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The 2021 season ended with Red Bank Catholic as the Shore’s No. 1 team and the Caseys were a bounce of the ball away from winning the NJSIAA South Jersey Non-Public A title and handing the ball to Shane Panzini in the state final with a chance to finish No. 1 in the state. Despite that resume – arguably the best RBC has ever posted as a baseball program – the Caseys barely pulled out the outright Class A Central championship, with a tie against Rumson-Fair Haven securing the division championship over Ocean.

That recap is not to pour cold water on what the Caseys did last year; quite the contrary. It underscores how well as team has to play to win Class A Central and finishing atop the field will be just as hard this year for RBC or any other team with designs of winning a division title. RBC and Rumson-Fair Haven bring back teams that, while missing some senior starts from last year, are still loaded. Raritan brings back lots of pieces from a team that reached the Central Jersey Group II final. Monmouth returns almost everyone from a competitive 2021 team and Ocean, despite losing some impact players, is always a contender.

Those five are likely to be the group that scraps for the top spot in Class A Central, with RBC and Rumson-Fair Haven the two teams that carry the most potential into the postseason as contenders in the county, conference and NJSIAA Tournaments.

In predicted order of finish

Red Bank Catholic

Life for Red Bank Catholic will be tougher now that the Caseys no longer have ace Shane Panzini – now part of the Kansas City Royals farm system – but while they won’t have Panzini, this year’s team will have something last year’s team did not have to the same degree: a giant chip on its shoulder. Red Bank Catholic was one out away from the program’s first NJSIAA sectional championship in 24 years, before it slipped through the Caseys’ grasp at St. Augustine. The season then officially ended with a loss to Rumson-Fair Haven in the Monmouth County Tournament final, which means despite winning 24 games, winning a second straight Shore Conference Tournament and finishing No. 1 at the Shore, the Caseys enter this season looking for redemption.

Coach Buddy Hausmann and his staff won’t have to sell that narrative too hard because this team is loaded with players who were a big part of last year’s team. The entire infield is made up of returning starters, with junior catcher Shane Andrus, junior first baseman Frank Scrivanic and senior second baseman Nico Gonzalez all returning to their 2021 positions. Monmouth University commit Matt Scrivanic shifts from third base to shortstop for his senior season and recent Alabama commit Sean Griggs moves from the outfield to his natural third base position. Frank Scrivanic and Griggs are two dangerous left-handed bats, while Matt Scrivanic is a powerful right-hander and Gonzalez an effective table-setter.

Red Bank Catholic junior Matt Scrivanic. (Photo by Paula Lopez)
Red Bank Catholic senior Matt Scrivanic. (Photo by Paula Lopez)
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Another imposing right-handed hitter in the lineup is junior outfielder Alex Stanyek. The George Washington commit hit the cover off the ball during Red Bank Catholic’s tear through the postseason tournaments, on top of playing stellar defense in both right and centerfield. The outfield is where the Caseys are under construction, with Mater Dei Prep transfer Jake Jacobson providing some instant experience and sophomore Matt Brunner breaking in.

On the mound, there won’t be dominant figure like Panzini looming like there was in 2021, but the depth in the RBC rotation will be as good as any other Shore Conference team can offer – if not better. Stanyek was lights-out on the mound down the stretch in a relief role and will be the team’s No. 1 starter heading into the year. Junior Dom Mallamaci and sophomore Declan Leary were huge for the Caseys in divisional play last year and are ready for bigger roles.

The x-factor will be the underclass group of pitchers, led by freshman Ryan Prior – a 6-foot-5 right-hander who is already committed to Virginia and comes with noteworthy bloodlines. Prior is the nephew of former Chicago Cubs pitcher and current Los Angeles Dodgers pitching coach Mark Prior. Sophomore Steve Svenson has also come on strong leading up to the start of the season and will absorb some important innings as well.

Not many teams suffer the kind of heartbreak RBC encountered at the end of its outstanding 2021 season and even fewer get a chance at redemption with so many players who experienced the heartbreak returning. Getting through the A Central schedule will be a grind, perhaps even more so than last season, but the Caseys are as deep as any team in the conference and should again have the horses to navigate every challenge.

Red Bank Catholic sophomore Alex Stanyek. (Photo by Paula Lopez)
Red Bank Catholic junior Alex Stanyek. (Photo by Paula Lopez)
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Red Bank Catholic at a Glance

Head Coach: Buddy Hausmann, 14th season
2021 Record: 24-5-1 (11-2-1, first in Class A Central)
Key Losses: Shane Panzini (RHP/OF), Anthony Borriello (CF), Dylan Wanagiel (RHP), Sean Ettore (SS), Dan DeFlores (OF)

Around the Diamond (Returning 2021 starters in bold, with available stats)

Catcher: Shane Andrus, Jr. (.224/.341/.284, 4 2B, 2 R, 10 RBI)

First Base: Frank Scrivanic, Jr. (.360/.480/.450, 7 2B, 1 3B, 26 R, 19 RBI, 2 SB)

Second Base: Nico Gonzalez, Sr. (.317/.424/.341, 2 2B, 18 R, 16 RBI, 3 SB)

Shortstop: Matt Scrivanic, Sr. (.308/.450/.494, 5 2B, 3 3B, 2 HR, 24 R, 21 RBI, 3 SB)

Third Base: Sean Griggs, So. (.287/.447/.325, 3 2B, 21 R, 21 RBI, 5 SB)

Leftfield: Jake Jacobson, Sr. – Transfer from Mater Dei (.321/.379/.604, 4 2B, 4 3B, 1 HR, 13 R, 15 RBI, 9 SB)

Centerfield: Matt Brunner, So.

