EXTRA INNINGS

Hoboken Little League wins District 7 11-year-old All-Star tourney

The Hoboken Little League 11-year-old All-Stars captured the District 7 championship last week by defeating Elmora of Elizabeth in the title game. From left to right are assistant coach Andrew Cleffi, Aaliyah Cleffi, Aiden Garcia, Miles Nessan, Akash Prasad, Leo Decock, Jose Marin, Mason Lore, Aaron Alexander, assistant coach Ryan Nugent, Adrian Tavera, Brenden Waldron, Aiden Nugent, Ben Conetta, Colin Kuretski and head coach Christian Kuretski.
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The Hoboken Little League 11-year-old All-Stars captured the District 7 championship last week by defeating Elmora of Elizabeth in the title game. From left to right are assistant coach Andrew Cleffi, Aaliyah Cleffi, Aiden Garcia, Miles Nessan, Akash Prasad, Leo Decock, Jose Marin, Mason Lore, Aaron Alexander, assistant coach Ryan Nugent, Adrian Tavera, Brenden Waldron, Aiden Nugent, Ben Conetta, Colin Kuretski and head coach Christian Kuretski.

When Chris Kuretski was assembling the Hoboken Little League All-Star team to play in the District 7 11-year-old tournament last month, he had no idea how good the team would be.

“Honestly, I didn’t know,” Kuretski said. “We had to put the team together quickly. By the time we got everyone together, it was about two weeks.”

But then Kuretski had somewhat of an idea that the team might fare well.

“We practiced well,” Kuretski said. “We practiced hard. We had a good mix of kids, a good group of strong attitudes. They were hungry kids who wanted to win. These were kids who loved baseball.”

It showed. Last week, the Hoboken Little League 11-year-old All-Stars captured the District 7 championship by dismantling Elmora of Elizabeth, 12-0, in the title game.

It marked the first time that Hoboken Little League won the 11-year-old District 7 banners since 2012.

Leading the way for the victorious champions was Kuretski’s son Colin.

Colin Kuretski merely fired a two-hit shutout in the championship game, striking out 12 batters in the process.

“He throws pretty hard,” the elder Kuretski said of his son. “He throws strikes. He has a really good change-up. He makes a lot of kids look foolish.”

Sounds like a right-handed pitcher with a very bright future.

Aiden Garcia is another right-handed pitcher on the Hoboken roster.

“He has a very good fastball,” Kuretski said of Garcia. “He throws heat, all heat.”

Adrian Tavera is a right-handed relief pitcher and the team’s closer. Tavera sounds a lot like Rivera, like Mariano Rivera, the Yankees superstar and greatest closer of all-time who gets inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown later this month.

“That’s a good match for him,” Kuretski said of Tavera.

The last member of the Hoboken pitching staff is another righty Akash Prasad, who also served as a relief pitcher.

“He throws a fastball and change-up,” Kuretski said of Prasad. “He’s a very accurate pitcher. He’s not overpowering. He gave us good innings.”

The team’s catcher is Aiden Nugent, making sure that the team corners the market on kids named Aiden.

“He’s a good hitter and very solid behind the plate,” Kuretski said of Nugent.

Jose Marin is the team’s first baseman.

“He’s a decent hitter, but he’s very solid in the field,” Kuretski said of Marin.

Tavera is the team’s second baseman when he’s not closing out games.

“He has great hands,” Kuretski said. “He also has a cannon for an arm.”

The shortstop duties are shared by the team’s top pitchers, namely Colin Kuretski and Garcia. Both are mainstays in the lineup, with Kuretski batting leadoff and Garcia batting third. So when one pitches, the other plays shortstop and vice versa.

“Colin is a great leadoff hitter,” the elder Kuretski said. “He gets on base a lot. Aiden is a great power hitter with tremendous speed. He’s one of the best base runners in the league.”

Aaliyah Cleffi is the team’s third baseman. Yes, you read correctly. Aaliyah is a girl.

“She’s as tough as nails,” Kuretski said. “She loves playing baseball. She’s a tough kid who runs fast. She also has a good arm. She’s a clutch hitter. She fits right in. She’s actually one of the boys.”

Mason Lore also sees time at third base.

“He’s a high on base guy,” Kuretski said. “He’s also a good base runner.”

The left field duties are shared by a trio of youngsters, namely Miles Nessan, Aaron Alexander and Ben Conetta.

The team’s centerfielder is Leo Decock.

“He covers a lot of ground,” Kuretski said. “He’s very fast.”

The right fielder is Brenden Waldron.

“He’s a hustler,” Kuretski said. “He’s a good fielder who has a big voice in the dugout. He’s a hard-nosed kid and a good teammate.”

The team’s assistant coaches are Ryan Nugent and Andrew Cleffi.

“Ryan works hard with the kids,” Kuretski said. “He’s a big help.”

Hoboken now moves on to the Section 2 tournament in Fort Lee, with the winner there moving on to the prestigious state tournament.

“These kids want more,” Kuretski said. “They want to win the states.”

Needless to say, this was a momentous victory for Hoboken Little League, one of the staple leagues in District 7. The hard-working volunteers in the Hoboken Little League like Massimo Forte, Benny Rotondo and Mike Cassaza deserve to have a champion.

“We’re very happy and very proud,” Kuretski said.

And as for the Section 2 tourney?

“Anything can happen,” Kuretski said. “We have the pitching and the hitting. The defense is solid. It’s anyone’s game.”

The Hoboken Little League’s 12-year-old All-Stars made it all the way to the championship round of the District 7 tournament in Secaucus, but the team fell short in its quest to move on, losing to Elmora of Elizabeth in the title game. The league’s 10-year-old All-Stars are still going strong at press time, in their quest to win a District 7 banner. We will keep you up to date with both the 11s and 10s progress.

EXTRA INNINGS focuses on the best stories that come from local baseball and softball leagues throughout the area, from Little League action through travel leagues.

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Jim Hague can be reached via e-mail at OGSMAR@aol.com