Tag: Mark Blevins

North Brunswick rallies for another wild win, this time in the states

It wasn’t quite the seven-run seventh inning over Middlesex in the county tournament, but in a world of survive and advance, it’ll do.

Fresh off its first-ever GMCT Championship, North Brunswick found itself down by a run heading into the seventh inning of its opening round Central Jersey Group 4 NJSIAA playoff game against rival South Brunswick. They had just three outs to work with.

Turns out they didn’t need any of them. And it happened so quickly, too.

EJ Accetura led off with a double, and Frandy Martinez singled to put runners at the corners for Yomar Carreras, who walked to load the bases. Power-hitting Zack Konstantinovsky – hot off a three-hit complete game to win the GMC Tournament title Sunday – hit a hard liner to short for an infield hit to tie the game. Up came Omar Carreras, who already had a walk-off homer to beat East Brunswick earlier this year, somewhat of a turning point for the Raiders.

But he didn’t need to swing for the fences. He just drove a simple single to right field to score Frandy Martinez, and give 5th-seed North Brunswick a come-from-behind 5-4 win to advance to Saturday’s sectional quarterfinals.

Bing, bang, boom.

The win puts the Raiders at 21-9 on the season, setting a new program mark for wins in a season, besting the 1983 team that had 20, according to Korbis Thompson, who covers North Brunswick baseball on the King James Radio Network. That team also won the Central Jersey Group 2 title, the first of two the Raiders have won – the other in 1984.

It was also the Raiders’ tenth win in their last eleven games. Since starting the season 5-6, North Brunswick – now No. 2 in the Bellamy & Son Paving Top Ten after the GMC final upset of St. JOseph-Metuchen – has won 16 of its last 19 games.

Next up, the Raiders travel to 4th-seed Northern Burlington (17-8) for the quarterfinals. Game time is TBA.

Click below to hear postgame reaction from North Brunswick head coach Mark Blevins:

GMCT Postgame: North Brunswick’s Kyle Tarabokia, Zack Konstantinovsky and Mark Blevins on the Raiders’ first-ever GMC title

In the middle of the interview, there it came: the ice bath.

It’s a tradition in sports, but it seemed to have a little extra oomph on Sunday, Memorial Day weekend, after North Brunswick made history, winning its first-ever GMC Tournament championship, and knocking off a local baseball powerhouse in the process.

After allowing two runs in the bottom of the first to give away the 2-0 lead the Raiders got in the first, Zack Konstantinovsky pitched like the Zach Konstantinovsky every seemed to know and expect in this big game.

And the kid is just a junior.

Konstantinovsky – a Rutgers commit – allowed back-to-back doubles to lead off the game by St. Joseph’s Mark Gialluisi and Josiah Brown, who knocked in the first run. Robbie Carvelli drove in the second run on a grounder to short after Brown moved to third on a wild pitch.

But that was all the wild Zach would show the rest of the way. He allowed just one more hit – an infield hit that ricocheted off his glove in the third, and two more base runners beyond that – on a walk in the fourth and an E6 in the fifth. He struck out ten, retired the last eight batters to face him and struck out the side in the seventh to end it, knocking off the defending GMC Tournament Champions.

North Brunswick’s Zack Konstantinovsky (Photo: Mike Pavlichko)

Click below to hear Mike Pavlichko talk with North Brunswick starting pitcher Zack Konstantinovsky:

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

Not that he needed it, Konstantinovsky seemed to get a second wind when North Brunswick broke a 2-2 tie in the top of the sixth with a pair of runs to take a 4-2 lead.

Omar Carreras led off with a walk, and Frankie Garbolino got hit by a pitch. After a sac bunt by Pat McCann moved the runners to second and third, Kyle Tarabokia drove a shot almost right down the first base line and into right field, ending up with a two-RBI double that turned out to be the difference in the game.

North Brunswick’s Kyle Tarabokia (Photo: Mike Pavlilchko)

Click below to hear Mike Pavlichko talk with North Brunswick right fielder Kyle Tarabokia:

For North Brunswick head coach Mark Blevins, it only took five seasons at the helm to deliver a GMC Tournament title.

In his first year, the Raiders won just eight games, but improved to 18-10 in 2018 before taking a step back an going 9-17 in the last season before COVID019 wiped out 2020.

Last season, the Raiders went 17-10-1, making it to the GMC Tournament semifinals, where Konstantinovsky one-hit South Brunswick – that one hit being a home run by Justin Gallagher in the fifth – but lost 2-0, as the Radiers were eliminated.

And that made Sunday’s win extra sweet.

Blevins is now 72-63-1 all-time at North Brunswick.

North Brunswick head coach Mark Blevins. (Photo: Mike Pavlichko)

Click below to hear Mike Pavlichko talk with North Brunswick head coach Mark Blevins:

What’s next? The Raiders will enjoy this one, but as Belvins and others said after the game, they’re already thinking about rival South Brunswick, their opponent in the opening round of the Central Jersey Group 4 playoffs this Wednesday. The Raiders are the 5-seed and will take on 11-seed South Brunswick (12-2) at 4:00.

They’ll have to do so without Konstantinovsky, who will be unavailable after going the distance in the GMC final, while South Brunwick will have program and single-season strikeout leader Joey Tuttoilmondo available; he’ll likely get the start Wednesday.

