It ain’t over ’til the “Jerseys Boys” sing.
Toms River East is alive in the Little League World Series after shortstop Joey DiMeo hit a fifth-inning grand slam to put the kiss on a thrilling 11-4 comeback win over the team from Manchester, Conn.
They will remain in Williamsport, Pa., and are scheduled to play Monday (1 p.m., ESPN) against the loser of the game between teams from Taylor, Mich. and Abilene, Texas, which is slated for Sunday at 1 p.m.
The squad from the shore dug out of a 4-1 hole by patiently grinding away at starting pitcher Eli Bucko and taking advantage of the pitching change that helped ignite their offensive rally.
The Connecticut squad went up 1-0 in the first inning against Toms River East starter Carson Frazier when Jacob Budarz hit an RBI single. Toms River East answered with a tying run in the first.
But in the top of the third, Toms River East found itself in trouble after Budarz blasted a two run homer. His teammate Ryan Gorman hit an RBI single to give Connecticut a three run lead with only one out on the board.
Toms River East found relief and a momentum change after Dominic Roma replaced Frazier and delivered back-to-back strikeouts to end the inning. He didn’t allow a hit in the outing.
In the bottom of the fifth, Jersey came roaring back. With two runners on base, left fielder Cailen Cimorelli hit an RBI infield single, driving in Dominik Sabatini for the tying run. Bucko, who was nearing his 85-pitch limit, was replaced by Bukarz, who walked third baseman Steven Malato, loading the bases and bringing slugger Joey DiMeo to the plate.
DiMeo dramatically crushed a grand slam to center field, and the Jersey Boys took a commanding 8-4 lead.
Toms River East went on to score three more runs in the inning and was able to shut down Connecticut in the top of the sixth, capturing the win.