The Egg Harbor Township Cal Ripken 10-and-under All-Star baseball team endured a tragedy together and rallied for a title Wednesday night.
Egg Harbor Township rallied from the loser’s bracket to defeat host Washington Township 7-3 and win the the Cal Ripken South Jersey District 3 Championship. Egg Harbor Township also won elimination games Monday and Tuesday.
The championship came two days after the death of Albert “Albie” Mallen Jr., one of the team’s assistant coaches, who was also an Atlantic City firefighter for nearly 20 years. Mallen, 45, was struck and killed Monday on the tracks of an Atlantic City Rail Line train in Galloway Township. Mallen’s oldest son, Ryan, plays for Egg Harbor Township.
Mallen’s 8-year-old son, Gavin, also plays for another Egg Harbor Township youth baseball team.
“Anybody who was at that field knows that those games were more than baseball games about winning and losing,” Egg Harbor Township Manager Jamie Gillespie said. “They were about starting a healing process for a 10-year-old little boy and starting a healing process for our baseball community and family. They were much, much more than just baseball games.”
Ryan Mallen sparked Egg Harbor Township on Wednesday. He hit a double, scored two runs and made five catches in center field, including two grabs that took extra-base hits away Washington Township.
Aidan Gauvin hit a two-run home run for Egg Harbor Township. Jason Salsbery pitched two scoreless innings to close out the game. Jake Cagna contributed two hits and scored two runs.
Egg Harbor Township advances to the Southern New Jersey State Tournament, which starts July 7 in Delran.
“What we talked to the kids about was that we could reach our goal of winning the tournament by sticking together inning by inning, out by out, play by play,” Gillespie said. “We did that for three straight nights.”
Gillespie said previously that Mallen liked nothing better than to be on the field coaching his sons and their friends.
“Al is a one-of-kind personality,” Gillespie said. “But what he was with our team was just genuine, down to earth. He showed great care and compassion at all times.”