Holbrook Little League All-Stars Honored

The Jackson Holbrook Little League All-Stars join their coach and manager having won the District 18 tournament. They went on to a sections victory as well for what has been a great season for the team who were recognized at this week’s Jackson Township Council meeting. (Photo courtesy Holbrook Little League)

  JACKSON – Holbrook Little League’s All-Stars were honored during a recent Township Council meeting receiving proclamation certificates from Mayor Michael Reina and the Council.

  Holbrook Little League President Erik Johnson told The Jackson Times that “the 12-year-old Allstars were playing to be in the Little League World Series (which was played and televised on ESPN and ABC Sports). Little League has All-Star tournaments for ages 8 and on up but it is that 12-year-old season that is that magical season which is the age group that can go to Williamsport if they can win through and make it there.”

  “That is the big goal. Every 12-year-old want to be on ESPN and play for that world title and in Little League you start dreaming about it at 6 and 7 years old and you start preparing. These kids play Little League; a lot of them play travel baseball and they all train for that ultimate goal of winning their district, section and state and region and getting to Williamsport,” Johnson explained.

  “That is exactly what this group of kids did,” he said. “They have been playing and training together since they were 7 years old and learning the game, hanging out and becoming friends. It was a long road. The All-Star Team was picked through Holbrook Little League and they were expected to do well. We just didn’t know how well. We ended up winning our district, District 18 which is said to be the most competitive district in New Jersey.”

  “A lot of teams that come out of District 18 end up winning the state title and go to regional and to Williamsport. Back in 2017 Holbrook made it to Williamsport. We went 8-0 winning the district tournament. I think we only gave up four runs in that whole district tournament. We had six shut outs in eight games. We shut out Toms River and Maple Tree in the championship game,” he added.

  Johnson said, “that was awesome. That was the big prize for us. It is so competitive. We’ve been playing against these other leagues for years. We’ve gotten to know them pretty well. They are all good. Nice players, nice boys, they’ve gotten to know them over the years but when the game starts it is competitive. The kids were excited and were out on the field celebrating when they won. It was magical.”

  After that victory the team advanced to the sectional level. Johnson explained “we won 4-0 in that tournament and we didn’t give up a run and we beat a team that had won the state championship in our age group and they were expecting to win it this year but we ended up beating them twice in sections.”

  “The kids kept focused. Our defense and pitching were amazing. They were so fantastic and they deserved it. They won the section 3 tournament and then we went on to the states,” he added.

The Holbrook Jackson Little League All-Stars pose for a team photo. They recently took part in the Section 3 championship having scored well with the district tournament. (Photo courtesy Holbrook Little League)

  The State Tournament was held in Secaucus and the All-Stars won their first two games. “We beat East Hanover in our second game with 10 runs and we beat them 12 to 2. We went to the championship and eventually East Hanover comes back to play the championship,” Johnson said.

  Johnson added, “we just had to beat them once and they ended up beating us twice. They ended up going to Bristol Connecticut for the regional tournament. “

  “We just didn’t get the timely hits as we had gotten in the past. It was just one of those things. It just didn’t go out in our favor and we were that close to going to Bristol for the regional tournament,” he said.

  Johnson added, “it slipped away and it was hard. It was something they had dreamed about for years and they were that close. When I look back to the journey and ride we had this summer, we had so much fun.”

  “The kids became close and spent almost every day together whether it was practice or pool parties. Winning the games that we had in the district was amazing. The things the boys were able to accomplish on the field and deal with the pressure. To see how they have grown from May to the end of July as young men so much before my eyes. I couldn’t be prouder of them,” said Johnson, who is also the team manager.

  Johnson’s 12-year-old son Dillion, played shortstop on the All-Star team. Holbrook Coach Jason Ballard had two sons on the team and fellow coach Shaun Wood’s son was one of the team’s top pitchers and a starting catcher. Johnson said the entire team “had a part in this.”

  Dillion shared his thoughts saying, “it was really fun getting to play with your friends every day and playing against some good teams and just having that experience. Going as far as we did, we’ll always have those memories.”

  Mayor Reina said during the recent council meeting, “Holbrook once again made us proud and put Jackson on the map. Everyone knows Jackson is a force to be dealt with, with our Little Leagues.”

  Council President Steve Chisholm added “congratulations to our Holbrook Little League champs. It was a great accomplishment and we look forward to maybe seeing some of these boys in the majors someday.”