Category: Baseball

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

Ridge is No. 1, the 2022 Team of the Year, in final Bellamy & Son Top Ten Rankings

Winning its first Somerset County Tournament Championship in over a decade helped propel the Ridge Red Devils to No. 1 in the inaugural Bellamy & Son Paving Top Ten rankings on Central Jersey Sports Radio, and in the end, that’s where they finish – No. 1 in 2022 and the CJSR Team of the Year.

With more wins than all but one team in the CJSR coverage area, Ridge narrowly missed out on making the North 2, Group 4 title game, with a close, extra-inning loss to Woodbridge. Ridge finished the season 24-4, their most wins since picking up 22 in 2014.

Finishing second was North Brunswick. The Raiders knocked off then-No. 1 and top-seed St. Joseph-Metuchen in the GMC Tournament Final, winning their first title ever, and finished the year 22-10, with a loss to East Brunswick in the Central Jersey Group Four Finals. They were the lowest seed to win the GMC title since 14th-seed South Plainfield won it all in 2018, and second-lowest since JFK won in 2013.

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

The full rankings follow, with more details on the rest of the teams below:

In third is St. Joseph, 22-9, and the GMC Red Division Champions. Dominant all year long against the rest of the league, they ran up against the juggernaut that is Zach Konstantinovsky in the GMC Tournament finals. Zack “K” held the Falcons to two runs on three hits, in a 4-2 win. With some arm trouble to top starters Donovan Zsak and Andrew Goldan down the stretch, Joe’s was eliminated in the semifinals of Non-Public South A by Christian Brothers Academy.

Fourth is Woodbridge, which set a program record for wins, finishing 25-7, and might be the best team in the area without a title on its resume. The gritty, never-say-die bunch finished second in the White Division to Middlesex, and were knocked out in the GMCT semifinals by St. Joe’s. They did, however, beat Ridge in a marathon 11-inning North 2, Group 4 playoff game, before losing 5-1 at Hunterdon Central to future MLB draft prospect Kyle McCoy. The Barrons graduate a handful of seniors and are expected to be another tough out next season.

Fifth is East Brunswick, which made it to the Central Jersey Group 4 title game, losing to eventual statewide group 4 winner Howell. The Bears had a deep pitching staff, and lost one of the more epic GMCT semifinals ever played, a 1-0, 12-inning affair against North Brunswick. They finished 17-13.

In sixth is Immaculata. The Spartans may have been only 14-13, but play in the tough Skyland Conference Delaware Division, which – top to bottom – may be the best in the CJSR coverage area, rivaling the GMC Red. Though the Spartans didn’t even make it to the Somerset County Finals, they did something no other Somerset County team did this year: make it to Bob DeMeo Field in Hamilton for the Group Finals. And they did it by knocking off top-seed Rutgers Prep in the Non-Public North B finals, 11-2, then rallying from a 7-0 deficit entering the bottom of the 6th to beat Gill St. Bernard’s for the sectional crown. Immaculata would, fall, however, to Ranney in the Non-Public Group B finals.

Seventh is Rutgers Prep, which finished 19-6, Valley Division Champions in the Skyland Conference, and made the finals of the Somerset County Tournament, falling to Ridge. Powered by – among others – a pair of freshmen in pitcher Zach Fronio and catcher Andrew Parisi, the Argonauts will continue to be contenders.

Middlesex comes in eighth, the GMC White Division champion at 23-6. The Blue Jays won two critical games against Woodbridge just before the county tournament seeding meeting to win the title in their first year up from the Blue, a significant feat. But in the tournament, they suffered a late collapse against North Brunswick in the quarterfinals, and were the victim of a controversial call on a play at the plate that killed their rally. And after beating Point Pleasant Beach in the Central Jersey Group 1 finals for each of the past three seasons, this time, the Garnet Gulls came through. Middlesex will be in reload mode next year, with a number of seniors graduating.

Checking in ninth is Pingry, which finished 23-2 and had a tremendous year in and out of its division, and won the Prep A Tournament Championship, defeating Hun. They were also Skyland Conference Mountain Division champs, with their two regular season losses coming to Delaware Division squads – Ridge and Somerville. Their only other defeat came in the state tournament, to St. John Vianney our of the Shore Conference.

In tenth is Monroe, which finished 16-11, and came in second in the GMC Red Division, behind St. Joe’s. They started hot, going 7-1 before dropping four-in-a-row mid-season, including two to St. Joseph, sandwiched in between losses to Somerville and Jackson Liberty. They then ran off another seven wins in eight games before getting knocked out of the GMC Tournament in the quarters by East Brunswick. Their season ended in the Central Jersey Group 4 semis with a loss to eventual state Group 4 champ Howell.

Immaculata falls to Ranney, 10-1, in Non-Public B title game

In so many ways, it didn’t play out like many people thought.

There prevailing thought was their might be a lot of scoring in the Non-Public Group B title game, especially after a home run to lead off the game by Ranney pitcher A.J. Gracia. But even though Immaculata got a run back in the second when Spartans’ starter Josh Thompson came home on a wild pitch, the game was a pitchers’ duel headed into the sixth, with both starters going well, and the score still tied at one.

The thing was, both pitchers were nearing the standard 110 pitch limit. And all of a sudden Josh Thompson was in trouble, allowing a leadoff walk and a bloop single to Gracia and Brett Wehringer, then after a strikeout, and RBI infield hit by Jack Tallent to break the one-all tie. And that’s when the floodgates opened, and there was no going back.

After a groundout back to Thompson, Diego Tavarez knocked in two runs with a single to give Ranney a 4-1 lead.

Then in the sixth, Ranney got plenty of insurance, scoring six more runs in an inning that saw more walks (five) than hits (three). And the Panthers still left the bases loaded.

Final score: Ranney 10, Immaculata 1, to win the Non-Public Group B title, the Panthers’s first.

Thompson took the loss, while Gracia got the win. The loss ends Immaculata’s season at 14-13, but it was a highly successful year, as a four-game run through their playoff section – including a win over top-seed Rutgers Prep – culminated with a come-from-behind walkoff win against Gill St. Bernard’s last Friday in the North B final, 8-7, giving Immaculata its fifth sectional title in program history, which is what the season will most be remembered for.

Well, that and their turnaround from an 0-3 start, a season that didn’t see them string together more than three wins in a row until the playoffs, which they entered with a sub-.500 record, and came out on the other side with a trophy.

Click below for postgame reaction with starting pitcher Josh Thompson and head coach Kevin Cust:

Sophomore Josh Thompson
Immaculata’s Josh Thompson (Photo: Mike Pavlichko)
Head coach Kevin Cust

Breakfast with Harry: Immaculata Style!

On the final “Breakfast with Harry” of the 2021-22 school year, Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Mike Pavlichko sits down with legendary local scribe Harry Frezza to talk about the Immaculata Spartans playing in the Non-Public Group B state final Wednesday against the Ranney School.

Game time is 7:00; pregame is 6:15 on Central Jersey Sports Radio with Mike Pavlichko and Chris Tsakonas LIVE at Veterans’ Park in Hamilton. Click here to listen.

Mike and Harry sit at the Golden Corner Diner in Harry’s hometown of Bound Brook and discuss everything and anything, including the Imacculata/Ranney game, the Spartans’ amazing comeback against Gill in the sectional final, the gauntlet that is the Skyland Conference Delaware Division, the Somerset Patriots and even a mention of Morgana, the Kissing Bandit.

Click below to listen to the latest edition of “Breakfast with Harry”: