The Cherry Hill Atlantic 16U team won its first two games in the regional baseball championships that began July 19 in Bangor, Maine.
The week-long tournament consists of eight teams from the Northeast region and is a double-elimination contest. If a team wins each game, it has to win four total to win the tournament; if it loses a game, it has to win five.
The tournament’s winning team will go on to compete in the Senior League Little League World Series in Easley, South Carolina, beginning Saturday.
In the first regional tournament game, Cherry Hill Atlantic beat the Rising Sun Little League from Maryland, 8-3, and won its second-day game against Rhode Island’s team, 5-4.
“We’ve really won with a lot of clutch hitting and some clutch play, making big plays at the right time,” said team manager Christian Carkeek.
Carkeek described clutch play as coming up big and cited player Cole Haddock, who hit a bunt to put extra runs on the board.
“He laid down a bunt and sacrificed himself so two guys could get onto the scoring field,” Carkeek noted.
Like earlier times, this year’s senior 16U team consists of players from both Cherry Hill Atlantic and Cherry Hill American Little League, as well as players from both Cherry Hill High School East and West. Though the groups are divided at the lower level, they have merged at the older levels in the last few years.
Players include Andrew Bechtel, Eric Brown, Brody Connors, Jimmy Farley, Kyle Fisher, Carter Gill, Brody Goldfarb, Mick Goldstein, Cole Haddock, Austin Hanni, Stephen Longo, Luciano Macri, Ryan Moyer, Tristan Perry, Aiden Ryder, Zach Salsbery. The coaches are Chandler Dunoff, Ben Keating, and temporary coach Scott Burnham.
“This might have been one of the most fun teams that I’ve been around,” Carkeek noted. “I have no kids who complain about playing time. They’re very supportive of each other.”
Leading up to the regionals, the 16U team beat Oaklyn in the district championships, Camden and Monroe’s Little Leagues in the sectionals, and Point Pleasant and Fort Lee/Cliffside Park in the state championship.
“The boys have committed to it, which is something rare for this particular age bracket and this type of baseball,” Carkeek explained. “ … We have 16 good players. I have 16 selfless players, and every one of them has given me some sort of contribution in these three tournaments. That’s not the cliche, that’s real.
“Every single one of them has given me something that they can say, ‘I’m proud of that moment,’ and will be able to hold that kind of moment for the rest of their lives,” he added. “That they played in a state championship game, or they played in the sectional games.”
To raise funds for travel expenses, the team has started a GoFundMe page whose proceeds will be evenly distributed to families. For information, visit https://tinyurl.com/s3rfr6zp.