Tag: Larry Santowasso

Rutgers Prep takes St. Mary-Rutherford to the brink, falls 4-3 in Non-Public North B final

On a day when Rutgers Prep and St. Joseph of Metuchen played separately for state titles, and it was a former Falcon who figured decisively in a defeat for the Argonauts.

Xavier Arana – who transferred after last year from St. Joe’s to St. Mary of Rutherford – scored the game-winning run in the bottom of the seventh and got the win in relief for the top-seeded Gaels in a 4-3 walk-off win over third-seed Rutgers Prep in Saturday’s Non-Public North B title game up in Bergen County.

St. Mary (20-9) will go on to face the winner of Saturday’s South B title game between second-seed and defending champ Ranney and top-seed Gloucester Catholic.

Right from the get-go tensions were high, with both benches highly vocal in a back-and-forth affair throughout.

Rutgers Prep head coach Larry Santowasso started with his sophomore ace Zach Fronio, who’s committed to Maryland, and he cruised through the first three innings, only allowing two baserunners, striking out five. It was the fourth inning that started to give Fronio trouble. He allowed three consecutive singles, including an RBI single from St. Mary’s catcher Kyle Watson that put the Gaels out in front 1-0. 

Gaels starter Blayze Conte was also cruising along in the game, allowing just one hit and a walk through four innings. It was in the fifth inning that Conte got himself into trouble, allowing back-to-back singles to Max Treonze and Nick Pizzie, walking James Jackman to load the bases, and then a 2 RBI double for shortstop Cody Rullo.

With still two outs in the inning, Gaels Head Coach Nigel Archibald kept Conte on the mound to try and get the final out. But Rutgers Prep freshman catcher Ethan Nepomuceno hit a double of his own, scoring Rullo and giving Rutgers Prep a 3-1 lead in the top of the fourth. That’s where Conte’s day ended, and Archibald put in relief pitcher David Anderson to get the final out. Anderson got Zach Fronio to ground out to shortstop to stop the bleeding for the Gaels.

Conte ended up with a no-decision, went 4 2/3 innings, gave up three runs on five hits, struck out four, and walked two. 

With the Gaels down two going into the bottom of the fifth, they knew they had to start a rally. They did just that, with the nine-hole hitter Arana roping a single to right field to get the ball rolling for St. Mary. Leadoff hitter Tyler Giordano legged out an infield single allowing Arana to advance to second. The Gaels had runners on first and second with one out, when Fronio struck out Jason Rosado for the second out, but the Gaels didn’t give up. Blayze Conte hit a single to center to load the bases, and third baseman Jacob Herrera hit a two-run single to center to tie the game at three apiece. 

It was crunch time. A game tied at three with two innings left. The Gaels took out pitcher David Anderson – who recorded one out in the fourth – and put in the lefty Arana. 

Fast forward to the top of the seventh inning. With Arana still on the mound, he worked a 1-2-3 inning, retiring Rutgers Prep to go to the bottom of the seventh tied at three. Santowasso pulled pitcher Fronio – who had reached over 100 pitches – and put in Li Perez for the seventh.

But the Gaels wasted no time getting runners on base. Arana again led off the inning, and this time was hit by a pitch. Perez then walked Tyler Giordano to put runners on first and second with nobody out. The stage was set for St. Mary’s second baseman Jason Rosado, who walked off the Argonauts, sending a ball into shallow left-center field which scored Arana from second for the 4-3 final.

Fronio finished the day with six innings pitched, giving up 3 runs on eight hits. He struck out 12 and walked one. Perez, who didn’t record an out, took the loss.

Arana earned the win for St. Mary with two innings of relief, allowing just two hits and striking out one.

Click below for postgame reaction sponsored by Sportsplex at Metuchen:

Rutgers Prep head coach Larry Santowasso
St. Mary-Rutherford’s Blayze Conte (in the cowboy hat) and Kyle Watson celebrate their Non-Public North B title. (Photo: Dylan Allen)
St. Mary-Rutherford reaction from head coach Nigel Archibald, pitcher Blayze Conte and Jason Rosado, who had the game-winning hit.

Rutgers Prep only worried about Rutgers Prep heading into Non-Public North B final at St. Mary

Forgive Larry Santowasso, the veteran Rutgers Prep coach, if he doesn’t know a lot about St. Mary-Rutherford.

The Gaels are the top-seed in Non-Public North B, but don’t get a lot of ink – or webspace – down here in Central Jersey.

But it’s not much of Santowasso’s concern. He’s just interested in his team. Has been from the very beginning of the season, when they were 1-6 to start the year, and seeded 12th in the Somerset County Tournament.

He knew his team was better than that, and that Bill Parcells’ wisdom didn’t apply to the Argonauts.

As it turned out, they weren’t what their record was, and they still may not be what their record is, which is 14-14 as they head into Saturday’s 12 noon sectional final as the second-seed against St. Mary.

Central Jersey Sports Radio will have updates of the game on Twitter via reporter Dylan Allen, and you can follow him by clicking here.

Rutgers Prep will throw Zach Fronio (2.2, 1.75 ERA) in the game, after Max Treonze pitched five scoreless Thursday against Gill St. Bernard’s in a 9-0 semifinal win, and Li Perez got the save.

It’s unknown if Andrew Parisi will be back in the lineup. He’s been a bit dinged up the last couple of weeks and hasn’t played since a May 16th loss to Ranney. Cody Rullo, who’s also been banged up, returned to to play on Wednesday.

Rutgers Prep will be playing for its first state title since 2013, when the Argonauts won the Non-Public Group B state title. Their last appearance in a sectional final came in 2014.

Click below to hear Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Mike Pavlichko talk with Rutgers Prep head coach Larry Santowasso:

Treonze, seven-run first inning put Rutgers Prep in first sectional final in nearly a decade

Larry Santowasso may have been the Rutgers Prep head coach since before any of his players were every born – Sorry, coach! – but this game was a big one, and with all his experience, he was worried.

Rutgers Prep got its first win of the season after an 0-3 start against Gill St. Bernard’s on April 10th, 25-0. Three touchdowns, a two-point conversion and a field goal.

“When you beat someone convincingly and then you see them in a win-or-go-home game, it brings a lot of nervousness for a coach,” Santowasso said before the game.

Well, he didn’t have to worry for too long.

Third-seed Rutgers Prep scored seven times in the first inning against Gill starter Colin Chou, and chased him before he could even get an out. That was all the Argonauts needed to beat the seventh-seeded Knights 9-0 at Diamond Nation in Flemington Wednesday – as heard on Central Jersey Sports Radio – putting them in Saturday’s Non-Public North B sectional final.

Rutgers Prep (14-14) will visit top-seed St. Mary-Rutherford at 10 am Satuday for the title.

It’s the first trip to a sectional title game since 2014, when the Argos lost to St. Joseph-Hammonton, a year going all the way to win a state championship.

Cody Rullo led off the game getting hit by a pitch, Evan Laub singled, and Ethan Nepomuceno walked to load the bases before Zach Fronio hit a sharp single to right to drive in two runs. Maddux Chu also got hit by a pitch, then Li Perez reached on an E3 to make it 3-0. Max Treonze walked to force in another run to make it 4-0. Nick Pizzie grounded to first for the first out, and Chu beat the tag at home to make it 5-0. Then, Rullo – in his second at bat of the inning – hit a two RBI single to make it seven-zip.

After a 1-2-3 first, and with a 7-0 lead, Treonze nearly faltered in the second, allowing a leadoff double and a one-out single, but he ended up striking out the side to keep Gill off the board. He threw five scoreless innings, allowing just three hits, striking out 11 to get the win. He’s now 6-0, with his ERA dropping to 0.17 on the season, allowing just one run in 41 innings pitched.

Prep added a run in the third on a sac fly to center by Laub, and got another in the fourth on a 4-6 fielder’s choice by Perez.

Perez came in to pitch the last two innings, allowing two hits, and preserving the shutout.

Click below for postgame reaction presented by SportsPlex at Metuchen!

Rutgers Prep pitcher Max Treonze
Rutgers Prep head coach Larry Santowasso

Fronio’s 11 Ks help advance Rutgers Prep into North B semis with 6-1 win over Morris Catholic

Just like Rutgers Prep’s season on the whole, obstacles had to be overcome in order to come out on top.

Sophomore Zach Fronio struck out eleven while Ethan Nepomuceno and Li Perez each drove in two runs to get the third-seeded Argonauts past 6th-seed Morris Catholic Friday in a Non-Public North B quarterfinal game in Somerset.

Fronio picked up his second win of the year (2-2) when it mattered most, in the state tournament, after a 15-day layoff since his last start, a 2-0 loss to Pennington in the Prep B Tournament Final.

But that wasn’t all. The injury bug has been nipping at two starters – Andrew Parisi and Cody Rullo, and neither played today. That put Maddox Chu behind the plate, and he and Fronio worked together masterfully.

Prep scored first in the bottom of the second inning on an RBI single by Nick Pizzie.

Then, after Morris Catholic tied it in the top of the fourth on a sac fly to center by Nate Eckerson, the Argonauts responded with three in their half of the inning, when they sent eight hitters to the plate.

Pizzie led off with a single, and after James jackman struck out, Nepomucino hit an RBI double. Evan Laub singled, then Fronio drove in a run with a ground-out to short, and Chu singled in another run.

Nick Pizzie of Rutgers Prep drives in the first run of the game with a single in the second inning of a 6-3 win over Morris Catholic in the Non-Public North B Quarterfinals in Somerset on May 26, 2023. (Photo: Mike Pavlichko)

Morris Catholic got a run back in the sixth on an RBI single by Alex Kibler, who came in to relieve starter Sean Hegarty on the mound in the top of the inning, with Hegarty batting for himself in the lineup.

But Prep added two more insurance runs in the sixth to make it 6-2. With the bases loaded, Perez hit a ball deep in the hole that was fielded by the shortstop, but the throw to first was not in time and aggressive baserunning by the Argos plated a second run.

Max Treonze – who started at first, but flipped positions with Fronio to close out the game – saw his first action on the mound since getting drilled in the nose with a fastball a couple of weeks ago. He got a first pitch groundout back to him, then hit Nick Scerbak, who got to second on a wild pitch. Then after a walk to Declan Norton and a strikeout for the second out of the inning, Ryan Osterhoudt drove him in with an RBI single.

But that was all they would get as Treonze struck out Kibler to end the game.

The victory puts Rutgers Prep – which won the Somerset County Tournament as the 12-seed after starting the season 1-6 – at 13-4 heading into next week’s Non-Public North B semifinals, where they’ll face the seventh-seed Gill St. Bernard’s. The Knights upset second-seed St. Thomas Aquinas 8-3 Friday afternoon.

According to the NJSIAA state tournament schedule, that game is to be completed by Wednesday, but it could be played a day early, on Tuesday, because Rutgers Prep has its prom Wednesday evening.

Click below for postgame reaction presented by Sportsplex at Metuchen:

Rutgers Prep pitcher Zach Fronio
Rutgers Prep head coach Larry Santowasso

From pitchers to bunts, Santowasso makes all the right calls in Rutgers Prep’s title win over Ridge

To paraphrase the dating cliche, Larry Santowasso told Zach Fronio, “It’s not you, it’s him.”

That was the gist of the Rutgers Prep veteran skipper’s decision to go with Max Treonze in Tuesday night’s Somerset County Tournament final over Zach Fronio, the uber-talented sophomore who’s already committed to go to Maryland.

And boy, did it pay off.

Treonze pitched a complete game shutout, giving up six hits, no walks, while striking out eleven, the last of which gave Prep the county crown.

He came into the game with a 0.25 ERA, and lowered it to 0.20. He’d given up one earned run all year, a number that still stands. As wonderful as Zach Fronio may be, how could you ignore those numbers?

Well, that was only the first good call of the day by Santowasso, a decision he made no later than early this morning. And his decisions just kept getting better.

Like in the first inning, after Ethan Nepomuceno led off with a second-pitch double, Santowasso had his number-two hitter, Evan Laub, bunt. That might be a head-scratcher against any other opposing pitcher who shows signs of being a mortal, but as it turned out, it made perfect sense against Byrne.

Add to that the fact Ridge wasn’t expecting it. Luke Somelofske wasn’t too far in at third. So, when Laub pulled a bunt right out of the textbook, laying it on the grass down the line, Somelofske – who had a long way to go to get to it – had no play at first, and none at third.

So now it was first and third and nobody out, and Andrew Parisi singled to drive in the first – and only – run of the game, for either team.

Good thing, because Rutgers Prep didn’t get another runner past second base the entire game.

Oh, and back to the decision to go with Treonze over Fronio?

Well, Zach didn’t throw a pitch in the game, but he did throw a perfect strike. He was the cutoff man in the bottom of the seventh with one out on a bloop single to right by Connor Byrne. James Jackman fielded on a hop, threw to Fronio, the cutoff, who fired his only strike of the game – just not from the mound – to catcher Andrew Parisi, who turned, waited and applied the tag to the tying run for the second out of the inning, stealing the momentum from Ridge, and grabbing the trophy away from the defending champs.

Just call it a routine Win No. 321 for Larry Santowasso.

Click below to hear Rutgers Prep head coach Larry Santowasso recap and breakdown some of the key plays in the Argonauts’ 1-0 win in over Ridge in the Somerset County title game.

Rutgers Prep looks to keep late-season momentum building in pursuit of SCT crown

Sitting among his fellow coaches in the Somerset County seeding meeting just two weeks into the regular season, Larry Santowasso – a veteran coach in his 27th season – knew his Rutgers Prep team was better than its 1-6 record would indicate.

The Argonauts, loaded with talent, had gotten off to (nearly) the worst start possible. With significant parts back from their run to the title game last year, they found themselves playing on the opening weekend of the tournament as the 12th-seed, with a 2-6 record heading into their first-round game at Watchung Hills.

Put that down as an 8-0 win over the 13th-seed, a mild first-round upset.

Good enough, but then Rutgers Prep would go on – after a regular season 11-10 loss at Montgomery – to win three straight in the county tournament.

They picked up revenge wins over 5th-seed Franklin, 5-4 in the second round, and over 4th-seed Somerville, 3-2 in the quarterfinals, both on the road.

Then, at TD Bank Ballpark, in the semifinals, against top-seed Bridgewater-Raritan, the Argonauts jumped out to a 4-0 lead, and hung on to win 4-3, thanks in large part to a solid pitching performance by Zach Fronio, who got in some late trouble, but made like Houdini in the end.

Now, here they are in the county final again, set to take on 2nd-seed Ridge Tuesday night for the second year in a row in the Somerset County Tournament Championship Game presented by Zoned Sports Academy of Bridgewater.

Game time is 7:00; pregame is 6:40 pm on Central Jersey Sports Radio with Mike Pavlichko and Chris Tsakonas calling all the action. Click here to listen.

Click below for a preview with Rutgers Prep head coach Larry Santowasso:

Rutgers Prep ousts top-seed and state No. 5 Bridgewater-Raritan, moves on to SCT finals on the arm of Fronio

After two revenge wins over Franklin and Somerville in the second round and quarterfinals of the Somerset County Tournament, 12th-seed Rutgers Prep didn’t look like the same team that only had 2 wins before the event even started.

They didn’t look like it Thursday afternoon either in a 4-3 win over top-seed Bridgewater-Raritan (11-2) that puts them in the finals of the SCT in 12 days against second-seed and defending champion Ridge.

Zach Fronio threw five innings, giving up five hits and three runs, striking out five to get the win. But he almost didn’t.

With a 4-0 lead, he almost gave it away in the fifth, surrendering a two-run homer to Matt Moore, and an RBI single to Matthew Fattore, who was 3-for-4 with an RBI single himself.

But head coach Larry Santowasso had faith in his sophomore Maryland committ. After a mid-batter mound visit, Fronio bucked down, and got out of trouble without any further damage.

The Argonauts got two in the first and two in the second against Bridgewater-Raritan starter Jason Cozzi, who has been limited all year due to back issues. He walked six in just 1 1/3 inning, and took the loss.

Rutgers Prep (6-7) moves on to play in the Somerset County Tournament Final on May 9th at TD Bank Ballpark against top-seed and defending champion Ridge. It’s the same matchup as last year’s final.

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Click below for postgame reaction from Ridge, presented by Sportsplex at Metuchen!

Rutgers Prep pitcher Zach Fronio
Rutgers Prep head coach Larry Santowasso

Rutgers Prep isn’t off to a hot start, but Santowasso thinks Argonauts are about to turn the corner

Coming off a year in which the Rutgers Prep baseball team had a pretty solid season – a 19-6 record, Somerset County Tournament finalists – head coach Larry Santowasso figured his team was primed for an even better 2023.

With a 1-4 record through its first five games, though, it hasn’t quite worked out that way.

Thursday, they will try and pick up win No. 2 on the season when Rutgers Prep entertains Somerville (2-2) in a game that can be heard on Central Jersey Sports Radio. Mike Pavlichko and Chris Tsakonas will call all the action with pregame at 3:40 pm and first pitch at 4. Click here to listen.

Rutgers Prep took its typical preseason trip down south to do get ready for the year, and do a little bonding. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary.

And even to look at the game results or season stats to figure out what’s going doesn’t make it entirely obvious.

To wit: they started 0-3, losing by three, three and four runs.

One of last year’s breakout freshmen, Andrew Parisi, who hit .537 last year, is hitting .538 through five games.

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Go figure?

Santowasso says there are little things that, put together, have added up to the record being what it is. But he also knows his team is getting a lesson in baseball you just can’t teach: sometimes, it just doesn’t happen.

Sometimes, you hit where the fielders are. Sometimes, you don’t get pitches to hit.

And he realizes baseball is one of the few things in life where the old adage – the definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results.

Sometimes, in baseball, you just have to keep plugging away, and the hits – and wins – will come.

Click below to hear a preview of Thursday’s game with Rutgers Prep head coach Larry Santowasso:

Last year, Rutgers Prep was a finalist; this year, the goal is to finish

Rutgers Prep baseball coach Larry Santowasso is the first to admit that maybe the 2022 version of the Argonauts was a little ahead of schedule.

Counting on two uber-freshmen, a host of sophomores and juniors, and just four seniors – only two of whom saw significant playing time – Prep went 19-6, and reached the finals of both the Prep B Tournament and the Somerset County Tournament. They earned the top seed in Non-Public North B in the state tourney, but were upset in the first round by eventual champion Immaculata.

They reached two finals, but couldn’t finish. So now, that’s the goal in 2023.

The team is now bonding and partaking of Spring Training in the most Spring Training of settings: Vero Beach, Florida, where they work out every year and scrimmage teams from the Sunshine State at the Jackie Robinson Sports Complex. And yet, this team may need it the least, because the Argonauts are mostly in tact from last season.

The Rutgers Prep baseball team after a scrimmage in Vero Beach, FL, as the Argonauts prepare for the 2023 season. (Submitted photo by head coach Larry Santowasso)

Sure, the Argonauts lose two significant seniors. Nick Baldev – a position player and fielder who hit .217 and drove in 11 runs, but also pitches 32 innings and struke out 55, while walking only 18 to the tune of a 2.62 ERA – has graduated, along with first baseman/outfielder Anthony Brigante, who his .262 but drove in 22 runs.

Everyone else is back, though. There’s senior James Jackman (.353, 11 RBI, 4 HR), junior Evan Laub (.333, 15 RBI), junior Nick Pizzie (.400, 26 RBI) and sophomore Cody Rullo (.358, 10 RBI). And then, the biggest bat of them all, Andrew Parisi, who as a freshman only hit .537, led the state in RBIs with 54, and cranked 11 home runs – good for fourth in New Jersey.

On the mound, the top pitcher returns in Zach Fronio. As a freshman, he threw 42 2/3 innings, striking out 58, walking 19, finishing with just a 1.64 ERA.

Rutgers Prep opens its season on Tuesday, April 4th against Montgomery, and make an appearance on Central Jersey Sports Radio on Thursday, April 13th, when the Argonauts entertain Somerville in a Raritan Division game set for 4 pm.

Click below to hear Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Mike Pavlichko talk with Rutgers Prep head coach Larry Santowasso:

Poised freshman Fronio will get the ball for Rutgers Prep in quest for its first SCT title since 2017

Rutgers Prep doesn’t have a long and storied history in the Somerset County Tournament, or a host of county championship markers along its outfield wall.

But if the young man who will take the mound Monday night in the Somerset County Tournament Championship Game (7 pm, on CJSR) against top-seed Ridge (19-2) has anything to say about it, the Argonauts (18-3) may be on the verge of writing an exciting new chapter.

Consider this: even though Rutgers Prep’s only trip to the finals resulted in their first and only SCT title, and even though it was five years ago, a win Monday night would give them two of the last four SCT crowns – since the 2020 season was cancelled due to COVID, and last year’s event wasn’t played due to the condensed season.

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And then consider the youth on this Rutgers Prep team, the impact they’re already making, and the impact they – and those to come – will have.

To wit: on the mound, it’s freshman Zach Fronio (3-0, 1.08 ERA) who will get the start at TD Bank Park Monday. He has already committed to play Big Ten baseball at the University of Maryland, and veteran skipper Larry Santowasso has increasingly trusted Fronio with the ball in big game situations this year.

READ MORE: Freshman Fronio has contributed in a big way to Rutgers Prep’s success

At the plate, it’s another freshman who can bash the ball with the best of them: Andrew Parisi. He’s only hitting .561 with nine homers and 47 runs batted in. Enough to make opposing pitchers cry.

And all that’s not even mentioning the rest of the team: Junior outfielder James Jackman is hitting .386, while freshman Cody Rullo is hitting .371 on the year.

Click below to hear Mike Pavlichko talk with Rutgers Prep head coach Larry Santowasso: