Freehold Little League baseball team wins state sectional championship

Freehold Borough and Freehold Township must have a lot of young baseball talent, because when the towns pooled their 15 and 16 year old all-stars, they became the best team in New Jersey Section 3.

On July 3 at Michael J. Tighe Park in Freehold Township, the Freehold Borough/Township Senior Little League all-star team won the New Jersey Section 3 championship with a 7-1 victory over Brick Township. The triumph capped Freehold’s 6-0 run through the state sectional tournament.

Freehold Borough/Township got all the way to the New Jersey state title game as well, falling to Randolph, 7-6, in nine innings on July 13 in East Vineland. It’s always disappointing to lose a state championship game, especially in extra innings. But once the Freehold players and coaches had time to think about their run, they weren’t too broken up about the loss.

They won a sectional title and enjoyed a scintillating ride.

“It was fun,” said Freehold Assistant Coach Robert Sive. “Obviously you’d like to win it all but it was enjoyable.”

By combining the all-stars from two towns, Freehold built a well rounded team. Sive credited various pitchers, hitters and fielders with contributing to the team’s run.

Giacamo Calamita and Jared Stillwagon were the ace pitchers, and they complemented each other well.

Calamita won three games in the state sectional tournament by throwing strikes and literally “not walking anybody,” Sive said. He threw fastballs and curveballs, and his fastball wasn’t even that fast. Calamita just moved it well.

Stillwagon, on the other hand, is a power pitcher, just like you would expect given his last name. The hurler hit 80 miles per hour with his fastball and blew hitters away.

“Those were the two big pitchers and then a couple kids carried the offense,” Sive said.

The big boppers were also the top two hitters in Freehold’s batting order, Giovanni Sive, Robert’s son, and Connor Quinn. Both players drove runners in and then made things happen on the base paths.

Robert Sive and his fellow coaches did not design the lineup to get their two best hitters the most plate appearances. Gio Sive and Connor Quinn just became Freehold’s best hitters over the course of the tournament.

“That’s just how it worked out,” Robert Sive said.

On top of its pitching and hitting, Freehold played tight defense across the diamond. The team’s infield, with Dominic Granata at third base, Calamita at shortstop when he wasn’t pitching, Sean Keegan at second base and Giovanni Sive at first base, was especially tight.

Calamita and Keegan formed a strong double play duo in the middle of the diamond.

“The infield turned some really nice double plays,” Robert Sive said.

The rest of the team consisted of John Olik, Ryan Keegan, Brad Salamone, Mike Kleschinsky, Liam Wiley, Brian McKeon, Mike Mancusi, Anthony Sirico and Spencer Hurley. Out of 15 players on the Freehold roster, 10 are only 15 years old this summer, meaning they will be eligible to come back in 2020.

“If they can come back we’ll try it again,” Robert Sive said.

Most of the players go to either Freehold High School or Freehold Township High School, and they should be making an impact on those programs soon, too.

“They absolutely could be impact players,” Robert Sive said.