All three GMC teams – Woodbridge, East Brunswick, Middlesex – fall in sectional final games

Hunterdon Central celebrates after beating Woodbridge for the North 2, Group 4 title in Flemington on June 10, 2022. (Photo: Mike Pavlichko)

Two teams surprised many getting to the sectional finals, and one is always there. In the end, none of the three remaining teams in the NJSIAA state tournament from the Greater Middlesex Conference won sectional titles on Friday.

Woodbridge – the fourth-seed in North 2, Group 4, who knocked off 2-seed Ridge in the semifinals in eleven innings back on Tuesday – ran into top-seed Hunterdon Central’s future MLB Prospect Kyle McCoy, who shut the Barrons out until he came out of the game around his 90th pitch after striking out the first batter he faced in the sixth inning.

And while Woodbridge plated a run in that inning, they left two men on against reliever Logan Mason, then grounded into a double play to end the game, losing by a 5-1 score.

It was a tough way for the Barrons’ season to end, especially riding high after a dramatic win on Tuesday. But they hung tough against a pitcher who many believe will be in The Show someday, and still ended the season with a 25-7 mark, good enough for a program record number of wins.

Hunterdon Central nickeled-and-dimed Woodbridge, scoring a run each in the first and second innings off Eddie Nunez, who pitched a complete game, six innings. A few calls, and a few daring defensive choices didn’t go their way en route, and Central scored another two in the fourth and one in the fifth.

Click below for postgame reaction with head coach Mike Monaco:

In the Central Jersey Group 1 title game at Mountainview Park in Middlesex, the top-seeded Blue Jays – winners of the section for the last four years running – 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2021 – lost 6-4 to second-seed Point Pleasant Boro.

Middlesex had an early 3-0 lead, but Point went ahead 4-3 in the fourth. The Blue Jays tied it at four, but the Garnet Gulls scored twice in the seventh to take a 6-4 lead, and though they got a man on, Middlesex couldn’t get anything across in their final at bat.

It was a big win and a big relief for Point, which had lost to Middlesex in each of the last three sectional finals, and been knocked out by them in the last four state playoff seasons.

And there will be some transition next year, as Middlesex graduates a core of players who contributed as juniors last year. Ty Niclolay, Bob Ulmer, Mike Salvatore, Matt Venutolo, A.J. West, Chris Hopf Jr., Stephen Young all are seniors, and played in their final games in a Blue Jays’ uniform.

Click below to listen to postgame reaction from Middlesex head coach Justin Nastasi:

And in the Central Jersey Group 4 final, ninth-seed East Brunswick got on the board first, but fell behind quickly and couldn’t recover at second-seed Howell.

The Rebels scored the next six runs – one in the first, three in the second and two in the third, to take a 6-1 lead, and wound up winning 8-2.

Like Woodbridge, it was a successful run to the final for the Bears, one that included a revenge win over North Brunswick, the team that beat them on back-to-back home runs for a walk-off loss in the regular season, and 1-0 in 12 innings in the GMC Tournament semifinals.

East Brunswick had been seeking it’s first state sectional title since it’s only one, in 1997.

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