By Warren Rappleyea Staff Writer Hazlet 11-year-olds tops of local Babe Ruth play The Hazlet Babe Ruth League 11-year-old all-star team had a spectacular summer, winning four tournaments, including district and state titles in its division. Coach Vinny DiConstanzi’s club went 29-7 overall, thanks to a solid pitching corps and some big bats in the middle of its lineup. “Everyone contributed to our success, but I think our pitching was the key,” the coach said. “We have five quality pitchers, most teams only have one or two.” Those hurlers include Marc Zucchino and Andrew Mandeville, the staff aces, along with Frank DiRoma, Jim Cox and Chris DiConstanzi. This group started the campaign in fine fashion, propelling Hazlet to the championship in the Cranford tourney, which culminated with a victory over Bridgewater in the final. Next, the team competed in the Babe Ruth League’s District 11 tournament for 11-year-olds. After opening with a win, Hazlet lost a second round game to Matawan. The team then reeled off six straight wins, twice downing Middletown, and edging Matawan 7-1 in the championship game. DiConstanzi’s team proved to be an unpopular host, dominating its own tourney with a 5-0 mark, including a 2-1 success against Fair Haven in the finale. The team faced a dilemma: it was participating in two more tournaments at the same time. Hazlet’s main goal was to win the New Jersey Babe Ruth League 11-year-old title. While doing so, the team managed a second-place finish in the Carteret Tournament. In the state event, North Edison, which had won three consecutive titles as 8-, 9- and 10-year-olds, promptly handed Hazlet a 9-3 loss. The locals recovered from the setback and marched through the loser’s bracket to gain a place in the championship round. To win, however, Hazlet needed to beat North Edison twice in the double-elimination tournament and could not afford another defeat. In the first game, Hazlet raced to a 4-0 lead, but the game went into extra innings tied at five. DiConstanzi’s team hung tough, eventually taking a 12-5 win. Things looked bleak in game two. North Edison went up 6-0, but Hazlet’s Chris DiConstanzi shut the door the rest of the way, while his teammates rallied for a come-from-behind 7-6 win. The win qualified Hazlet for the Babe Ruth regional championship, where its exciting season came to an end. “The kids had a lot of fun and it was a big accomplishment for us to beat North Edison after they had won the state championship three years in a row,” Coach DiConstanzi said. The team’s top hitters were Zucchino, who played shortstop when not pitching, and Mandeville, a first baseman. Zucchino led the team in RBI, while Mandeville cracked 15 homers and won the home run contest at the regional tourney. DiRoma, the lead-off hitter, was regularly on base, while catcher Brian Malloy and Cox, who also plays right field, were solid at the plate. Other members of the Hazlet team are versatile Glenn Davis, infielders Tom Petry and Kevin Yorks and outfielders Victor Scanzini, Mike Sheldon, John Connell and DH Alex Wanless. Pat Zucchino, Frank DiRoma Sr. and John Petry are the assistant coaches.