Middletown 12U team looks to avoid elimination in district tourney

By Wayne Witkowski

Middletown’s 12-and-under Little League All-Stars, which split their first two games, looked to stay alive in District 19 when they played Twin Rivers West of Little Silver July 5 in the losers bracket of the double-elimination tournament.

“They’re very dedicated and fundamentally sound and do what’s asked of them,” Middletown manager Tony Britta said.

The winner of that game plays July 7 against the loser of the Marlboro vs. Freehold Township.

Right-handers Jack Shea and Evan Wood are the top pitchers and play in right and left field, respectively, when they’re not on the mound.

The top hitters are first baseman Matt Adamson, catcher Greg Trezza, center fielder Matt Kenny and third baseman Rob Cangelosi. Rob Generelli starts at second base and Robert Powell is the shortstop. Andrew Lombardi and Conor North fill in as outfielders as needed. Utility player Christian Malizia and outfielder Philip Woods round out the Middletown team that beat Twin Rivers East, 2-0, in the tournament and lost to Freehold Township, 12-2.

Middletown’s Intermediate 13-and-under team faced a daunting challenge in its Section 3 opener July 5 when it played Jackson. Most of the lineup at Jackson, which won District 18, played on last year’s 12-and-under team that went all the way to the Eastern Regional finals before getting eliminated. Middletown automatically advanced to the section tournament as the lone program in District 19. Edison, the District 10 champion, plays District 12 champ Millstone in the other bracket.

“We’re ready to give it a shot — as ready as we’ll ever be,” Middletown manager Mike Altilio said. “Pitching is huge, and we also have good hitters. We have a pretty good defense with big, strong kids who are fundamentally sound.”

Robert Gonzalez, a solid all-around player who pitches and plays shortstop, leads Middletown. He throws a fastball, curveball and changeup. Left-hander Dylan Wanagiel throws the same three pitches, and right-hander Colin Dowlen throws a fastball and curve.

Dowlen, who also plays first base, and catcher Matt Maguire lead the hitting with Gonzalez.

“You don’t want to fall behind against a team like Jackson, so we have to jump out early and be careful,” Altilio said. “It’s double-elimination, so we have to keep our pitchers fresh and we have enough depth there to get through.”

Stephen Delahanty will play either third base or move over to shortstop when Gonzalez pitches. Anthony Tucci plays at second base.

Altilio said his son, Nicholas, tracks down fly balls well in either left or right field, and center fielder C.J. Miranda has the speed to get to many balls hit to the outfield.