Category: Baseball

New Somerset County Tournament baseball schedule will quicken event’s pace, push seeding back later, but also present new challenge

A new schedule for the Somerset County baseball tournament will shrink the event’s footprint on the calendar, potentially allow for more accurate seeding in 2024, and make it a better overall event, say organizers.

According to a schedule shared with Central Jersey Sports Radio by Immaculata Athletic Director Tom Gambino – who runs the event as the Chair of the Somerset County Interscholastic Athletic Association – the seeding meeting will now take place on May 6th, with the championship game being played on May 23, just 17 days later.

The seeding meeting will be 36 days after Opening Day on April 1, compared to last season when Opening Day was on April 3, and the seeding meeting was held on the 17th, just two weeks later.

Part of that was necessitated by the availability of TD Bank Park in Bridgewater for the finals. To host the games there, the county is at the mercy of the Somerset Patriots’ schedule, which usually finds the team home one week and away the next. The SCT traditionally has had its semifinals one week, and finals two weeks later.

Finding a date also has to jive with all the other high school events taking place there as well.

This year, the semifinals will be on May 20th and the finals May 23rd at TD Bank Park.

By compressing the time between those games, it allows the tournament to start two weeks later – the first round will be May 9th this year as opposed to April 19th last year – allowing the seeding meeting to happen later as well.

As if two weeks of play to determine seeding weren’t bad enough, other issues compounded it last year. A shorter preseason created by the NJSIAA to provide a month off between the winter and spring regular seasons means teams were still working things out the first two weeks. That was evident in play around the state last year.

But since Somerset County teams play in the Skyland Conference, which features teams from Hunterdon and Warren Counties as well, not every team played their full Somerset County schedule in those first two weeks.

One of the byproducts was that Rutgers Prep – a very good baseball team, as it turned out, which eventually made it to their sectional final in the state tournament, too – won the SCT as a 12-seed, not having a fully formed body of work before the seeding meeting.

They were 1-6 at that point. By the time they won the SCT, they were 9-9, with five of those wins coming in the Somerset County Tournament, and all over higher seeded teams.

The new schedule, however, presents another unique challenge for coaches. With the semifinals and finals two weeks apart, an ace could have pitched both games. Now, with only two days in between, it will require coaches to manage their pitching staffs a little more carefully.

Do you go with your No. 1 in the semis or the finals? Save him, or throw him in a win-or-go home scenario?

The new schedule for the 2024 Somerset County baseball tournament is as follows:

  • May 6: SCT seeding meeting
  • May 7: Play-In Round, if needed
  • May 9: First Round
  • May 13: Second Round
  • May 16: Quarterfinals
  • May 20: Semifinals, 1 and 4 pm
  • May 23: Finals, 7 pm
  • May 24: Finals (Rain Date), 7 pm

All games are played at higher seeds except for the semifinals and finals. There is no rain date for the semifinals.

Click below to hear Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Mike Pavlichko discuss the 2024 SCT changes with SCIAA Chair Tom Gambino:

Spotswood voters give a big thumbs up to referendum, improvements to Charger football field, track, and baseball diamond

The Spotswood football and baseball teams will be big beneficiaries of a $12.6 million dollar bond referendum overwhelmingly approved by voters Tuesday.

School Board President Dan Lennan says the question on the ballot for Spotswood and Helmetta voters passed by more than a two-to-one margin, 640-301, paving the way for major athletic improvements, as well as other much-needed upgrades to district schools.

On the sports side of things, the money will help pay for a new artificial turf field at Chargers Stadium, the home of the football team, as well as permanent lighting to allow for night play. Spotswood has played a handful of night games over the years with rented lights.

In addition, the track will be realigned to a wider configuration, allowing the field to also be used for soccer. Over the years, the football and soccer fields have suffered from poor drainage, leading to games being rescheduled or cancelled altogether.

The baseball field – as Glenny Fredricks’ team’s call it, affectionately, “The Swamp” – also suffers from poor drainage. The team lucked out this Spring with a dry season, but generally the infield gets muddy and the grass gets soggy. But the referendum will help pay for significant drainage improvements to the field.

