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In each of the past three seasons, Jackson Memorial has entered the season as the heavy favorite in the Shore Conference Class A South division and, for the most part, the Jaguars have lived up to the billing. Even when the 2020 season was canceled, Jackson Memorial entered the Last Dance World Series tournament and made it all the way to the state championship game. Throw in two division titles that they won by at least two games in the standings, and Jackson Memorial has not had many anxious moments since tying for the A South championship on the way to a NJSIAA sectional championship in 2018.

While the Jaguars again enter 2022 as the A South favorite, the grip on the top spot may be loosening some. Central Regional beat Jackson Memorial in divisional play last year and went on to win the Ocean County Tournament championship with a team that has a lot of talent still on hand. Brick Memorial also handed Jackson Memorial a division loss and made it to the OCT final, setting the Mustangs up to be a contender as well.

Brick and Toms River South also scored wins over Jackson Memorial, which sets up two potential scenarios. Class A South teams are closing the gap between Jackson Memorial and the field, or the Jaguars will be highly motivated to dominate the division this year – even more so than usual.

In predicted order of finish

1. Jackson Memorial

Over the last decade-and-a-half, Jackson Memorial has been one of the standout programs of the Shore Conference and since 2018, the Jaguars have been particularly excellent. During that span, they are 63-20 with three straight Class A South championships, a 2018 South Jersey Group IV sectional championship and a 2020 Last Dance World Series regional championship – the summer tournament for N.J. high school teams that missed out on the canceled 2020 scholastic season.

With the talent that has been on the Jaguars rosters and the regular-season success comes expectations, and while Jackson Memorial has been among the Shore’s top teams since 2018, the Jaguars have run into problems in the postseason since winning their 2018 sectional title. Between 2019 and 2021, Jackson Memorial suffered four shocking tournament losses on its home field as either a No. 1 or 2 seed in the Ocean County, Shore Conference and South Jersey Group IV Tournaments.

This year’s team will try to turn that story on its head with some championship hardware to go with a fourth straight Class A South title. The Jaguars will have to replace three standout players at three important positions – shortstop, catcher and frontline pitcher – but they also have a lot of experience back from a year ago. Auburn commit and senior ace Zach Crotchfelt headlines that group after a dominant junior campaign that saw the 6-foot-5 left-hander land a First Team All-Shore spot. While not as established as Crotchfelt, the rest of the rotation does have some experience, with left-hander Zach McCabe coming off an impressive varsity debut in 2021 and Sage Goeke, Tyler Mehmek and Devin Foderaro also returning with experience.

07/29/2020 - NJ Last Dance WS - Bishop Eustace / Jackson Memoria
Jackson Memorial senior Zach Crotchfelt. (Photo: Richard O'Donnell Photography)
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While second-year coach Pat George fits the pieces of the rotation together behind Crotchfelt, he will have a capable lineup to win a lot of games again in 2022. Charlie Meglio is the top returning RBI-man in the Shore Conference and will move from third base to shortstop, with senior J.R. Osmond taking over at third after getting most of his 2021 at-bats at DH. Senior Chris Cartnick enters his second year as the starting second baseman – third if you include the Last Dance in 2022 – and Crotchfelt will be a middle-of-the order hitter at first base when he is not pitching.

Aidan O’Donnell played his way into the starting left field job as a sophomore and is set for a move behind the plate this season. With O’Donnell’s spot open, junior Matt Koblos is set to join seniors Andrew Patire and Tommy Kendrick in the starting outfield. Sophomore Nick Izzo is another newcomer who will make an impact at DH and at first base when Crotchfelt is on the mound.

The Jaguars have all the ingredients to have a big year, starting with a fourth straight A South regular-season title. Ultimately, though, this team is hungry to make it back to tournament time and get a measure of redemption after disappointing finishes to 2019 and 2021.

Jackson Memorial sophomore Tom Kendrick. (Photo by Ray Richardson)
Jackson Memorial senior Tom Kendrick. (Photo: Ray Rich Photography)
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Jackson Memorial at a Glance

Head Coach: Pat George, second season
2021 Record: 18-8 (11-3, first in Class A South)
Key Losses: Matt Potok (RHP), Ty Beck (SS/RHP), Zach Rogacki (C)

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

Catcher: Aidan O’Donnell, Jr. (.250/.388/.275, 1 2B, 7 R, 3 RBI)

First Base: Zach Crotchfelt, Sr. (.242/.440/.379, 3 2B, 2 HR, 15 R, 16 RBI, 4 SB); Nick Izzo, So.

