Tag: Middlesex

“The Big Central in 2 Minutes” – Week 4: Rumbling on the Raritan, Top Defenses

It’s Week Four – yes we’re almost halfway through the regular season for most teams – and time for another episode of “The Big Central in Two Minutes,” as veteran CJSR sportscaster Mike Pavlichko shares notes, stats, and observations on area high school football.

This week, we look at Sunday’s Rumble on the Raritan, Big Play Ray, the Phillipsburg/Montgomery game with almost four dozen penalties, top defenses, and a nearly 100-year-old rivalry played under the lights for the very first time.

Click below to listen to the Week Four edition of “The Big Central in Two Minutes”:

Late South Hunterdon score helps Eagles soar past Middlesex with 12-7 road win

A fourth quarter touchdown run by Ryan Rampel helped South Hunterdon get past Middlesex Friday night at Mountainview Park, 12-7, in a Big Central Conference Freedom Silver Division game.

Middlesex (2-1) got on the board in the first quarter with a 33-yard touchdown pass from Dom Parenti to Jax Jarvis in the first quarter, and South Hunterdon (3-1) got the equalizer in the second quarter on a 35-yard touchdown pass from Anthony Venettone to Aaron Zalescik.

Click below for postgame reaction from Marcus Borden with victorious South Hunterdon:

“The Big Central in 2 Minutes” – Week 3: So many teams, no place to put ’em

We’re back with our Week Three episode of “The Big Central in Two Minutes,” as veteran CJSR sportscaster Mike Pavlichko shares notes, stats, and observations on area high school football.

This week, a look at all 15 unbeatean teams in the league, Carteret’s historic start to the season, Highland Park’s scoring outburst, and lightning ends a Saturday game.

Click below to listen to the Week Three edition of “The Big Central in Two Minutes”:

2023 Big Central Preview: Freedom Silver

Questions abound for 2022 Freedom Silver winner Manville, which lost an enormous number of Mustangs to graduation. The question, though, is who might take their place?

Manville may still be in the mix, as the naming of defensive coordinator Dave Markowitch as head coach keeps another homegrown talent at the helm and provides some continuity.

South Hunterdon – 6-3 a year ago – might be the next best challenger to the Mustangs, led by veteran mentor and “program guy” Toby Jefferis.

After that, there are even more questions: Can Middelsex’s youth learn from experience? Can Chiekezie Ogbuewu have an even better year this year for Dunellen’s “offense in a phone booth?” And can Belvidere get in the win column for the first time under second-year head coach Jordon Schreffler?

Click below to listen to Mike Pavlichko’s preview of the Freedom Silver Division from the Big Central Conference’s inaugural Media Days:

Old Bridge finishes No. 1 in final Bellamy & Son Paving Baseball Top 10; Knights are CJSR Team of the Year

The Old Bridge baseball team reached unprecedented heights in 2023, reaching its first-ever state title game. And though they fell just a few runs short of an overall Group 4 title, the Knights – who won Central Jersey Group 4 for the first time in eight years – are the No. 1 team in the final Bellamy & Son Paving rankings, making them the Central Jersey Sports Radio Team of the Year.

Old Bridge finished 21-9 on the season, and beat North Brunswick 2-1 in the CJ4 title game, their first appearance in the finals since 2019. It was the first ring for head coach Matt Donaghue, who played for the Knights in high school under the legendary Fred Cole.

Scroll down for the full rankings.

Finishing second is St. Joseph-Metuchen (21-10), which was in the top ten during the season, but fell out in the last rankings before the state tournament started. The Falcons were the GMC Tournament champions, besting Red Division champion North Brunswick in the finals.

Ridge (25-4) finishes third in the rankings, despite the Red Devils’ being disqualified from the state tournament for a pitch count violation in their North 2, Group 4 quarterfinal game. Ridge had a successful season to that point, and still is one of the best teams in the area.

North Brunswick (21-7) comes in fourth in the final rankings, having won the Red Division in the GMC. But they fell just short in the league tournament finals, and lost to Old Bridge in the Central Jersey Group 4 title game.

Checking in at No. 5 is Rutgers Prep (14-15), which had a wild season. The Argonauts started 1-6, then won five straight to win the Somerset County Tournament, beating the top two teams in the county en route: Bridgewater-Raritan in the semifinals and Ridge in the finals. They also made it all the way to the Non-Public South B title game, losing on a walk-off single at St. Mary-Rutherford.

Bridgewater-Raritan (23-7) comes in sixth. The Panthers were the top-seed in the Somerset County Tournament, thanks to early wins over Ridge in-league, and Hunterdon Central out of conference.

Spotswood (21-8) had a terrific season, winning the GMC Blue Division title, and going all the way to the Central Jersey Group 2 title game, where the Chargers lost to Rumson-Fair Haven.

Woodbridge (20-6) comes in eighth, with its second straight 20-win season.

Coming in ninth is Middlesex (17-9), which made it all the way to the Central Jersey Group 2 championship game, where the Blue Jays lost to Point Pleasant Beach for the second year in a row.

In tenth is South Plainfield; the Tigers reached the GMC tournament semifinals – losint 2-1 to St. joe’s – and made the North 2, Group 3 semifinals, eliminated by Millburn in another 2-1 loss.

Below are the full, final Bellamy & Son Paving Top Ten Rankings for 2023:

Tough losses for Spotswood, Middlesex in title games down the Shore

The run for the small schools in the GMC Conference in the state tournament has come to an end.

Spotswood fell to Rumson-Fair Haven in the Central Jersey Group 2 title game, its first appearance in a sectional final since 2010, while Middlesex dropped the Central Jersey Group 1 final for a second straight year to Point Pleasant Beach, a team it had beaten in the finals the two seasons prior, in 2019 and 2021.

Central Jersey Group 2 Final: (1) Rumson-Fair Haven 8, (3) Spotswood 3

The Bulldogs (21-5) scored early and often en route to repeating as Central Jersey Group 2 champs. They got three runs against Spotswood starter Casey Cumiskey, then hen-pecked the Chargers (21-8) with a single run in each of the following five innings. Rutgers commit John Goodes kept Spotswood off balance all day. Cumiskey hit a two-run home run in the top of the seventh as the Chargers tried to rally, but fell just short.

Rumson will go on to play South 2 champion Seneca – the nine-seed from that section – in Monday’s Group 2 state semifinals.

Central Jersey Group 1 Final: (1) Point Pleasant Beach 4, (3) Middlesex 1

The Garnet Gulls (23-5) got all four of their runs in the second inning, and held on to beat the Blue Jays for a second straight year for the CJ2 title, this time on their home field after winning last year at Middlesex (17-9). Starter Alfonso Esposito gave up all four runs – but only one was earned – on five hits. The lone Middlesex run came in the top of the sixth, and was the first run Point Beach allowed in the entire four-game run through the section.

Next up for Point on Monday in the Group 2 statewide semifinals is Buena, the South 2 champion and top-seed from that section.

Championship Preview: Five area public schools seek hardware in four sectional finals

Headlined by the all-GMC Red Division matchup between North Brunswick and Old Bridge in the Central Jersey Group 4 title game, five area teams will try to take home state sectional titles today, and move on to next week’s NJSIAA Group Championship rounds.

In addition to the Knights and Raiders, Spotswood will play for the Central Jersey Group 2 title, while Middlesex seeks the Central Jersey Group 1 crown, with both playing on the road. And in North 2, Group 4, Bridgewater-Raritan will play for a championship at home.

Below, you’ll find details on all the games, with times, notes, links to previous coverage, and more.

North 2, Group 4 Final:
(5) Bayonne (24-6) at (2) Bridgewater-Raritan (23-6)

When: Friday, 3 pm (LISTEN LIVE)
Where: Bridgewater-Raritan HS
Coverage: Mike Pavlichko and Dom Savino will call the play-by-play



How they got here:

Bridgewater-Raritan: def. (15) Dickinson 20-1 in first round, def. (7) Hunterdon Central 19-8 in quarterfinals, def. (3) Woodbridge 9-8 in semifinals (8 inn.)

Bayonne: def. (12) Union 14-5 in first round, def. (13) Phillipsburg 3-2 in quarterfinals, def. (8) Westfield 14-3 in semifinals

The Panthers probably expected to meet Ridge in the North 2, Group 4 title game, as many others around the area and some around the state might have expected. But that went by the board when the Red Devils were forced to forfeit their 8-1 win over Westfield in the sectional quarterfinals due to a pitch count violation. The Panthers were a Somerset County Tournament semifinalist (they lost to eventual champ Rutgers Prep 4-3 in the semifinals) and have been solid all year, having lost back-to-back games only once. They have scored 49 runs in three state tournament games so far, and no fewer than ten runs in any of the three. The down side is, after a 20-1 opener against Dickinson, they allowed eight and nine in the next two games over Hunterdon Central and Woodbridge. Sure, those teams can hit, but apparently so can the Panthers.

