The West New York American Little League 12-year-old All-Stars won their first game in the Section 1 tournament Tuesday night, defeating Nutley American, 2-0 at Edgewater’s Little League complex on River Road.
The game started Monday night and the locals played two innings before a lightning strike halted the game. It was resumed Tuesday night and WNY American (incorrectly reported as WNY National last week) won the contest.
Dauri Genao and Lazaro Lopez combined to pitch the three-hit shutout. Derrick Fernandez hit a solo homer and Brandon Garcia had an RBI single for WNY American’s two runs.
The locals were slated to face Lyndhurst American in the next round of the winner’s bracket on Wednesday night at 8 p.m.
The reason why this team has a chance to go to the New Jersey Little League state championships next weekend is their pitching staff, which is incredible for a 12-year-old Little League All-Star team. The team has five different pitchers who can all throw strikes with authority.
Union City fielded a team that played this summer in the Valley Central Scholastic Baseball League, a 26-team league that featured teams from Bergen, Hudson, Passaic and Essex Counties.
Headed by veteran coach Anthony Carrero, the Union City team posted a 15-1 regular season record and lost to only Wayne Hills twice, once in the regular season and once in the league’s semifinal round.
The Union City squad fell 6-4 to Wayne Hills in the league semifinals.
Carrero, who coached his sons Michael and Eric when they played Little League, Babe Ruth and Connie Mack baseball in Union City, has been coaching this particular summer league team for the last 12 years.
“I’m a Union City guy,” Carrero said. “I grew up here and I know about the good and the evil in the town. I want to make sure the kids have a chance to play ball and keep them off the streets. I really enjoy doing it. We had a great summer this year and came up one game short of reaching the finals. It wasn’t a bad summer at all. I feel bad for the kids that it ended that way.”
Former Union City High standout and Hudson Reporter All-Area selection Victor LeBron had a brilliant summer playing for Carrero’s team. LeBron pitched and hit the team into the semifinals by pitching a four-hitter, striking out nine, in a 9-1 win over Westwood. LeBron also had three hits, including a three-run homer, in the game.
“Victor was incredible for us,” Carrero said. “He won four games for us this summer and allowed only that one run.”
Sal Pagan, a left-handed pitcher from Hoboken, also had a fine season for Union City.
“He’s a great kid who can throw well and he can also hit,” Carrero said.
Ray Cassens, the son of Union City Little League President Richie Cassens, is a pitcher/outfielder.
“He’s a gamer and the kind of kid you want to have on your team,” Carrero said. “He has that internal drive.”
Dauris Bautista is another pitcher that Carrero counted on.
The team’s catcher was Danny Lopez, whom Carrero called “an up-and-comer.”
“He’s an unbelievable catcher,” Carrero said. “Lopez has a ton of promise. He’s a kid to watch.”
Pagan shared first base duties with Derek Dehasath. Eloy Dominguez, another promising youngster, handled second base.
“Eloy made some incredible plays at second base,” Carrero said.
Darryl Velez and Willie Tavares handled middle infield chores, with LeBron and Bautista sharing time at third base.
Cassens was the left fielder, along with Filiberto Gonzalo. Jeremy Rivera manned centerfield, while Yeudi Ventura was the right fielder.
“We’ve been dealing with these kids since they were young,” Carrero said. “They worked hard together.”
Winning 16 times and losing twice over a two-month span is nothing to sneeze at. Looks like there is a lot of promise coming out of Union City in the years to come.
“Most of these kids will be back next year,” Carrero said. “We’ll be back.”
Congrats to the Roberto Clemente Little League All-Stars, who captured the 10-year-old District 7 Little League championship last week. Roberto Clemente Little League has always produced some of the best baseball players in Jersey City and obviously, here’s another example of that.
The Major League Baseball Rebuilding Baseball in the Inner-city (RBI) program is holding its region tournament this weekend at locations throughout Jersey City and Hudson County. The winner of the tourney will get a chance to play at Yankee Stadium on Monday. If there’s a local team there, then we’ll report on their exploits in next week’s EXTRA INNINGS. EXTRA INNINGS focuses on the best stories that come from local baseball and softball leagues throughout the area.
If you have any noteworthy information to contribute to the EXTRA INNINGS, feel free to contact Jim Hague by voice mail at 201-798-7800, ext. 751, by general mail at 1400 Washington Street, Hoboken, NJ 07030, or via e-mail at OGSMAR@aol.com.
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Jim Hague can be reached at OGSMAR@aol.com.