St. Joseph pecks away at Woodbridge to earn second straight trip to GMC title tilt

St. Joseph’s Andrew Goldan pitches against Woodbridge in the GMC Tournament Semifinals on May 21, 2022 at East Brunswick Tech. (Photo: Mike Pavlichko)

There was one big inning, when St. Joe’s batted around, sending nine men to the plate in the fourth.

And still, they could have had more, but only came away with three runs.

There were a lot of small crooked numbers on the scoreboard when all was said and done, as the top-seeded Falcons scored in all but one of the six innings in which they batted, in a 10-1 victory over 5th-sedd Woodbridge in the GMC Tournament semifinals Saturday, as heard on Central Jersey Sports Radio.

Now, the defending champions will get to try to make it two titles in a row, something no other team in the league has done since 2008 and 2009, which also happens to be the last time the Falcons did it.

The top-seeded Falcons will face 6th-seed South Brunswick in the GMC Tournament championship game next Saturday at 2 pm at Ray Cipperly Field on Central Jersey Sports Radio.

The guns were out Saturday afternoon at Cipperly Field – radar guns, that is – as MLB prospect Donovan Zsak took the mound to start the game. But it was only his fifth appearance of the year, as he eases back into things following Tommy John surgery that forced him to miss all of last year.

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And though he only allowed a single run – in the third inning – and he had his velocity, he struggled and labored in the heat – 93 degrees with a heat index of 97 at first pitch.

In his four innings of work, Zsak struck out five, walked three, and allowed just five hits, but he was going deep into counts, going full count on five batters. Woodbridge also wasted several two-strike pitches with a plethora of foul balls, making Zsak work even harder.

Normally, chasing him from a game would be a good thing. But not when the opponent is St. Joe’s, and when head coach Mike Murray has Rutgers-bound senior Andrew Goldan waiting in the wings.

Maybe the scouts, who cleared out like someone had yelled “fire” in a crowded theater once Zsak was in the dugout for good, should have stuck around to see what Goldan could do. In four innings of work, he blanked the Barrons, allowing just three hits – all singles, one of them an infield hit. He struck out seven and walked none.

All the while St. Joe’s was adding to a 3-1 lead. After picking up two in the first, and getting back the run Woodbridge got in the top of the third on a sac fly by Christian Azcona, the Falcons got scored three times in the fourth, three more times in the fifth, and one more time in the sixth, for good measure, teasing the ten-run rule, leaving six runners on base in their final three at bats.

And St. Joe’s didn’t exactly crush the ball, nor did they play small ball. They only had four extra base hits among their 11 in the game, plus a two-base error on Woodbridge left fielder Tim Deignan.

With Eddie Nunez and Josh Vazquez entirely unavailable – spent in the first round and quarterfinals to get here, Matt Troche started the game for Woodbridge (19-5) and took the loss, allowing six runs in three and one-third innings of work.

Zsak got the win for Joe’s (20-6).

Click below for postgame reaction from St. Joseph’s win over Woodbridge in the GMC Tournament Semifinals:

St. Joseph senior Andrew Goldan
St. Joseph head coach Mike Murray

Notes and Nuggets:

Among the best: The win by St. Joseph puts the Falcons in their ninth GMC Tournament final, all since 2004. And that ties Edison for the most appearances ever in the GMC title game, with nine, although the Eagles did it all from 1990 to 2001, and haven’t been back since.

Gunning for the best: St. Joe’s is also one title shy of Edison’s record eight GMCT crowns. They’re 7-1 all-time in the finals, while Edison is 8-1.

Back-to-back: If the Falcons can win the title, it will be the second time they won it back-to-back, having also turned the trick in 2008 and 2009, the last GMC team to do so. Only one other team has won at least consecutive titles. Edison won in back-to-back years in 1998 and 1999, and before that won four in a row from 1992 to 1995.

Nice game: Thomas Zammitti had a good day at the plate for the Falcons, with three singles, a run batted in, two runs scored and a walk. Josiah Brown knocked in two runs on a 2-for-2 day. He scored in the first, had a walk in the third, drove in a run in the fourth, and had another run score when he reached on a two-base error in the fifth.

Spreading the love: Six different Falcons scored in five of St. Joe’s six at bats. Will Ramsay and Zammitti scored twice. Mark Gialluisi had three runs scored.

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