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Toms River East at Little League Mid-Atlantic Tournament: What’s next

How will the Little League Mid-Atlantic Tournament play out and what does Toms River East need to do to advance to Williamsport?

Ryan Ross and Sherlon Christie, Asbury Park Press

As disappointing as the result was for Toms River East in Saturday’s Mid-Atlantic Region Tournament championship game, the team will still be departing Bristol, Connecticut Sunday morning bound for Williamsport, Pennsylvania and the Little League World Series.

Because while the New Jersey champions dropped a 10-3 decision to Upper Providence (Oaks, Pennsylvania), Toms River East secured a spot in the World Series less than 24 hours earlier with a dramatic comeback win.

That’s when Toms River East rallied for six runs in the top of the sixth inning, with a three-run double by Carson Frazier providing the game-winning runs against Canal Little League, the Delaware champions, to reach the region final.

Both region finalists receive invitations to the World Series this year.

It marks Toms River East’s return to the World Series for the first time since 1999, a year after the team captured the championship by defeating Japan in the final game. They open play on Thursday at 5 p.m., with the game broadcast on ESPN.

While Frazier drove in a pair of runs, he surrendered 14 hits and took the loss. Upper Providence starter Sam Buckley struck out 11 before reaching the maximum number of pitches with one out in the fifth inning.

It was the second time in three days that Toms River East lost to Upper Providence, a 6-1 winner on Thursday.

Tommy Sergio ripped a two-run home run deep into the trees beyond the left field fence to give Upper Providence a quick 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning.

More: Frazier legacy alive as Toms River East looks to resurrect ‘Beast of the East’

Related: Toms River East Little Leaguers going on road trip of a lifetime

Toms River East leadoff hitter Steven Malato answered immediately in the bottom of the inning, stroking a line drive over the left field fence to cut the deficit in half.

Some uncharacteristic fielding miscues allowed Upper Providence to load the bases with two outs in the top of the third. But Frazier was able to escape the jam by getting catcher Sean Kenney to ground out.

Game Story: Little League: Toms River East defense, Mika RBI hits power win vs Montgomery County

Game Story: Despite loss to Upper Providence, path to World Series exists

Once again it was Frazier coming through in a big situation with two outs, driving a scorching grounder up the middle to score both runners and put Toms River East in front, 3-2.

Sergio struck again in the top of the fourth inning, ripping a two-out, bases loaded double to score two runs, putting Upper Providence back in front, 4-3, with Toms River East throwing a runner out at the plate on the play to end the inning.

Upper Providence took a 6-3 lead with a two-run single in the top of the fifth inning by Timmy Burns, before Tennaro replaced Frazier on the mound.

Toms River East loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the fifth inning when Sergio, who took over for Buckley on the mound, walked the first two batters he faced. But Sergio got out of the jam by striking out the next two batters.

Upper Providence tacked on four insurance runs in the top of the sixth inning.

Little League announced Friday that there would be no general public admission to the World Series next week, scrapping plans to allow 3,000 fans into the complex each day because of a rise in COVID-19 cases from the delta variant. Each team, however, will be given 250 passes for family members and friends.

It’s the seventh appearance by a team from Ocean County at the Little League World Series. Lakewood was the first, winning the 1975 Little League World Series, before Toms River East went three times (1995, 1998, 1999) and Toms River National did it in 2010. Holbrook Little League from Jackson reached Williamsport in 2017.

Source: Asbury Park

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