Rightfield: Alex Stanyek, Jr. (.380/.471/.600, 8 2B, 1 3B, 4 HR, 26 R, 33 RBI, 7 SB); Brandon Kopec, Jr.

DH: Claude Morales (Sr., C); Jack Meyers (Sr., OF)

Other Hitters

Andrew Gonzalez (Sr., 2B)

Christian Condon (So., SS)

Dylan Passo (Fr., 1B)

Nick Fastiggi (Jr., 3B)

Steve Svenson (So., 3B)

 

Pitchers

Alex Stanyek, Jr., RHP (0-2, 2.05 ERA, 13.2 IP, 9 H, 8 BB, 25 K)

Dom Mallamaci, Jr., RHP (3-2, 2.95 ERA, 38 IP, 38 H, 17 BB, 34 K)

Declan Leary, So., RHP (2-0, 1.91 ERA, 25.2 IP, 21 H, 11 BB, 22 K)

Ryan Prior, Fr., RHP

Steve Svenson, So., RHP

Sean Griggs, So., RHP

Ashton Mejias, Sr., RHP

Mike Liddy, Sr., RHP

Jack Meyers, Sr., LHP

 

College Commitments

Matt Scrivanic – Monmouth University

Nico Gonzalez – Rutgers University-Newark

Andrew Gonzalez – Thomas Jefferson University

Frank Scrivanic – Seton Hall University

Alex Stanyek – George Washington University

Sean Griggs – University of Alabama

Ryan Prior – University of Virginia

 

Rumson-Fair Haven

It’s hard to imagine a Group II team that lost two All-Shore up-the-middle players in Andrew Schmid and Thomas Elgrim being even better than in the previous season with those two players, but that could very well be the reality for this resurgent Rumson program. The Bulldogs won their first Monmouth County Tournament title to close out the 2021 season and to make it even sweeter, they beat Red Bank Catholic to do it. The Bulldogs went 2-1 against the No. 1 team in the Shore Conference and after experiencing the challenges of playing to the semifinals of every postseason tournament while also juggling a challenging division schedule, they are even more equipped to handle it this season.

With shortstop and centerfield vacant heading into camp this season, coach Owen Stewart is opting for experience at those spots. Senior Charlie Tallman will make the move to shortstop after an All-Division season as a second baseman as a junior, while senior Johnny Bruno is in line to shed the designated hitter role for the centerfield gig. Rumson will remain strong at four other positions as well, with junior third baseman Reece Moroney, senior first baseman Matt Rigby, senior rightfielder Liam Murphy and junior catcher Owen Kenney all returning to their 2021 spots.

Rumson-Fair Haven junior Charlie Jones. (Photo by Paula Lopez)
Rumson-Fair Haven senior Charlie Jones. (Photo by Paula Lopez)
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Sophomores Aaron Del Tin (second base) and Jack Riva (left field) are in line for playing time as underclassmen, but the lineup will have additional length thanks to senior Brian Doherty. Although an arm injury will keep him off the field, Doherty is a proven hitter for the DH spot and will give the Bulldogs seven hitters who have all put up numbers at the varsity level.

Despite a relentless lineup that remains intact, Rumson’s strength might be its pitching. Senior 6-foot-6 ace Charlie Jones reopened his recruitment and committed to Wake Forest coming off an All-Shore campaign as a junior. Another Division I arm will follow him in the rotation in junior right-hander and Rutgers commit John Goodes, with fellow junior Jackson Hinchcliffe and his impressive 42-to-5 strikeout-to-walk ratio as a sophomore rounding out the rotation.

The group would be even better were it not for an injury to senior left-hander Mike Amendola, but even as is, the Bulldogs are loaded in the pitching staff. Factor in a lineup that can pick up a pitcher on a bad day and Rumson is again set up for a huge season in 2022.

Rumson-Fair Haven junior Charlie Tallman. (Photo by Paula Lopez)
Rumson-Fair Haven senior Charlie Tallman. (Photo by Paula Lopez)
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Rumson-Fair Haven at a Glance

Head Coach: Owen Stewart, seconds season
2021 Record: 22-6-1 (9-4-1, third in Class A Central)
Key Losses: Andrew Schmid (SS), Thomas Elgrim (CF), Dylan Sakele (RHP/OF), Mike Amendola (Sr., LHP) – Injured

Around the Diamond (Returning 2021 starters in bold, with available stats)

Catcher: Owen Kenney, Jr. (.349/.437/.434, 4 2B, 1 HR, 18 R, 9 RBI)

First Base: Matt Rigby, Sr. (.272/.422/.370, 3 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 16 R, 22 RBI)

Second Base: Aaron Del Tin, So.

