The “Jersey Boys” couldn’t muster one more comeback at the Little League World Series.
Despite a solid pitching performance from Joey DiMeo, Toms River East — which staved off elimination in both the Mid-Atlantic Regional Tournament and World Series with come-from-behind, late-game heroics — couldn’t spark a meaningful offensive effort and lost 2-1 Tuesday to the team from Abilene, Texas, 2-1, ending their bid in Williamsport, Pa.
Toms River East ended the double-elimination Little League World Series with a 1-2 record.
“They were upset. It was tough,” Toms River East manager Paul Mika told The Post. “I really thought they were going to rally, but it just didn’t transpire. This is the hardest thing these guys have gone through in terms of the mix of emotions.”
The matchup between the 12-year-old All-Stars from the Garden State and the Lone Star State kicked off with a ceremonial first pitch from 2014 Little League world championship pitcher Mo’ne Davis to Texas catcher Ella Bruning, who became the third girl to get multiple hits in a Little League World Series game.
Texas got on the board in the first — and wore down starting pitcher Cole Garrison, who threw 37 pitches.
Dylan Regala, Texas’ starter, shut down Toms River East in the bottom of the first with three quick strikeouts. Regala also blasted an RBI triple to give Texas a 2-0 lead in the second inning.
In the top of the third, with Garrison nearing his pitch limit of 85, Toms River East moved DiMeo from shortstop to the mound.
DiMeo — who hit the grand slam that sealed the Shore squad’s thrilling 11-4 comeback win against the team from Manchester, Conn., on Saturday — struck out three to end the inning.
The Jersey Boys looked primed for another resuscitation in the fifth inning. Regala, after hitting his pitch limit, was replaced by reliever Carter Nelson, with Toms River third baseman Steven Malato on second (after a single and passed ball) and DiMeo stepping up to the plate.
Nelson struck out DiMeo. With Jason Verderrosa up, however, Malato made his way home on a wild pitch and an error to get Toms River East on the board. Though Toms River East didn’t allow another run, they couldn’t rally offensively, only notching two hits.
DiMeo ended the game with eight strike outs and didn’t allow a hit.
After the loss, an emotional Mika gave a postgame speech, telling his players that he loved them.
“As they were leaving Williamsport, I told them to hold their heads up high. We finished as the No. 1 team in New Jersey and in the top 10 in the country. I am proud of what we accomplished.”
Though they won’t be on the diamond, Mika said the close-knit group won’t be away from each other for long.
“By Thursday they will be swimming in my pool and riding bikes. They’ll be together,” he said, praising them for their grit, endurance and brotherhood.
“There’s big things in store for all of them in the future. They are extremely athletic and have tons of talent. Don’t sleep on these Toms River boys.”
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