Milton wins third straight Major League baseball state title

Milton’s Little League team laps the field at Milford after winning the state championship for the 3rd year in a row, beating Newark 9-1. Special to the Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh

MILFORD — Milton Little League has punched its ticket to the Mid-Atlantic Regional tournament for the third consecutive year.

With a 9-1 victory over Newark National on Thursday night at Milford Little League, Milton earned its third straight Major League baseball state championship.

The win marks Milton’s eighth straight state tournament victory, with the team’s last loss dating back to the first game of the 2016 tourney.

Milton’s Gage Joseph is congratulated by his teammates after he hit a homer in the first inning.

Milton will open play at the Mid-Atlantic Regionals against the state champions from Maryland on Aug. 5 at 4 p.m.

“It’s a special team,” said Milton manager Paris Mitchell. “I don’t know what expectations were way back before districts, but these kids left no doubt who was the best team in the state this year and it’s just a humbling thing to coach those guys.

“They’re not just great ballplayers, they’re great kids, too. They are a lot of fun in the dugout, they’re always upbeat.”

Milton cruised through the District III tournament with a perfect 4-0 record. The team’s success carried over to the state tournament as Mitchell’s squad picked up three more wins over a four-day span to earn the state title.

Over those seven games, Milton out-scored opponents, 55-9, and recorded a pair of shutouts.

Nolan Barry of Milton goes in hard at second to trip up Newark’s Nate Golden. Barry was forced out but prevented a double play.

“We’ve seen good pitching, we’ve seen some good lineups that hit the ball, but what I think really sets this team apart right here is our defense,” Mitchell said. “We don’t have any weaknesses. We’re not going to walk you, we’re not going to give you any errors, you’re going to have to out-hit us on the field.”

Tyler Jacona pitched a complete game with five strikeouts, allowing just five hits to Newark’s lineup. The lone run surrendered came on a third-inning RBI double by Newark National’s Nathan McBride.

“I was just trying to work my curveball a lot more and make it work and it did,” said Jacona.

Offensively, Milton collected 13 hits from 10 different players, including two-hit games from Jacona, Gage Joseph and Nolan Barry.

Joseph set the tone for the night early, sending a pitch over the outfield wall for a solo home run in the bottom of the first inning.

“I felt great because it was the first inning,” said Joseph. “All the other games my first at-bat I hadn’t done so well and this at-bat I finally hit a home run.”

“He’s definitely our horse,” said Mitchell. “I feel like Gage Joseph is the best 12-year-old in the state, so when he’s hitting on all cylinders. it takes all the pressure off all the other kids and they can just be role players — they don’t have to go out and win the game for us.”

Gage Joseph rips a fastball over the right field fence in the first inning to put Milton up 1-0.

The lead was extended to 2-0 in the bottom of the second as Frank Fuscellaro scored on an error.

McBride’s RBI double in the third inning cut the lead in half, but a Jase Mitchell RBI double in the bottom of the third and a four-run fourth inning broke the game wide open for Milton.

Barry drove in Joseph with a single and Noah Wells drove in two more runs with a double to make it a 7-1 game in the fourth.

Jacona capped the scoring with a two-run single in the bottom of the fifth before going back out to the mound and shutting the Newark National hitters down in order in the top of the sixth to wrap up Milton’s regional bid.

Milton pitcher Tyler Jacona goes to the plate against Newark.

With a deep pitching staff and a strong defensive unit, Mitchell believes this team can make some noise once it arrives in Bristol.
“There’s plenty in the stable and when you go to a tournament like Bristol, you definitely need that,” he said. “I’d be lying to you if I didn’t look at the bracket, you do have to win a few games in rapid fashion, and we think we can do that.

“The key for us is hitting the ball. We know we have good pitching, we know we have good defense, but if we’re going to score nine runs a night we’re going to be a tough team to beat.”

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