Shortstop: Charlie Tallman, Sr. (.325/.427/.500, 6 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 25 R, 20 RBI, 7 SB)

Third Base: Reece Moroney, Jr. (.311/.421/.400, 5 2B, 1 HR, 23 R, 14 RBI, 3 SB)

Leftfield: Jack Riva, So.

Centerfield: Jonathan Bruno, Sr (.286/.416/.333, 3 2B, 14 R, 11 RBI, 1 SB).; Jack Campbell, Jr.

Rightfield: Liam Murphy, Sr. (.231/.349/.346, 3 2B, 1 HR, 12 R, 11 RBI)

DH: Brian Doherty (Sr., OF) (.267/.427/.349, 4 2B, 1 HR, 26 R, 13 RBI, 3 SB); Jack Riva (So., OF)

Other Hitters

Owen Sullivan, Sr., OF/C

Frank D’Aponte, Sr., OF

Spencer Hobson, Jr., C

David Hendrickson, Jr., OF

Cal Champeau, Jr., UTIL

Griffin Shenman, Jr., INF

Nico Calabretta, Sr. INF/OF

Jack Sullivan, Sr., OF

Tim Wisely, Sr., INF

Jack Marshall, Sr., OF

Cade LaGrassa, Jr. OF

 

Pitchers

Charlie Jones, Sr., RHP (6-0, 2.93 ERA, 46 IP, 29 H, 22 BB, 58 K)

John Goodes, Jr., RHP (4-2, 4.50 ERA, 30 IP, 26 H, 14 BB, 32 K)

Jackson Hinchliffe, Jr., RHP (3-4, 5.29 ERA, 34 IP, 33 H, 5 BB, 42 K)

Matt Bruno, Jr., RHP (1-0, 3.60 ERA, 10 IP, 5 H, 9 BB, 8 K)

Cal Champeau, Jr., RHP (2-0, 5.73 ERA, 11 IP, 10 H, 6 BB, 12 K)

Roman Sakele, Jr., RHP (1-0, 0.00 ERA, 3 IP, 0 H, 2 BB, 1 K)

Cade LaGrassa, Jr., RHP (0-0, 0.00 ERA, 2 IP, 0 H, 2 BB, 1 K)

Aaron Del Tin, So., RHP

Reece Moroney, Jr., RHP

Jackson Gallagher, So., LHP

Maverick Maguire, So., LHP

 

College Commitments

Charlie Jones – Wake Forest University

Mike Amendola – Williams College

Jonathan Bruno – Dickson College

Liam Murphy – Roanoke College

John Goodes – Rutgers University

 

Ocean

Unlike last season, when Ocean finished second in the division and Rumson-Fair Haven barely edged out Raritan for third place in the division, there is likely to be a gap between the RBC-RFH duo and the next group of Class A Central teams. Ocean is always a hard team to play twice in a span of three of four days and while the Spartans will again make it hard on the teams of Class A Central, they will be doing so with a new-look lineup.

Jack Zabarsky is the lone returning starter on the infield and moves from second base to shortstop. He will be flanked by senior Grady Stefankiewicz at second base and freshman Ben Robinson at third, making for an interesting mix on the dirt. The fourth member of that infield group might end of being Ocean’s top hitter and that is senior Cord Birzin. While Birzin was effective in his 20 at-bats as a junior, then-senior Dillon Downs got an opportunity at first and went on to produce an All-Shore season, forcing Birzin to hold off until his senior year before getting another shot at the full-time job.

The outfield will have some more experience, with talented juniors Shane Garrett and George Krenkel manning the corners. Garrett is Ocean’s top returning pitcher as well, so there will be some mixing-and-matching out in the grass, not to mention a competition in centerfield between juniors Jake Smith and Nick Case – who both figure to play when Garrett is on the mound. The Spartans will also have experience at the plate with their DH Zach Robinson, who hit .345 in part-time duty and is also a knuckle-baller on the pitching staff.

Speaking of the pitching staff, the group returns Garrett, Robinson, junior Matt King and senior Will Calderone from a season ago while losing two key arms in Lucky Perrotto and Nick Callano. The staff will also be throwing to freshman catcher Connor Tongring and a pair of freshmen – Michael Chowning and Tommy Kowaliwskyj – will be a pair of rookies to monitor on the mound as well. This is a tough division to have to deal with when breaking in new players at so many key positions, but coach Cip Apicelli has the track record of doing it and chance to start a really good three-year run.