Second Base: Chris Cartnick, Sr. (.284/.398/.392, 3 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 9 R, 14 RBI, 3 SB)

Shortstop: Charlie Meglio, Jr. (.378/.448/.610, 10 2B, 3 HR, 16 R, 36 RBI, 2 SB)

Third Base: J.R. Osmond, Sr. (.217/.347/.300, 2 2B, 1 HR, 11 R, 10 RBI)

Leftfield: Matt Koblos, Jr.

Centerfield: Andrew Patire, Sr. (.196/.370/.268, 1 2B, 1 HR, 10 R, 6 RBI, 3 SB)

Rightfield: Tommy Kendrick, Sr. (.265/.444/.324, 4 2B, 14 R, 10 RBI, 7 SB)

DH: Nick Izzo, So.

Other Hitters

Mike Arent (Jr., OF)

Nick Mellino (Jr., INF)

Anthony Palmieri (Jr.)

Tyler Huzzy (Fr., C/INF)

 

Pitchers

Zach Crotchfelt, Sr., LHP (5-1, 0.85 ERA, 41.1 IP, 16 H, 23 BB, 76 K)

Zach McCabe, Sr., LHP (4-0, 1.04 ERA, 27 IP, 15 H, 9 BB, 28 K)

Sage Goeke, Sr., RHP (0-1, 1.45 ERA, 9.2 IP, 16 H, 1 BB, 8 K)

Devin Foderaro, Sr., RHP

Anthony Mehmet, Jr., LHP (1-0, 4.02 ERA, 15.2 IP, 11 H, 9 BB, 12 K)

Andy Osmond, Jr., LHP

Trevin Reiger, Sr., RHP

 

College Commitments

Zach Crotchfelt – Auburn University

Tommy Kendrick – Felician University

Sage Goeke – Arcadia University

Charlie Meglio – Campbell University

 

2. Central

After Jackson Memorial spent two years (including the summer of 2020) as the clear class of the group of Class A South teams, Central emerged as a legitimate challenger to the Jaguars. Central had a few too many slip-ups along the way in Class A South to win the division title, but the Golden Eagles beat the Jaguars head-to-head and finished the season strong by winning their first Ocean County Tournament championship in seven years.

With a talented core of players returning in 2022, Central has its sights set on the top spot in the division and much more tournament success once May rolls around. Senior right-hander Cam Leiter leads the way, both on the mound and at the plate, after his All-Shore debut in 2021. Leiter was dominant down the stretch, including a 12-strikeout, no-walk no-decision in the OCT championship game, and also showed power at the plate during the season.

Seniors Shane Sajewicz and Anthony Musso were also key two-way players last year and in 2022, Musso will likely see some more innings while also hitting in the thick of the order, while Sajewicz is likely to slot into the No. 2 or 3 spot in the rotation while hitting first or second in the lineup. Sophomore Cristian Soto and junior Dom Masino delivered several big hits for Central as underclassmen last season and will occupy the two most important positions on the diamond outside the mound – Soto at catcher and Masino at shortstop.

Returning starter Billy Sottilaire and junior newcomer Chase Pierce will join Musso in the outfield, while Grant Tillet, T.J. Marshall, Brayden Lowden and Nick Kozak figure into the picture at second and third base.

Ryan Burke will be another key cog in the pitching staff this season, with Sottilaire, left-hander Ty Bell and Anthony Fraser all arms to watch for the Golden Eagles. Finding dependable innings behind Leiter will be the primary challenge and if Central coach Jerry Frulio can do that, the Golden Eagles have the returning firepower at the plate and the dominant ace at the top of the staff to make a lot of noise in 2022.

Central senior ace Cam Leiter. (Photo: Ray Rich Photography)
Central senior ace Cam Leiter. (Photo: Ray Rich Photography)
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Central at a Glance

Head Coach: Jerry Frulio, 11th season
2021 Record: 19-9 (9-5, second in Class A South)
Key Losses: Evan Agrapides (CF), Trevor Coltenback (3B), Connor Shea (2B/RHP), Jeremy Bruner (RHP)

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

Catcher: Cristian Soto, So. (.302/.392/.365, 4 2B, 8 R, 14 RBI, 2 SB)

First Base: Shane Sajewicz, Sr. (.274/.291/.396, 5 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 22 R, 21 RBI)

Second Base: Grant Tillet, Sr. (1-for-5); Brayden Lowden, So.

Shortstop: Dom Masino, Jr. (.257/.378/.324, 5 2B, 18 R, 12 RBI)

Third Base: T.J. Marshall, Jr.; Nick Kozak, Sr.

Leftfield: Billy Sottilaire, Sr. (.244/.333/.282, 3 2B, 12 R, 8 RBI)

Centerfield: Chase Pierce, Jr.

Rightfield: Anthony Musso, Sr. (.300/.394/.413, 1 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 17 R, 17 RBI, 5 SB)

DH: Cam Leiter, Sr. (.308/.388/.440, 6 2B, 2 HR, 23 R, 15 RBI, 2 SB)

Other Hitters

Max McLeod (Sr., 1B)

Danny Morris (Sr., OF)

Alex Heinrich (Sr., 3B)

Elijah Kiernan (Jr., OF)

Mason Lisewski (So., OF)

Alex Dinicola (Sr., C)

 

Pitchers

Cam Leiter, Sr., RHP (4-1, 2.02 ERA, 41.2 IP, 26 H, 17 BB, 68 K)

Ryan Burke, Sr., RHP (1-3, 9.60 ERA, 11.2 IP, 12 H, 15 BB, 8 K)

Shane Sajewicz, Sr., LHP (2-2, 3.30 ERA, 23.1 IP, 22 H, 21 BB, 26 K)

Anthony Musso, Sr., RHP (2-0, 4.02 ERA, 15.2 IP, 15 H, 10 BB, 9 K)

Billy Sottilaire, Sr., RHP (1-0, 0.00 ERA, 5.2 IP, 2 H, 1 BB, 8 K)

Tyler Bell, Jr., LHP

Anthony Fraser, Sr., RHP

Noah Cullen, Sr., RHP

Dan Ashton, Sr., RHP

Chase Pierce, Jr., RHP

Grant Tillet, Sr., RHP

 

College Commitments

Cam Leiter – University of Central Florida

Shane Sajewicz – The College of New Jersey

Anthony Fraser – Centenary University

Alex Dinicola – Elmira College

 

Brick Memorial

The Mustangs came excruciatingly close to capturing the Ocean County Tournament championship last year, which was an impressive accomplishment considering the Mustangs did not have a lot of varsity experience on the 2021 roster and its top returning player – Max Cala – was injured for most of the season. With on more solid ground following 2021, Brick Memorial could be even closer to a championship team – both Class A South divisional and in postseason tournaments – than it was a year ago.

Brick Memorial will be replacing two of its three top 2021 hitters in Cole Manfro and Reese Hackett – both of whom played up the middle – and three top pitchers in Manfro, Brandon Hulsart and Aiden Patella. Despite that, there is a lot to work with for Mustangs coach Evan Rizzitello. Junior Brady Leach returns to the lead the rotation after settling in as one of the team’s top three pitchers as a sophomore. He will share first base and the top of the rotation with senior left-hander Ryan Mulcahey, who was solid in a 14-inning sample in 2021.

Senior Anthony Martino and junior Joe Cordi will form a new double-play tandem, although neither is new to varsity baseball. Martino played mostly third base last year with some innings at shortstop, and Cordi got 20 at-bats as a junior. Senior Jack Flood rounds out an experienced infield that should again be a strength of the team, despite some new names in new places.

Ryan Turner is the lone returnee to the starting outfield and he is one of the Shore’s top returning hitters at the Shore after finishing 14th in the conference in slugging percentage and 13th in RBI as a junior. There are five players for the two other outfield spots, with Nico Maribo and Owen Jubak making a serious play for time as sophomores.

Last season was an encouraging one for Brick Memorial, which overcame some adversity to win 17 games, finish third in the division and come within one big hit of winning the Ocean County Tournament title. With even more stability heading into this season, the Mustangs have a chance to run down Jackson Memorial and have a big season in Ocean County.

Brick Memorial at a Glance

Head Coach: Evan Rizzitello, 12th season
2021 Record: 17-12 (8-6, third in Class A South)
Key Losses: Cole Manfro (SS/RHP), Reese Hackett (CF), Joe Gioia (2B), Brandon Hulsart (RHP/1B), Aiden Patella (OF/RHP), Max Cala (C/DH)

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

Catcher: Joe Nolan, Jr. (.289/.368/.337, 4 2B, 4 R, 12 RBI)

First Base: Brady Leach, Jr. (.243/.438/.300, 4 2B, 18 R, 6 RBI, 3 SB); Ryan Mulcahey, Sr. (2-for-23, 2 R, 3 RBI)

Second Base: Joe Cordi, Jr. (5-for-20, 4 R, 3 RBI)

Shortstop: Anthony Martino, Sr. (.250/.429/.333, 4 2B, 9 R, 6 RBI, 4 SB)

Third Base: Jack Flood, Sr. (.300/.429/.450, 4 2B, 1 3B, 6 R, 8 RBI, 2 SB)

Leftfield: Declan Sheehan, Jr.

Centerfield: Ryan Turner, Sr. (.382/.484/.671, 9 2B, 2 3B, 3 HR, 18 R, 26 RBI, 6 SB)

Rightfield: Nico Maribo, So.

DH: Jeremy Luzzo, Sr.; Gavin Atkinson (Sr., 1B)

Other Hitters

Owen Jubak (So., OF)

Billy Caruso (Jr., OF)

Devante Noriega (Jr., OF)

Joe Kearney (Sr., C/1B)

Nick Garbooshian (So., C/3B)

Sean Arif (Sr., 2B)

Dominic D’Erasmo (Jr., 2B)

Michael Dayton (Jr., SS)

Marco Lugo (Sr., OF)

Tristan Manca (Sr., UTIL)

 

Pitchers

Brady Leach, Jr., RHP (5-1, 3.29 ERA, 34 IP, 40 H, 19 BB, 21 K)

Ryan Mulcahey, Sr., LHP (0-0, 1.66 ERA, 12.2 IP, 12 H, 7 BB, 14 K)

Matt Mancini, Sr., RHP

Cole Cook-Benson, Jr., RHP

Joe Lydon, Jr., RHP

Declan Sheehan, Jr., RHP

Nick Garbooshian, So., RHP

 

College Commitments

Ryan Turner – Penn State University-Harrisburg

Ryan Mulcahey – Delaware Valley College

Anthony Martino – Delaware Valley College

Joe Kearney – Nyack College

 

Toms River South

After a slow start to 2021, Toms River South rallied late in the season, inspired by getting coach Ken Frank to 900 career wins and taking off from there. On the way back to a .500 finish on the season, Toms River South reached the semifinals of the Ocean County Tournament by upsetting top-seeded Jackson Memorial in the quarterfinals.

The Indians, like many teams, return with much more experience than they had a year ago, particularly at the top of the pitching rotation. While Toms River South must replace staff leader Joe Schifilliti, current senior Aidan Folsom was an all-division performer in 2021 and classmate Jake Wilber was also one of the team’s top three starters. With Folsom and Wilber at the Nos. 1 and 2 spots, Toms River South will have a chance to compete with the top teams in the division if the Indians are able to line up the pitching.

Offensively, Toms River South will have more questions after losing most of its 2021 starting lineup. Folsom was a solid hitter as a junior and will man third base when he is not pitcher and Wilber will take third when Folsom is on the mound. Junior Chris Clark is back at shortstop after earning more playing time as the season went on and senior Gavin Migliori brings athleticism to right field, which might be the hardest outfield spot to play in the entire Shore when Toms River South is the home team. Junior Mike Erli also got time in 2021 and will see an increased role this season as the starting leftfielder.

A.J. Pierson moves behind the plate for his junior season and could also get some innings on the mound if the Indians need them. The right side of the infield is new, with senior Colin Raimann moving into the open spot at first base and Wilber and junior Justin Diaz splitting second base, depending on who is pitching. Junior Ryan Schmidt has the inside track to play centerfield and senior Brandon Elmendorf is in line to be the designated hitter.

Schmidt and classmate Chris Hastings will provide some depth to the rotation and Toms River South will also be looking for sophomore Cooper Cavanaugh to emerge on the mound as well. Cavanaugh and classmate Tyler Kopin could wedge their way into more time as the season progresses, which would give the Indians a look at their future.

Regardless of what the future holds, Toms River South’s past is as decorated as any in the Shore Conference thanks to Frank, who is still going strong heading into his 43rd season. Despite being the state’s all-time leader in coaching wins, Frank loves the underdog role and after the Indians learned to embrace it last season, they could be dangerous playing that part again in 2022.

Toms River South at a Glance

Head Coach: Ken Frank, 43rd season
2021 Record: 12-12 (7-7, tied fourth in Class A South)
Key Losses: Joe Schifilliti (2B/RHP), Ryan Mackle (SS), Tyler Madeo (OF), Ty Gibson (1B), Austin Beard (3B), Eli McEwan (C)

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

Catcher: A.J. Pierson, Jr.

First Base: Colin Raimann, Sr.

Second Base: Jake Wilber, Sr.; Justin Diaz, Jr.

Shortstop: Chris Clark, Jr. (.257/.333/.371, 2 2B, 1 3B, 3 R, 7 RBI)

Third Base: Aidan Folsom, Sr. (.313/.361/.358, 3 2B, 6 R, 8 RBI); Jake Wilber, Sr.

Leftfield: Mike Erli, Jr. (5-for-16, 1 2B, 6 R, 5 RBI); Gabriel Arroyo, Sr., OF

Centerfield: Ryan Schmidt, Jr.

Rightfield: Gavin Migliori, Sr. (.293/.422/.293, 16 R, 7 RBI, 14 SB)

DH: Brandon Elmendorf (Sr., C/1B)

Other Hitters

Andy Linares, Sr., 2B/OF

Daryl Piccoli, Sr., INF/OF

Chris Anderson, Sr., OF

Isaac Cruz, Sr., OF

Chris Hastings, Jr., OF

Cooper Cavanaugh, So., SS/2B

Tyler Kopin, So., C/OF

 

Pitchers

Aidan Folsom, Sr., RHP  (4-0, 0.97 ERA, 43.1 IP, 30 H, 19 BB, 39 K)

Jake Wilber, Sr., RHP (1-5, 5.12 ERA, 27.1 IP, 34 H, 10 BB, 18 K)

Chris Hastings, Jr., RHP

A.J. Pierson, Jr., RHP (0-2, 5.63 ERA, 13.2 IP, 15 H, 17 BB, 12 K)

Ryan Schmidt, Jr., RHP

Cooper Cavanaugh, So., RHP

Andy Linares, Sr., RHP

Daryl Piccoli, Sr., RHP

 

Toms River East

The lost season of 2020 was a blow to Toms River East, who was hoping to have a competitive team that spring coming off a run to the NJSIAA South Jersey Group III semifinals in 2019. That threw the Raiders into a rebuilding season in 2021 without the perk of coming off a positive season the year prior. The result was a mixed bag when it comes to wins and losses, but coach Keith Smicklo plenty of reason for optimism thanks to the group he brings back.

Toms River East brings back starters at several important positions, including shortstop, catcher and the top of the rotation. Junior Bobby Sabatino was a breakout player as a sophomore shortstop for the Raiders and senior catcher Akkash Santiago gained invaluable experience in his first year as a starting catcher. Senior Anthony Encarnacion and junior Ryan Ushock also return to the batting order, with Encarnacion back in leftfield and Ushock at first base.

New second baseman Josiah Madera returns after getting 10 varsity at-bats as a sophomore, while senior Donte Carr and sophomore Brandon Safoschnik battle for time as the fourth infielder. If Safoschnik plays his way into the lineup, he would likely play second base, with Madera moving to third. In the outfield, Encarnacion will be joined by two new starters, with five players in the mix to get at-bats.

One of the seniors in the group of outfield hopefuls is Aidan Galipolli, who is in line to be Toms River East’s No. 1 pitcher after ascending to that role as a junior in 2021. The senior left-hander will headline a staff that will get contributions from Ushock and fellow junior D.J. Anema, both of whom got time on the mound last year. Toms River East may also ask its sophomore to make a quick impact – a group that includes Safoschnik and left-handers Brendan Lavin and Jack Mika.

With Jackson Memorial, Toms River North and Toms River South dominating the division over the last 10 years, Toms River East has picked its spots with deep tournament runs and will be looking to do the same this season. The teams ranked ahead of the Raiders in this spot are deeper and more proven, but Toms River East has demonstrated it can beat any team in the field and be a tough opponent in the tournament setting.

Toms River East at a Glance

Head Coach: Keith Smicklo, fourth season
2021 Record: 6-12 (5-9, seventh in Class A South)
Key Losses: Joe Ussery (2B), Elijah Santiago (OF), Mike Florie (RHP/3B), Evan Mills (RHP)

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

Catcher: Akkash Santiago, Sr. (.213/.383/.319, 3 2B, 1 3B, 4 R, 4 RBI)

First Base: Ryan Ushock, Jr. (.239/.300/.348, 3 2B, 1 3B, 4 R, 8 RBI, 2 SB); Joe Rome, Jr.

Second Base: Josiah Madera, Jr. (2-for-10, 3 R, 3 RBI); Brandon Safoschnik, So.

Shortstop: Bobby Sabatino, Jr. (.358/.443/.453, 3 2B, 1 3B, 11 R, 10 RBI, 3 SB)

Third Base: Donte Carr, Sr.; Josiah Madera, Jr.

Leftfield: Anthony Encarnacion, Sr. (.227/.370/.318, 2 3B, 10 R, 4 RBI, 6 SB); Kyle Goglia, So.

Centerfield: Kyle Healy, Sr.; Jake Verndon, Jr.; Ryan Koman, So.

Rightfield: Aidan Galipolli, Sr.; Jack Mika, Jr.

DH: Joe Rome, Jr.; Nico Scala, Sr.

Other Hitters

Alex Valenti, Sr.

Liam O’Donnell, Sr.

 

Pitchers

Aidan Galipolli, Sr., LHP (2-3, 3.69 ERA, 39 IP, 44 H, 20 BB, 20 K)

Ryan Ushock, Jr., RHP (1-0, 4.91 ERA, 3.2 IP, 6 H, 6 BB, 3 K)

D.J. Anema, Jr., RHP (0-0, 6.94 ERA, 11.2 IP, 16 H, 7 BB, 8 K)

Nick Mencor, Sr., LHP

Alex Valenti, Sr., RHP

Joe Mika, Sr., RHP

Liam O’Donnell, Sr., RHP

Brendan Lavin, So., LHP

Jack Mika, So., LHP

Brandon Safoschnik, So., RHP

 

College Commitment

Akkash Santiago – Caldwell University

 

Toms River North

Losing seasons have not been the norml at Toms River North, so to see the Mariners with a 10-13 record to close the 2021 season is somewhat jarring. The Mariners were back-to-back Shore Conference champions in 2017 and 2018 and despite losing a lot of talent from those teams, the 2019 team was again competitive near the top of the A South standings. On the bright side, Toms River North finished the season by hammering Jackson Liberty and Donovan Catholic – both on the road as a No. 11 seed – to reach the Ocean County Tournament semifinals, where the Mariners fell to eventual champion Central in a competitive, 4-2 game.

For Toms River North to climb back toward the top, it will need a lot of contributions from first-time varsity starters. Senior third baseman Dom Saldida and senior shortstop Ryan Baker were both starters last season and will give the Mariners an experienced left side of the infield around which to build. On the other side of second base, juniors Ty Kazanowsky (first base) and Jack Pesso (second) move into starting roles after getting a taste of varsity baseball in coming off the bench.

Behind the plate and in the outfield, Toms River North is entirely new. Juniors A.J. Chesney and Evan Kwortnik are coach Andy Pagano’s options at catcher and four players – sophomore Jeremiah Pruitt, junior Brendan Lavallee and seniors Nate Obeng and Brendan Fiaschetti – for the three outfield spots. John Loalbo and Cory Vandemberg are two other hitters to watch for a spot in the lineup.

The outfield mix will take care of itself when Lavallee is on the mound, which will be as often as he can be. As a sophomore, the right-hander was one of Toms River North’s two best pitchers thanks to his ability to pound the zone while still keeping hitters off balance. Obeng, Baker, Kazanowsky, Fiaschetti and Pruitt will also be rotation options among the position-player group and left-hander Kieran Mulholland will be a sophomore to watch on the mound.

This is not the Toms River North team that challenged for the top ranking in the Shore Conference four or five years ago, but the Mariners should have every opportunity to pick up some big wins in Class A South and during the postseason thanks to stability at the top of the rotation and, to a lesser extent, around the infield.

Toms River North at a Glance

Head Coach: Andy Pagano, eighth season
2021 Record: 10-13 (6-8, sixth in Class A South)
Key Losses: Brandon Valles (LHP/OF), Nick Mortellitto (2B), Lucas Malave (C), Jack Tava (1B), Zach Goodall (CF), Sean Mindas (OF)

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

Catcher: A.J. Chesney, Jr.; Evan Kwortnik, Jr.

First Base: Ty Kazanowsky, Jr. (1-for-9, 2 RBI); Kieran Mullholland, So.

Second Base: Jack Pesso, Jr. (2-for-8); Dominic Urso, So.

Shortstop: Ryan Baker, Sr. (.292/.333/.292, 5 R, 8 RBI)

Third Base: Dom Saldida, Sr. (.258/.372/.318, 4 2B, 8 R, 16 RBI); Kevin McVicar, Sr.

Leftfield: Nate Obeng, Sr.; Brendan Fiaschetti, Sr.

Centerfield: Jeremiah Pruitt, So.

Rightfield: Brendan Lavallee, Jr.

DH: Jon Loalbo, Jr.

Other Hitters

Corey Vandemberg, Sr., C/OF

 

Pitchers

Brendan Lavallee, Jr., RHP (1-1, 2.10 ERA, 26.2 IP, 25 H, 4 BB, 25 K)

Nate Obeng, Sr., RHP

Ryan Baker, Sr., RHP

Kieran Mulholland, So., LHP

Ty Kazanowsky, Jr., RHP

Brendan Fiaschetti, Sr., RHP

John Cherubini, Sr., RHP

Jeremiah Pruitt, So., RHP

Kevin McVicar, Sr., RHP

 

Brick

Brick rolled out an experienced squad in 2021 and the results were mixed. Ace Ethan Gonzalez pitched to his title and the Green Dragons got solid seasons on the mound from three other senior pitchers, while the offense has its share of standouts as well. It did not get the Green Dragons near a championship of any kind, but they were a competitive Class A South team that had their moments.

One of Brick’s several bright spots last season was the emergence of Matt Kunzman, who returns as the most productive player on the team from 2021. Kunzman was one of eight players in the Shore Conference to post rates of at least .300/.400/.500 (average/on-base/slugging) and also an ERA under 2.00, giving the Green Dragons a senior leader who can provide something in every facet of the game, including some defense at third base as well.

Seniors R.J. Reinhold, Brian Yacovchuk and Nick Hoheb are all back in the starting lineup as well, with Hoheb moving to catcher on a full-time basis and Yacovchuk likely to get most of his defensive raps at third base. Reinhold, meanwhile, is back in centerfield after a strong varsity debut in 2021. Junior A.J. Grygiel is the frontrunner for shortstop and Kyle Knowsley, James Schreiner and Davion Moquette could figure into the infield as well. Coach Jay Groschel will have some options in the outfield and designated hitter spots and that competition will be key in finding some lineup depth to support that returning group of four seniors.

Knowsley and seniors Austin Ahert and Carlos Ruiz are set to be key pitchers for Brick, with left-hander Dylan Rostek leading a group of up-and-coming sophomores who are ready to contribute in some capacity within the pitching staff. Kunzman became a reliable big-game option for the Green Dragons last year and if that remains the case, Brick will be a hard team to beat for any of the A South contenders.

Brick at a Glance

Head Coach: Jason Groschel, 16th season
2021 Record: 12-13 (7-7, tied fourth in Class A South)
Key Losses: John Wade (1B/RHP), John McFadden (CF/RHP), Jesse Evensen (SS/RHP), Ethan Gonzalez (LHP), Ryan Duffy (2B), Robbie Blair (C), Christian Kuhl (1B), Jake Billheimer (OF/RHP)

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

Catcher: Nick Hoheb, Sr. (.322/.403/.339, 1 2B, 10 R, 11 RBI)

First Base: Matt Kunzman, Sr (.345/.471/.509, 9 2B, 12 R, 14 RBI, 3 SB); Vin Caldarise, Sr.

Second Base: James Schreiner, Sr.; Kyle Knowsley, Jr. (2-for-12, 1 2B, 3 RBI); Davion Moquette, Sr.

Shortstop: A.J. Grygiel, Jr.

Third Base: Matt Kunzman, Sr.; Brian Yacovchuk, Sr. (.294/.413/.333, 2 2B, 12 R, 8 RBI, 4 SB)

Leftfield: Joe Scamardella, Sr. (.200, 4 R, 4 RBI); Will Meade, Sr.

Centerfield: R.J. Reinhold, Sr. (.286/.339/.393, 4 2B, 1 3B, 7 R, 13 RBI, 4 SB)

Rightfield: Rob Giovine, Sr.; Kevin Toye, Jr.; Austin Ahart, Sr.

DH: Vin Caldarise, Sr.; Will Meade, Sr.; Kevin Toye, Jr.; Austin Ahart, Sr.

Other Hitters

Carlos Ruiz, Sr., SS

Phil Ehlers, Jr., C

Pitchers

Matt Kunzman, Sr., RHP (1-2, 1.75 ERA, 20 IP, 13 H, 12 BB, 21 K)

Kyle Knowsley, Jr., RHP (0-0, 2.33 ERA, 6 IP, 5 H, 4 BB, 1 K)

Austin Ahart, Sr., RHP

Carlos Ruiz, Sr., RHP

Dylan Rostek, So., LHP

Davion Moquette, Sr., RHP

James Schreiner, Sr., RHP

A.J. Grygiel, Jr., RHP

Luke Bilheimer, So., RHP

Jayden Espana, So., RHP

 

Southern

With Ed Truitt taking over for Keith Cocuzza, Southern is the lone team in Class A South to change coaches in the last year. The Rams are coming off a last-place finish in the division, with the pitching staff taking some bumps and bruises along the way and leaving the offense to have to outslug teams. It worked a handful of times over the course of the season, but that formula was not enough to keep up with the Class A South crowd.

Pitching will be a question for Southern again, with the Rams losing most of their innings from last year. Seniors Brennan Book, Mike Nascimento and Stephen Stafford will all look to take on more innings and improve in the process, with a group of juniors – Nico Diamontolpoulos, Owen Durnien, Steven Miller and Mike Nasti – all pushing for mound time as well.

The batting order will have slightly more reliable experience from the jump, led by Stafford. The senior is set to move from the corner outfield to third base when he is not on the mound and will be joined by a handful of players who had some success in part-time roles. Junior Dom Miranda moves to full-time catcher after going 4-for-18 (.222) with three extra-base hits as a sophomore, while shortstop Curtis Olender takes over the starting gig after going 7-for-24 (.292).

Southern will introduce new starters at first and second base, as well as throughout the outfield as well. Brown, Nascimento and Durnien will patrol the grass when not on the rubber, with Miller, Nasti and sophomore Ray Mulhern in the mix for time as well. The group will have to learn quickly, just a little bit of improvement on the pitching side could go a long way in helping Southern get out of the A South cellar and back into the middle of the field.

Southern at a Glance

Head Coach: Ed Truitt, first season
2021 Record: 6-15 (3-11, eighth in Class A South)
Key Losses: Jack Plesnarski (SS/RHP), Kevin Cooney (CF), Xavier Hendricks (OF), Brad Mills (C), Mike Gallaro (C/DH), Killian Horne (2B), Nick DiSiderio (RHP), Mike Mucci (1B/LHP), Taylor Munt (RHP)

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

Catcher: Dom Miranda, Jr. (4-for-18, 2 2B, 1 HR, 6 R, 1 RBI)

First Base: Carson Wolek, Sr.

Second Base: Kyle Serino, Jr.

Shortstop: Curtis Olender, Sr. (7-for-24, 4 R, 2 RBI)

Third Base: Stephen Stafford, Sr. (.345/.429/.418, 4 2B, 9 R, 6 RBI, 9 SB)

Outfield: Mike Nascimento, Sr. (1-for-2, 1 R, 1 RBI); Ray Mulhern, So.

Outfield: Brandon Brown, Jr.; Mike Nasti, Jr.

Outfield: Owen Durnien, Jr.; Steven Miller, Jr.

DH: Ed Lange (Sr., INF), Joe Wilkinson (Sr., INF), Brennan Book (Sr., INF)

Other Hitters

JoJo Santora (Sr., C/OF)

Pitchers

Brennan Book, Sr., RHP

Mike Nascimento, Sr., RHP

Stephen Stafford, Sr., RHP

Joe Wilkinson, Sr., RHP

Carson Wolek, Sr., RHP

Niko Diamontopoulos, Jr., RHP

Owen Durnien, Jr., LHP

Steven Miller, Jr., LHP

Mike Nasti, Jr., RHP

 

College Commitments

Mike Nascimento – Wells College

Curtis Olender – Rhode Island College

 

Class A South Lineup

Cristian Soto, So., C, Central

Shane Sajewicz, Sr., 1B/LHP, Central

Chris Cartnick, Sr., 2B, Jackson Memorial

Bobby Sabatino, Jr., SS, Toms River East

Charlie Meglio, Jr., SS, Jackson Memorial

Stephen Stafford, Sr., 3B/OF, Southern

Ryan Turner, Sr., OF, Brick Memorial

Anthony Musso, Sr., OF/RHP, Central

Matt Kunzman, Sr., 3B/RHP, Brick

 

Class A South Rotation

Zach Crotchfelt, Sr., LHP, Jackson Memorial

Cam Leiter, Sr., RHP, Central

Aidan Folsom, Sr., RHP, Toms River South

Zach McCabe, Sr., LHP, Jackson Memorial

Brendan Lavallee, Jr., RHP, Toms River North

Brady Leach, Sr., RHP, Brick Memorial

 

Breakouts to Watch

Akkash Santiago, Sr., C, Toms River East

Dom Miranda, Jr., C, Southern

Chris Clark, Jr., SS, Toms River South

Aidan O’Donnell, Jr., C, Jackson Memorial

R.J. Reinhold, Sr., CF, Brick

Anthony Martino, Sr., SS, Brick Memorial

 

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