WEST ORANGE, NJ – One of the highlights of the West Orange PAL Travel Baseball season is the annual Mt. Olive Marauders Memorial Blast. The West Orange PAL teams have participated in this tournament for the past four years. The Mt. Olive Tournament is a town team only-based tournament.
This year the West Orange PAL Travel Baseball program had four teams representing West Orange – 9U, 10U, 12U, and 14U divisions. The tournament began on Thursday, May 24, and ran through Monday, May 28.
During the tournament, games are played at Turkey Brook Park, Dan Jordan Fields, and Russ Nagle Fields, all in the Mt. Olive/Budd Lake area. West Orange sets up camp at Turkey Brook Park and it is a family day for all the teams. For the past few years, Enzo’s Ristorante & Pizzeria has provided the teams and families with 6-foot sub sandwiches and pizzas while the teams relaxed between games. And to top off a great weekend, the West Orange PAL 10U and 14U teams won their divisions to become Tournament Champions!
The 9U team took to the fields beginning Thursday night with a tough loss to Wayne PAL, but came back to win its next three games: 6-5 over Denville, 13-2 over Montville, and a 6-5 come-from-behind win over Randolph. The 9U team advanced to the semifinal round played on Monday morning against Roxbury. It was a tough loss, 4-2, but the team made great plays to stay in the game against the number 1 seeded Roxbury. This was the first time the 9U team had been in tournament play and their spirit to win was shown with each play of the games.
The 10U team represented West Orange with a 2-2 record in the tournament. They took a loss to Randolph in game one, 7-4, but split Saturday’s games with a 9-1 win over Sparta, and a 9-3 loss to Bernardsville. They then came back to win 18-5 against Kinnelon, which prevented them from reaching the semifinals last year. The team was patient as they waited to see if they had made the semifinals! On Monday, the 10U team played with their hearts to take a 5-4 win over Denville to make it to the Championship played Monday afternoon. The Championship game was a pitching duel against Randolph…but not for long. The 10U team broke open in the fifth inning to go ahead 7-2. In the bottom of the sixth, the team held onto the lead with an 8-3 victory to win the 10U Division Tournament Championship.
The 12U team battled some stiff competition, playing Montville, Sparta, and Fielders Choice, but unfortunately were not able to win its bracket. The teams’ performance was highlighted by strong pitching. There were many great plays made in the field, but the offense stole the show with home runs clearing the fences. Thursday night clearly set the tone for an exciting weekend for the team. The 12U team did pull out a great win over host team, Mt. Olive, with a 7-4 victory. The 12U team now looks forward to moving into the playoffs of the United States Amateur Baseball League (USABL).
A long time coming, the 14U team went undefeated in the tournament. This team was the original team entered into the Mt. Olive Tournament as a 10U team, four years ago when the PAL took over the Travel Baseball program. Coming back from being runner-up in last year’s championship, the team was determined to win this year. The team took a win over Belleville, 11-6, and a 7-0 win over Roxbury, securing the No. 1 seed in the tournament. They took on Belleville in the championship on Sunday evening with a 5-1 win. Smart base running and clean defense guided the team to the Championship they had been waiting for.
The PAL congratulates all its teams on dedication to the PAL program during the tournament. The West Orange PAL program was given many compliments on its level of play, the way the teams and coaches carried themselves, and the sportsmanship towards their opponents and the umpires. According to the PAL, it was truly a wonderful experience to see players and families coming out to support all of their teams at each age level; players on the benches or outside the dugout of their peer players, siblings waiting outside the dugouts, and parents enjoying the company of one another – it is what the PAL family is all about. The 10U and 14U Tournament Trophies, affectionately named Olivia and Olive, are now on display at the PAL building.
The 8U, 9U, 10U, and 14U teams will now head into the Championship games this Sunday, June 17, in the prestigious USABL.