 

Ocean at a Glance

Head Coach: Cip Apicelli, 12th season
2021 Record: 15-9 (11-3, second in Class A Central)
Key Losses: Nick Callano (CF/RHP), Kevin Novobilsky (SS), Dillon Downs (1B), Nick Vaugh (C), Lucky Perrotto (LHP), Riley Morrow (3B/RHP)

Around the Diamond (Returning 2021 starters in bold, with available stats)

Catcher: Connor Tongring, Fr.

First Base: Cord Birzin, Sr. (6-for-20, 2 2B, 2 3B, 5 R, 5 RBI)

Second Base: Grady Stefankiewicz, Sr.

Shortstop: Jack Zabarsky, Sr. (.290/.417/.420, 9 2B, 18 R, 13 RBI, 6 SB)

Third Base: Ben Robinson, Fr.

Leftfield: Shane Garrett, Jr. (.348/.449/.545, 3 2B, 2 3B, 2 HR, 11 R, 14 RBI)

Centerfield: Jake Smith, Jr.; Nick Case, Jr.

Rightfield: George Krenkel, Jr. (.347/.423/.520, 7 2B, 2 HR, 23 R, 14 RBI, 8 SB)

DH: Zach Robinson (Sr., 3B/1B) (.345/.457/.379, 2 2B, 7 R, 8 RBI)

Other Hitters

Bohdi Lettieri (So., C)

Luke Marino (Sr., 1B)

Josh Martinez (Jr., SS)

Shane Flanagan (Sr., 3B)

Pat DeMarco (Sr., OF)

Jack Giglio (Sr., OF)

Pitchers

Matt King, Jr., RHP (1-1, 4.50 ERA, 9.1 IP, 15 H, 4 BB, 8 K)

Shane Garrett, Jr., RHP (5-0, 1.64 ERA, 25.2 IP, 25 H, 9 BB, 25 K)

Will Calderone, Sr., RHP (1-3, 6.79 ERA, 22.2 IP, 43 H, 9 BB, 23 K)

Zach Robinson, Sr., RHP (0-1, 4.90 ERA, 10 IP, 18 H, 6 BB, 7 K)

Aiden Miles, Sr., RHP

Richie Alderiso, Sr., RHP

Nick Dayke, Sr., RHP

Jack Zabarsky, Sr., RHP

Jack Giglio, Sr., RHP

Shane Flanagan, Sr., RHP

Nick Case, Jr., RHP

Tommy Kowaliwskyj, Fr., RHP

Michael Chowning, Fr., RHP

 

College Commitments

Jack Zabarsky – Montclair State University

 

Monmouth

Although Monmouth finished 5-9 in the division and well behind the top-half of the loaded Class A Central field, the Falcons set themselves up very well for this season. They did lose a pair of all-division bats in Brian Yadlon and Brett Minto, but those two occupied first base and designated hitter, respectively. That means the defense will be experienced, led by two-way seniors Aiden Denton and Christian Zito. Heading into the season, Monmouth’s big games will likely feature one of those two on the mound and the other at shortstop, but when the Falcons get further into the pitching staff, Zito will head out to right field and give Monmouth an impressive group out in the field. In Zito’s case, the bat is especially potent as well.

Catcher Joe Esposito, second baseman Zach Lopes and centerfielder James Kelly make it a perfect 4-for-4 in returning players in up-the-middle positions for Monmouth and you can throw in senior third baseman Chris Theobald as another experienced hitter and defender on the infield. Even Andrew McKinley in left and Evan Schade at first base bring back a dose of experience to the lineup.

Denton and Zito will anchor a pitcher staff that will need to take a step up in performance for Monmouth to be able to make a run at a top-three finish in the division. Like the lineup, there is a lot of experience back from a year ago on the mound, although some of that may be because coach Paul Crivello was routinely looking for the right guys to get through games against some of the Shore’s best lineups. Along with Denton and Zito, Kelly Lopez and Schade each threw at least 15 innings and Lopes also gave the Falcons some work on the mound in 2021 as well.

The experience part of the equation is covered for Monmouth, but it will ultimately come down to whether or not this group processed last season and learned how to improve enough to beat the likes of Raritan, Ocean and even Rumson and Red Bank Catholic. Zito is proven All-Shore-level talent and with a group of hungry returning players to complement him, there may be more breakout talent ready to make Monmouth a breakout team.

Monmouth at a Glance

Head Coach: Paul Crivello, eighth season
2021 Record: 9-13 (5-9, sixth in Class A Central)
Key Losses: Brian Yadlon (1B/LHP), Brett Minto (DH), Dominick Santaniello (RHP)

Around the Diamond (Returning 2021 starters in bold, with available stats)

Catcher: Joe Esposito, Jr. (.246/.403/.459, 7 2B, 2 HR, 5 R, 16 RBI)

First Base: Evan Schade, Sr. (5-for-20, 2 RBI); Mike Sluzis, Jr.; Colin Denton, Fr.

Second Base: Zach Lopes, Sr. (.213/.303/.213, 10 R, 7 RBI, 6 SB)

Shortstop: Aiden Denton, Sr. (.164/.270/.164, 12 R, 5 RBI); Christian Zito Sr.

Third Base: Chris Theobald, Sr. (.222/.338/.333, 2 2B, 2 3B, 7 R, 4 RBI, 7 SB)

Leftfield: Andrew McKinley, Sr. (.191/.291/.191, 6 R, RBI); Brian Boccino, Jr. (3-for-5, 2B, 4 RBI)

Centerfield: James Kelly, Sr. (.261/.370/.304, 3 2B, 13 R, 11 RBI, 13 SB)

Rightfield: Christian Zito, Sr. (.448/.554/.642, 6 2B, 2 3B, HR, 22 R, 17 RBI, 6 SB); Brian Boccino, Jr.

DH: Evan Booth (So., 2B); Mike Milevoi (So., OF)

Other Hitters

Brian Boccino (Jr., OF)

Mike Sluzis (Jr., 1B)

Colin Denton (Fr., 1B/2B)

Kodey Stafford (Jr., SS)

Caelin Szymanski (Jr., 3B)

Ian Clancy (Jr., OF)

Brandon Geiger (So., OF)

 

Pitchers

Aiden Denton, Sr., RHP (2-6, 3.68 ERA, 38 IP, 40 H, 21 BB, 39 K)

Christian Zito, Sr., RHP (2-2, 5.25 ERA, 17.1 IP, 20 H, 6 BB, 20 K)

James Kelly, Sr., LHP (1-1, 4.67 ERA, 15 IP, 19 H, 10 BB, 13 K)

Zach Lopes, Sr., RHP (2-1, 4.20 ERA, 16.2 IP, 13 H, 6 BB, 23 K)

Evan Schade, Sr., RHP (1-2, 3.21 ERA, 24 IP, 28 H, 8 BB, 14 K)

Joe Esposito, Sr., RHP (0-1, 3.36 ERA, 8.1 IP, 4 H, 5 BB, 7 K)

Chris Theobald, Sr., RHP

Mike Sluzis, Jr., LHP

Evan Booth, Sr., RHP

Mike Milevoi, So., RHP

 

Raritan

The start to the 2021 season was a mystery for the vast majority of teams in New Jersey because so many starters and players being relied upon for major contributions missed a chance to debut as varsity regulars in 2020. Raritan was a perfect example of a team that suspected it had something good in the works despite a lack of overall experience and the Rockets came through when it counted. For the second time in four years, Raritan made it to the Central Jersey Group II championship game and fell just shy of winning another title.

Coach Jeff Struble and his crew are confident they can make another run at it this year and, as was the case in 2021, they will have to overcome some unknowns around the diamond. That starts with three of the most important roles on the team, which were occupied by two players last season: staff ace, shortstop and catcher. Two of the three will be taken over by proven producers, with senior Ben Hutchins sliding up into the No. 1 spot in the staff and senior Justin Rivera – a standout athlete on the basketball court – shifting from second base to shortstop full-time. Hutchins pitched in a number of big games as a junior and Rivera played shortstop when Chris Gonzalez took the mound.

Junior Robert Mulligan will replace Justin Kilyk behind the plate, but the rest of the infield will have a familiar look. Sophomore John Molnar got some spot duty as a freshman to get him ready for his starting role at second base, while senior Rob Scarola returns to first base after hitting .391 as a junior and junior Billy Tigar is back at the hot corner.

There is also some offense and athleticism in the corner outfield with Alex Dekis returning to rightfield and Dan Federco taking over in left on a full-time basis after hitting .429 in 28 at-bats as a sophomore. Dan Calicari will be new to the new to the lineup, but he was a capable courtesy runner and defender who will fit in nicely in center. Throw in Hutchins as a DH when he is not pitching and the Raritan lineup has the makings of a good one again.

Junior Giancarlo Lamberti will join Hutchins at the top of the rotation after he got his feet wet during an up-and-down varsity debut as a sophomore. Molnar will also be a key part of the rotation and Fedorco and Scarola will give the staff a left-handed element. Depth will be a question this group has to answer but if Lamberti takes the next step, Raritan will once again have a one-two punch to carry into the state tournament. Challenging for the top spot in the division is very difficult for a Group II school, but Raritan has proven to be dangerous in the Central Group II Playoffs, regardless of seeding – a trend that should continue in 2022.

Raritan junior Ben Hutchins. (Photo by Bruce Willence)
Raritan senior Ben Hutchins. (Photo: Bruce Willence; provided by Raritan Baseball)
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Raritan at a Glance

Head Coach: Jeff Struble, ninth season
2021 Record: 14-11 (9-5, fourth in Class A Central)
Key Losses: Chris Gonzalez (SS/RHP), Justin Kilyk (C), Luke Ohea (CF), Kai Kruk (RHP)

Around the Diamond (Returning 2021 starters in bold, with available stats)

Catcher: Robert Mulligan, Jr.

First Base: Rob Scarola, Sr. (.391/.430/.448, 3 2B, 1 3B, 12 R, 6 RBI, 10 SB)

Second Base: John Molnar, So. (3-for-7, 2 R, 2 RBI)

Shortstop: Justin Rivera, Sr. (.305/.379/.339, 2 2B, 8 R, 7 RBI, 8 SB)

Third Base: Billy Tigar, Jr. (.240/.296/.280, 3 2B, 3 R, 11 RBI)

Leftfield: Dan Fedorco, Jr. (.429, 10 R, 9 RBI)

Centerfield: Dan Calicari, Jr. (1-for-7, 11 R, 13 SB)

Rightfield: Alex Dekis, Sr. (.361/.391/.373, 1 2B, 15 R, 18 RBI, 9 SB)

DH: Ben Hutchins (Sr., OF) (.375/.437/.444, 3 2B, 1 3B, 19 R, 11 RBI, 6 SB)

Other Hitters

Stephen McCabe (Jr., 3B/DH)

Joe Rotondo (So., 2B)

Alex Pante (Jr., OF)

Pitchers

Giancarlo Lamberti, Jr., RHP (2-2, 14 IP, 8.00 ERA, 16 H, 20 BB, 12 K)

Ben Hutchins, Sr., RHP (4-3, 3.26 ERA, 43 IP, 36 H, 12 BB, 30 K)

John Molnar, So., RHP (2-0, 3.50 ERA, 20 IP, 23 H, 4 BB, 14 K)

Den Fedorco, Jr., LHP

Will Polo, Sr., RHP

Rob Scarola, Sr., LHP

 

College Commitments

Justin Rivera – Mount St. Mary’s University (Basketball)

Ben Hutchins – Salisbury University (Football)

Rob Scarola – Fairleigh Dickinson University-Florham (Football)

 

Holmdel

While Raritan’s band of unproven bats, arms and gloves paid off in the form of a deep state-tournament run, Holmdel’s strong senior group came up a little short of that kind of run. The Hornets had the No. 1 starter and a capable lineup, but the pitching depth was not able to hold up enough to yield a deep tournament run.

Holmdel now moves on without that aforementioned ace, Jake Umans, and without its top four OPS leaders from last season’s lineup. The 2021 lineup, however, was a deep one and Holmdel will have some of the success stories from that group in the starting nine again in 2022. Sean Brescia moved around and served as DH last year and will take over at shortstop in his senior season, with junior Brandon Cieplensky returning to first base to give Holmdel an experienced player at two of the four spots on the infield. The Hornets also return all three outfielders – Jonathan Spallin, James Vallillo and Tim Haggerty – and the five returning players all hit at least .297 last year, with four hitting comfortably over .300.

Two seniors are angling to inherit the open spots in the lineup, with Alex Price moving in to start at catcher and James Hanley making a strong push to be the starter at second base. Holmdel coach Chris Arecchi will look to incorporate another underclass talent at the remaining spot, with sophomore Joe Barbarino set to start at third base.

A return to form by the offense would be a big boost for a team with questions in the pitching staff. Junior Max Woodward got a chance to start as a sophomore and will also provide an additional capable bat in the lineup, while Cieplensky looks to make a greater impact from the left side of the rubber as part of Holmdel’s one-two punch of returning hurlers. Elliot Chun, Barbarino and sophomore southpaw Luke Buda will be key members of the staff as well and will hold the key to Holmdel competing with the top teams in a division that is once again stacked with quality teams.

Holmdel at a Glance

Head Coach: Chris Arecchi, fifth season
2021 Record: 11-14 (7-7, fifth in Class A Central)
Key Losses: Brett Hilsheimer (2B/RHP), Andrew Woodward (SS/RHP), Jason Sparkes (C), Louie Curcio (3B), Jake Umans (LHP), Reese Goldberg (OF/RHP)

Around the Diamond (Returning 2021 starters in bold, with available stats)

Catcher: Alex Price, Sr.

First Base: Brandon Cieplensky, Jr. (.297/.509/.324, 1 2B, 10 R, 8 RBI, 4 SB)

Second Base: James Hanley, Sr.; Elliot Chun, Jr.

Shortstop: Sean Brescia, Sr. (.315/.390/.452, 5 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 12 R, 14 RBI, 15 SB)

Third Base: Joe Barbarino, So.

Leftfield: Jonathan Spallin, Sr. (.328/.388/.361, 2 2B, 12 R, 6 RBI, 6 SB)

Centerfield: James Vallillo, So. (.338/.387/.382, 3 2B, 14 R, 14 RBI, 12 SB)

Rightfield: Tim Haggerty, Jr. (.319/.430/.375, 2 2B, 1 3B, 11 R, 9 RBI, 4 SB)

DH: Max Woodward (Jr., UTIL)

 

Pitchers

Max Woodward, Jr., RHP

Brandon Cieplenski, Jr., LHP

Elliot Chun, Jr., RHP

Luke Buda, So., LHP

Joe Barbarino, So., RHP

 

College Commitments

John Spallin – Centenary University

 

St. Rose

In each of the past few seasons, this space has been a place to bemoan the bad luck – specifically the bad timing – that St. Rose has suffered from in moving into Class A Central. The Purple Roses were loaded in 2018 and would have been a great team to add to this mix of A Central competition, but once the Roses were finally moved into Class A Central, the top talent had graduated.

The silver lining, though, is that with more games against good competition, the St. Rose players are getting better more quickly and last year’s young group started to show signs of real improvement. With standout Tommy Turnbach injured and unable to do more than DH, the Purple Roses picked up three division wins while leaning on three underclass pitchers, including a freshman who led the team in innings.

That freshman is Jack Tiernan and, along with senior left-hander Ryan Rogers, junior left-hander Ryan Murray and senior right-hander Jack Lomerson, he is part of a returning group of arms that, while certainly taking their lumps in a hitting-heavy division, gained valuable experience a season ago. St. Rose is also ready to get more out of up-and-comers Joe Sestito, Tom Clays and Thomas Schmidt, while also welcoming in Manasquan senior transfer Zac Lavigna.

As much as the pitching will have to take a leap forward, the offense will need more production from its returnees, of which there are many. Turnbach’s graduation leaves a large holed in the batting order, but the rest of the spots should remain solid, even improved. Lomerson (second base), Tiernan (third) and senior Matt Gowen (shortstop) return to their spots on the infield and Rogers is back in centerfield after finishing second on the team in slugging percentage (.468) and extra-base hits (9). Senior Chris Tallarico, junior Jack Donohue and Murray are all in the corner outfield mix and Sestito is set for DH at-bats.

With Rogers and Lomerson leading the returnees in the lineup and most of last year’s innings back as well, St. Rose has as much reason for optimism as it has any year since moving into Class A Central. The top teams are still a step ahead, but after climbing from eighth place to seventh between 2019 and 2021, a move from seventh to sixth would be another legitimate step for a team set up to keep getting better over the next several seasons.

St. Rose at a Glance

Head Coach: Rich Lanko, fifth season
2021 Record: 5-17 (3-11, seventh in Class A Central)
Key Losses: Tommy Turnbach (1B/RHP), Logan Boag (C), Jack Crawford (3B/RHP), Shane Killeen (OF/LHP),

Around the Diamond (Returning 2021 starters in bold, with available stats)

Catcher: Dave Bookbinder, Jr.; Brendan Sherman, So. (1-for-4, 2 RBI)

First Base: Zach LaVigna, Sr. – Transfer from Manasquan (2-for-12); Jack Donahue, Jr.

Second Base: Jack Lomerson, Jr. (.265/.357/.408, 2 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 6 R, 5 RBI, 3 SB)

Shortstop: Matt Gowen, Sr. (.269/.333/.288, 1 2B, 6 R, 2 RBI, 3 SB)

Third Base: Jack Tiernan, So. (.188/.391/.229, 2 2B, 16 R, 2 RBI, 1 SB)

Leftfield: Chris Tallarico, Sr. (2-for-11); Jack Schmidt, Sr.

Centerfield: Ryan Rogers, Sr. (.258/.303/.468, 5 2B, 4 3B, 10 R, 2 RBI, 8 SB)

Rightfield: Jack Donahue, Jr.; Ryan Murray, Jr. (.129/.206/.129, 3 R, 2 RBI, 3 SB)

DH: Joseph Sestito (Jr., 3B) (0-for-4)

 

Pitchers

Jack Tiernan, So., RHP (6.40 ERA, 27.1 IP, 38 H, 21 BB, 27 K)

Ryan Rogers, Sr., LHP (3.33 ERA, 21 IP, 20 H, 22 BB, 19 K)

Ryan Murray, Jr., LHP (5.83 ERA, 9 IP, 11 H, 13 BB, 10 K)

Zac LaVigna, Sr., LHP – Transfer from Manasquan (0-1, 5.70 ERA, 19.1 IP, 14 H, 25 BB, 14 K)

Jack Lomerson, Jr., RHP (12.25 ERA, 8 IP, 5 H, 19 BB, 9 K)

Joseph Sestito, Jr., RHP

Thomas Clays, Sr., RHP

Thomas Schmidt, Sr., RHP

Chris Tallarico, Sr., RHP

Jack Donohue, Jr., LHP

Max Glassberg, Fr., RHP

 

Shore

While led by seniors Trevor Crochet and Danny Smith for much of the year, Shore shifted toward a youth movement over the course of the 2021 season and will still be in the middle of that movement this season. The Blue Devils are in line to start a lineup that does not have a senior, although Richie Barton – the roster’s lone senior – remains an option in the lineup and on the mound.

To make this season more challenging, all-division junior Rylan Fegan is working through an injury, which potentially leaves Shore without its best pitcher and hitter while heading into a season in a crowded competition Class A Central division. Fegan is set to head the rotation and occupy right field on his non-pitching days.

The silver lining to moving toward a young lineup this season is Shore will have returning varsity players at almost every position. Sophomores Cole Stefanelli (first base), Parker Fegan (second) and Joe Santi (shortstop) make up a chunk of the infield and junior Christian Simonsen will round it out at third base. Sophomore Jake Pennell played the field as a freshman and will be a full-time piece this season, with junior Lucas Rosa returning as a top-of-the-order bat in left field. Junior Mike Inacio will be a middle-of-the-order bat after a solid sophomore season at the plate and behind it, with sophomore E.J. Stefanelli also working in at catcher as the lineups lone newcomer.

The lineup will be more experienced than the rotation, particularly if Fegan is due for an extended absence. The Simonsen and junior Donovan Hughes combined for 30 innings a season ago, while Cole Stefanelli, Santi and sophomore left-hander Rob Stock look to complete the rotation, which will need Fegan at the top of it in order for Shore to hang with the rest of the A Central field. Whatever the outcome, the Blue Devils players – almost all of whom are set to return in 2023 and most of them in 2024 – are going to get a look at what it takes to win against some of the Shore’s best.

Head Coach: Jay Kulthau, third season
2021 Record: 6-19 (0-14, eighth in Class A Central)
Key Losses: Tyler Tilton (CF/RHP), Trevor Crochet (2B/RHP), Danny Smith (3B/DH/RHP), Brett Sweeney (Jr., 1B)/LHP)

Around the Diamond (Returning 2021 starters in bold, with available stats)

Catcher: E.J. Stefanelli, So.

First Base: Cole Stefanelli, So. (.200/.375/.280, 2 2B, 5 R, 1 RBI)

Second Base: Parker Fegan, So. (.243/.404/.270, 1 2B, 8 R, 3 RBI, 1 SB)

Shortstop: Joe Santi, So. (.333/.459/.333, 2 R, 7 RBI, 1 SB)

Third Base: Christian Simonsen, Jr. (.295/.347/.318, 1 2B, 1 R, 8 RBI, 3 SB)

Leftfield: Lucas Rosa, Jr. (.247/.315/.260, 1 2B, 12 R, 6 RBI, 9 SB)

Centerfield: Jake Pennell, So.

Rightfield: Rylan Fegan, Jr. (.297/.444/.406, 1 2B, 3 3B, 12 R, 15 RBI, 5 SB)

DH: Mike Inacio (Jr., C) (.246/.381/.308, 2 2B, 1 3B, 8 R, 8 RBI, 5 SB)

Other Hitters

John Dunleavy, Jr., SS (.121, 1 2B, 5 R)

Richie Barton, Sr., 1B (.167, 2 2B, 4 R)

Donovan Hughes, Jr., OF (.080, 2B, 3 R, 1 RBI)

 

Pitchers

Rylan Fegan, Jr., LHP (3-0, 1.46 ERA, 24 IP, 22 H, 23 BB, 45 K)

Christian Simonsen, Jr., RHP (0-4, 4.05 ERA, 19 IP, 19 H, 8 BB, 16 K)

Cole Stefanelli, So., RHP

Rob Stock, So., LHP

Donovan Hughes, Jr., RHP (0-1, 5.09 ERA, 11 IP, 13 H, 5 BB, 13 K)

Joe Santi, So., RHP

Richie Barton, Sr., RHP

John Dunleavy, Jr., RHP

 

Class A Central Lineup

Owen Kenney, Jr., C, Rumson-Fair Haven

Frank Scrivanic, Jr., 1B, Red Bank Catholic

Charlie Tallman, Sr., SS, Rumson-Fair Haven

Matt Scrivanic, Sr., SS, Red Bank Catholic

Sean Griggs, So., 3B/RHP, Red Bank Catholic

Alex Stanyek, Jr., OF/RHP, Red Bank Catholic

Christian Zito, Sr., OF/RHP, Monmouth

George Krenkel, Jr., OF, Ocean

Shane Garrett, Jr., OF/RHP, Ocean

 

Class A Central Pitching Rotation

Charlie Jones, Sr., RHP, Rumson-Fair Haven

Ben Hutchins, Sr., RHP/OF, Raritan

John Goodes, Jr., RHP, Rumson-Fair Haven

Dom Malamacci, Jr., RHP, Red Bank Catholic

Jackson Hinchcliffe, Jr., RHP, Rumson-Fair Haven

Aiden Denton, Sr., RHP/SS, Monmouth

 

Class A Central Breakouts to Watch

Declan Leary, So., RHP, Red Bank Catholic

Ryan Prior, Fr., RHP, Red Bank Catholic

James Vallillo, So., CF, Holmdel

Giancarlo Lamberti, Jr., RHP, Raritan

Cord Birzin, Sr., 1B, Ocean

Johnny Bruno, Sr., CF, Rumson-Fair Haven

Jack Tiernan, So., 3B/RHP, St. Rose

Joe Santi, So., SS, Shore

 

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