Even “Greater” Brunswicks: The GMC Tournament win by North Brunswick means the three outlying Brunswick schools – North, plus East and South – have all won league championships, with namesake New Brunswick the only one not to do so. The Bears have won five titles, the most of the three, while South Brunswick has won two and North Brunswick one. East Brunswick’s last title came in 2016, while South Brunswick won it in 2010, beating the Radiers in what was their last finals appearance before this year.

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.

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:

North Brunswick, No. 10 Middlesex split doubleheader, as Raiders and Blue Jays each rally late

Game One was a low-scoring affair, and the bats came alive in Game Two.

But each team – North Brunswick and 10th-ranked Middlesex – rallied late to win a game each and split a doubleheader after a rainy forecast postponed Friday night’s opener to the home-and-home series in North Brunswick.

In the first game, the Raiders – designated the road team due to the rain out – fell behind 2-0 after one inning, and trailed 3-0 heading into the fourth. But North Brunswick got on the board with two runs that inning, and tied the game at three in the fifth on an RBI single by starting pitcher Zach Konstantinovsky, essentially getting the junior Rutgers-commit off the hook for a loss.

Headed to extra innings tied at three, the teams played a scoreless eighth, but in the bottom of the ninth, North Brunswick broke through. Konstantinovsky led off with a single, and stole second. After Omar Carreras flied out to center, Frankie Garbolino singled and moved the lead runner to third.

Konstantinovsky came in to score when Pat McCann grounded a shot up the middle, which hit the mound, and died on the natural grass surface as the two Blue Jay middle infielders couldn’t get to it in time to make a play at the plate, giving the Raiders a 4-3 win.

Click below to hear postgame reaction from North Brunswick head coach Mark Blevins and starting pitcher Zack Konstantinovsky:

Rutgers-bound junior Zack Konstantinovsky didn’t get the win in Game One of a doubleheader against North Brunswick, but he scored the winning run in a 4-3 victory in 9 innings. He struck out 15, allowing just three runs, two earned. (Photo: Mike Pavlichko)

In Game Two of the doubleheader, North Brunswick struck first, as the Raiders scored four runs to open the game, though Middlesex chipped back with two in their half of the first inning.

North Brunswick went up 7-2, saw the lead shring to 7-6 by the end of three, then added two in the fourth to make it 9-6. The Blue Jays picked up two in the fifth to get to within a run again at 9-8 before they would explode for seven runs in the bottom of the sixth.

The Blue Jays sent eleven batters to the plate in the decisive inning on only three hits. There were two walks, a hit batsman, and one reach on an error.

Then, Stephen Young – who allowed North Brunswick’s game-winning run in the opener and was chased from his start in the first inning of Game Two – came in with runners at first and second and nobody out to get his team out of the jam. He struck out Kyle Anderson, walked Aaron Neder, and then got Yomar Carreras to ground into a game-ending 6-4-3 double-play.

With the twinbill split, North Brunswick is now 4-4; Middlesex is 5-2.

Click below to hear from left fielder Bobby Ulmer – who had two doubles, a triple – and three RBI on the day – and pitcher Stephen Young:

No. 10 Middlesex seeks 5th straight league win since stepping up to GMC White when North Brunswick rolls into town for twinbill

They didn’t expect to play a Friday doubleheader, but when North Brunswick visits No. 10 Middlesex this morning for an 11 am first pitch, they’ll “play two.”

Rain and thunderstorms in the forecast forced the postponement of Thursday night’s matchup between the Blue Jays (4-1) and Raiders (3-3), now a divisional game since Middlesex moved up to the GMC White Division.

But the Jays are still in Central Jersey Group One, where they’ve won the last four sectional finals dating back to 2017, and five in the first six seasons played under head coach Justin Nastasi.

There should be some good pitching matchups, as North Brunswick plans to throw Rutgers-committed junior Zach Konstantinovsky will start Game One, and sophomore Kyle Anderson the second game. Middlesex will toss senior ace Stephen Young and junior Alfonso Esposito. Who will face off against the other will be determined once the lineups come out Friday morning.

Click below for a preview of the game with both head coaches:

Middlesex head coach Justin Nastasi
North Brunswick head coach Mark Blevins

North Brunswick seeking first trip to GMC finals in over a decade

The last time the North Brunswick baseball team reached the GMC Tournament finals also was the last time they got this far, to the semifinals.

They’ll have their top pitcher on the mound Monday – with the semifinals moved from Saturday due to inclement weather in the forecast for Saturday and Sunday – when the 9th-seeded Raiders (16-8-1) take on 5th-seed South Brunswick (13-8) in the first of two GMC Tournament semifinal games to be heard on Central Jersey Sports Radio Saturday, presented by Bellamy & Son Paving.

Rutgers-bound Zach Konstantinovsky will take the mound for the Raiders, a week after going the distance and getting the win in a 3-2 first-round win over 8th-seed Metuchen. The senior struck out seven and walked just one batter, allowing seven hits and two earned runs.

Click below to hear Mike Pavlichko talk with North Brunswick head coach Mark Blevins about the Raiders’ semifinal matchup with South Brunswick: