Tag: East Brunswick

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.

It’s Championship Friday! Five area teams vie for state sectional titles

One team seems like they’re there every year. Another has some of the deepest pitching in their league. A third has played the role of underdog to the hilt. And of the other two, one is guaranteed to go home a champion today.

Those are the story lines this Friday, as Middlesex, East Brunswick, Woodbridge, Immaculata and Gill St. Bernard’s all play for sectional titles in four separate championship games this afternoon.

Central Jersey Sports Radio will bring you one of those contests live, the North Jersey, Section 2, Group 4 title tilt between 3rd-seed Woodbridge and top-seed Hunterdon Central. Game time is at 3. Pregame begins at 2:30 from Flemington with Mike Pavlichko and Chris Tsakonas calling all the action. Click here to listen.

Scroll down for previews and more details on all four title games involving CJSR-area teams:

North Jersey, Section 2, Group 4 Championship Game:

Details:
(3) Woodbridge (25-6) at
(1) Hunterdon Central (23-4)
3:00 pm Friday in Flemington, NJ
LISTEN LIVE

Starting Pitchers:
Woodbridge – Eddie Nunez (9-2, 1.98 ERA)
Hunterdon Central – Kyle McCoy (6-0, 0.00 ERA)

LISTEN TO THE HEAD COACHES:

Woodbridge head coach Mike Monaco
Hunterdon Central head coach Kevin Cuozzi

HOW THEY GOT HERE:

Woodbridge:
1st Round: def. (14) Newark East Side, 12-2
Quarterfinals: def. (6) Westfield, 8-4
Semifinals: def. (2) Ridge, 5-4 (11 innings)

Hunterdon Central:
1st Round: def. (16) Phillipsburg, 14-0
Quarterfinals: def. (9) Elizabeth, 10-1
Semifinals: def. (4) Watchung Hills, 4-0

Key Stats:

Eddie Nunez can go nearly the distance Friday, having thrown 46 pitches against Ridge in relief in their 11-inning marathon Tuesday. That means he has 104 remaining, six shy of the 110 pitch limit for a single game. Matt Troche and Drew Lukachyk are also available, but Josh Vazquez – who started the Ridge game, is not.

Troche – at a respectable .239 – has the lowest average in the starting lineup, and only three starters are hitting below .300 heading into the final, which means there are no easy outs in the Barrons lineup.

Yes, you read that right about Kyle McCoy. The tall, lanky lefty has not allowed a single earned run all year, letting up just one inconsequential run up all year, that in the Red Devils’ opening round playoff game, a 16-1 victory over Elizabeth. He’s being talked about as an MLB Draft prospect, and head coach Kevin Cuozzi says they’ve eased him off the gas pedal a bit this year – something he can afford to do with a deep staff – to keep him McCoy fresh just for this time of year.

Championship History:

Woodbridge is seeking its first-ever state title, in only its fourth finals appearance since the advent of the playoffs in 1971. They were champs in 1935, 1938 and 1939, those last two coming under Nick Priscoe, who also was the football coach, and for whom the Barrons football stadium is named. His teams won double championships – in baseball and football – in ’38 and ’39, and he also won a state title on the gridiron in 1960.

In the playoffs, Woodbridge is oh-for-three in finals:

  • 1977: lost to Piscataway, 2-1, in the Central Jersey Group 4 final
  • 1987: lost to Hunterdon Central, 3-0, in the Central Jersey Group 4 final
  • 2017: lost to Millburn, 3-1, in the North Jersey, Section 2, Group 3 final

Hunterdon Central last won a sectional title in 2018, when they went 28-2. They beat Manalpan 4-0 in the CJ 4 final, then went on to win the statewide Group 4 title, beating Westfield 7-0 in the championship game.

The also won the Central 4 title in 2017 (2-1 over Freehold) but lost to Millburn in the statewide Group 4 final, 10-5. In 2016, they beat South Brunswick 12-2 to win the CJ 4 title, then won the state Group 4 crown with a 4-2 win over Morristown. In 2013, they beat Brick Memorial in the CJ4 final, 2-1, but lost to Eastern in the Group 4 semis.

The Red Devils’ last sectional final loss came to Hillsborough in 2012, a 6-1 defeat. The Raiders that year went all the way to the Group 4 final, where they lost to Manalapan, 2-0, finishing 17-14.

More Red Devils: If Woodbridge is to win its first-ever sectional championship, they will have beaten the Red Devils in back-to-back games: Ridge in the semifinals, Hunterdon Central in the finals.

