This afternoon at 1:00, top-seed Middlesex takes on 12th-seed Florence for a trip to the Central Jersey Group 1 title game.
(1) Middlesex (18-4) vs.
(12) Florence (8-8)
1:00 pm Wednesday at Mountainview Park in Middlesex, NJ (rescheduled from Tuesday)
Click here to listen live.
Middlesex – Raiden Yost (3-2, 1.18 ERA)
Florence – Nick Corsi (1-1, 3.50 ERA)
HOW THEY GOT HERE:
1st Round: def. (16) PiAscataway Tech 16-1
Quarterfinals: def. (8) South Hunterdon 6-0
1st Round: def. (5) Perth Amboy Tech 15-4
Quarterfinals: def. (4) South Amboy 7-4
WHO THEY PLAY NEXT:
The winner of the Middlesex-Florence semifinal will play 6th-seed Point Pleasant Beach. The Garnet Gulls won at 2nd-seed New Egypt (14-7) in the other semifinal yesterday, 7-0.
Matt VanBrunt (2-4, 3 RBI) and Bryan Matuschat (3-3, 2 doubles, 2 RBI) did most of the damage for Point Beach, which got out to a 2-0 lead in the second, then exploded for five runs in the fifth.
VanBrunt and James Larson teamed up to four-hit New Egypt, striking out six and walking two.
If Middlesex wins, they would host the Central Jersey Championship Game on Friday afternoon. If Florence wins, they would play the title game Friday down the Shore.
AUDIO COVERAGE LINKS:
Middlesex a win away from fourth straight sectional final, fifth in six years
Vollmer wants to go out like he came in – with a Blue Jays’ championship
Florence feels it’s battle-tested enough to play with perennial power Middlesex in CJ1 semis
With the exception of an 8-1 loss to South Brunswick in the GMC Tournament quarterfinals a couple of weeks ago, the Blue Jays have scored no fewer than six runs in every game dating back to a 17-3 win May 18th against Dunellen. In that timespan, Middlesex has scored ten or more runs in five of their last nine games.
In two games in the state tournament, Ryan Vollmer is tearing the cover off the ball. He’s 5-for-7 with three RBIs, a triple and a home run. The Jays are hitting .449 as a team, while the team ERA is a paltry 0.58. If they can limit Florence to a run or two, they should win this game.
For the Flashes, they have scored ten or more runs in five of their eight wins. But they have also allowed double digit runs in all eight of their losses.
They are hitting the ball in the state tournament, though, with a team batting average of .433, and a propensity for the long ball. Today’s DH, Matt Himm, has homered twice already, while Matt Adkins and Jake Fajgier (pronounced like “Frazier”) have each gone yard.
And though their pitching is not as good as Middlesex’s staff, they’re no slouch. In the first two tournament games, they have a team ERA of 2.85. Starter Nick Corsi pitched in the opening game against Perth Amboy Tech, and allowed four earned runs in a complete game, six inning effort. Control was a problem, as he struck out five, but walked eight.
An interesting part of the game to watch will be when Middlesex gets on the bases. They drew eight walks and stole 11 bases in the first round win over Piscataway Tech, with five swipes coming from the fleet-footed Stephen Young, who would likely get the start in Friday’s title game, should Middlesex be victorious today.
The Blue Jays are no stranger to this spot in the state playoffs, especially of late under head coach Justin Nastasi. His teams are 120-39 overall (.755) and 28-9 in the postseason since he took over in 2015, including a whopping 25-3 in the states.
Here is a look at their seasons under Nastasi:
2-1 in GMC Tournament (reached the quarterfinals)
Beat Shore 15-3 for the Central Jersey Group 1 title
Lost 3-1 at Emerson in the Group 1 title game
Eliminated in GMC Tournament preliminary round
Lost in Central Jersey Group 1 semifinals
GMC Tournament quarterfinal exit
Beat Metuchen 3-2 for Central Jersey Group 1 title
Beat Emerson 5-4 in the Group 1 title game
2018 (24-4, GMC Blue Division Co-Champs):
GMC Tournament first round exit
Beat Pt. Pleasant Beach 2-0 for the Central Jersey Group 1 title
Beat Park Ridge 3-0 in the Group 1 title game
2019 (22-7, GMC Blue Division Champs):
GMC Tournament first round exit
Beat Pt. Pleasant Beach 6-1 for the Central Jersey Group 1 title
Lost 3-0 at Glassboro in Group 1 semifinals
2020 – No season
2021 (17-7, GMC Blue Division Champs):
Reached GMC Tournament Quarterfinals
Currently in Central Jersey Group 1 semifinals