Athletics isn’t the only area that will benefit.

The high school now will get new lighting and sound equipment for district-wide theater and stage performances. Appleby and Schoenly Schools will see new ADA-compliant playground equipment. HVAC units at Appleby and Memorial schools will be upgraded and replaced, as will HVAC equipment at Schoenly, which also will get a new roof.

The projects will have no tax impact on residents of Spotswood or Helmetta. (Milltown has its own Board of Education, and thus had no vote on the matter.) And 40 percent of the cost will be covered by state aid, which only comes into effect if the district borrows the money. Had it chosen not to go to voters and pay out of its annual budget, the cost would have been much higher.

School officials in South River now hope the same fate awaits them when a referendum goes before voters in November that asks for $5.5 million dollars to replace the condemned Bill Denny Stadium, home of the football team since 1934.

Spotswood referendum calls for athletic, building improvements with zero tax impact

There’s an old saying: “If it’s free it’s for me.”

In Spotswood – and Helmetta, but not Milltown, which has its own Board of Education and its own schools through eighth grade – voters will go to the polls on September 26th to weigh in on a $12.6 million dollar bond referendum that would fund improvements to the high school football and baseball fields, as well as needed repairs and upgrades at all other district schools, all without costing taxpayers a dime.

For football, Spotswood would replace the natural grass surface at Chargers Stadium with all-weather turf, and change the configuration of its track to allow soccer to be played there, too.

The high school’s athletic fields are on land behind it which has traditionally never drained well. The baseball team affectionately calls their home field “The Swamp.” That field would get singificant drainage improvements.

But sports fields aren’t all that would be done.

  • The high school also would get new lighting and sound equipment for district-wide theater and stage performances.
  • Appleby and Schoenly Schools would get new ADA-compliant playground equipment.
  • Appleby and Memorial Schools would get upgraded and replaced HVAC units.
  • Schoenly School would get HVAC upgrades/replacements, and a new roof.

School officials say the best part about the project is that it would not increase taxes; there would be zero tax impact on homeowners in Spotswood and Milltown if the referendum is approved. That’s because 40 percent of the cost would be covered by aid from the state, which it only receives if the district borrows the money.

Click below to hear Mike Pavlickho speak with Spotswood Board of Education President Dan Lennan about the upcoming schools referendum:

Konstantivovsky – who does it all on the mound, at the plate and in the field – named CJSR Player of the Year for a second straight season

Yes, Zack Konstantinovsky is the Central Jersey Sports Radio Player of the Year.


The Rutgers-bound senior from North Brunswick picked up the award for a second straight year, and few in our coverage area could have any argument.

There are dominant pitchers and dominant hitters and some very good fielders in Middlesex and Somerset Counties, our main coverage area. But there are few who are so good at all three.

Scroll down below the interview for CJSR’s Player of the Year Honorable Mentions:

Zack’s pitching stats speak for themselves: In ten starts (plus one relief appearance of a single inning) he gave up eight runs all year, only five earned, and struck out 88, walking just nine, in 63 innings pitched. He averaged just 13.4 pitches per inning, making him immensely efficient.

Watching him pitch, work his craft, and dominate hitters is another thing.

Then, there’s the damage he can do at the plate: he hit .469 on the year, often DHing for himself so he could stay in the game in the rare occasion a reliever would have to be brought in. He scored 33 runs, rarely taken out for a courtesy runner. He hit eight home runs, tied for the team lead with fellow senior Omar Carreras.

Put another way, he hit three more home runs than he allowed earned runs this season.

But if there’s anything “Zack K” doesn’t get enough credit for is his defense. He’s a pitcher, no doubt about it, and Steve Owens will be getting a gem when he touches down a couple towns over in Piscataway next spring, perhaps the most highly-anticipated freshman pitcher to land on the Banks – at least locally – since Bobby Brownlie of Edison (though Harry Rutkowski of Woodbridge also was a stud).

But consider that Konstantinovsky also plays the field for North Brunswick when he’s not pitching, an excellent second baseman who contributes in all three phases of the game.

Click below to hear Mike Pavlichko talk with North Brunswick’s Zack Konstantinovsky, the Central Jersey Sports Radio Baseball Player of the Year for 2023:


  • Connor Byrne, Ridge: As if having a 0.76 ERA for the season wasn’t enough, dominating hitters all year with 90 strikeouts in just 58 2/3 innings pitched – that’s 1.5 Ks per inning! – Byrne reached the pinnacle of success for a pitcher, throwing a perfect game against Bernards in the Somerset County Tournament quarterfinals. The Seina-bound senior is easily one of the top pitchers in the state, and the Saints are getting a steal.
  • Casey Cumiskey, Spotswood: The Seton Hall-bound Cumiskey single-handedly rewrote the Charger record books and beyond this season. His 60 hits – which led the entire state of new Jersey – set a GMC and school single season record. His 34 runs batted in are a single season Spotswood record, as was his eye-popping .556 batting average. The “The Commish” – as his coach and teammates call him – finished with a .520 career batting average, also a school record, and hit in 27 of 29 games this season. And he went out with a bang in the Central Jersey Group 2 finals loss to Rumson, hitting a two-run homer in his final at bat, and finishing a triple shy of a cycle.
  • Mark Gialluisi, St. Joseph-Metuchen: If there’s a hitter you don’t want to face on the Falcons, it’s Gialluisi, who hit .486 this year, and had 54 hits on the season, along with two home runs and 19 RBIs. But he’s more than that. He’s the quarterback of the team from his spot behind the plate, a steadying hand on a pitching staff that saw six different pitchers throw at least 15 innings this year. Gialluisi will continue his baseball career at Virginia.
  • Max Treonze, Rutgers Prep: His numbers were outstanding, allowing just a single earned run (four total) all year, in 41 innings pitched. He threw about two-thirds the innings of Konstantinovsky, but still had 77 strikeouts, walking only four, and pitched a gem when it counted most: against Ridge in the Somerset County Tournament final for a 1-0 win, and the championship. And he’s a gamer, too, helping pitch his team to the Non-Public North B finals just weeks after getting beaned in the nose with a 90 mile-an-hour fastball in the Prep B final against Pennington. Treonze is the only junior in the group, and is uncommitted at present.

From 1-6 start to SCT Champs: Rutgers Prep’s Santowasso named 2023 CJSR Coach of the Year

Any good coach will tell you the job he or she has done is all about their players. Larry Santowasso of Rutgers Prep – who’s been the Argonauts’ head coach for nearly three decades – will say the same thing.

But his efforts to help bring his team back from a 1-6 start to a 14-15 finish – with trips to the Prep B and Non-Public North B finals, and a Somerset County Tournament Championship in the mix – have earned him Coach of the Year honors from Central Jersey Sports Radio for 2023.

With the SCT seeding meeting just two weeks into the season because of the way the event had to be scheduled to fit the semifinals and title game in at TD Bank Park, working around the Somerset Patriots’ schedule, Prep was just 1-6 when all the coaches gathered at Immaculata High School in Somerville to seed the tournament.

Bridgewater-Raritan, at the time, was a no-brainer top-seed, and a vote wasn’t even held; everyone agreed. Then, the coaches lobbied on behalf of their teams. Santowasso knew they wouldn’t be a high seed, but basically said “We’re not a 1-6 baseball team.”

Turns out they weren’t.

They won five straight to win the Somerset County Tournament, with junior Max Treonze outdueling Ridge’s Connor Byrne, to beat the defending champions, a team they’d lost to in the finals in 2022.

They also reached the Prep B final, losing to Pennington, and a pitcher named Bryce Meccage, who Santowasso thinks may be the best in the state. And then they went all the way to the Non-Public North B final in the state tournament, where they lost on a walk-off single at St. Mary-Rutherford.

His team never quit at 1-6. And while it takes the players’ to execute the vision, Santowasso had the vision, and his team was rewarded.

Click below to hear Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Mike Pavlichko talk with Rutgers Prep head coach Larry Santowasso, as well as juniors Max Treonze (P/1B) and Evan Laub (2B) about their comeback season:

Skyland Conference coaches unveil 138 All-Division baseball selections for 2023

The baseball coaches of the Skyland Conference on Wednesday afternoon selected their All-Division teams for the 2023 season.

Following is the complete list of honorees:


First Team

  • Bridgewater-Raritan: Matt Fattore (1B/P), Michael Fattore (3B/DH), Devin Goldberg (2B/CF), Jimmy Turchi (OF), Joey Letko (OF)
  • Hillsborough: Matthew Wescott (OF), Graham Ross (P)
  • Hunterdon Central: Mike Contiliano (IF), Noah Baird (P)
  • Immaculata: Colin Kassai (OF), Jayson Labrador (IF)
  • Ridge: Connor Byrne (P/DH), Brendan Callanan (SS/P), Julian Kielb (1B), Nick Rossi (C)
  • Watchung Hills: Martin Howell (C), Tino Lobozzo (IF)

Second Team

  • Bridgewater-Raritan: Matt Moore (SS), Noah Matheson (P), Cory Rible (P)
  • Hillsborough: Liam Gallagher (2B), Avery Whitney (OF)
  • Hunterdon Central: Kyle Yasunas (OF/DH), Jummy Lundavi (C), Jared Cassela (OF)
  • Immaculata: Danny Ferguson (C), Troy Rabosky (IF/DH)
  • Ridge: Luke Somelofske (P/3B), Aiden Stieglitz (P), Ben Larner (P), Nick Selitti (OF), Ezra Sadowski (OF)
  • Watchung Hills: Nick Perillo (P), Trenon Stanard (P)

Honorable Mention

  • Bridgewater-Raritan: Frankie Verano (OF)
  • Hillsborough: Max Romanok (P)
  • Hunterdon Central: Alex Chayko (P)
  • Immaculata: Greg Zimmerman (P)
  • Ridge: Matt Shawah (IF)
  • Watchung Hills: Matt Novello (OF)


First Team

  • Franklin: Ryan Piro (1B)
  • Montgomery: John Donahue (OF), Justin Swerdlow (IF)
  • North Hunterdon: Chris Sand (P), Ben Linzer (P), Wyatt Demeo (OF), Eddie Appolina (P)
  • Phillipsburg: Garret Bubrowski (C), Dylan Melsky (OF)
  • Rutgers Prep: Zach Fronio (P), Andrew Parisi (C), Max Treonze (P), Ethan Nepomuceno (IF/C)
  • Somerville: Chase Koplitz (OF), Brayden Keller (Util), Ty Akins (IF)

Second Team

  • Franklin: Ryan Mrotek, Mike Schiermeyer, Izaiah Robinson
  • Montgomery: Tyler Conners, Lucas Heines, Johnny Kimick
  • North Hunterdon: Tyler Anderson, Alex Famolari, Brandon Suler
  • Phillipsburg: Kevin Burgess, Eddie Wiendel, Justin Hoadley
  • Rutgers Prep: Evan Laub, Cody Rullo
  • Somerville: Ryan Ciesla, CJ Banos, Karson Wengryn

Honorable Mention

  • Montgomery: Cole Schulberg (1B)
  • North Hunterdon: Jesse Lance (IF)
  • Phillipsburg: Andrew Hausman (1B)
  • Somerville: Ed Duffy (IF)
  • Rutgers Prep: Li Perez (OF/P)


First Team

  • Belvidere: Cale Exley (P)
  • Bound Brook: Jake Anderson (P), Lucas Coleman (C)
  • Delaware Valley: Jack Reardon (P), Stoy Fohring (C), Anthony Saniscalchi (IF), Cooper Fransen (IF), Danny Shapiro (OF)
  • Manville: Nick Bentz (P), Geoffrey Mathis (IF), James Mascola (IF)
  • South Hunterdon: Dillon Gallagher

Second Team

  • Belvidere: AJ Enslin, Nathan Ciccorelli
  • Bound Brook: Damian Ognowski (3B)
  • Delaware Valley: John Croasdale (OF), Michael Kelley (1B), Jared Leeds (P)
  • Manville: Logan Klemetovicz (P), Josh Barrios (1B), Elijah Capone (OF)
  • South Hunterdon: Aaron Parisi (OF), Ed Cooper (DH), Colton Hettmen (P)

Honorable Mention

  • Belvidere: Mason Pantophet
  • Bound Brook: Nick Anderson (IF)
  • Delaware Valley: Kevin Hutts (OF)
  • Manville: Sebastian Carvajal (C)
  • South Hunterdon: Aaron Zalescik (C)


First Team

  • Bernards: Evan Hoeckele, Charlie Gonella, Matt Giunta, Henry DePew
  • Gill St. Bernard’s: Zack Wendell, John DiGregorio
  • Pingry: Jake Francis, Nick Lorenzo, Alex Payne, Gavin Wang
  • Voorhees: Jeff Manning, Charlie Worster, Joey Nolan
  • Warren Hills: Daniel Willis, Cody Miller

Second Team

  • Bernardds: Tyler Helpinstill, Matt Falzarano, Connor Laverty, Ryan Tondo
  • Gill St. Bernard’s: Colin Chou, Matt Park, Tim Park
  • Pingry: James Bergman, Kailar Ahn
  • Voorhees: Jeremy Jordan, Ray Schiavo, Brandon Aulert
  • Warren Hills: Matt Garabed, Charlie Bland, Evan Matthew

The Valley Division coaches did not select an Honorable Mention team.

McSorley, Villani, Thomas Papeo talk Team of the Year honors for CJ4 champion Knights, who were several years in the making

So many Old Bridge Knights – whether they played a large or small role – contributed to the team’s success in 2023, bringing them their first sectional title since in eight years.

Hascup, McSorley, the Papeos, Villani, Scire, Meyer, and the list goes on.

That’s how it is with a championship team. It’s never one person; it’s the collective.

And that’s how it was with Old Bridge baseball this year, which finished 21-9 on the season, won the Central Jersey Group 4 title, and made it all the way to the statewide Group 4 final before falling to Ridgewood, the North 1, Group 4 champ.

All told, it’s a season that will go down in Old Bridge baseball lore.

We caught up with three of the many key parts to Knights’ baseball in 2023; click below to hear Mike Pavlichko talk with Kyle McSorley, Mike Villani and Thomas Papeo – along with their head coach Matt Donaghue – about being named Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Team of the Year:

All seniors, Mike Villani will be playing his collegiate ball at Stony Brook, Thomas Papeo will move on to Kean, while Kyle McSorley will be playing at Iona.

Old Bridge finishes No. 1 in final Bellamy & Son Paving Baseball Top 10; Knights are CJSR Team of the Year

The Old Bridge baseball team reached unprecedented heights in 2023, reaching its first-ever state title game. And though they fell just a few runs short of an overall Group 4 title, the Knights – who won Central Jersey Group 4 for the first time in eight years – are the No. 1 team in the final Bellamy & Son Paving rankings, making them the Central Jersey Sports Radio Team of the Year.

Old Bridge finished 21-9 on the season, and beat North Brunswick 2-1 in the CJ4 title game, their first appearance in the finals since 2019. It was the first ring for head coach Matt Donaghue, who played for the Knights in high school under the legendary Fred Cole.

Scroll down for the full rankings.

Finishing second is St. Joseph-Metuchen (21-10), which was in the top ten during the season, but fell out in the last rankings before the state tournament started. The Falcons were the GMC Tournament champions, besting Red Division champion North Brunswick in the finals.

Ridge (25-4) finishes third in the rankings, despite the Red Devils’ being disqualified from the state tournament for a pitch count violation in their North 2, Group 4 quarterfinal game. Ridge had a successful season to that point, and still is one of the best teams in the area.

North Brunswick (21-7) comes in fourth in the final rankings, having won the Red Division in the GMC. But they fell just short in the league tournament finals, and lost to Old Bridge in the Central Jersey Group 4 title game.

Checking in at No. 5 is Rutgers Prep (14-15), which had a wild season. The Argonauts started 1-6, then won five straight to win the Somerset County Tournament, beating the top two teams in the county en route: Bridgewater-Raritan in the semifinals and Ridge in the finals. They also made it all the way to the Non-Public South B title game, losing on a walk-off single at St. Mary-Rutherford.

Bridgewater-Raritan (23-7) comes in sixth. The Panthers were the top-seed in the Somerset County Tournament, thanks to early wins over Ridge in-league, and Hunterdon Central out of conference.

Spotswood (21-8) had a terrific season, winning the GMC Blue Division title, and going all the way to the Central Jersey Group 2 title game, where the Chargers lost to Rumson-Fair Haven.

Woodbridge (20-6) comes in eighth, with its second straight 20-win season.

Coming in ninth is Middlesex (17-9), which made it all the way to the Central Jersey Group 2 championship game, where the Blue Jays lost to Point Pleasant Beach for the second year in a row.

In tenth is South Plainfield; the Tigers reached the GMC tournament semifinals – losint 2-1 to St. joe’s – and made the North 2, Group 3 semifinals, eliminated by Millburn in another 2-1 loss.

Below are the full, final Bellamy & Son Paving Top Ten Rankings for 2023:

Old Bridge falls short in Group 4 final; Knights fall 4-0 to Ridgewood

by Korbid Thompson

The two teams on a collision course to Bob DeMeo Field in Hamilton took very different paths to get there. In the end, Ridgewood came out as a champion.

The championship season of Old Bridge – they won Central Jersey Group 4 – would have come to an end one way or the other on Saturday. Unfortunately for the Knights, they would end up on the short end of a 4-0 final at the hands of North Jersey, Section 1 champ Ridgewood (24-7) in the NJSIAA Group 4 finals at Veterans’ Park.

It was a scoreless game until the bottom of the third inning, when Old Bridge starting pitcher Justin Hascup would hit a bump in the road. Bobby Kuensler of Ridgewood started the inning with a leadoff single. Two batters later, senior third baseman Lucas Barker hit a line drive to left center field that cleared the fence for a two-run home run.

In the bottom of the fourth inning, Hascup looked to be in the clear, as the inning started with two out and nobody on base, but Jay Wittmaack would the first walk of the day for the Maroons, and leadoff man J.T. Luther delivered an RBI single to bring home Wittmaack for a 3-0 Ridgewood lead. 

Old Bridge’s best chance to score some runs off Ridgewood starter Vincent Luther would come in the top of the sixth inning, when the top two guys in the Knights’ batting order would reach base to start the inning. John Smith singled, followed by a Thomas Papeo single. Two batters later, Mike Villani single to load the bases. With one out, designated hitter Frank Papeo would step to the plate. On a 1-2 pitch from Luther, Papeo would ground into a 4-6-3 double play to end the threat for the Knights.

Ridgewood would tack on one more run in the bottom of the sixth with a first and third double steal, as pinch runner Zach Kranz would score from third base after pinch runner Calder Warden would steal second, drawing the throw from Old Bridge catcher Kyle McSorley. 

That was all Vincent Luther would need. Luther would pitch 6 2/3 innings, having to exit from the mound after throwing 113 pitches on the day. Senior righty Brendan Chanley would come in to get J.T. Meyer to pop out to first base for the final out, and give Ridgewood their second state championship in five years.

As for Old Bridge, the Knights finish their season at 21-9 under fifth year head coach Matt Donaghue with a Central Jersey, Group 4 title in their trophy case.

Click below for postgame reaction from Korbid Thompson with Old Bridge head coach Matt Donaghue: