Baseball – NJSIAA Sectional Final Preview: CBA Tackles No. 1 St. Augustine in South Jersey Non-Public A Final
South Jersey Non-Public A Championship
Friday, June 10, 2022
No. 6 Christian Brothers Academy (18-9) at No. 1 St. Augustine (26-1), 4 p.m.
CBA at a Glance
Head Coach: Marty Kenney Jr.
Last Sectional Championship: 2015
Starting Pitcher Candidates
Luke Roccesano, Jr., RHP
Jack Frankovic, Sr., RHP
Notable Available Pitchers (With available number of pitches)
Colin Reilly, Sr., RHP (90)
Mike Kelly, Sr., RHP (110)
Harrison Campi, Jr., SS (.395, 11 2B, 3 3B, 2 HR, 29 R, 14 RBI, 2 SB)
Zaine Toneske, Jr., 1B (.388, 9 2B, 4 HR, 20 R, 24 RBI, 1 SB)
Hunter Del Guercio, Jr., RF (.373, 5 2B, 1 3B, 5 HR, 19 R, 38 RBI, 2 SB)
Jack Frankovic, Sr., CF/P (.333, 5 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 26 R, 11 RBI, 15 SB)
Joe Figliolino, Sr., C (.266, 3 2B, 3 HR, 11 R, 16 RBI)
Alexey Stout, Sr., 2B (.328, 1 2B, 1 HR, 22 R, 8 RBI, 4 SB)
George Kruse, Sr., 3B (.333, 6 2B, 1 HR, 11 R, 10 RBI, 3 SB)
Gavin Kus, Sr., DH/OF (.304, 4 2B, 3 HR, 13 R, 15 RBI, 2 SB)
Road to the Final
First Round: St. John’s commit Zaine Tonseke hit a tie-breaking solo home run in the bottom of the sixth inning and Mike Kelly pitched out of a second-and-third, no-out jam in the top of the seventh to seal a 3-2 CBA win over No. 11 Paul VI. Tulane commit Colin Reilly pitched six strong innings, but Paul VI tied the game in the top of the sixth, with the tying run scoring on a straight steal of home. Second baseman Alexey Stout went 2-for-3, scoring the first run on an RBI single by Hunter Del Guercio and driving in the second Colts run.
Quarterfinals: Del Guercio blasted a two-run home run in the top of the first inning on the way to a 3-for-4 game with a double and the Colts knocked off Shore Conference Tournament champion and No. 3 seed Red Bank Catholic, 3-1. Maryland commit Luke Roccesano allowed one run over five innings of work to earn the win and Kelly earned his second save in as many games with two scoreless innings to close it out.
Semifinals: Lehigh commit Jack Frankovic went 5-for-5 with two RBI, Gavin Kus homered and drove in three, and Reilly pitched a three-hit shutout on only 60 pitches as CBA routed No. 2 St. Joseph Metuchen, 11-0, in six innings. The Colts wore out Falcons pitching to the tune of 17 hits, while Reilly was ultra-economical in pitching a shutout – so much so that he remains eligible to throw up to 90 pitches in Friday’s sectional final.
St. Augustine at a Glance
Head Coach: Mike Bylone
Last Sectional Championship: 2021 (fifth straight)
Probable Starting Pitcher
Holden De Jong, Sr., LHP (4-0, 0.61 ERA, 23 IP, 10 H, 13 BB, 40 K)
Notable Available Pitchers (With available number of pitches)
Andrew Gaines, Sr., RHP (101)
Marco Levari, Jr., RHP (110)
Ryan Weingertner, Sr., RHP (110)
Ryan Weingartner, Sr., SS (.461, 10 2B, 7 HR, 31 R, 29 RBI, 6 SB)
Ryan Taylor, Sr., 2B (.427, 7 2B, 1 3B, 6 HR, 30 R, 33 RBI, 4 SB)
Kyle Neri, Sr., LF (.369, 5 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, 26 R, 28 RBI, 2 SB)
Josiah Ragsdale, Sr., RF (.361, 7 2B, 3 3B, 3 HR, 36 R, 15 RBI, 7 SB)
Austin Sofran, Sr., C (.381, 6 2B, 1 HR, 19 R, 17 RBI)
Cole Frye, Sr., 1B (.379, 5 2B, 1 3B, 12 R, 17 RBI)
Mason Dorsey, Sr., CF (.329, 6 2B, 1 3B, 22 R, 20 RBI)
Jordan Serrano, So., DH (.476, 4 2B, 1 3B, 9 R, 9 RBI)
Road to the Final
Quarterfinal: NJIT commit Holden De Jong threw four scoreless innings of relief and Iona commit Josiah Ragsdale (1-for-2, double, two runs scored) scored the winning run on a wild pitch in the bottom of the fifth inning to help the Hermits escape with a 4-3 win over No. 8 Notre Dame. Bryant commit Kyle Neri also doubled and drove in a sacrifice fly for St. Augustine.
Semifinal: On a team loaded with seniors, it was sophomore Jordan Serrano who stole the show at the plate, going 3-for-3 with two doubles and an RBI as the Hermits jumped on No. 4 St. John Vianney early on the way to a 10-3 win. Catcher Austin Sofran also went 3-for-3 with a double, Cole Frye went 1-for-3 with a triple and an RBI and St. Joseph’s commit Ryan Weingartner was 2-for-4 with a double, two runs and an RBI for St. Augustine. Villanova commit C.J. Furey fired four innings to earn the win.
A Closer Look
It has been a while since a team other than St. Augustine has won the South Jersey Non-Public A section – seven years, to be exact. It just so happens the last team to win the section other than the Hermits is the one that will be in the visitor’s dugout Friday.
CBA is back in the South Non-Public A final for the first time since Luca Dalatri and Brandon Martorano led the Colts to the Non-Public A championship and the No. 1 ranking in New Jersey in 2015, which included winning all five championships: the A North division title, the Monmouth County Tournament, the Shore Conference Tournament, and the state sectional and group titles.
The 2020 CBA team that did not get a chance to compete due to the COVID-19 outbreak and subsequent canceled season had the makings of a team that could threaten for a sectional championship and this year’s Colts team had similar promise going into the season. There was no All-American caliber pitcher like current Vanderbilt flamethrower Pat Reilly, but his younger brother, Colin, has been a lockdown No. 1 starter atop the rotation, followed by a collection of talented arms.
Up until last week, it hadn’t really all come together for the Colts, who lost the first game they played in both the Monmouth County and Shore Conference Tournaments. Strangely enough, CBA started knocking off major opponents in the state tournament as some questions started to arise in the pitching staff: Reilly was dealing with some end-of-season fatigue, Frankovic was forced to miss two weeks due to injury and talented sophomore Chris Levonas has been shut down with an arm injury.
Reilly, though, has gutted through his last two starts and even breezed through one of them – a 60-pitch, six-inning, three-hitter at St. Joe’s Metuchen on Tuesday. Junior Luke Roccesano answered the bell against Red Bank Catholic and senior Mike Kelly closed out each of CBA’s first two tournament wins.
Now, Frankovic is available to pitch Friday, according to coach Marty Kenney Jr., which gives CBA four dependable options to throw at CBA. Frankovic or Roccesano will get the start and Reilly will be available if there is a chance for CBA to finish off the game, or at least prolong it.
Finishing off Friday’s game will be a tall order, with St. Augustin entering play the No. 1 team in the state and boasting a resume that includes just one loss, which came against Vineland in a regular-season game. The Hermits will have an ineligible pitcher in junior C.J. Furey, but will still have a wealth of pitching available to deal with CBA. NJIT commit and senior left-hander Holden De Jong is expected to get the start, but he has pitched seven innings just once this season.
Pitching is a strong suit for both teams, but both lineups have proven to be potential powder kegs. Each offense put up double-digit run totals in the semifinals, with St. Augustine erupting for six in the first inning on the way to a 10-3 win over St. John Vianney and CBA smacking 17 hits in its win over St. Joe’s.
Zaine Toneske, Hunter Del Guercio and Gavin Kus all have big home runs for CBA during this run to the final and Del Guercio has driven in six runs in three games to headline the lineup over the last week-plus.
Last year, the Shore Conference had a representative in the South Jersey Non-Public A final for the first time since CBA’s championship season. Red Bank Catholic jumped out to a 5-0 lead and even after St. Augustin chipped away at the deficit, the Caseys were one out from a championship and got a routine ground ball from Josiah Ragsdale that could have ended it. A low throw gave Ragsdale a chance to beat it out and the then-junior proceeded to steal second, third and, improbably, home to score the tying run in shocking fashion. The Hermits went on to win in eight innings.
Ragsdale is one of six starters back from last year’s lineup and his speed on the basepaths will be one of many elements of this St. Augustine team for which CBA will have to account.
St. Augustine is 2-0 against the Shore Conference this season, defeating Central and its ace, Cam Leiter, 3-0, back on April 9 in Bayville and topping St. John Vianney in its last game on Tuesday.
Prediction: St. Augustine, 5-1