Tag: Justin Nastasi

Middlesex gains Group 1 final on Ulmer’s dramatic, walk-off grand slam

A walk-off home run is the stuff kids dream of, maybe before they even play Little League.

But how about a walk-off grand slam with two outs, on an 0-2 pitch?

That’s exactly what junior DH Bobby Ulmer did Monday afternoon at Mountainview Park, sending his team and their fans into utter delirium.

It didn’t win Middlesex a championship, but it did give them a 7-5 victory and send the Blue Jays to the Group 1 final for the fourth time in five seasons, where they’ll try to win the school’s third Group 1 title under sixth-year head coach Justin Nastasi, and the program’s sixth overall.

Listen to Middlesex junior Bobby Ulmer’s walk-off grand slam.
Middlesex DH Bobby Ulmer

CLICK HERE for Bobby Ulmer’s live postgame interview with Mike Pavlichko on Central Jersey Sports Radio.

The Blue Jays (21-4) will play in the Group 1 title game Saturday afternoon at 1:00 at Veterans Park in Hamilton, facing North 2 champion New Providence. The Pioneers (17-7) beat North 1 title winner Hasbrouck Heights 12-1 in a five-inning mercy rule-shortened game in the other semifinal Monday.

Middlesex got the scoring going in the top of the first, when they took a two nothing lead on an RBI double by Ulmer – who finished the game with a pair of doubles and six runs batted in. He drove in pitcher Stephen Young – who led off the game with a single – and Ryan Vollmer, who worked a one-out walk.

Woodstown cut it to 2-1 when Middlesex conceded the run with a groundout by Ben Woodruff following a one-out triple by Chase Swain, who would do even bigger things in the fifth inning.

It was there Woodstown began to hit Young, who looked to be cruising, retiring five batters in a row to close the fourth.

But before that, Middlesex would extend the lead to 3-1 on an RBI single in the fourth by Matt Venutolo.

In the next half-inning, Caden DeSiato worked out a walk for Woodstown, and Brent Williams moved him to second with a single. Chase Reiger beat out a bunt onto the grass down the third base line that Young fielded, but he had no throw by the time he got to it and everyone was safe.

Thenm on a 2-2 pitch, Swain cranked a grand slam to left field to give Woodstown a 5-3 lead.

Young settled back in and got three flyouts on the next six pitches to end the inning.

Meanwhile, Reiger was settling in, and came out for the seventh just three outs away from sending his team to the Group 1 final.

But just like against Point Pleasant Beach in the Central Jersey Group 1 title game, Middlesex loaded the bases and won the game.

In that game, however, the Jays loaded the bases with no outs. This time, it was a little more dramatic.

Ty Nicolay, the nine-hitter, led the inning off with a single. Stephen Young followed with the same.

Woodstown head coach Mark DiCastro had seen enough, and pulled Reiger for Lucas Prendergast, who had started the game at second base. The junior started well, striking out the hero in the game against the Gulls, Anthony Long.

On a 1-0 pitch, Ryan Vollmer hit a ground ball to first that could have been the ballgame. First baseman Tyler Wolf fielded a few feet from the bag, threw to second, but the toss was wide and pulled second Baseman Brant Williams – who moved over from third to replace Prendergast, now on the mound, off the bag. Everyone was safe.

Even had Wolf just gotten the one out, the game would have been over when Raiden Yost flied out to left. Instead, there were two out and the bases still loaded.

That brought up Bobby Ulmer, who quickly found himself in an 0-2 hole.

On the next pitch, he found the lawn behind the left field fence, and it was all over. A walk-off grand slam, capping a wild comeback, and giving Middlesex its second straight state playoff walkoff win.

Click below to hear postgame reaction from Middlesex’s 7-5 Group 1 semifinal win against Woodstown:

Middlesex pitcher Stephen Young
Middlesex head coach Justin Nastasi

Blue Jays fly into fourth straight CJ1 title game with 11-0 win over Florence

Scroll down to hear postgame reaction from pitcher Aidan Kozak and head coach Justin Nastasi.

On what looked like it would be a great day for baseball, the skies opened up like a waterfall at Mountainview Park in Middlesex.

Just in time, Raiden Yost’s blast to deep centerfield went over the head of Nick Corsi, driving in Mark Geist and Stephen Young, and the Blue Jays walked off with an 11-0 mercy rule win as a wall of rain swept in from the Watchung Mountains beyond left field to douse the celebratory proceedings.

It was quite the day at the plate for Middlesex, which scored three runs in the second, five more in the fourth, and capped it off with three in the bottom of the fifth.

Not to be outdone by a gem from sophomore starting pitcher Aiden Kozak. Raiden Yost was supposed to start this game when it was scheduled for yesterday. But on a “gut feeling” head coach Justin Nastasi told Central Jersey Sports Radio before the game, he gave the ball to Kozak.

And all he did was throw five innings of two-hit shutout ball, striking out ten Florence hitters, while walking one, and hitting another batter. It was as good an effort as you could dream of, and it keeps Yost and Stephen Young free of any pitch limitations Friday when Middlesex hosts 6th-seed Point Pleasant Beach Friday at 1 pm for the Central Jersey Group One title.

You can hear the game on Central Jersey Sports Radio with Justin Sontupe and Chris Tsakonas calling all the action. Pregame is tentatively set for 12:40 pm. Click here to listen.

In the second, A.J. West got on with a two-out single, and Matt Venutolo moved him to second on a ball in the hole to short that Artie Piotrowski couldn’t decide where he wanted to throw. His toss to second for the force was too late. Geist Walked, then so did Ty Nicolay to drive in the first run, while Young knocked in two more with a double to give Middlesex a 3-0 lead.

In the fourth, the Jays would get five more runs, but not before about a 15-minute delay, as the home plate umpire complained he wasn’t feeling well in the heat. He left the game, and one of the other umps moved behind the plate.

When they came back, Venutolo led off with a triple, then Geist cranked a homer off a fan’s tent just beyond the left field wall to make it 5-0. Following a bunt by Ty Nicolay that resulted in the first out, Young hit a double, Anthony Long walked, and Ryan Vollmer blasted a three-run homer to right field to make it 8-0.

That was all for losing pitcher Nick Corsi, who swapped places with centerfielder Dillon Sanfillipo. After a single to Raiden Yost, he got out of the inning.

But then in the fifth, Venutolo led off with a double, and Geist’s signle drive him in, making it 9-0. Nicolay flew out to left, and Young walked. After long flew out to center, Vollmer launched one over Corsi’s head. He looked like he might make a play, but didn’t, and the final two runs came in.

Now, Middlesex will play in the Central Jersey Group 1 title game for the fourth straight season.

After a sectional semifinal loss to South River in 2016, Middlesex beat Metuchen for the title in 2017, then Point Beach in the 2018 and 2019 seasons. So, this will be the third straight meeting with the Garnet Gulls with the championship on the line.

Click below to hear Mike Pavlichko’s postgame reaction with Middlesex sophomore pitcher Aidan Kozak and head coach Justin Nastasi:

Middlesex a win away from fourth straight sectional final, fifth in six years

The more things change, the more they stay the same for the Middlesex High School baseball team.

While the coronavirus pandemic cancelled the 2020 season, and the Blue Jays – like many – look a lot different in 2021 than they did in 2019, the results on the field have been pretty much the same.

The formula is this: a solid postseason, maybe a win in the GMC Tournament – where they end up facing much larger schools – and a deep run in the state tournament.

To wit: Middlesex was 103-35 in Justin Nastasi’s first five seasons as head coach. That includes 22 or more wins each of the last two seasons.

His Blue Jays have won four sectional titles and two Group 1 titles in that time. And while he’s 3-6 as a head coach in the GMC Tournament, his teams are a whopping 25-3 in the states, twice losing in the Group 1 final.

Tuesday, he will lead top-seed Middlesex (17-4) into the Central Jersey Group 1 semifinals against 12th-seed Florence (8-8) in a game that can be heard live on Central Jersey Sports Radio, with Mike Pavlichko and Dom Savino calling the action.

First pitch is set for 4 pm. Pregame will start at 3:30 pm; you can listen for free by clicking here.

Don’t forget to check back here after the game for postgame reaction on cjsportsradio.com.

Click below to hear Middlesex head coach Justin Nastasi talk about the Blue Jays’ CJ1 semifinal game against Florence: