Rick’s Auto Body wins Kearny Little League World Series title

The Witt family has been involved in Little League baseball in Kearny for almost 50 years. The father, Tom, Sr., was a coach and administrator in Kearny Little League for more than 40 years. One son, Joe, was an integral head coach for years before moving to North Arlington, leaving the reins of coaching the Rick’s Auto Body team to brother, Tom.

Joe Witt was the head coach for Rick’s Auto Body when his teams won an astounding six Kearny Little League World Series titles.

Now, brother Tom, Jr. is creating a bit of a dynasty of his own.

Rick’s Auto Body won the Kearny Little League World Series title last week, defeating Lee’s Florist in the best-of-three championship series in two straight games.

Rick’s won the first game behind the brilliant pitching of Kyle Watson, 2-1, with Watson firing a one-hitter. Watson carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning and then capped his day by hitting a walk-off game-winning homer.

Then, Rick’s won the second game by a convincing 15-0 margin.

The younger Witt was asked if there was a special reason why Rick’s Auto Body does so well in the Kearny Little League World Series. It’s the third time in 11 years that Tom Witt has captured the crown.

“I don’t know if there’s a key,” Witt said. “We do practice all the time. We have fun in the practices. Our kids always show up for practice, so that’s a good start. I knew we had a chance to be good with this team and the kids responded.”

Jayden Morales was the team’s first baseman. Morales was also selected to the Kearny 12-year-old All-Stars that are competing in the District 5 All-Star tournament right now.

“Jayden had some key hits for us,” Witt said. “He hit the ball very well.”

Gustavo Lima was the third baseman.

“He was only a three-inning player before this year,” Witt said of Lima. “He worked very hard to improve and he also hit the ball very well all season.”

Elijah Castro was the catcher.

“We made him a catcher last year and he responded to it,” Witt said of Castro. “He was a little raw at first, but he developed well. He’s a big kid. Once we put the equipment on him, he got used to it and became a good catcher.”

Watson was the star of the team, the top pitcher and shortstop when he was not on the mound.

“He can play anywhere,” Witt said of Watson. “He’s an unbelievable kid with a lot of talent. I think he’s the best player in our Little League.”

Watson is also on the Kearny Little League 12-year-old All-Star team.

Angel Vega was the team’s second baseman. He’s only 10 years old, so he has two more years to play for Rick’s.

“He’s a solid glove,” Witt said of Vega.

Michael Jarquin is the team’s No. 2 pitcher and other shortstop.

“He came in relief a lot,” Witt said of Jarquin. “He’s a solid player.”

Dylan Morales, the younger brother of Jaden, is the team’s centerfielder.

“He can go get the ball,” Witt said. “He also pitched a couple of games for us. We didn’t know he could pitch, but he did a good job.”

Isaac Moya is the team’s left fielder. He’s also only 10 years old, giving Rick’s a solid future.

Jayden Vasquez is the team’s right fielder. He’s 11 years old, so he also returns.

“He plays steady outfield,” Witt said of Vasquez.

Omar Lopez is a second baseman.

“He’s a work in progress,” Witt said. “He didn’t do a bad job.”

Jordan Bernard is only nine years old, so he has three more years with Rick’s. The same can be said for Anthony Fernandez. Both Bernard and Fernandez are outfielders.

“Jordan really worked hard all season,” Witt said. “Anthony was throwing the ball well by the end of the season.”
Witt was happy with the entire team.

“We have a good group of kids,” Witt said.

Witt thanked his assistant coaches, namely Dan Watson and yes, his brother Joe, who returned to coach Rick’s Auto Body this season.

“They’re there every day,” Witt said of his coaches.

Witt knows that coaching a champion is a lot of fun.

“Any time you win in this league, it’s a blast,” Witt said. “We take a lot of pride in what we do. You’re the team everyone wants to beat.”

Witt also remembers the old rivalries in the Kearny Little League.

“It was like the days when Rick’s would play Arlington Pizza,” Witt said.

But the key to success? Practice, practice, practice.
“We had the kids out in March,” Witt said. “It was a little raw outside. We all didn’t want to be there, but we did it. We put an emphasis on base running and that helps tremendously during games.”
Obviously, Tom Witt has to be doing something right. He’s coaching the Kearny Little League World Series champion once again.




Rick’s Auto Body is the Kearny Little League World Series champions for 2019. Standing, left to right, are Jayden Morales, Coach Jeremy Delgado, Elijah Castro, Coach Dan Watson, Kyle Watson, Dylan Morales, Player Agent Dave Nash, Isaac Moya, and Head Coach Tom Witt. Kneeling, left to right are, Jordan Bernard, Michael Jarquin, Jayden Vasquez, Omar Lopez, Angel Vega, Anthony Fernandez and Gustavo Lima. Photo courtesy of Dan Watson




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Jim Hague | Observer Sports Writer

Sports Writer Jim Hague was with The Observer for 20+ years — and his name is one of the most recognizable in all of sports journalism. The St. Peter’s Prep and Marquette alum kicked off his journalism career post Marquette at the Daily Record, where he remained until 1985. Following shorts stints at two other newspapers, in September 1986, he joined the now-closed Hudson Dispatch, where he remained until 1991, when its doors were finally shut.

It was during his tenure at The Dispatch that Hague’s name and reputation as one of country’s hardest-working sports reporters grew. He won several New Jersey Press Association and North Jersey Press Club Awards in that timeframe.

In 1991, he became a columnist for The Hudson Reporter chain of newspapers — and he remains with them to this day.

In addition to his work at The Observer and The Hudson Reporter, Hague is also an Associated Press stringer, where he covers Seton Hall University men’s basketball, New York Red Bulls soccer and occasionally, New Jersey Devils hockey.

He’s also doing work at The Morristown Daily Record, the very newspaper where his journalism career began.

During his career, he also worked for Dorf Feature Services, which provided material for the Star-Ledger. While there, he covered the New York Knicks and the New Jersey Nets.

Hague is also known for his announcing work — and he’s done PA work for Rutgers Newark and NJIT.

Hague is the author of the book “Braddock: The Rise of the Cinderella Man.”