This afternoon at 1:00, top-seed Middlesex takes on 6th-seed Point Pleasant Beach for the Central Jersey Group 1 title.
(1) Middlesex (19-4) vs.
(6) Point Pleasant Beach (15-7)
1:00 pm Wednesday at Mountainview Park in Middlesex, NJ
The game will be broadcast live on Central Jersey Sports Radio.
Pregame begins at 12:30 pm.
Justin Sontupe and Chris Tsakonas will call all the play-by-play.
Click here to listen live.
Postgame reaction will be on cjsportsradio.com following the game.
Middlesex – Raiden Yost (3-2, 1.18 ERA) or Stephen Young (3-1, 2.47 ERA)
Point Pleasant Beach – Andrew Banick (3-1, 2.07 ERA)
HOW THEY GOT HERE:
1st Round: def. (16) Piscataway Tech 16-1
Quarterfinals: def. (8) South Hunterdon 6-0
Semifinals: def. (12) Florence 11-0
Point Pleasant Beach
1st Round: def. (11) Keyport 13-0
Quarterfinals: def. (14) Riverside 25-1
Semifinals: def. (2) New Egypt 7-0
After the sectional finals comes the group tournament, with the Central and South winners playing each other, while the North 1 and North 2 winners square off.
The NJSIAA, though, has done something new this year, where predetermined sectional champions will host on a regional basis, regardless of record or seeding. So, this year, the Central and North 1 winners are hosts; next year it’ll be the South and North 2 winners, and so on.
That means the winner of the Middlesex-Point beach game semifinal will host the winner of the South 1 title. That game takes place at 4 pm Friday with 2nd seed Schalick will take on 4th-seeded Woodstown. Both teams are 19-4.
If Middlesex wins, they would host the Group 1 semifinals Monday at 4 pm, in a game Central Jersey Sports Radio would carry live.
AUDIO COVERAGE LINKS:
Add another game onto this streak. Except for the 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 six of their last ten games.
They’ve also won eleven of their last 12.
Ryan Vollmer continued his hot hitting in the NJSIAA tournament. With a three-run homer and a two-RBI single to end Wednesday’s semifinal by the mercy rule in walk-off fashion, he now has gone 7 for 11 (.636) with 8 RBIs, two triples, and two home runs.
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. With the Florence win, the Jays upped their average nine points to .458 as a team.
And the shutout of the Flashes means their team ERA has now shrunk to 0.41 in the postseason. Factoring in a 10-0 shutout of South River in a regular season Blue Division makeup game Monday, Middlesex pitching hasn’t allowed a run since the first inning of Game One of the state tournament. That’s a string of 23 and 2/3 innings of scoreless ball thrown by the Jays’ staff.
Something may have to give Friday, though, because the Garnet Gulls are doing much of the same.
Point Beach scored ten or more runs in 13 of their 15 wins this season, and twice have topped 20. They scored 25 in the CJ1 opening round in a 25-1 defeat of Riverside. And still it wasn’t close to their season high offensive output in a 31-1 win at Mater Dei on May 17th.
Overall this year, the Gulls are hitting .369, led by first baseman Alec Glenn, hitting .455 with 20 RBIs. Point Beach has gone yard six times, led by Andrew Banick’s three, to go along with 19 runs batted in.
That’s a big reason Banick will not just bat for himself in Friday’s game, as the starting pitcher, but will be the DH, too, meaning he’ll stay in the lineup if a reliever takes his place on the mound. He’s a valuable bat in the lineup, and Associate Head Coach Joe Mazza calls him the team’s MVP in 2021.
Banick, though, has been solid on the mound, too.
The Blue Jays are no stranger to this spot in the state playoffs, especially of late under head coach Justin Nastasi. His teams are 122-39 overall (.758) and 29-9 in the postseason since he took over in 2015, including a whopping 26-3 in the states.
Here is a look at their five previous 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 championship game
SUCCESS, PART TWO:
Middlesex also has had great success recently against Point Pleasant Beach. Since the Blue Jays moved down from Central Jersey Group 2 to Group 1 after the 2012 season, they are 5-0 against the Gulls, outscoring them by a total of 39-5, with one shutout.
Here are the last five matchups:
5/31/19 – CJ1 Final: Middlesex def. Point Beach 6-1 (lost in Group 1 semis)
5/29/18 – CJ1 Final: Middlesex def. Point Beach 2-0 (Group 1 Champs)
5/24/17 – CJ1 Quarterfinals: Middlesex def. Point Beach 11-2 (Group 1 Champs)
5/22/14 – CJ1 Quarterfinals: Middlesex def. Point Beach 9-1 (lost in CJ1 semis to South River)
5/29/13 – CJ1 Semifinals: Middlesex def. Point Beach 11-1 (Group 1 Champs)