What’s Next? The winner of this game goes on to host the winner of North Jersey, Section 2, Group 4, based on the rotating host sites pre-determined by the NJSIAA. (Last year was the first year of that system, with Central and North 1 champions hosting. This year, South and North 2 champs host.) The North 2, Group 4 final is between 2-seed Passaic Tech (25-5) and 4-seed Livingston (20-8). That game is scheduled for 1:30 this afternoon at PCTI.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE OF WOODBRIDGE:

Central Jersey Group 4 Championship Game:

Details:
(9) East Brunswick (17-2) at
(2) Howell (22-6)
2:00 pm Friday in Howell, NJ

Starting Pitchers:
East Brunswick – Joe Ditzel (4-1, 0.84 ERA)
Howell – Nick Gomes (4-1, 2.76 ERA)

HOW THEY GOT HERE:

East Brunswick:
1st Round: def. (8) Freehold Twp., 8-6
Quarterfinals: def. (1) Middletown South, 1-0
Semifinals: def. (5) North Brunswick, 4-2 (8 innings)

Howell:
1st Round: def. (15) Manalapan, 3-1
Quarterfinals: def. (7) Monroe, 5-4
Semifinals: def. (3) Jackson Memorial, 3-2

Key Stats:

East Brunswick has beaten all higher seeds to get to the final, including the top-seed, defending champ and heavy favorite Middletown South in the quarterfinals. And their win over 5th-seed North Brunswick was a revenge win for the Bears. They lost a regular season meeting in walk-off fashion on back-to-back home runs, and a 1-0 game in the GMC Tournament semifinals that took 12 innings.

The key pitching number to know is Ditzel’s sub-one earned run average. The Bears have allowed just eight runs in their first three state playoff games, including that shutout of Midd South. They’ve been playing solid baseball the last month or so

Championship History:

It’s been a while for both of these schools: East Brunswick has won only one sectional title, Central Jersey Group 4 in 1997. Howell hasn’t won since 1994. One very long streak will come to an end today.

What’s next? The winner here gets the South Jersey Group 4 winner. That game features 6th-seed Cherokee (21-7) at top-seed Kingsway (26-4), and is being played at noon today.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE OF EAST BRUNSWICK:

Central Jersey Group 1 Championship Game:

Details:
(1) Middlesex (23-5) vs.
(2) Point Pleasant Beach (19-9)
4:00 pm Friday at Mountainview Park in Middlesex, NJ

Starting Pitchers:
Middlesex – Stephen Young (4-1, 3.05 ERA) OR Aidan Kozak (4-1, 1.60 ERA)
Point Pleasant Beach – James Larsen (3-3, 4.62 ERA)

HOW THEY GOT HERE:

Middlesex:
1st Round: def. (16) Highland Park, 10-0 (5 innings)
Quarterfinals: def. (8) Riverside, 12-3 (6 innings)
Semifinals: def. (5) Shore, 11-1 (6 innings)

Point Pleasant Beach:
1st Round: def. (15) Henry Hudson, 10-0 (5 innings)
Quarterfinals: def. (7) Bound Brook, 4-0
Semifinals: def. (3) New Egypt, 9-1

Key Stats:

These teams have met in the Central Jersey Group 1 title game each of the last three playoff seasons, with Middlesex winning them all. Yes, they certainly have the Garnet Gulls’ number. The Jays beat them on a walk-off last year 2-1. They beat them in 2019, 6-1. And Middlesex shut them out 2-0 to win the CJ1 title in 2018.

For good measure, they also beat Point Beach in the 2017 Central 1 quarterfinals, making it four straight seasons they’ve ended Point’s year.

Championship History:

The numbers for Middlesex under Justin Nastasi indicate a dynasty. To wit:

  • 2021: GMC Blue Division Champions, Central 1 Champs, Group 1 State Champions
  • 2019: GMC Blue Division Champions, Central 1 Champs
  • 2018: GMC Blue Division Co-Champions, Central 1 Champs, Group 1 State Champions
  • 2017: Central 1 Champs, Group 1 State Champions
  • 2016: no titles
  • 2015: Central 1 Champs

It’s quite the remarkable run for the Blue Jays, who nearly moved up to Group 2 this year. Football and basketball did, but not baseball, owing to the different number of schools in each sport that field teams.

What’s next? The winner here gets the victor in the South Jersey Group 1 title game, featuring 9-seed Woodstown (16-9) at 6-seed Paulsboro (16-9). If it’s the Blue Jays and Woodstown, it would be a rematch of last year’s Group 1 semifinal at Middlesex, which they won 7-5 on a walk-off grand slam with two outs by Bobby Ulmer – you can read the recap and hear the game winning call below. Except this year, the game would be down at Woodstown, a mere 92 miles down the Turnpike, and South of the Mason-Dixon Line.

At today’s gas prices, assuming 30 miles per gallon, that’s about a $30 trip, plus another $11 in tolls round-trip.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE OF MIDDLESEX:

MIDDLESEX STATE TOURNAMENT COVERAGE FROM 2021:

Non-Public North B Championship Game:

Details:
(6) Gill St. Bernard’s (15-13) at
(5) Immaculata (13-12)
1:00 pm Friday at Diamond Nation in Flemington, NJ

Starting Pitchers:
Gill St. Bernard’s: Logan Mote (2-4, 4.16 ERA) OR Carter Nowak (4-3, 3.32 ERA)
Immaculata: Matt Warzeniak (3-2, 2.56 ERA)

HOW THEY GOT HERE:

Gill St. Bernard’s:
1st Round: def. (11) Mater Dei, 13-3 (5 innings)
Quarterfinals: def. (3) Montclair-Kimberley, 7-4
Semifinals: def. (2) St. Mary-Rutherford, 3-0

Immaculata:
1st Round: def. (12) Newark Academy, 10-0 (5 innings)
Quarterfinals: def. (4) Morristown-Beard, 9-6
Semifinals: def. (1) Rutgers Prep, 11-2

Key Stats:

One, two and three.

One, as in only one meeting ever between these two teams in the schools’ histories, at least so far as anyone remembers. And that meeting, ironically enough, came this year, when Gill beat the Spartans in the second round of the Somerset County Tournament, 4-2, also out at Diamond Nation in Flemington.

Two, as in Gill St. Bernard’s – until the state tournament – had not won more than two games in a row all season.

Three, as in the Knights also haven’t lost more than three games in a row all season, and they only did that once, in late April/early May. Immaculata, meanwhile, has been slightly more up-and-down all year. The Spartans opened the season 0-3 – including a season-opening 15-4 loss to Somerville as heard on Central Jersey Sports Radio – but then reeled off three straight wins to get back to .500 by mid-April. They had two more three-game skids throughout the year, and two more three-game winning streaks, including in the playoffs heading into today’s final.

Championship History:

The Spartans have had immense Somerset County Tournament success, winning a record 14 titles, all between 1991 and 2019, including an unprecedented run of six straight from 1997 to 2002, and four of the next five from 2004 to 2008.

But the state tournament is always tougher. Still, the Spartans have four to their credit, plus two group titles:

  • 2010: South A and Group A Non-Public Champs (beat St. Joseph-Metuchen in the Group A final)
  • 1997: North A Champs (lost to Bishop Eustace in the Group A final)
  • 1995: North B Champs and Group B Non-Public Champs (beat Gloucester Catholic in the Group B final)
  • 1985: North B Champs (lost to Gloucester Catholic in the Group B final)

For Gill St. Bernard’s, this will be their fourth trip to a sectional final in the last six seasons, still looking to bring home their first hardware. Previous finals appearances:

  • 2019: Lost at St. Mary-Rutherford 2-1 (North B)
  • 2018: Lost at DePaul 8-4 (North B)
  • 2016: Lost at Holy Cross 4-3 (South B)

What’s next? Since there are only two sections in each non-public group, unlike the four in the public ranks, the winner of this game goes right on to the Non-Public Group B final next Wednesday at Veterans’ Park in Hamilton. Central Jersey Sports Radio will broadcast the game, which should be either at 4 or 7 pm. Immaculata or Gill would get the winner of the South B title game, which is being played at 3:30 today, and features (2) Gloucester Catholic (21-9) at (1) Ranney (24-5) in Tinton Falls.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE OF IMMACULATA and GILL ST. BERNARD’S:

Red-hot Bears perfectly poised to win East Brunswick’s first state title in 25 years

The year was 1997, and it was the pinnacle of success in the long and storied history of the East Brunswick High School baseball program.

Sure, the Bears had won county titles before. In fact, they won the first-ever GMC Tournament in 1986, beating Madison Central 14-3 in the finals. They won another in 1991.

But in 1997, EB was king – going the distance to win their first – and to this day, only – state title. The next day, they won the GMC Tournament again. Both times, Ryan Molchan came up big.

On May 30th, he threw a two-hit shutout at Mercer County Park to beat Edison and Rutgers star and MLB prospect Bobby Brownlie 5-0 in the Central Jersey Group 4 title game.

One May 31st, he went three-for-four, but most importantly singled home Scott Wells with two out in the bottom of the seventh to beat JFK, 3-2.

Yes, two championships in two days.

Friday, the 2022 Bears (17-12) will try to win the school’s second state championship, when 9th-seed East Brunswick travels to 2nd-seed Howell (22-6) for the Central Jersey Group 4 title game.

They didn’t win the GMC this year, getting beaten in the semifinals 1-0 in 12 innings by North Brunswick. But they exacted revenge on the Raiders for that – and a walk-off defeat in the regular season on back-to-back homers – by beating them 4-2 in eight innings Tuesday in the sectional semis.

And the hero in that game was Ryan Schultz, who came up as a pinch hitter in the eighth and drove in the winning run.

Joe Ditzel – not even one of the team’s top two starters – will get the nod, but he’s no slouch. He’s got an ERA of under one (0.86) and has allowed just one earned run – the lone run in that GMCT semifinal game against North Brunswick – in his last seven appearances.

Click below to hear Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Mike Pavlichko talk with Schultz and Ditzel ahead of Friday’s state title game:

Junior Ryan Schultz
Junior Joe Ditzel

Extra, Extra! Woodbridge and East Brunswick advance in extra innings, Blue Jays cruise, and an all Skyland title game on a busy state playoff Tuesday

East Brunswick got revenge for its 12-inning loss to North Brunswick in the GMC Tournament semis with an extra inning win of its own, while Woodbridge needed eleven to knock off defending North 2, Group 4 champ Ridge.

Those were just some of the highlights as Week Two of the NJSIAA baseball playoffs got underway, with public and non-public sectional semifinal action.

In a game heard on Central Jersey Sports Radio in the North 2, Group 4 semis, third-seed Woodbridge never trailed and outlasted 2nd-seed Ridge 5-4 in 11 innings.

FULL GAME RECAP and POSTGAME AUDIO: Woodbridge stuns Ridge with Bosch’s almost-in-the-park-home run, to win in 11, gain North 2 Group 4 final

GAME HIGHLIGHTS: 11 Innings in 6 Minutes: Listen to all the highlights from Woodbridge’s N2, G4 semifinal win over Ridge

Meanwhile, at Community Park in North Brunswick, 9th-seed East Brunswick scored two in the eighth and then kept the 5th-seeded Raiders off the board in the bottom of the inning to secure a 4-2 win. The Bears have been red hot the last month or so, and have knocked off three higher seeds en route to the Central Jersey Group 4 final.

They beat 8-seed Freehold Township 8-6 in the first round. Then came a 1-0 win over top-seed, defending champ, and section favorite Middletown South before Tuesday’s semifinal win against North Brunswick. Pinch-hitter Ryan Schultz had an RBI single in the inning, driving in what turned out to be the winning run.

East Brunswick was 0-for-2 in dramatic fashion against North this year. In the regular season, they lost 5-4 in walk-off fashion on a two-run homer by Zack Konstantinovsky, followed by the winner from Omar Carreras.

In the GMC Tournament semifinals, they lost 1-0 in 12 innings.

Meanwhile, in Non-Public North B, it will be an all-Somerset County final, as 5th-seed Immaculata will entertain 6th-seed Gill St. Bernard’s Friday afternoon. The Spartans stunned top-seed Rutgers Prep with an 11-2 win, while the Knights traveled up to Bergen County and came away with a 3-0 win over second-seed St. Mary-Rutherford.

Middlesex also advanced in Central Jersey Group 1, with an 11-1, six-inning win over fifth-seed Shore. That sets up a rematch of last year’s sectional title tilt with Point Pleasant Beach. The second-seeded Garnet Gulls beat 3-seed New Egypt Tuesday 9-1. The Jays and Point played in last year’s final, with Middlesex winning 1-0 in its final at bat on an E4 with the bases loaded and nobody out.

Somerville, Watchung Hills and St. Joseph-Metuchen also were eliminated from the playoffs Tuesday.

Below are the semifinal results::

Central Jersey Group 4:
(9) East Brunswick def. (5) North Brunswick, 4-2 (8 innnings)
(2) Howell def. (3) Jackson Memorial, 3-2

Central Jersey Group 3:
(10) Middletown North def. (6) Somerville, 8-4

Central Jersey Group 1:
(1) Middlesex def. (5) Shore, 11-1 (6 innings)
(2) Pt. Pleasant Beach def. (3) New Egypt, 9-1

North Jersey, Section 2 – Group 4:
(1) Hunterdon Central def. (4) Watchung Hills, 4-0
(3) Woodbridge def. (2) Ridge, 5-4 (11 innings)

Non-Public South A:
(6) Christian Brothers Academy def. (2) St. Joseph-Metuchen, 11-0 (6 innings)

Non-Public North B:
(5) Immaculata def. (1) Rutgers Prep, 11-2
(6) Gill St. Bernard’s def. (2) St. Mary-Rutherford, 3-0

Following are the sectional title games scheduled for Friday, with notes on who those teams would match up with in the Public Group Semifinals Monday, or the Non-Public Group Finals on Wednesday. Note that in the public group semifinal rounds, South Jersey and North Jersey, Section 2 champions are the pre-determined hosts.

Central Jersey Group 4 Final:
(9) East Brunswick at (2) Howell
Winner plays at the South 4 Champion, either (1) Kingsway or (6) Cherokee, on Monday, June 13

Central Jersey Group 1 Final:
(2) Pt. Pleasant Beach at (1) Middlesex
Winner plays at the South 1 Champion, either (6) Paulsboro or (9) Woodstown, on Monday, June 13

North Jersey, Section 2 – Group 4 Final:
(3) Woodbridge at (1) Hunterdon Central (on CJSR)
Winner hosts the North 1 Champion, either (2) Passaic Tech or (4) Livingston, on Monday, June 13

Non-Public North B Final:
(6) Gill St. Bernard’s at (5) Immaculata
Winner plays the South B Champion, either (1) Ranney or (2) Gloucester Catholic, on Wednesday, June 14 at Veterans Park in Hamilton (on CJSR).

There’s a new team atop the Bellamy & Son Top Ten: Ridge overtakes St. Joe’s after Falcons’ upset in GMCT Finals

North Brunswick’s upset of St. Joseph-Metuchen wasn’t enough to make the Raiders No. 1 in the Week 9 Bellamy & Son Paving Top Ten, but it was enough to knock the Falcons from their season-long perch atop the rankings.

St. Joe’s was replaced by Somerset County Tournament champion Ridge, which beat Rutgers Prep 6-0 in the SCT final a week ago Monday. The Raiders – who shocked the Falcons with a 4-2 win Sunday in the GMC title tilt – moved up from fourth to second, while Joe’s dropped to third in the latest rankings.

Below are the Full Week 9 rankings:

St. Joseph, Ridge, Rutgers Prep continue to lead Bellamy & Son Paving Top Ten, while North and East Brunswick debut

The top three teams remain the same in the Week 8 Bellamy & Son Paving Top Ten, but two new teams made the the Top Ten this week.

North Brunswick debuted and jumped all the way to fourth, on the strength of a big run as the 6th-seed in the GMC Tournament. They’re in Saturday’s title game after outlasting East Brunswick – the 7th-seed, which ousted 5-seed Old Bridge – by a 1-0 score in 12 innings Saturday in the semifinals.

Pingry dropped a spot this week after the addition of the Raiders and Bears, with No. 9 Old Bridge dropping out, along with South River, which had a 0-4 week. But the Big Blue are the first tournament champion in the area, after they won the Prep A Tournament Sunday with a 5-3 victory over Hun.

Below are the full Week 8 rankings:

INSTANT REPLAY-GMCT Semifinals: (6) North Brunswick 1, (7) East Brunswick 0 (12 innings)

In a 12-inning game that took three hours to play and used just four pitchers, 6th-seed North Brunswick outlasted 7th-seed East Brunswick 1-0 in the GMC Tournament Semifinals, as heard on Central Jersey Sports Radio.

Click below to hear Mike Pavlichko and Justin Sontupe call all the play by play from Ray Cipperly Field at East Brunswick Tech in East Brunswick on May 21, 2022:

North Brunswick outlasts East Brunswick in 12, punches ticket to GMCT Finals for first time in over a decade

Inning after inning, after inning after inning, after inning after inning, zeroes kept going up on the scoreboard at Ray Cipperly Field in East Brunswick.

For three hours and seven minutes, 6th seed North Brunswick and 7th seed East Brunswick battled and battled. Four pitchers dealt, and dealt, and dealt some more.

No one could push anything across in Game One of the GMC Tournament semifinal doubleheader.

Of course, there were very few chances, either.

The Bears and Raiders battled for 11-and-a-half innings. Then, in the bottom of the 12th, the unthinkable happened.

Someone crossed home plate safely.

Rutgers-bound senior Zack Konstantinovsky – who threw six innings of three-hit shutout ball working on a 64-pitch count after throwing in Monday’s first round – strode to the plate. He was the DH for himself, so he could remain in the game on offense after he was relieved by Kyle Anderson; more on that later.

Pinch runner Chris Rosario was on third – after reaching on an error, and being sacrificed over on a bunt by Frandy Martinez – and EJ Accetura – a meaningless run – was on second.

Konstntinovsky drilled the first pitch from Aaron Warner over right fielder Vincent LaRocca’s head, and that was the ballgame, sending North Brunswick (17-8) to the finals for the first time since it went to the title game back to back in 2009 and 2010, losing both.

Kyle Anderson got the win for North Brunswick, while Warner took the loss for East Brunswick (13-11).

Click below to listen to Justin Sontupe’s call of Zack Konstantinovsky’s walk-off single to send North Brunswick to the GMC Tournament Finals, as heard live on Central Jersey Sports Radio:

Click above to learn more about how to be an umpire and join the NSJFU.

Next Saturday at 2 pm, the Raiders will face top-seed St. Joseph of Metuchen, which beat 5th-seed Woodbridge 10-1 in Saturday’s second semifinal.

And it will likely be a matchup of two of the top pitchers in the GMC, with Konstantinovsky expected to take the mound for North Brunswick against St. Joe’s Rutgers-bound senior Andrew Goldan.

Click below for postgame reaction from North Brunswick’s win over East Brunswick in the GMC Tournament semifinals:

North Brunswick senior Zack Konstantinovsky
North Brunswick head coach Mark Blevins

Notes and Nuggets:

Few chances: Normally in a game, having baserunners on in six different innings would be a good thing and mean some scoring chances. East Brunswick did that Saturday, but in a 12 inning game. The Raiders had men on base in eight of the 12, and four of the first seven.

Efficient Zack: Konstantinovsky knew he could only throw 64 pitches, and he made the most of them. He struck out six – giving him 100 Ks on the season against just one walk, and no hit batsmen – and allowed only three hits. One of those was an infield hit, the other was a perfectly-laid down bunt by the Bears’ Christian Bermudez. In fact, East Brunswick didn’t hit a ball in play into the outfield until Bermudez’ double in the sixth. Zack K then retired Dylan Lugo on a sac bunt, Ryan Basham on a ground out to second, and struck out Jack Nelson to end the inning – on his 64th pitch.

Super Sophomore: Kyle Anderson was masterful in relief of Konstantinovsky. After allowing the first two hitters he faced to reach base, he stranded them at second and third, getting two strikeouts and a fly out to right. After that, he allowed just three baserunners the rest of the way.

More relief, please: Not to be lost in Anderson’s effort, with Mike Marchese on a 71 pitch count, but not quite as efficient, East Brunswick coach Chris Kenney had to go to his bullpen in the fifth. Joseph Ditzel was solid, too, like Anderson, scattering just two hits over seven innings of work, pitching the fifth through the 11th.

Long, but not the longest: Though 12 innings felt like a lot – with the game time temperature about 80 degrees going up to 93 with a heat index of 97 by the time the final out was recorded – it wasn’t the longest game in GMC Tournament history. They would have had to play five more innings to reach that. On May 5, 2011, Perth Amboy outlasted Sayreville 2-1 in a quarterfinal game played under the lights at East Brunswick High School. Ironically, that same night, the Phillies beat the Reds at home, 5-4, in 19 innings.

A complete preview of the 2022 GMC Tournament semifinals

Central Jersey Sports Radio will have live play-by-play coverage of both GMC Tournament Semifinal games today from Ray Cipperly Field at East Brunswick Tech, presented by Dayton Toyota Service, Route 130 in South Brunswick!.

Mike Pavlichko and Justin Sontupe will call all the action starting at 11:35 am with the pregame show for Game One.

Thanks also to all our local sponsors for supporting the broadcast, and the fine student-athletes from all four schools:

  • Dayton Collision
  • Bellamy & Son Paving
  • Baseball Warehouse
  • New Jersey State Federation of Umpires, Mickey Sedlak Chapter
  • Woodbridge Township & Mayor John McCormac

Scroll down for a closer look at today’s games, including pitching matchups, each team’s path to the semifinals, team notes and stats, past coverage from this season, and each team’s tournament history.

Click above to learn more about how to be an umpire and join the NSJFU.

(6) NORTH BRUNSWICK (16-8) vs. (7) EAST BRUNSWICK (13-10), noon

How they got here: North Brunswick def. (11) Colonia 7-0 in the first round, def. (3) Middlesex 14-13 in the quarterfinals. East Brunswick def. (10) Spotswood 11-1 in the first round, def. (2) Monroe 4-2 in the quarterfinals.

Starting Pitchers: Zach Konstantinovsky for North Brunswick (5-1, 0.75 ERA). Michael Marchese for East Brunswick (5-3, 2.64 ERA)

Team Notes – North Brunswick:

For North Brunswick, Konstantinovsky – as always – is doing it at the plate and on the mound. The Rutgers-bound senior has struck out 94 batters, while walking only one, and he’ll need that pinpoint control and attack on the Barrons’ batters, as he’ll be limited to just 64 pitches, having already thrown 86 in six innings of first-round work against Colonia. At the plate, he’s second on the team behind Omar Carreras (.458) with a .385 batting average, knocking in a team-leading 24 RBIs. He also leads the Raiders with four home runs. The bats exploded in the 14-13 come-from-behind, almost-blew-it win against Middlesex in Wednesday’s quarterfinals on their home field at Community Park. Frandy Martinez and Konstantinovsky were both 3-for-4 with a home run, Martinez knocking in five runs and Konstantinovsky two.

More Coverage on North Brunswick:

Team Notes – East Brunswick:

East Brunswick may have ten losses, but four have come by just one run, and eight by three runs or less. It may not add up to wins, but they play tight games, and showed they can win them against Monroe in the quarterfinals, knocking out the No. 2 seed with a 4-2 victory after losing both regular season contests with the Falcons, by 3-2 and 2-1 scores. Ryan Basham is hitting .342 and leads the team in that and nearly every other offensive category, including singles (15), doubles (8) and triples (2), as well as slugging percentage (.486). He also pitched well against Spotswood in their second meeting of the week, Thursday in the Commander’s Cup game, another 4-2 win, to keep head coach Chris Kenney from having to use his bullpen. That’s a big deal, with the Bears playing their fourth game in five days today. (It would have been five, but Senior Day against Hightstown was rained out Friday).

More coverage on East Brunswick:

Tournament History:

Before last year’s appearance in the semifinals against South Brunswick, the Raiders’ hadn’t made the semis since 2010, when they went all the way to the finals.  They were a 16-seed and just 4-11 going into the semis that year. They beat Cinderella 20th-seed Carteret (which was just 9-12) to move on the finals for a second straight year, but the Raiders fell to South Brunswick, 9-2. Had they won, they would have become the lowest seeded team to win the GMC Tournament.  That was their second straight and second overall trip to the finals, having lost to St. Joseph 6-0 the year before, in 2009.

North Brunswick hasn’t been to the finals since that 2010 season. Their only two appearances came that year, and the year before. The Raiders were blanked by St. Joseph in the 2009 final 6-0, and lost 9-2 to South Brunswick in the 2010 title game.

It is East Brunswick’s first trip to the GMC Tournament semifinals since they won the whole thing in 2016.  They beat South Brunswick 10-0 in the semis to advance to the title game, where they beat JP Stevens 1-0 to win the Championship.

(1) ST. JOSEPH-METUCHEN (19-6) vs. (5) WOODBRIDGE (19-4), 2:30 pm

How they got here: St. Joseph def. (16) South River 5-0 in the first round, def. (9) South Brunswick 14-4 in the quarterfinals. Woodbridge def. (12) Metuchen 7-5 in the first round, def. (4) Old Bridge 3-1 in the quarterfinals.

Starting Pitchers: Donovan Zsak for St. Joseph (4-0, 0.75 ERA). Matt Troche for Woodbridge (4-1, 3.72 ERA)

Team Notes – St. Joseph:

St. Joseph has six losses, but only one coming to a GMC team, that being Old Bridge, which Woodbridge knocked off to get to this game. Zsak is a dominant pitcher who could get drafted right out of high school, even if missing all of last season due to injury. This is his first full year of high school ball since his freshman year, 2019, though he did pitch in the Mike Murray-organized Last Dance tournament in the summer of 2020. He’s got great control, striking out 43, while walking ten. Blessed with a bevy of arms they can throw at you all week, no pitch count issues here for the Falcons. Zsak is completely available, as is Andrew Goldan, who started against South Brunswick in the quarterfinals, but came out in the fourth with a comfortable lead. At the plate, pick your poison, with four players hitting .350 or better, including Mark Gialluisi at .476 and Josiah Brown at .419, then Tyler DelVecchio at .368, and Andrew Goldan at .364. The Falcons can also go yard, hitting nine homers, getting three each off the bats of Brown and Gialluisi, the latter of whom hit a grand-slam in the bottom of the sixth against South Brunswick that invoked the ten-run rule in walk-off fashion.

