Author: Mike Pavlichko

NJSIAA monitoring air quality, but no changes yet to HS slate due to smoke from Canadian wildfires

As air quality continues to suffer around the entire Northeast, into the Midwest and down South due to lingering smoke from massive Canadian wildfires, the NJSIAA is monitoring the situation as it relates to high school sports, with several championships still to be contested through the weekend.

The Non-Public Group Finals for baseball are scheduled for Thursday afternoon and evening at Bob DeMeo Field in Hamilton’s Veteran’s Park, with the Public Group Finals set for Saturday, with games scheduled for 10 am, 1 pm, 4 pm and 7 pm.

Old Bridge will play in its first-ever state final Saturday at 4:00 when the Knights take on Ridgewood, in a game you can hear on Central Jersey Sports Radio, with pregame set for 3:45 pm. Click here to listen.

According to the US Air Quality Index, the air quality in Lawrenceville, just a few miles away from Veterans’ Park in Hamilton, is deemed “unhealthy” with an AQI of 180, meaning “Some members of the general public may experience health effects; members of sensitive groups may experience more serious health effects.”

Improvement could come Thursday at the earliest, according to some media reports, which also have said New York City currently has the worst air quality in the world. ABC7 reports that New York City schools are open, but “students will not be doing any outdoor activities during their school day.”

Additionally, some high school sports events have been cancelled or postponed in upstate New York, while a Yahoo! News report also cited the cancellation of outdoor school activities as far south as Washington, D.C.

The NJSIAA told Central Jersey Sports Radio in a statement today that it “is closely monitoring air quality data across New Jersey and local/state health advisories.  As start times for athletic events draw near, we will make decisions for each venue and sport based on currently available information.  Schools should monitor official NJSIAA communications only for updates and understand that all schedules are subject to change.”

The NJSIAA has numerous other outdoor sports in the midst of championships at the moment.

  • Softball non-public state finals are Friday, with publics on Saturday, both at Kean University in Union.
  • Boys’ lacrosse has public state finals at Hopewell Valley and Bridgewater-Raritan High Schools Friday, with non-publics at East Brunswick on Saturday.
  • Girls’ lacrosse has Non-public and public state finals on Friday and Saturday, respectively, Saturday at Hunterdon Central in Flemington.
  • Track-and-field has Groups 1, 4 and Non-Public A at Franklin High School, with Groups 2, 3 and Non-Public B at Delsea High School on Friday and Saturday. The Meet of Champions at Franklin isn’t until next Wednesday, June 14th.
  • The boys’ tennis singles and doubles tournament runs Saturday through next Thursday, June 15 at Veterans’ Park in Hamilton and Mercer County Park for the first two rounds, and at Mercer from the quarterfinals on.

Championship Week in Old Bridge as baseball and boys’ volleyball look to finish off historic seasons, bring home state titles

The Old Bridge baseball team isn’t the only squad looking to bring home state championship hardware in the coming days.

Before the Knights’ nine play Ridgewood for the Group 4 title at Bob DeMeo Field in Hamilton’s Veteran’s Park this Saturday (4 pm, CJSR – click here to listen), the boys’ volleyball team will look to bring home some a trophy when the second-seeded Knights travel to top-seed Southern this afternoon for the South Jersey Group 4 title at 5 pm.

Old Bridge volleyball is in the midst of a historic undefeated season, with head coach Andrew Hopman taking the team to another level, following four straight state championships dating back to 2018.

The squad is 123-16 in that period, but 29-0 this year. In fact, the Knights have only lost two sets all year: one to Kingsway in the regular season, and one to Monroe in the semifinals of the GMC Tournament. Overall, Old Bridge volleyball has won 35 straight.

Should they beat Southern, the state Group 4 final would be at 2 pm in South Brunswick this Saturday against the North Jersey Group 4 winner, either fifth-seed Bridgewater-Raritan or third-seed Bloomfield.

As for baseball, they’re already in the Group 4 final. It’ll be their first time there in school history, with Matt Donaghue in his third year as head coach. Donaghue is an OBHS alum, and played for the late Fred Cole, who previously had brought Madison Central to the Group 4 final in 1988, a year before winning its only GMC Tournament title in 1989. That ’88 team lost to Memorial (West New York) in the Group 4 title game.

Click below to hear Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Mike Pavlichko talk with Old Bridge Athletic Director Dan DiMino about the Knights’ success in baseball and volleyball this Spring:

GMC Coaches announce 2023 All-Conference, All-Division teams

The Greater Middlesex Conference coaches have announced their All-Conference and All-Division teams for the 2023 season, as well as their team awards.

The GMC Red Division – recognized as one of the toughest in the state – earned 12 of the 17 selections on the all-league team, with three going to the White and two to the Blue.

Following is the complete list of honorees, as released by the league:


  • Edison: Jaxon Appelman
  • Monroe: Harrison Lollin
  • North Brunswick: Zack Konstantinovsky, Omar Carreras, Yomar Carreras
  • Old Bridge: Frank Papeo, Kyle McSorley, Justin Hascup
  • St. Joseph-Metuchen: Mark Gialluisi, Jimmy Mulvaney, Robbie Carvelli
  • Sayreville: Jake Romanello
  • South Brunswick: Joey Tuttoilmondo
  • South Plainfield: Dom Massaro
  • South River: Julius Rosado
  • Spotswood: Casey Cumiskey
  • Woodbridge: Ty Kobylakiewicz

GMC Coach of the Year: Matt Donaghue, Old Bridge
GMC Sportsmanship Award: East Brunswick


  • East Brunswick: Dustin McGuinness
  • Monroe: Harrison Lollin, Lucas White
  • North Brunswick: Zack Konstantinovsky, Omar Carreras, Yomar Carreras
  • Old Bridge: Kyle McSorley, Frank Papeo, Thomas Papeo, Justin Hascup
  • St. Joseph-Metuchen: Mark Gialluisi, Jimmy Mulvaney, Rob Carvelli
  • South Brunswick: Joey Tuttoilmondo
  • South Plainfield: Dom Massaro, Zach Robinson, Jayden Alvarez

Red Division Coach of the Year: Matt Donaghue, Old Bridge
Red Division Sportsmanship Award: East Brunswick


  • Colonia: Casey Chiola
  • Edison: Jaxon Appelman, Paul diPasquale, Jordan Martins
  • JP Stevens: Justin Bonito, Mihir Patel
  • Middlesex: Aidan Kozak, Justin Gordon
  • Perth Amboy: Sebastian Aponte
  • Sayreville: Michael Colonnello, Jake Romanello, Aayush Mehta, Mike Novak
  • Woodbridge: Ty Kobylakiewicz, Eddy Nunez, Drew Lukachyk, Tyler Weber

White Division Coach of the Year: Mike Novak, Sayreville
White Division Sportsmanship Award: Perth Amboy


  • JFK: Jeremy Ricourt, R.J. Coleman, Grant Lorentzen
  • Metuchen: Lucas Weiss
  • North Plainfield: Davyn Ciriaco
  • Piscataway: Bobby Bressler, Mike Wojick
  • St. Thomas Aquinas: David Ryden, Artis Ray, Zach Dias
  • South River: Julius Rosado, Joseph Lepore, Parker Lane
  • Spotswood: Casey Cumiskey, Carter Cumiskery, Breckyn DeAngelis, Jackson Walsh

Blue Division Coach of the Year: Glenny Fredricks
Blue Division Sportsmanship Award: North Plainfield


  • Carteret: James Rodriguez, Justin Santana, Nick Kee, Jhoalvin Ledesma, Eric Thompson
  • East Brunswick Magnet: Ryan DellaFave, Scott Pede, Jack Clements
  • New Brunswick: Ronaldy Peralta
  • Somerset Tech: Ryan Delsordo
  • South Amboy: Ben Hernandez, Steve Evanski, Diego Colon, Gabe Albarran
  • Timothy Christian: Josh Francis, Josh Thiero, Dylan Spivey

Gold Division Coach of the Year: Dan Morvay, Carteret
Gold Division Sportsmanship Award: Timothy Christian


  • Piscataway Magnet: Jacob Lyerly, Matthew Baez, Nomar Carreras, Jurodh Santos-Carabello
  • Highland Park: Seamus MacKinnon, Aidan O’Connell, Luca Sheldon, Owen Roth-Zappo
  • Perth Amboy Magnet: Nelson Concepcion, JohnKelly Jiminez, Jean Felipe-Lozado
  • Wardlaw-Hartridge: Luke Tan, Cian Nicholls
  • Dunellen: Ryan Hutchins, Mark Stein, Corbin Evans, Myles Harrada

Silver Division Coach of the Year: Jake Rosenberg, Piscataway Magnet
Silver Division Sportsmanship Award: Wardlaw-Hartridge

INSTANT REPLAY: Group 4 Semifinals – Old Bridge 8, Eastern 6

The Old Bridge Knights clinched a berth in their first-ever state final with an 8-6 win over Eastern in the Group 4 semifinals. The go-ahead run broke a 6-6 tie in the sixth inning when Justin Hascup scored from third on a balk, while an insurance run scored on a pitch in the dirt that went to the backstop.

Click below to hear Mike Pavlichko and Dylan Allen call all the action from Fred Cole Field on June 5, 2023:

On to the final! Old Bridge wins wild Group 4 semi over Eastern, 8-6 to advance to first-ever state title game

In a game that had the long ball, hits, errors, and gold glove plays, it was a balk call int he sixth inning that led to the winning run.

Old Bridge doesn’t care how; they’ll take it: an 8-6 win over Eastern in the Group 4 semifinals at Fred Cole Field that sends them to the state Group 4 title game in Hamilton at 4 pm Saturday against Ridgewood, which walked-off Bayonne with a single in the seventh to win 14-13.

In a game heard on Central Jersey Sports Radio, Justin Hascup closed the game on the mound, and scored the go-ahead run in the sixth. He led off the inning with the game tied 6-6 by knocking a triple. Evan Smith walked and a sac bunt by Adam Scire put him at second. With second and third and one out, a balk was called on Eastern pitcher Logan Dawson to score Hascup. A passed ball then brought home Smith with an insurance run the Knights would turn out not to need.

Old Bridge was down 2-0 before even coming to bat, as Eastern got a two-RBI double from Rich Iulucci, but starter JT Meyer settled in from there.

The Knights got three back in the second on an RBI double by Scire that drove in Mike Villani. Then Meyer knocked in two with a two-out triple to make it 3-2 Old Bridge after two.

The Vikings took a 6-3 lead in the fifth. With a runner on third, Bill Bentliff popped up a bunt to first that Shawn Bogda caught; he tried to double up Spencer Haldeman on third but threw it away and the run score to tie the game. After a hit batter and a walk put two on, Sam Winsett crushed a three-run homer to left.

That’s the way the game would stay until the wacky sixth inning.

Old Bridge goes to the finals with a record of 21-8; Hascup got the win in relief. Logan Dawson took the loss for Eastern, which falls to 17-11-1.

Click below for postgame reaction presented by Sportsplex at Metuchen:

Old Bridge sophomore Justin Hascup scored the game’s winning run and got the win in relief
Old Bridge sophomore Justin Hascup. (Photo: Dylan Allen)
Old Bridge head coach Matt Donaghue

Old Bridge carrying GMC flag as lone sectional champ into Group 4 semifinal battle with Eastern

With all the great baseball that was played by the Greater Middlesex Conference this season, particularly in the Red Division, one team remains: Old Bridge.

The Knights (20-8, 7-5 in the GMC Red) didn’t even make the county tournament semifinals, showing how everybody could beat anybody, but here they are, Central Jersey Group 4 champions for the first time since 2015, and now in the Group 4 semifinals, where they will take on the Eastern Vikings (17-10-1), the South Jersey Group 4 champions, out of the Olympic Conference.

Scroll through for a complete preview of the game, which can be heard live on Central Jersey Sports Radio:

Group 4 Semifinals: Old Bridge (20-8) vs. Eastern (17-10-1)
When: Monday, 5 pm
Where: Fred Cole Field, campus of Carl Sandburg Middle School in Old Bridge, NJ
Coverage: Mike Pavlichko, Dylan Allen on play-by-play (click here to listen)
First Pitch Forecast: 76, partly sunny, NNW wind 10 mph (out to centerfield)

Old Bridge: Frank Papeo (6-2, 1.56 ERA)
Eastern: Logan Dawson (3-1, 2.36 ERA)


Old Bridge: Matt Donaghue, 5th season (81-62)

Rob Christ: Rob Christ, 19th season (447-205-1)


Old Bridge (No. 1 seed in Central Jersey Group 4)

  • def. (16) West Windsor-Plainsboro North 3-0 in 1st round
  • def. (9) West Windsor-Plainsboro South 10-0 in quarterfinals
  • def. (5) East Brunswick 8-0 in semifinals
  • def. (2) North Brunswick 2-1 in finals

Eastern (No. 11 seed in South Jersey Group 4)

  • def. (6) Millville 12-0 in 1st round
  • def. (3) Egg Harbor 2-0 in quarterfinals
  • def. (7) Southern 11-2 in semifinals
  • def. (5) Rancocas Valley 2-0 in finals

WHAT’S NEXT? The winner of today’s game goes to the statewide Group 4 finals, set for 4 pm Saturday at Bob DeMeo Field at Veterans Park in Hamilton, against the winner or the North 1 vs. North 2 game, featuring North 1 winner Ridgewood (22-7) hosting North 2 winner Bayonne (25-6). That game is a 4 pm first pitch Monday.

Game Preview

Old Bridge finished second in the GMC Red Division to North Brunswick, despite having beaten the Raiders twice in the regular season, once in 10 innings. But they were bounced by South Plainfield – another Red Division team they’d beaten in the regular season – in the GMC Tournament quarterfinals. En route to the Central Jersey Group 4 final, they pitched three shutouts, and only allowed one run to North Brunswick in the title game, beating the Raiders for a third time this season, this time 2-1 for the Knights’ first sectional title since 2015. That year, they lost to Williamstown in the semifinals.

Old Bridge is a veteran group. Thomas Papeo is the top hitter at .407, driving in 18 runs, while Kyle McSorley has a team-leading 27 RBIs and six home runs; both are seniors. Fellow senior Mike Villani is hitting .382 with 14 runs batted in, third on the team.

And if you did the easy math earlier, Old Bridge has allowed a grand total of one run in four playoff games, as the pitching duo of Justin Hascup and Frank Papeo has been lights out, and nearly unhittable. They’ve split the starts, and along with reliever Justin “J.T.” Meyer, they have allowed a combined nine hits in those four games.

Eastern is the surprise 11-seed out of South Jersey Group 4, on their longest winning streak of the season, at six games, having entered the state playoffs at just 12-10-1. (They had a regular season win between their first round and quarterfinal games over Camden Catholic.) They’ve also had three shutouts in these playoffs, only allowing two runs to Southern in the sectional semifinals. Their win over Rancocas Valley – the fifth seed – in the final came after a pair of regular season losses, 7-0 on April 24th and 8-7 on May 16th.

The Vikings are led offensively by Jack Bauer, who’s hitting .450 with four runs batted in, but he won’t be in the starting lineup against Old Bridge; he could see time as a pinch hitter or late-game substitution. Next up is senior catcher Bill Bentliff, hitting .354 with 10 RBI, and freshman Vinny Mellilo, hitting .328 on the year.

Is it 2019 all over again?

After two off years following COVID – at 14-9 in 2021 and 12-13 last season – the Vikings are back where they left off prior to the pandemic year shutdown. In 2019, they were 23-9, won South Jersey Group 4, and beat Manalapan in the Group 4 semis, before losing 2-1 in the Group 4 final to Ridgewood. Eastern had won 20 or more games every year from 2015 through 2019, and though this is the longest they’ve gone in the state tournament since, they can’t get to 20 this year. They’re at 17 wins now, with only a maximum two more games remaining.

That 2019 season was the last year Old Bridge had made a sectional final; they lost to Manalapan. And Ridgewood is in the other Group 4 final, with first pitch set for 4 pm today in Bayonne.

Is Central 4 the real deal?

The winner of Central Jersey Group 4 has won four of the last seven statewide Group 4 titles. That includes Hunterdon Central in 2016 and 2018, Middletown South in 2021, and Howell last season.


INSTANT REPLAY: Non-Public South A Final – (1) Red Bank Catholic 4, (2) St. Joseph-Metuchen 1

The top-seeded Red Bank Catholic Caseys rallied for four runs in the final two innings to come back from a 1-0 first-inning deficit, to beat second-seed St. Joseph-Metuchen 4-1 in the Non-Public South A title game.

Click below to hear Mike Pavlichko and Justin Sontupe call all the action from Count Basie Park in Red Bank on June 3, 2023:

State tournament a cruel, cold reminder of how quickly a special season can end, but there’s still much to remember

When fans in the Central Jersey Sports Radio coverage area woke up Friday morning, they had seven teams alive, all playing for championships in a span of two days.

In a span of 20 hours, it was all over for six of the seven.

Few teams win championships; that’s the nature of sports. Of the 68 teams in March Madness, 67 will have their season end in a loss.

But after 24 years covering high school sports, it never ceases to be staggering to this reporter how quickly it can all end.

Unlike professional sports, and maybe more similar to college, high school athletics are much less predictable. There are different styles of play that are as wide and varied as the geographical regions of this amazing state.

In two hours, you can drive from the sparsely-populated mountains to major urban centers to densely-populated blue collar suburbs to county lanes dotted with horse farms to the Jersey Shore and everything in between.

Along the way you can find gritty teams that play on dirt infields with non-existent outfield fences, teams that small-ball you, fearsome slugging lineups, and teams that survive on a wealth of pitching arms, whether community college prospects or D1 commitments.

Regardless, the state tournament, year-in and year-out, is the great equalizer, in which seeds are almost meaningless, and the matchup or a story line, an inspiration or pure frustration is sometimes more important than the talent.

Old Bridge is the last team left from our area. What a turnaround from Friday morning, which started with North Brunswick, Bridgewater-Raritan, Spotswood, Middlesex, Rutgers Prep and St. Joseph-Metuchen all still very much alive in the NJSIAA sectional playoffs.

Now, the Knights beat North Brunswick three times this year, and only saw Zack Konstantinovsky pitch one inning against them. If you asked head coach Matt Donaghue, he’d be lying to tell you anything other than he’d rather not face Zack if he had a choice, particularly in a sectional final. If they did have to face him, he’d also be right and smart to tell you they’d love a chance to win a championship against him, too. But when Mother Nature forced the GMC finals to be played one day later, that eventually kept Zack out of the sectional finals.

And after a tight game throughout, North Brunswick’s season is over without any postseason hardware. Old Bridge – the only team in the stacked GMC Red Division to have beaten every other Red team at least once – moves on to the Group 4 semifinals in the later afternoon Monday at Fred Cole Field.

Baseball is perhaps the toughest sport to have one-and-dones. It’s part of high school and college basketball, and football at all levels, but, well, it’s not easy to win a baseball game, but consider this: even the worst team in Major League Baseball about 60 times a year.

Look at Bridgewater-Raritan. They scored 49 runs in three state tournament games, but only managed two against Bayonne in the North 2, Group 4 final at their own yard, where the wind had been carrying everything out for the last week-and-a-half, but couldn’t find a Panther baseball in a haystack Friday afternoon, even as the Bees, inexplicably, hit three. Who would have thought?

Look at Middlesex, who had so greatly dominated Point Pleasant Beach until 2022, ending their season four straight years until dropping last year’s CJ1 final to the Garnet Gulls at Mountainview Park. The visitors that day let out such relief at the win. This year, Middlesex, a perennial division champ, placed third after Sayreville and veteran, heavy-hitting Woodbridge. And almost as an afterthought, there they were in the finals, like they are every year. It’s old hat for them, even with few returnees, and an entirely new roster of players. But now, the pendulum appears to have swung back to Point. Imagine!

Look at Spotswood, with two 8th-inning walk-off heroic acts, playing for fallen young teammate Matthew Carlson, who died around Thanksgiving in a tragic ATV accident. Team of destiny, maybe? They’re gritty, too, aggressive, feisty, adept at small-ball. But, sometimes the storyline doesn’t always go to plan when you run into the top seed, and Rumson ended it before you could blink.

And who might have figured that for several innings, St. Joseph-Metuchen – the GMC Tournament champ that turned a rare trick – beating Zack Konstantinovsky – would have a lead that might take them to a title? Jimmy Mulvaney’s sidearm delivery had Red Bank Catholic – the Shore Conference and Monmouth County Tournament champions puzzled all morning and into the p.m. hours. The slugging Caseys had failed to slug, or even get a base runner more than 90 feet away from home plate. The table was set for a huge upset in front of a throng of media, including two live broadcasts, and hundreds of fans, which at one point included Zack himself. But after the game was tied at 1-1, a miscommunication here, an error here, a few hits here and there, and all of a sudden the Falcons faced a final at bat, down three. And with a 1-2-3 inning their season was over.

Rutgers Prep already was amazing story, starting the season 1-6, then, after one more loss, winning the Somerset County Tournament with five straight playoff victories. They got back to .500 at 14-14 with their semifinal win over Gill St. Bernard’s. And had a 3-1 lead against a tiny Bergen County Catholic school that only has a third of an outfield fence. Sometimes, though, the little guy wins, even if St. Mary-Rutherford was the top seed. Who’d have thought?

In the end, there’s a lot to be proud of for all those teams that made finals, especially in light of the 2020 season being cancelled due to COVID; this year’s seniors almost rebuilt those programs from the ground up, starting as sophomores.

Rutgers Prep rallied the entire season and won the Somerset County Tournament title. St. Joe’s beat one of the most dominating pitchers ever to stand 60 feet, six inches away from home plate in the GMC to win the that tournament title. Casey Cumiskey of Spotswood closed one of the school’s all-time best Charger offensive careers. North Brunswick had quite the run, and a 2022 GMCT championship to its credit. Bridgewater-Raritan had some huge wins early in the season over Ridge and Hunterdon Central. And few expected the Middlesex of the past few years in 2023, yet there they were again, right in the mix for a title, and will likely be back again next year.

But sometimes the storylines do win. Let’s go back up to Rutherford, where a former Falcon – on the same day his old teammates lost their grip on a trophy – figured prominently in grabbing one.

In a 3-3 game, Xavier Arana – a Newark kid who wanted to play outfield more regularly and left Metuchen to play in Bergen County – takes the mound in relief for St. Mary. He holds it down. He gets plunked to lead off the seventh, and comes around to score the game winning run.

Again, I ask, who would have thought?

Rutgers Prep takes St. Mary-Rutherford to the brink, falls 4-3 in Non-Public North B final

On a day when Rutgers Prep and St. Joseph of Metuchen played separately for state titles, and it was a former Falcon who figured decisively in a defeat for the Argonauts.

Xavier Arana – who transferred after last year from St. Joe’s to St. Mary of Rutherford – scored the game-winning run in the bottom of the seventh and got the win in relief for the top-seeded Gaels in a 4-3 walk-off win over third-seed Rutgers Prep in Saturday’s Non-Public North B title game up in Bergen County.

St. Mary (20-9) will go on to face the winner of Saturday’s South B title game between second-seed and defending champ Ranney and top-seed Gloucester Catholic.

Right from the get-go tensions were high, with both benches highly vocal in a back-and-forth affair throughout.

Rutgers Prep head coach Larry Santowasso started with his sophomore ace Zach Fronio, who’s committed to Maryland, and he cruised through the first three innings, only allowing two baserunners, striking out five. It was the fourth inning that started to give Fronio trouble. He allowed three consecutive singles, including an RBI single from St. Mary’s catcher Kyle Watson that put the Gaels out in front 1-0. 

Gaels starter Blayze Conte was also cruising along in the game, allowing just one hit and a walk through four innings. It was in the fifth inning that Conte got himself into trouble, allowing back-to-back singles to Max Treonze and Nick Pizzie, walking James Jackman to load the bases, and then a 2 RBI double for shortstop Cody Rullo.

With still two outs in the inning, Gaels Head Coach Nigel Archibald kept Conte on the mound to try and get the final out. But Rutgers Prep freshman catcher Ethan Nepomuceno hit a double of his own, scoring Rullo and giving Rutgers Prep a 3-1 lead in the top of the fourth. That’s where Conte’s day ended, and Archibald put in relief pitcher David Anderson to get the final out. Anderson got Zach Fronio to ground out to shortstop to stop the bleeding for the Gaels.

Conte ended up with a no-decision, went 4 2/3 innings, gave up three runs on five hits, struck out four, and walked two. 

With the Gaels down two going into the bottom of the fifth, they knew they had to start a rally. They did just that, with the nine-hole hitter Arana roping a single to right field to get the ball rolling for St. Mary. Leadoff hitter Tyler Giordano legged out an infield single allowing Arana to advance to second. The Gaels had runners on first and second with one out, when Fronio struck out Jason Rosado for the second out, but the Gaels didn’t give up. Blayze Conte hit a single to center to load the bases, and third baseman Jacob Herrera hit a two-run single to center to tie the game at three apiece. 

It was crunch time. A game tied at three with two innings left. The Gaels took out pitcher David Anderson – who recorded one out in the fourth – and put in the lefty Arana. 

Fast forward to the top of the seventh inning. With Arana still on the mound, he worked a 1-2-3 inning, retiring Rutgers Prep to go to the bottom of the seventh tied at three. Santowasso pulled pitcher Fronio – who had reached over 100 pitches – and put in Li Perez for the seventh.

But the Gaels wasted no time getting runners on base. Arana again led off the inning, and this time was hit by a pitch. Perez then walked Tyler Giordano to put runners on first and second with nobody out. The stage was set for St. Mary’s second baseman Jason Rosado, who walked off the Argonauts, sending a ball into shallow left-center field which scored Arana from second for the 4-3 final.

Fronio finished the day with six innings pitched, giving up 3 runs on eight hits. He struck out 12 and walked one. Perez, who didn’t record an out, took the loss.

Arana earned the win for St. Mary with two innings of relief, allowing just two hits and striking out one.

Click below for postgame reaction sponsored by Sportsplex at Metuchen:

Rutgers Prep head coach Larry Santowasso
St. Mary-Rutherford’s Blayze Conte (in the cowboy hat) and Kyle Watson celebrate their Non-Public North B title. (Photo: Dylan Allen)
St. Mary-Rutherford reaction from head coach Nigel Archibald, pitcher Blayze Conte and Jason Rosado, who had the game-winning hit.