For more than four decades the Witt family has been heavily involved with the Kearny Little League and developing the town’s young baseball talent with 10-U All-Stars head coach Travis Witt serving as the third generation to coach in the program.
And while success on the diamond has at times been a challenge in the soccer-crazed town, there is still optimism that better days await for baseball based on the recent success on its youth levels.
“Kearny Little League’s been in my family for more than 40 years so for me to coach and win with these kids is absolutely amazing and shows everyone it’s not just a soccer town,” said Witt, of the lineage which started with his grandfather, Thomas, followed by his uncle, Joe and father, Tom. “There’s still hope for baseball here in the near-future.”
Earlier this month, that promising future was on full display as Kearny hit and ran its way to a District 5 championship, defeating Saddle Brook, 11-10, for the title on July 8 in Rutherford.
“We won our first game 16-1 against North Arlington and then we just kept progressing from there and kept winning,” said Witt. “It was an amazing feeling to just watch that and coach that.”
In total over six games, Kearny averaged an eye-opening 11.7 runs per game in district play. According to Witt, Kearny jumped out to first inning leads every game thanks to a dangerous top five of the lineup.
Ethan Delantor leads off, followed by Declan Coleman, D’Angelo Paseual, Angel Hernandez and Jaden Milne.
“They get on base, they’re good baserunners. We steal a lot of runs off of our baserunning,” Witt said. “They all have pretty good speed. They all feed off of each other, if one person comes up big, the next one also comes up big.
“I think in every game we’ve played, we’ve scored three or four runs in the first inning. It definitely is a relief for them.”
Delantor also headlines Kearny’s pitching staff, which also counts upon Paseual, Hernandez and Coleman for innings.
Catching them is Stein Thelusma. Aidan Berrios is at first base with Coleman at second, Hernandez at third and Paseual at shortstop. In the outfield, Joseph Distano is in left field, Mason Rivera is in center and Milne’s in right.
Aidan Sommers, Brian McKenna and Levi Gavin are the top bats off the bench and have provided valuable contributions throughout the team’s run.
“The pitchers did a great job of throwing strikes, getting batters out,” said Witt. “The fielders did an amazing job of making big plays, especially in the championship game.”
Tom Witt, who serves as the league president, Joe Witt, Danny McChesney and Kevin McKenna are assistant coaches as well.
Kearny’s offense continued to stay hot in its Region 2 opener in Bloomfield on Saturday, though it came in a 19-15 defeat to Palisades Park/Leonia on Saturday. It’s second game, against Elmora LL, in the double-elimination tournament was pushed back to Monday, July 17 due to rain.
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Jason Bernstein | Observer Sports Writer
Jason Bernstein joined The Observer as its sports writer in March 2022, following the retirement of Jim Hague. He has a wealth of sports-writing experience, including for NJ Advance Media (nj.com, The Jersey Journal, The Star-Ledger.)