Author: Dom Savino

Scary good 5th-seed Bayonne stands between Bridgewater-Raritan and first title since ’10 with even longer drought of their own

The last time Bayonne baseball played for a sectional title, its head coach — David Hoffman — was a young assistant on the staff. Hall of Fame coach Phil Baccarella was still the skipper.

Oh, and none of the team’s current players had been born yet.

Bayonne will look to hoist its first sectional championship trophy since 2002, when the fifth-seeded Bees (24-6) visit second-seed Bridgewater-Raritan (23-6) on Friday in the North Jersey, Section 2, Group 4 title game.

Central Jersey Sports Radio will provide a live broadcast of the game, starting with pregame coverage at 2:45 p.m; first pitch is set for 3:00. Mike Pavlichko and Dom Savino will call the action. Click here to listen.

State-ranked Bayonne enters with a resume even better than its seeding. The Bees won their league for the third time in the last four years and finished as runner-up to Saint Peter’s Prep for a Hudson County title.

Winners of 16 of its last 18 games, Bayonne’s offense has caught fire in the sectional tournament, plating 31 runs on 28 hits. Only the Bees’ secondnd-round game — a 3-2 nail-biter over Phillipsburg — was decided by fewer than nine runs.

Like its opponent, Bayonne is an experienced ballclub, with a lineup composed entirely of seniors. Georgia Tech commit Aidan Paradine leads the veterans, ranking among Hudson County’s leaders in average (.449), home runs (7), and RBI (40).

The team’s top pitcher, though, is a junior. UMass Lowell commit Nolan Geisler has posted a 0.99 ERA as the staff ace. The right-hander is well-rested for the title game, making his only appearance of the tournament to earn the save against Phillipsburg. Geisler headlines a deep pitching staff that has rolled out six arms in the tournament so far.

Dom Savino caught up with Bayonne head coach David Hoffmann to discuss the Bees’ offensive surge and the significance of his alma mater’s return to a sectional title game:

After upset of White Division champ Sayreville, South Brunswick has eyes on GMCT semis

Entering the season with an inexperienced roster and an arduous division slate, South Brunswick had two big goals: be competitive in every game and play the best in the GMC Tournament.

Well, mission accomplished.

The 12th-seed Vikings are the lowest seed to advance to this year’s GMCT quarterfinals, earning a Red Division rematch against Monroe. First pitch is set for 4 pm Wednesday at North Brunswick Community Park.

Mike Pavlichko and Dom Savino will broadcast the game live as part of Central Jersey Sports Radio’s doubleheader coverage, presented by Auto Lounge of Edison. The pregame show starts at 3:40; Click here to listen live.

South Brunswick has pieced together back-to-back wins for just the second time this season, more recently pulling off the biggest upset of the tournament’s second round on Monday with a 5-3 road win over 5th-seed Sayreville.

In that game, the two most seasoned Vikings starred.

Senior pitcher Joey Tuttoilmondo struck out a season-high 14 batters, fueled in part by senior catcher Ryan Kessler’s early three-run home run that gave the team a lead it would never relinquish.

Beyond those two veterans, though, South Brunswick’s roster consists mainly of juniors earning their first Varsity playing time. Their entire outfield is made up of juniors. Now, their experience-building process has led them to the GMC Tournament’s Elite Eight.

Click below to hear Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Dom Savino with South Brunswick head coach Tim Sweeney on the Vikings’ big second-round win and the growth the team has displayed throughout the spring:

Don’t count out scrappy South Plainfield against Old Bridge in GMCT quarterfinals

Every tournament has two kind of contenders: the favorites and the sleepers.

A young ballclub that’s .500 and playing its best baseball at the right time? It’s a classic underdog, and it’s moving through a bracket it hopes to break.

Winners of five of its last seven games, 7th-seed South Plainfield looks to ride its hot streak into Middlesex County’s Final Four as the Tigers battle 2-seed Old Bridge in one of Wednesday night’s GMC Tournament quarterfinal games at North Brunswick Community Park.

Mike Pavlichko and Dom Savino will call the game as part of Central Jersey Sports Radio’s doubleheader coverage, presented by AutoLounge of Edison. First pitch is set for 7 p.m. Click here to listen.

South Plainfield enters the quarterfinals following its come-from-behind, 6-4 win over 10-seed Middlesex in the 2nd Round. The Tigers’ young bats shined, as junior Jayden Alvarez collected four RBIs, while sophomore Dan Kapsch and junior Zack Robinson each had three hits.

The game will be the third meeting of the spring between Red Division foes South Plainfield and Old Bridge, with the teams splitting the regular-season series. The Knights won the first matchup 8-3 on April 27th, but the Tigers earned the split the next day with a 3-2 victory.

South Plainfield is aiming for its first semifinals berth since 2018, when the Tigers won their first – and only – GMC Tournament title with a 12-inning victory in the championship game over Perth Amboy.

Dom Savino caught up with South Plainfield head coach Scott Gleichenhaus to discuss his team’s winning streak and talented lineup:

Franklin boys hope third time’s the charm in rematch with Rutgers Prep, with SCT finals berth on the line

You’ll have to forgive the youngest members of Franklin’s boys basketball team for not attending the program’s most recent appearance in the Somerset County Tournament semifinals.

It happened in 2007. They hadn’t been born yet.

Fast forward 16 years, and the Warriors have returned to Somerset County’s Final Four. With their eyes on a championship, they’ll have to get by a familiar foe to continue their postseason run.

Five-seed Franklin travels to top-seeded Rutgers Prep on Thursday night to play for a berth in the County Finals. Central Jersey Sports Radio will broadcast the game live at 7 pm, with the pregame at 6:45 following the girls’ matchup between the same teams at 5:00. Mike Pavlichko and Dom Savino will call all the action. Click here to listen.

The Warriors are hoping the third time is the charm against Rutgers Prep, which won both of the regular-season meetings between the crosstown rivals. Both games were decided by single digits.

The more recent of the two games happened more than a month ago, though. And since then, Franklin has played its best basketball of the season, winning 10 of its last 11.

That includes Tuesday’s mini-upset of 4-seed Hillsborough in the Somerset County quarterfinals. The Warriors led wire-to-wire and got 20-point performances from Cam Brown and Cam Snowden. Before that, Franklin opened the tournament with a 25-point win over Bernards, led by Jake Novielli’s career-high 32 points.

Click below to hear Franklin head coach Tony Mento talk about his team’s hot streak and rematch with Rutgers Prep:

St. Joseph still has shot at GMC Red title, but needs statement win against Aquinas

It’s January 17th. The season barely started a month ago. And yet, when No. 10 St. Joseph-Metuchen takes to its home floor against top-ranked St. Thomas Aquinas on Tuesday night, it will play a game with an end-of-year feel.

After all, the Falcons will be hunting for what would be their fourth straight GMC Red crown, and it’ll be their final regular-season home game.

Follow Sportsplex at Metuchen on Instagram for the latest on open gym sessions on their courts and turf!

It’s been a figure-it-out-quickly sort of season for Joe’s (8-3), which rides a two-game winning streak into this marquee battle with Aquinas (14-1).

The game will be broadcast on Central Jersey Sports Radio, with Mike Pavlichko and Dom Savino calling the action. The pre-game show starts at 6:45 p.m., with tip-off at 7:00. Click here to listen to the broadcast.

If Joe’s wins, the Falcons would claim a GMC Red co-championship with both Aquinas and Colonia — with the teams deadlocking at 7-1 in-division and 1-1 head-to-head. If Aquinas wins, it would complete a perfect run through the division and hoist the Red trophy outright. The early conclusion to the race for the Red is thanks to a one-year GMC pilot program, under which only one round of games through the division count towards the championship.

Should there be co-champions, however, just as with any other division ties, all games would be considered toward breaking the tie. Which leaves St. Joe’s very much in play for a top-seed in the GMC Tournament next month, providing they fore a three-way co-championship with a win against Aquinas.

The Falcons are led by the recently-paired backcourt tandem of Josh Ingram and Jeremy Clayville, each averaging nearly 20 points-per-game. Ingram — a senior and 2nd-year starter — has quickly gelled with Clayville, a junior who earned back-to-back First Team All-Division honors at DePaul Catholic.

Click below to hear St. Joe’s head coach Jan Cocozziello discuss Ingram and Clayville’s success, the team’s preparation for a playoff-like game, and Tuesday’s matchup with Aquinas:

Sayreville adjusts, perseveres, aims to keep it going on visit to East Brunswick

Injuries could’ve derailed Sayreville’s hopes of a big year before the Bombers’ season opener was over.

Instead — one on-the-fly reinvention later — Sayreville enters the second half of its campaign as the No. 8 team in the Central Jersey Sports Radio Top Ten, and still in the position to achieve the team’s annual goal: making a run in the postseason.

Aiming to climb back above .500, the 8th-ranked Bombers (2-2) will visit the East Brunswick Bears (0-4) Friday night in the Big Central Game of the Week on Central Jersey Sports Radio, with kickoff from Jay Doyle Field scheduled for 7:00 pm, and pregame at 6:45.

Mike Pavlichko and Dom Savino will call all the action; click here to listen.

More than anything, Sayreville’s string of injuries has impacted the team’s Gun Wing T offense. Over the first four weeks of the season, the Bombers have dealt with injuries to their starting quarterback, one of their top running backs, and multiple starters on the offensive line.

The Week 1 injury to senior QB Mike Colonnello prompted an offensive reshuffling that moved WR Caidan Holmes under center. The play-calling has also become run-first, giving Holmes and junior RB Zaimer Wright the chance to spark the offense on the ground.

Despite the adversity, Holmes and Wright have shined, combining to average more than 200 all-purpose yards per game and score five of Sayreville’s six touchdowns on the season.

The Bombers’ defense has done its part to keep the offense in games, allowing just 12 points-per-game. It’s also held Edison and top-ranked Phillipsburg to their lowest scoring totals of the season.

Click below to listen to Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Dom Savino talk with Sayreville head coach Chris Beagan about the 2022 Bombers:

Perez, Crosby guide top-seed St. Thomas Aquinas into yet another GMC Tournament Final

One offense has been more productive than the rest in the Greater Middlesex Conference.

Tonight was simply more of the same from the juggernaut.

Top-seed St. Thomas Aquinas (20-3) punched its ticket into the Greater Middlesex Conference Girls’ Basketball Tournament Final, handling 5-seed East Brunswick, 72-55, on Tuesday night at Monroe High School. The Trojans will aim for their third consecutive full GMCT title on Friday against 7-seed South Brunswick.

You can hear that game Friday against 7th-seed South Brunswick – an upset winner in the opener over Colonia – on Central Jersey Sports Radio as we broadcast the girls’ and boys’ championship doubleheader starting with the girls’ title tilt at 6 pm. Click here to listen to Mike Pavlichko call all the action.

READ MORE: Cinderella South Brunswick continues its run as Vikings knock off Colonia, head to GMC title game

Kayla Perez powered Aquinas’ stellar start, knocking down a pair of threes in the first four minutes as part of the Trojans’ 16-2 run to begin the game. The senior guard led all scorers with a season-high 27 points.

Up 24-5 after the first quarter, Aquinas sustained its up-tempo, transition-focused offense into the second half, building a lead as large as 32 points.

East Brunswick (16-8) put together its best run of the game early in the third quarter, disrupting Aquinas’ offensive flow by switching to a full-court defense reminiscent of Rutgers’ “55” pressure. The Bears put together a 19-2 run over a six-minute span in the period, cutting the deficit to as little as 15.

Yet Aquinas was able to remain comfortably in front throughout the second half thanks to second-chance buckets from forward Leah Crosby. The freshman finished with 15 points and 17 rebounds, earning her fifth double-double of the season and second of the tournament.

Click below to hear Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Dom Savino with postgame reaction from St. Thomas Aquinas’ win:

Senior guard Kayla Perez
Head coach Joe Whalen

Cinderella South Brunswick continues its run as Vikings knock off Colonia, head to GMC title game

Ask any coach, and they’ll tell you their team needs to play its best basketball when it matters most.

Well, that’s exactly what South Brunswick is doing.

The 7th-seeded Vikings (17-6) pulled off their second straight upset win Tuesday night, downing 3rd-seed Colonia 57-49 in the semifinals of the Greater Middlesex Conference Girls’ Basketball Tournament. South Brunswick will carry a seven-game winning streak into its first GMC Finals appearance since 2017, and try to win its first title since 2012.

You can hear that game Friday against top-seed St. Thomas Aquinas – a winner in the nightcap over East Brunswick – on Central Jersey Sports Radio as we broadcast the girls’ and boys’ championship doubleheader starting with the girls’ title tilt at 6 pm. Click here to listen to Mike Pavlichko call all the action.

READ MORE: Perez, Crosby guide top-seed St. Thomas Aquinas into yet another GMC Tournament Final

Vikings’ freshman Alexis Lease-Springer led the way with 18 points, including nine of her team’s 19 first-half points as Colonia led for the entirety of the opening half.

MORE COVERAGE: South Brunswick girls pull off big upset in GMCT quarterfinals, knocking off Monroe

The Patriots — who entered the night on a 14-game winning streak, but fall to 22-3 — capitalized on South Brunswick’s poor shooting start, growing a first-half lead as large as nine points. Colonia’s Taylor Derkack scored 13 of her game-high 21 points in the opening half.

But South Brunswick mounted a 12-2 run that bridged halftime, claiming its first lead with five minutes left in the third quarter.

It was the first of nine lead changes as the teams traded basket for basket for much of the second half. But South Brunswick closed the game on a 15-6 run over the final 3:30, most of which came at the free-throw line.

The Vikings were perfect on all 12 of their free throws over the game’s final 100 seconds, staving off a late Colonia run. South Brunswick junior Katie Rausch scored all 14 of her points in second half, six of which came as part of the Vikings’ free-throw spree.

Click below to hear Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Dom Savino with postgame reaction from South Brunswick’s win

Freshman guard Alexis Lease-Springer
Head coach Jeff Johnson

No. 9 Watchung Hills carries winning streak into Skyland battle with Franklin

It’s been a brilliant two weeks of basketball for Watchung Hills. 5 games, 5 wins, all by double digits.

Most recently, the Warriors were road warriors, claiming victories at Hunterdon Central, Hillsborough, and Jefferson.

Now, No. 9 Watchung Hills (8-1) returns home looking to extend its perfect 3-0 Skyland Delaware Division record against Franklin (4-4) on Tuesday at 6 p.m. The game will be broadcast on Central Jersey Sports Radio. Click here to listen to the broadcast with Mike Pavlichko and Dom Savino calling all the action; pregame coverage starts at 5:45.

Note: Today’s game was moved from its original 5:30 start to a 6 pm tip-off, it was announced late Tuesday morning.

The Warriors are led by guard Elijah Lewis, who’s averaging 23.8 points-per-game – tops in Somerset County – and 7.6 rebounds-per-game. The senior went off for 25 points and eight rebounds last time out, in Saturday’s 58-44 win over Jefferson.

Click below to hear Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Dom Savino talk with Watchung Hills head coach Justin Salton to preview the Warriors’ meeting with Franklin:

Simmon, Ingram lead St. Joe’s into GMC Red clash with East Brunswick

If you’re compiling a list of GMC breakout candidates, Ethan Simmon has scored his way to the top of the list. The St. Joe’s-Metuchen guard leads the team with 24.3 points-per-game, punctuated by a career-high 36 points in a blowout win over Old Bridge Tuesday.

It’s the latest triumph in a hot start for the Falcons (4-2), who stand at No. 4 in this week’s Bellamy & Son Paving Boys’ Basketball Rankings.

St. Joe’s now prepares for a battle of the last two GMC Red teams without a division loss, traveling to East Brunswick (3-1) Thursday at 7 p.m. for a game that will be broadcast on Central Jersey Sports Radio. Click here to listen to the broadcast with Mike Pavlichko and Dom Savino calling all the action; pregame coverage starts at 6:45.

Simmon represents one-half of Joe’s two-headed backcourt monster, complemented by the emergence of point guard Josh Ingram. The junior is averaging a career-best 15.5 ppg, including a season-high 18 points Tuesday.

Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Dom Savino talked with St. Joe’s head coach Jan Cocozziello to preview the Falcons’ meeting with EB: