Torres and Stan Lomax the coaches.

Host Marlboro had made quite a bit of noise by winning a pair of games. Marlboro lost 7-3 to Elkton in the first round, but then came back to stun Georgetown, Del. 8-4 and Swampscott, Mass. 7-5 to reach the final four. In the tournament because they were the host site, Marlboro did not play the kind host just happy to be there. Instead, they spoiled the tournament for a pair of state champions while providing themselves with some lasting memories.

The eight-team field at the Eastern Region were: South Vineland, New Jersey champion; Elkton, Maryland champion; Swampscott, Massachusetts champion, and New England representative; Georgetown, Delaware champion; Brandon, Pennsylvania champion; Stony Point, New York champion; and Marlboro, host.

This was the second straight year that Marlboro hosted the Eastern Region.

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