More Coverage on St. Joseph

Team Notes – Woodbridge:

Woodbridge has only lost to two teams this season, getting swept a pair by both Metuchen and Middlesex, who are both up from the GMC Blue this year; the Blue Jays won the White Division with the two victories over the Barrons right before the tournament seeding meeting. Senior Brett Lukachyk – whose brother Drew, a sophomore, may pitch in relief today – is tearing the cover off the ball, hitting .472 with 24 runs batted in. In a mild “upset” of fourth-seed Old Bridge in the quarterfinals, Ty Kobylakiewicz was 2-for-3 with a pair of singles, but knocked in two runs, including what turned out to be the game-winner. The Barrons tuned up with a 10-0 win over Linden Thursday, which saw Josh Vazquez go a perfect three-for-three at the plate, with a trio of singles and 3 RBIs. Matt Troche gets the ball here, with Vazquez and Nunez out due to pitch counts and their starting efforts in the first two rounds of the tournament earlier this week.

Tournament History:

St. Joe’s is the defending champion, having beaten South Brunswick in last year’s GMCT Final, 2-0, behind a complete game from Andrew Goldan. In other recent history, St. Joseph made it to the semifinals in 2019, but lost to Old Bridge 2-1.  Their last title before last year was in 2017, when they blanked Monroe in the title game 1-0.

READ MORE: “Goldan!” St. Joes wins seventh GMC Tournament title behind scoreless, 10 K effort from Andrew Goldan

Woodbridge is seeking its first trip to the finals in almost a quarter century. In their only trip to the GMC title game, the Barrons beat in-town rival JFK 1-0. The Barrons’ last appearance in the semifinals was in 2017, when they lost 3-1 to Monroe, which eventually lost 1-0 to St. Joseph in the title game.

Potential Finals Matchups:

  • St. Joseph and East Brunswick have played once in the finals, with the Falcons winning 8-1 in 2005.
  • St. Joseph and North Brunswick have played once in the finals, with the Falcons winning 6-0 in 2009.
  • Woodbridge has never faced East Brunswick nor North Brunswick in the finals.  Their only trip was a 7-1 win over JFK in 2000.

Trivia:

We’ll send a Central Jersey Sports Radio t-shirt and hat combo to whoever can guess the correct answer to our trivia question, which we’ll give out in the fourth inning of Game One of the doubleheader, between East Brunswick and North Brunswick.

The first person to correctly tweet the answer to @cjsportsradio.com will win a heather grey, super soft t-shirt and a grey New Era cap with our logo on it. Good luck!

Take two: North Brunswick, back in GMCT semis, seeking first trip to title game in over a decade

The North Brunswick Raiders have made two Greater Middlesex Conference Tournament finals in the program’s history, but that was a long time ago.

It was 2010, and the second straight trip for the Raiders, who lost to lost to neighboring rival South Brunswick 9-2, a year after getting blanked by St. Joseph-Metuchen 6-0 in 2009.

Last year, the Raiders were a win away from the tourney’s final game. And though Rutgers-bound star Zach Konstantinovsky threw a one-hitter in a six-inning complete game, striking out six, North Brunswick couldn’t push a single run across in what was a semifinal doubleheader that set a GMCT record for the fewest runs scored in the two games combined: a miserly total of six. (The semis and finals also combined for a record low eight runs scored.)

This year, 6th-seed North Brunswick (16-8) will try to get back there with a limited Konstantinovsky, who threw 86 pitches in Tuesday’s opening round 7-0 win over Colonia – postponed from Monday due to a stormy forecast – meaning he’ll have to be mighty efficient with the 64 he’ll be allowed in Saturday’s semifinals against 7-seed East Brunswick (13-10).

Click above to learn more about how to be an umpire and join the NSJFU.

Had Monday’s opening round not been postponed, Konstantinovsky would have been free and clear to go up to 110.

READ MORE: North Brunswick outlasts Middlesex in GMCT quarterfinal slugfest, 14-3

First pitch for the game, the opener of the GMCT semifinal doubleheader, is scheduled for noon, and can be heard live on Central Jersey Sports Radio – driven by Dayton Toyota Service, Route 130 in South Brunswick – with pregame at 11:45 am. Mike Pavlichko and Justin Sontupe will call all the action from Ray Cipperly Field at East Brunswick Tech. Click here to listen.

It’ll be the second meeting between the teams this year. They played in late April in a GMC crossover that the Raiders won by walk-off 5-4 on back-to-back homers by Konstantinovsky and Omar Carreras.

Click below to hear North Brunswick head coach Mark Blevins talk with Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Mike Pavlichko: