Massimo Forte is a veteran coach in the Hoboken Little League, dedicating more than a quarter century of his life for the betterment of the kids from the Mile Square City.
So when Forte knows that he has a team that could contend for the District 7 12-year-old All-Star tournament championship, you better believe him.
“Most of these kids were on the 11-year-old team that won the districts last year,” Forte said. “I had a good feeling that they could do it again this year. We had a nice strong team coming back with solid pitching. We were up for the challenge.”
The Hoboken All-Stars rolled through the always tough District 7 tournament without a loss. That’s quite an achievement for any team in the rough-and-tumble world of District 7. They defeated Lincoln Park, 12-0, then Elizabethport 5-2, then Bayonne by a 4-3 margin, then disposed of the defending champion North Bergen, 14-2 and defeated Elizabethport one more time in the title game, winning 6-1.
“We definitely played some good teams,” Forte said. “Our pitching carried us.”
Leading the way for the Hoboken All-Stars is 12-year-old Joshua Ortiz, who somehow managed to get the win in four of the five District 7 victories.
“The kid throws hard,” Forte said of Ortiz. “He can overpower you. He also has some nice junk pitches. He has good control and has a lot of confidence. He’s always very calm.”
Another key pitcher is Kristopher Salinas, another right-hander.
“Kris throws the ball very nice,” Forte said. “He pitched against Bayonne [a 4-3 win] and went the distance.”
Other Hoboken pitchers include Robert Cabrera and Jeremy Nunez.
“All our pitchers are righties,” Forte said. “But they’re all very good and all throw strikes.”
The Hoboken pitchers surrendered just 11 runs in their five wins in the District 7 tourney. For the Little League All-Star level, that’s incredible pitching.
The team’s catcher is the energetic Evan Linchman.
“He’s our leadoff hitter,” Forte said. “He’s pretty quick. He gets on base and scores a lot. As a catcher, he calls a good game.”
The first baseman is Zach Alvino.
“He’s been absolutely on fire,” Forte said. “He led our league in hitting. He had an average over .700. He’s a solid lefty hitter and a good first baseman.”
Cabrera is the starter at second base.
“He’s a good fielder and a good contact hitter,” Forte said.
Aram Assadourian is the team’s jack-of-all-trades. Whenever Ortiz is on the mound, Assadourian is at shortstop, but chances are that Assadourian will end up playing three different positions during the course of a game.
“It’s great to have a utility player like Aram,” Forte said. “He really can play any position.”
Salinas, Cabrera and Victor Martinez share third base chores. Martinez can also pitch if needed. Nunez plays left field, with Danny Burrell in center and Assadourian and Bruce Boyle sharing duties in right field.
Burrell is the son of former St. Peter’s Prep and Stevens Tech basketball standout Danny Burrell, Sr.
Forte can call upon Nick Siniscalchi or Kristopher Jacobson, both of whom are outfielders who come off the bench.
Hoboken moved on to the Section 2 Tournament in Garfield, with a shot of making the state tournament. The locals dropped the first game of the double-elimination tourney to Nutley East, 7-5, but then rebounded a day later in the losers’ bracket, staving off elimination with a come-from-behind 10-9 victory over Wood-Ridge/Moonachie.
Forte knows what it takes to coach a winner, because he was the head coach of the Hoboken South team that captured the District 7 crown in 2006. This team is Hoboken’s first champion since that seven years ago.
“It’s a good feeling to come back and win again,” Forte said. “Let’s see what we can do in the sections.”
The locals are now just three wins away from the state championship in Ewing next week, but they’re going to need a little bit of luck to emerge from the losers’ bracket.
EXTRA INNINGS focuses on the best stories that come from local baseball and softball leagues throughout the area, from Little League action through travel leagues.
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