Tag: Matt Donaghue

Old Bridge is knocked out of state playoffs in 5-2 loss at Marlboro, but Donaghue is excited for the future

Two good sectional playoff runs collided in Monmouth County on Tuesday, with Marlboro moving on, and Old Bridge’s season coming to an end.

The 12th-seeded Knights finished their season at 9-18, but were one of the last two GMC teams standing in the state tournament heading into yesterday’s road game against the Mustangs in the Central Jersey Group 4 semifinals.

But Old Bridge lost the game 5-2, following a nearly two-hour lightning delay. Marlboro – which knocked off top-seed Manalapan in the quarterfinals – moves on to the championship game against either 3rd-seed Middletown South or 2nd-seed Hunterdon Central.

Their game was rained out yesterday and will be made up at 2 pm Wednesday.

Starter Justin Herbstman pitched two full innings and had started the bottom of the third – walking the leadoff man and throwing one pitch to the next batter – when play was halted. He didn’t return, as Christian Krause started a string of three other pitchers to finish the game.

Marlboro nickled-and-dimed Old Bridge for a run in the first and another in the fourth before scoring three in the fifth to take a 5-0 lead they would never relinquish.

In the top of the 6th, Old Bridge would score twice, the second run helped by an error, to cut the deficit to 5-2.

After holding the Mustangs scoreless in the bottom of the sixth, Old Bridge would threaten, getting runners at the corners with two outs via a walk and a single before Marlboro picked up a K to end the game.

Click below to hear Old Bridge head coach Matt Donaghue talk about the CJ4 semifinal loss, the 2021 season, and look ahead to 2022:

Knights’ tough schedule has them a win away from CJ4 title game

How tough is the GMC Red Division?

With just seven regular season wins, Old Bridge is a game away from competing for a sectional title.

Everyone else in the Red Division is home. And almost everyone else in the Greater Middlesex Conference.

And doesn’t that just tell you all you need to know?

The 12th-seeded Knights (9-17) play 9th-seed Marlboro (14-8) – and the Mustangs are a bit of a surprise themselves – in the Central Jersey Group 4 semifinals Tuesday.

They will also do so with heavy collective hearts, after longtime coach Fred Cole passed away Sunday morning at the age of 74. The Knights’ home field was named after him in a ceremony earlier this season.

But to look at all those losses alone is missing the big picture.

Of the Knights’ 17 losses this season, 13 have been by four runs or less, and ten of them have been by three runs or less. They’ve also lost three one-run games.

Click below to hear Mike Pavlichko talk with Old Bridge head coach Matt Donaghue about how the challenges of the 2021 season have helped get the Knights a game away from the Central Jersey Group 4 title final:

Old Bridge finally wins a close one, in a big spot

They’re not the 1962 Mets, but at some point Old Bridge head coach Matt Donaghue had to wonder if a break was going to go his team’s way.

After all, they had been going the other team’s way for a good part of their 7-17 season, until Wednesday night.

Ten of their 17 losses and come by 3 runs or less; four of them by two runs or one.

That’s when it finally all broke right for the 12th-seeded Knights, who knocked off 5th-seed South Brunswick in the opening round of the NJSIAA baseball state playoffs in Central Jersey Group 4.

Youth was served in this one, which also leaves Donaghue with a bright outlook for the future.

Sophomore Thomas Papeo went 2-for-3 with an RBI, while Justin Herbstman – a fellow soph who’s committed to Virginia Tech – got the win in relief, blanking the Vikings and striking out nine in 4 1/3 innings our of the ‘pen.

Next up for the Knights (8-17) is Princeton, the 13th-seed, which knocked off 4th-seed Edison Wednesday 6-4. That gives Old Bridge an unexpected home game Sunday at 2 pm, a late start due to it being an SAT testing day.

Click below to hear about how it happened, the team’s outlook heading into states, and more with head coach Matt Donaghue, pitcher Justin Herbstman and shortstop Thomas Papeo:

Old Bridge will dedicate Fred Cole Field Monday, sans current Knights

It wasn’t exactly the way they drew it up, but Old Bridge High School will officially dedicate its baseball field in honor of longtime skipper Fred Cole Monday, even if the current varsity team won’t be on hand.

That’s because the Knights are in COVID-19 quarantine.

Originally, the event – unveiling a sign on the scoreboard that’s being installed this weekend – was supposed to take place before Monday’s Opening Day matchup against East Brunswick.

But the school still will dedicate Fred Cole Field with a ceremony at 3:45 Monday afternoon. In fact, it will be live streamed so that the team – and anyone else who can’t make it – can see. Another ceremony will be held at a time to be determined, when the current players can be there in person.

Cole coached nearly 500 games at Madison Central and Old Bridge, going 270-210 in that time, coaching 11 eventual pros, winning the Central Jersey Group 4 title in 1988 and the GMC Tournament title in 1989, before retiring over a decade ago. He’s a New Jersey State Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Famer.

But his impact was felt much deeper, including how he impacted the lives of the players he coached, and even the coaches he worked with.

The idea to name the field off Ticetown Road after Cole was the brainchild Current Old Bridge head coach Matt Donaghue and his staff. And Donaghue credits Old Bridge Athletic Director Dan Dimino for making Fred Cole Field ultimately come to fruition.

Now in his third season (35-23) as head coach of the Knights, Donaghue is a 2005 Old Bridge alum, and played for Cole. But following a circuitous route that saw Donaghue win a D3 national title as a player at Kean, then a sectional title as an assistant under Glenn Fredericks at Spotswood, he took over as the Knights’ head coach in 2018, and brought Cole on his staff as an assistant.

Donaghue spoke with Central Jersey Sports Radio about his nearly lifelong mentor:

Old Bridge head coach Matt Donaghue talks about mentor Fred Cole, who coached Donaghue in high school, and later worked on Donaghue’s staff.