Category: Baseball

Edison community and beyond comes together to “Fight For Allie,” help local 11-year old girl beat brain tumor

Much has been written and talked about on this website regarding the sense of community fostered by sports in Edison, whether it’s a beloved baseball coach and mentor passing away, or the youth football programs that helped bring the Edison High Eagles their first state championship in more than three decades.

Now, that community is coming together again, to rally behind Alexandra “Allie” Ewing.

She’s just eleven, and not long after the New Year, she was having some stomach issues. Probably nothing major, her family thought.

She was out of school for a few weeks, but couldn’t seem to get over it. She’d been tired, and took a nap. But when she woke up Monday night, she was exhibiting tell-tale signs of a possible stroke. Facial drooping, lack of mobility.

Off they went to the hospital, and an immediate CAT scan discovered what turned out to be a golf ball-sized mass on her brain. Emergency surgery was successful, for now, and she’s spent the last few days recovering, and waiting for results of a biopsy.

A bright, full-of-life pre-teen, Allie and her parents have been active in the local youth sports scene, playing softball, soccer, and even football with the boys of the Edison Jets. She started with Edison boys’ baseball when she was four.

“Since the first day I met her, she had a ‘Never quit” and ‘Don’t tell me I can’t do it’ attitude,” says Edison Boys Baseball League President Brian Calantoni. “Our athletes are always taught to use what they learn on the field and at practice and utilize it in real life situations. We know she won’t ever give up. She will fight and she will win.”

A GoFundMe page has been set up for Allie, which has received over 500 donations totaling over $46,000 as of 10 pm Sunday. The family is in need of funds to cover medical costs and seek multiple opinions, so they can get the best care for Allie.

Her father, Keith, told Central Jersey Sports Radio on Sunday afternoon that they still have a potentially long road to go, and have no idea what the immediate future holds.

Click below to hear Mike Pavlichko talk with Allie’s father, Keith Ewing, about how she’s doing, what little they know of her prognosis, and the tremendous support of the community in Edison and beyond:

Spotswood basketball, baseball teams will remember Matthew Carlson in their own ways

Matthew Carlson should have been on the jayvee basketball team at Spotswood High School this year, and would eventually have contributed to the Chargers’ baseball team as well this Spring. The sophomore was a great kid, a leader by example, and loved by his classmates and teammates.

Instead, they are all remembering him, a month after his tragic death in an ATV accident in Georgia.

According to published reports in numerous media outlets, the 16-year-old sophomore was in an ATV while on a family vacation in Georgia over Thanksgiving break when it crashed, and he was thrown from the vehicle the night before Thanksgiving. He was pronounced dead early Thanksgiving morning at a local hospital.

“E4M” – Everything for Matt – is written in the top left corner of the Spotswood basketball team’s whiteboard in the locker room. (Photo: Mike Pavlichko)

The news stunned the Spotswood community as word reached New Jersey.

The basketball team is remembering him by placing his jersey on a chair at home games this season, and with a message in the corner of their whiteboard in the boys’ locker room.

Matthew Carlson (Source: Spotswood Funeral Home obituary)

We talked to basketball coach Steve Mate and baseball coach Glenny Fredricks for their memories and recollections of Matthew Carlson.

Click below to listen:

OPINION: NJSIAA proposal to allow one “free transfer” to all is a long time coming, and a step in the right direction

Full disclaimer: this is not a hot take.

Most people who know me know that when I’ve got an idea, I’ll tell anyone who will listen. Twice, if they let me.

So when a certain coach I know messaged me Wednesday afternoon to say the NJSIAA “stole” my idea, I had to wonder what it was.

As it turns out, per a published report out today by the USA Today Network, the NJSIAA has a proposal in the works that would allow all student-athletes, regardless of gender, sport or level – freshman, JV, or varsity – one transfer within their high school career without penalty. They would not need to have a bona fide change of address, a rule which has been the standard for many years now, and which also often has proven too difficult to enforce.

Any additional transfers, however, would be subject to the typical 30-day sit-out rule, while seniors would only have to sit out 15 days, per the report.

There are still more hurdles to clear, but in all honesty, it’s about time.

For one, the NJSIAA doesn’t have the personnel to track every single case. And we all know some schools find ways around the rules, both public and private.

I’ve been saying for a year or two now that the idea that kids don’t transfer for athletic advantage needs to be thrown out the window. It’s happening, and will continue to happen. Even when they enroll in a non-public school at the start of ninth grade, and sometimes even when they legitimately move from one town to another. Most times, it’s not about academics.

Everyone knows this. So why keep up the charade?

This proposal – though perhaps not directly – acknowledges that theory.

As I have been saying: “Let them transfer. Everyone gets a free pass – once. After that, if they want to transfer willy-nilly, it’s on them.”

But the proposed rule is also about equity. It levels the playing field: no more advantage to the schools that kind find the loophole.

And, it fits with the national trend – like it or not – of the student-athlete’s rights. It began in the college ranks, with NIL (Name, Image, Likeness) rules, and is filtering down to the high school level.

Meanwhile, per the report, the NJSIAA wants to focus more on illegal recruiting, and punishing the adults involved, not the players. This is also a step in the right direction.

It’s also likely a much less prevalent problem than the copious amount of transfers seen in New Jersey – 242 with more than one move over the past three years, according to the report – as not all of those involve recruiting. And determining whether a coach or administrator took part in recruiting is much easier than determining where a student-athlete’s primary residence is.

To the NJSIAA, and its membership, the new transfer rule is a great idea, and we hope to see it work its way through the system and become official in 2023-24.

Spotswood inducts third Athletics Hall of Fame Class, including its most decorated girls basketball player, its best baseball team ever, and Ron Mazzola

The most decorated girls basketball player and the most successful baseball team in school history – along with its star pitcher – were among several inductees into the Spotswood Athletics Hall of Fame this past weekend.

Beth Dickinson Cipot (then known as Beth Dickinson) is the school’s all-time leading scorer in girls’ or boys’ basketball, while the 2007 Charger baseball team won every possible title it could: GMC Blue Division, GMC Tournament, Central Jersey Group 2 and the statewide Group 2 title.

Dickinson scored 2,100 points in her career, and is the only player on either side to pass the 2,000-point mark, She captained the 19989-99 team that won the Central Jersey Group 1 title, and was a three-time all-county player in the Star-Ledger and Home News Tribune, ultimately making third-team All Group 1 by the Ledger and Associated Press.

She played collegiately at St. Peter’s and Fordham, where she was an All-Academic Atlantic Ten selection in 2004, and later coached at the Bronx school, as well as Georgetown from 2004 to 2007.

Click below to listen to Mike Pavlichko talk with Spotswood Athletics Hall of Fame Class of 2022 Inductee Beth Dickinson:

Editors’ Note: Beth Dickinson and Mike Pavlichko both attended Spotswood High School, where Mike was the PA announcer while in school, graduating in 1996, and continuing through Beth’s senior season in 1999. Mike was inducted into the SHS Athletics Hall of Fame in 2007, as a contributor.

The 2007 Spotswood baseball team – coached then, as now, by Glenny Fredricks – went 26-4 and remains, by far, the best the school has ever had. It set school records for wins, batting average (.369), runs scored (239) and RBI (196). The Chargers finished the season ranked No. 1 in Middlesex County, and No. 7 statewide. And they are one of only two Greater Middlesex Conference teams to win the conference tournament and a state group championship in the same year. (Edison did it first, in 1993.)

Inducted were Fredricks, along with his assistants – his brother, Danny, Chris Ferrone, Matt Ardizzone, Mike Bruschini and Mike Feaster – and the following players: Anthony Addone, John Michael Berner III, Michael Collins, Brian Curci, Daniel Hohman, Richard Kuhn Jr., Jonathan Martin, Cody Pace, Joseph Reid, Timothy Snook, Vincent Vizzi, William Beard, Nicholas Brown, Jamie Cullen, Patrick Dwyer, Mike Hohman, David Lynch, Christopher Mooney, Joseph Petosa, Brian Scott, and Phil Spina.

Inducted separately was William Beard, who set single-season pitching records in 2007 for victories, strikeouts and complete games. He threw three no-hitters for the Chargers, including a perfect game. He’s the winningest pitcher in Middlesex County history with 27 victories and holds nearly all of Spotswood’s single-season and career pitching records. Beard later pitched at Rutgers, where he was a team captain and three-time Academic All-Big East pick.

Two other athletes, a coach and a contributor also were inducted.

The contributor was the late Ron Mazzola. Known as “Mr. Old Bridge,” he was also “The Voice of the Chargers,” providing the public address announcements for football for many years. Ron has been honored by so many of the schools and organizations he worked with before his untimely passing last Spring. Last month, Old Bridge renamed its press box after him.

READ MORE: A fitting tribute for Mr. Old Bridge, as Knights’ football press box is named for the late Ron Mazzola

READ MORE: Remembering Ron Mazzola, Mr. Old Bridge

The coach was Kevin Brady, who’s currently the girls’ soccer and softball mentor at East Brunswick, but who began his career with the Chargers in 1995, taking that very first team to the GMC Blue Division title with a record of 15-5-1. His teams won four Division title – in 1995, 2001, 2003 and 2005 and went 139-65-14 during his tenure. The 2001 team set a school record for victories with 16 – surpassed with 17 by his final team in Spotswood – and won the Chargers’ first-ever sectional championship: a penalty-kick victory over arch-rival South River. Brady also was an assistant on the girls’ basketball team when Dickinson starred on the hardwood.

Tim Logan, class of 2005, was a multi-sport athlete who is one of the few Chargers to be named first-team All-GMC in more than one endeavor. A four-year varsity letterwinner in basketball, he scored nearly 20 points a game and was fourth in scoring in the area, which he led in three-point shooting. In soccer, he was a two-time Captain, an all-section pick by the Soccer Coaches Association of New Jersey, and was the 2004-05 Spotswood High School Athlete of the Year. He played basketball for a year, but soccer for four seasons at the University of Scranton, where he ranks ninth all-time in school history in both career goals and career points.

Jason Pope, class of 1999, was a four-year first-singles varsity tennis player, who to this day holds the school record for career victories with 72. He was an All-GMC pick three times, and an All-Blue Division selection all four years with the Chargers, leading them to a division title in 1996. He competed collegiately at Niagara University, where in four years, he set school records for most season and career wins, and achieved an NCAA ranking in singles in 2002, as well as being named to the MAAC All-Academic team three times. He set that precedent in high school when he was president of the Spotswood chapter of the National Honor Society, and was presented with the SHS Booster Club’s Scholar-Athlete award in 1999.

A fitting tribute for Mr. Old Bridge, as Knights’ football press box is named for the late Ron Mazzola

He was everything to the Old Bridge community for decades. PA man, coach, mentor, organizer, uniform maker. But perhaps most importantly, a friend.

The passing of Ron Mazzola back in February at the age of 61 sent a tidal wave of shock and grief through the Old Bridge community.

So, less than seven months later, on the first day of September, he was honored in the best way possible: with the press box at Bob DeMarco Field being renamed, “The Ron Mazzola Press Box.

Click below to watch a video recap of Thursday’s ceremony:

St. Joseph alum, MiLB broadcaster John Nolan wins one for grooms everywhere

The average guy, when it comes to wedding prep, is somewhere in the background. Maybe an opinion or an idea here and there, but it’s often the bride-to-be designing and creating the wedding of their dreams.

John Nolan – a 2009 graduate of St. Joseph-Metuchen, who’s getting married this December – had one big idea. It went viral, and now it’ll be a part of the celebration when he marries his fiancee, Nicole.

Nolan – now in his tenth season broadcasting Fort Wayne Tin Caps baseball, a high-A affiliate of the San Diego Padres – grew up a big Mets fan, just like his father, who’s also the President of St. Joe’s. He’s been enjoying – from afar – the Mets’ run this year, leading the NL East through the end of play Sunday by 6 1/2 games over the Braves, after taking four of five from Atlanta at Citi Field this past weekend.

John Nolan and his fiancee, Nicole, take in an 8-5 Mets win over San Diego at Citi Field in New York on July 24, 2022. (Submitted photo)

And so John had the idea that he and his bride make their first public appearance, at their reception, walking out to the song “Narco,” performed by Blasterjaxx and Timmy Trumpet. That’s the tune that has been a sensation this summer, played over the PA in Queens as Mets’ closer Edwin Diaz comes in from the bullpen. The whole ballpark – even Mr. and Mrs. Met, faux trumpets blaring – participates.

Nicole didn’t think much of it, so Nolan took his idea to social media, and the rest, as they say, is history.

As of Monday afternoon, the post had surpassed 16,000 likes, more than four times his goal, and many more times what he ever thought it would get.

Click below to hear how John Nolan’s tweet went viral, and how he and his bride will walk out to “Narco” at their wedding this December:

Immaculata’s Kevin Cust named Central Jersey Sports Radio Baseball Coach of the Year

To be honored as Coach of the Year, your team must have been successful or done something extroardinary. Success may be in the eye of the beholder.

The 2022 Immaculata baseball team was the only club in Somerset or Middlesex Counties – the CJSR coverage area – to win a state sectional title, and reach the Group finals down in Hamilton. But even that is not enough to garner a Coach of the Year nod.

Put it to you this way: Immaculata plays in perhaps the toughest division in the area, top to bottom, the Skyland Delaware. It’s a ten-team grouping that saw six of them play above .500 (even the GMC Red only had four do so) and the Spartans land squarely in the middle, in 5th place. They were 10-12 heading into the Non-Public North B state playoffs.

Immaculata head coach Kevin Cust and his team prepare for the Non-Public Group B title game against Ranney at Bob DeMeo Field at Veterans’ Park in Hamilton on June 15, 2022. (Photo: Mike Pavlichko)

And then, in the postseason, they did something they hadn’t done all year: string together four wins in a row. Ah, but not just any four wins. In the semifinals, they knocked off the top-seed – and Somerset County Tournament semifinalist – Rutgers Prep but good, 11-2. Then, for an encore, in the sectional title game, rallied from a 7-0 sixth inning deficit to shock Gill St. Bernard’s 8-7, to win their fifth sectional crown in program history.

To do that requires talent, sure. Maybe a bit of luck, right? But it also necessitates a steady hand from above, to guide a team that started the season 0-3, and had no more than two three-game win streaks all season long.

That hand was Kevin Cust, and his coaching staff.

Click below to hear Mike Pavlichko talk with Immaculata head coach Kevin Cust, the 2022 CJSR Coach of the Year:

Central Jersey Sports Radio Baseball Player of the Year: North Brunswick’s Zack Konstantinovsky

There are so many great student-athletes in Middlesex and Somerset Counties, in any sport.

But when it came time to pick one, single baseball player overall for the 2022 season, the choice was a no-brainer.

The player must be dominant; that’s a simple criteria. But to do it on the mound, while also being a hitter no one wanted to face at the plate, that just made the choice one that required very little thought: North Brunswick’s Zack Konstantinovsky.

And, unfortunately for the rest of the GMC, he’s only a junior. That means another season of blowing through hitters, working at his fast pace. And of being pitched around at the plate, depending who else is in the lineup.

On the mound, Konstantinovsky – who will play at Rutgers starting in the 2024 baseball season – threw 67 innings this year, going 7-0, striking out 119, while walking only two batters – one in the regular season, one in the postseason. He allowed only 39 hits, and nine runs – seven of them earned – with a 0.612 WHIP.

At the plate, all he did in the cleanup spot was hit .381, knocking in 27 runs and hitting four homers to go along with seven doubles.

And when it really counted, in the Greater Middlesex Conference Tournament Final, he outdueled St. Joseph-Metuchen standout Andrew Goldan for a 4-2 win, and the Raiders’ first-ever GMCT title.

Not too shabby.

North Brunswick with its 2022 GMC Tournament Championship trophy. (Photo: Mike Pavlichko)

Click below to listen to Mike Pavlichko talk with Zack Konstantinovsky, the CJSR 2022 Baseball Player of the Year:

Ridge senior Olivo talks baseball Team of the Year, then heads off for football

2021 brought a state sectional title to the Ridge baseball team, and 2022 a Somerset County Tournament Championship, it’s first in over a decade.

That was all an exciting time for Mike Olivo, a pitcher and starting centerfielder for the Red Devils, who were named this week the inaugural Bellamy & Son Paving Team of the Year, finishing No. 1 in the final rankings of the 2022 season.

And now, having graduated – following a challenging four years that saw COVID wipe out his sophomore baseball season – he’s off to Hartford, Connecticut, where he’ll play in the secondary for Trinity College. After all, he was an important leader on the football team for head coach Andy West the last couple of years.

Ridge QB Michael Olivo talks with Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Dom Savino after the Red Devils defeated Hillsborough on November 6, 2020. (Photo: Mike Pavlichko)

His teams went a combined 13-5, while Olivo – a quarterback on offense – put up impressive career numbers in two varsity seasons: over 1,900 passing yards and 24 touchdowns, along with over 1,700 rushing yards. On defense, where he’ll play in college, he recorded five INTs in three seasons, and 70 total tackles.

Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Mike Pavlichko got a chance to talk with Olivo about the baseball team that brought two titles in two years home to Basking Ridge, his teammates, and moving on to play on the gridiron. Click below to listen:

Skyland Conference coaches choose All-Division baseball honorees

The Skyland Conference baseball coaches have announced their All-Conference teams, by division, for 2022, with players being honored from every team.

Here’s a full list of First and Second Team selections, plus Honorable Mentions, for all three divisions.

DELAWARE DIVISION

First Team:

  • Bridgewater-Raritan: Evan Goldberg, Michael Fattore
  • Hunterdon Central: Chase Fischer, Mike Contiliano, Ryan Facinelli, Kyle McCoy
  • Ridge: Connor Byrne, Mike Olivo, Brian Leitz, Brendan Callanan
  • Somerville: Tyler Stone, Matty Wright
  • Watchung Hills: Lorenzo Meola, Martin Howell, Jake Memoli

Second Team:

  • Bridgewater-Raritan: Jason Cozzi, Matt Fattore
  • Hillsborough: Matthew Westcott
  • Hunterdon Central: Brandon Padre, James Scott, Nick Ferri, Logan Mason
  • Immaculata: AJ Johnson
  • Montgomery: Mark Jenkins, Adam Neufield
  • North Hunterdon: Ethan McHugh, Chris Bravaco
  • Ridge: Julian Kielb, Luke Somelofske
  • Somerville: Parker Muratore

Honorable Mention:

  • Bridgewater-Raritan: Joe Spirra
  • Hillsborough: Graham Ross
  • Immaculata: Matt Warzeniak, Josh Thompson
  • Montgomery: Trevor Hansen
  • North Hunterdon: Bobby Mazurkiwicz, Kyle Johnson, Ryan Streaker
  • Phillipsburg: Dylan Melsky
  • Ridge: Matt Aber, George Busnach
  • Somerville: Sean Noone
  • Watchung Hills: Devan Sutaria, Shreyas Sekhar, John King

VALLEY DIVISION

First Team:

  • Bernards: Matt Giunta, Aubrey Freslone
  • Franklin: Dylan Ling, Dylan Millman
  • Gill St. Bernard’s: John DiGregorio, Matt Park, Logan Mote
  • North Plainfield: Chirstian Morel
  • Rutgers Prep: Zach Fronio, Nick Pizzie, Andrew Parisi
  • Voorhees: Owen McComb, Ben Crescenzi, Will Ripke
  • Warren Hills: Cody Miller

Second Team:

  • Bernards: Austin Tondo, Derek Fuls
  • Franklin: Peyton Bonds, Ryan Piro, Warren Bell
  • Gill St. Bernard’s: Dylan Sempervive, Christian Mote, Zack Wendell
  • North Plainfield: Giovanni Gonzalez
  • Rutgers Prep: James Jackman Jr., Cody Rullo, Max Treonze
  • Voorhees: James Muller, Chris Quartuccio
  • Warren Hills: Matthew Garabed

Honorable Mention:

  • Bernards: Charlie Gonella
  • Franklin: Anthony Burroughs
  • Gill St. Bernard’s: Carter Nowack
  • North Plainfield: Davyn Ciriaco
  • Rutgers Prep: Evan Laub
  • Voorhees: Jake Knapp
  • Warren Hills: Evan Matthew

MOUNTAIN DIVISION

First Team:

  • Belvidere: Jake Beaney
  • Bound Brook: Jake Anderson, Lucas Coleman, Leo Azcona
  • Delaware Valley: John Croasdale, Anthony Saniscalchi
  • Manville: Elijah Capone
  • Pingry: Liam Royster, Nick Lorenzo, Jake Francis, Thomas Santana
  • South Hunterdon: Donald Gallagher, Jackson Kilmer, David Cooper, Nate Lawton

Second Team:

  • Belvidere: Ervin Jones
  • Bound Brook: Patrick LePoidevin, Ronny Pimentel
  • Delaware Valley: Justin Kolpan, Jack Reardon, Zachary Erling
  • Manville: Nick Bentz, James Mascola, Geoffrey Mathis
  • Pingry: Alex Payne, Kailar Ahn, Jha Nav

Honorable Mention:

  • Delaware Valley: Jaden Corbin
  • Manville: Joshua Barrios
  • Pingry: Herb Toler
  • South Hunterdon: Dillon Gallagher