MARGATE – The Margate Little League baseball team, comprised of players ages 11-12, found itself in an unfamiliar position following the top half of the first inning on Monday night. After winning four consecutive games by virtue of the ten-run rule, Margate surrendered a pair of early runs and faced a 2-0 deficit against Linwood in the District 16 Little League championship game.

With a large crowd on hand for veteran coach Yogi Hiltner’s final home game, the squad responded swiftly and potently. Margate punished Linwood pitching, piling on nine runs in the bottom of the first inning.

“It was a good test for them to be down,” said Hiltner, currently in his 44th and final season as the team’s manager.

Margate certainly passed the test. A fifth-inning home run off the bat of Bill Kral capped off another strong team effort and ended the game early, as Margate jumped to a 12-2 advantage.

A fifth straight ten-run victory vaulted the team to a district title – it’s first in more than a decade.

This is Margate’s 11th district championship under the guidance of Hiltner and 18th overall, according to the coach. Players past and present were on hand to congratulate Hiltner after the win.

“A lot of the town showed up for the game,” said Hiltner, who estimates that approximately 60-70 of his former players were in attendance Monday night. “I think the win brought a lot of joy to guys who once played for the team.”

That group includes members of the 1971 and 1980 teams, which both reached New Jersey Little League finals. Margate’s 1980 champs join the town's 1965 squad as the lone local teams to win a state title.

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You can hear Margate coach Yogi Hiltner on 97.3 ESPN Radio this Saturday morning when he joins The South Jersey Sports Report with Tyler Donohue (9-11 a.m. every week).