Bayonne is red-hot, having won 16 of its last 18 games. They’ve scored 31 runs in the state tourney so far, and the Bees have a veteran lineup, too, with 13 seniors on the roster, including the entire likely starting lineup Friday afternoon. Consider them a deceptive five-seed.

Bridgewater’s last trip to a sectional final was more than a decade ago, in 2010, head coach Max Newill’s third season. They beat Edison in the sectional finals, but lost in the group semifinals to Randolph. That crown came two seasons after what’s believed to be the first and only other sectional finals appearance in program history, in 2008. Bridgewater-Raritan was formed by the merger of the East and West high schools in 1992.

Stat Leaders

Bridgewater-Raritan: Devin Goldberg (.395 average); Matthew Fattore (27 RBI); Matthew and Michael Fattore (3 HR); Matthew Fattore (0.37 ERA); Cory Rible (32 Ks)

Bayonne: Aidan Paradine (.449 average, 40 RBI, 7 HR); Nolan Geissler (59 Ks, 0.99 ERA)

Recent Coverage of Bridgewater-Raritan

Central Jersey Group 4 Final:
(2) North Brunswick (21-6) at (1) Old Bridge (19-8)

When: Friday, 4 pm
Where: Fred Cole Field in Old Bridge
Coverage: Dylan Allen will provide live updates on Twitter; follow him at @DylanAllen_1.



How they got here:

North Brunswick: def. (15) Long Branch 10-0 in first round, def. (10) South Brunswick 5-1 in quarterfinals, def. (6) Monroe 4-3 in semifinals

Old Bridge: def. (16) West Windsor-Plainsboro North 3-0 in first round, def. West Windsor-Plainsboro South 10-0 in quarterfinals, def. (5) East Brunswick 8-0 in semifinals

Old Bridge is the only team to have beaten its six other opponents in the GMC Red at least once, and the Knights have beaten Old Bridge twice. Zack Konstantinovsky didn’t pitch in either of those games, and he’s not going to pitch today either. He went the distance in Tuesday’s semifinal win over Monroe, and hit two home runs in the process: a two-run shot to tie the game at 3-3 in the fifth, and a solo homer to win it in walk-off fashion in the seventh. North Brunswick – a GMC Tournament finalist – is No. 13 in the latest statewide rankings; Old Bridge is unranked. The Knights have not yet given up a run in three state tournament games, while the Raiders have won their last two in walk-off fashion.

Old Bridge last made the CJ4 finals in 2019, losing to Manalapan, 3-2. They won the title in 2015, beating Hunterdon Central 5-3, but they lost to South 4 champ Williamstown in the statewide Group 4 semifinals, 6-4. North Brunswick has only two sectional titles in its history; its first came in 1983 – the first in any sport for the school – knocking off two-time defending champion Ridge 6-5, while the second came in 1984, via a 10-5 win over Delaware Valley.

Stat Leaders

Old Bridge: Thomas Papeo (.410 average); Kyle McSorley (27 RBI, 6 HR); Frank Papeo (7 Ks, 1.56 ERA)
North Brunswick: Zack Konstantinovsky (.474 average); Konstantinovsky, Yomar Carreras (22 RBI); Konstantinovksy, Omar Carreras (8 HR); Konstantinovsky (88 Ks, 0.56 ERA)

Recent Coverage

Old Bridge

North Brunswick

Central Jersey Group 2 Final:
(3) Spotswood (21-7) at (1) Rumson-Fair Haven (20-5)

When: Friday, 4 pm
Where: Rumson-Fair Haven Baseball Field


How they got here:

Spotswood: def. (14) Monmouth 1-0 in first round (8 inn.), def. (11) Wall 4-3 in quarterfinals (8 inn.), def. (10) Delran 5-3 in semifinals

Rumson-Fair Haven: def. (16) Nottingham 1-0 in first round, def. (8) Bordentown 7-2 in quarterfinals, def. (12) Ocean Twp. 2-1 in semifinals

Don’t count out the Chargers against a Bulldogs team that’s always in the mix, and the defending champion. They may be 42-10 over the past two seasons, but you can bet Glenny Fredrick’s group doesn’t know any of those numbers. He just wants them to play their game. Sure, they can hit, but they can also small-ball you to death and will be aggressive on the basepaths – just ask any team that’s played them over the last nearly two-decades now. Carter Cumiskey got the start Tuesday in the semis against Delran, so expect the ball to go to his older brother Casey on Friday, with Jackson Walsh available to shut the door, if needed. Spotswood’s first two wins in this year’s state tournament came on walk-offs in the eighth inning. Rumson finished second in its division to the No. 1 team in the state, Red Bank Catholic, which plays St. Joseph-Metuchen Saturday at home for the Non-Public South A title. And the Chargers have already beaten two teams in their division, Monmouth and Wall, in the playoffs. Junior Jack Riva is hitting .386 to lead the team, while Reece Moroney is hitting .373, while eight different players have hit home runs, with 14 going out overall on the season. Senior Jack Hinchliffe is expected to get the ball for Rumson, with a 1.16 ERA in 36 1/3 innings pitched, logging 46 strikeouts against just eight walks.

Spotswood is in the sectional finals for the first time since they won the Central Jersey Group 2 title in 2010, beating Governor Livingston 7-5 for the championship. That came three years after they won the state Group 1 title in 2007, with a team that just this past winter was inducted into the Spotswood Athletics Hall of fame, led by dominating pitcher Willie Beard, who also was enshrined as an individual.

Stat Leaders

Spotswood: Casey Cumiskey (.548 average, 32 RBI); Carter Cumiskey (4 HR, 72 Ks, 1.91 ERA)

Rumson-Fair Haven: Jack Riva (.386 average, 18 RBI); Reece Moroney (3 HR); Owen O’Toole (0.33 ERA); Jackson Hinchliffe (46 Ks)

Recent Coverage of Spotswood

Central Jersey Group 1 Final:
(3) Middlesex (17-8) at (1) Point Pleasant Beach (22-5)

When: Friday, 4 pm
Where: Point Pleasant Beach HS


How they got here:

Middlesex: def. (14) Burlington City 8-1 in first round, def. (6) Palmyra 5-2 in quarterfinals, def. (2) Shore 7-2 in semifinals

Point Pleasant Beach: def. (16) Perth Amboy Magnet 14-0 in first round, def. (9) Bernards 10-0 in quarterfinals, def. (5) Manville 10-0 in semifinals

Amazingly, it’s Middlesex and Point Pleasant Beach back in the CJ1 finals again. This will be their fourth straight meeting in the title game, dating back to before COVID wiped out the 2020 season, with their first clash coming in 2019. The Blue Jays won that one and the 2021 matchup, all at home, but last year, Point Beach won at Mountainview Park. This will be the first time Middlesex will play the Garnet Gulls down the shore for the title in that stretch.

Aidan Kozak (.431 average) and Justin Gordon (.400) are the top two hitters on a team that’s right on the nose at .300 entering the finals, and the pop comes from Tomas Lavornia, who’s not far behind them at .390, but with four home runs to his credit. Pitching has been solid with Michael Canavesio – who didn’t throw a lot of innings last year – contributing a team-leading 43 2/3, with a 2.24 ERA and 52 strikeouts against just 12 walks. Point Beach on the other hand, is hitting .443 as a team – almost 150 points higher – and has a 2.35 team ERA. Freshman Tommy Conroy has 50 at bats and is hitting an eye-popping .560 on the season, with Colin Reingard hitting .517 with 24 RBIs and Kyle Kolans hitting .500 on the year. Daniel Lubach – another freshman – has six home runs on the year and is hitting .511 this season.

Stat Leaders

Middlesex: Aidan Kozak (.431 average); Tomas Lavornia (19 RBI, 4 HR); Aidan Kozak (1.40 ERA); Michael Canavesio (52 Ks)

Point Pleasant Beach: Tommy Conroy (.560 average); Colin Reinhard (24 RBI), Daniel Lubach (6 HR); James Larsen (1.48 ERA); Kyle Kolans (52 Ks)

Out of the Blue come the Jays of Middlesex, back where they belong: in yet another sectional final

Last year, Middlesex had a strong of four straight Central Jersey Group 1 titles snapped by Point Pleasant Beach. Losing on their home field at Mountainview Park made it even worse.

But one other streak involving the Garnet Gulls continues Friday, when the Blue Jays will play Point Beach for the fourth straight season in the sectional title game.

Much will be different about the matchup. To begin with, it’ll be down the Shore, with the previous ones all coming up in Middlesex County. Add to that, it’ll be the first time they’ll meet with Point (22-5) as the defending champion.

Friday’s game is in Point Pleasant at 4 pm.

Middlesex actually ended Point’s season four straight years: in 2017 and 2018 in earlier rounds, and then beat them in the CJ1 finals in 2019 and 2021 (with no baseball in 2020 due to COVID). Last year, the Garnet Gulls finally broke the hex.

The other thing different is that Middlesex (17-8) has only a handful of returnees from the teams that faced Point Beach the last two seasons, with Alfonso Esposito and Aiden Kozak probably the biggest two impact players back, along with others who have stepped up big-time in Michael Canavesio, Justin Gordon and Tommy Lavornia.

Click below to hear Middlesex head coach Justin Nastasi talk about his team’s season, and the Central Jersey Group 1 Final against Point Pleasant Beach:

Championship Weekend is set with seven CJSR-area teams vying for titles Friday, Saturday

With wins by Rutgers Prep and St. Joseph of Metuchen Wednesday in non-public sectional semifinal play, there will be seven teams from the Central Jersey Sports Radio coverage are vying for state titles this weekend.

In Non-Public North B semifinal action, third-seed Rutgers Prep beat seven-seed Gill St. Bernard’s 9-0 behind an explosive offense, and solid pitching from Max Treonze and Li Perez. The Argonauts (14-4) will play at top-seed St. Mary-Rutherford (19-9) Saturday at 10 am for the title.

In the Non-Public South A semifinals, second-seed St. Joseph-Metuchen exploded for a seven-run third inning and beat fifth-seed Notre Dame 11-3. The Falcons (21-9) will visit top-seed Red Bank Catholic (23-5) – the No. 1 team in the state – Saturday at 11 am for the championship. Click here to listen.

Prep and Joe’s join North Brunswick, Old Bridge, Bridgewater-Raritan, Spotswood and Middlesex – the five public schools who will go for sectional titles this Friday. Scroll down for the full championship schedule with dates and times.


Central Jersey Group 4 Final
(2) North Brunswick at (1) Old Bridge, 4 pm

North 2, Group 4 Final
(5) Bayonne at (2) Bridgewater-Raritan, 3 pm (Listen Live)

Central Jersey Group 2 Final
(3) Spotswood at (1) Rumson-Fair Haven, 4 pm

Central Jersey Group 1 Final
(3) Middlesex at (1) Point Pleasant Beach, 4 pm


Non-Public South A Final
(2) St. Joseph-Metuchen at (1) Red Bank Catholic, 11 am (Listen Live)

Non-Public South B Final
(3) Rutgers Prep at (1) St. Mary-Rutherford, 10 am

Five area teams to battle for public sectional titles Friday, as Bridgewater-Raritan, North Brunswick, Old Bridge, Spotswood, Middlesex all advance

It was quite a night for baseball in Central Jersey. Besides the beautiful weather, five teams from the Central Jersey Sports Radio coverage area advanced in the state playoffs Tuesday, and will play for sectional titles Friday.

Central Jersey Group 4

One section is guaranteed a winner from the GMC. That’s in Central Jersey Group 4, where North Brunswick and Old Bridge advanced with semifinal wins. The Knights blanked East Brunswick 8-0, while the Raiders were a 4-3 winner over Monroe on a walk-off solo home run in the seventh by Zack Konstantinovsky, his second home of the game. He also hit a two-run homer to tie the game at 3-3 in the fifth inning. Opposing starter Harrison Lollin also homered for the Falcons.

Old Bridge has beaten North Brunswick twice already this season, with one of those games taking ten innings, interrupted by a lightning delay in the final at bat. But Konstantinovsky did not start either of those games, throwing only one scoreless inning in the extra-inning loss.

Click here for a recap with audio of the Old Bridge win over East Brunswick, as heard on Central Jersey Sports Radio.

North 2, Group 4

Bridgewater-Raritan will face unlikely finalist Bayonne after a 10-9 win in eight innings over Woodbridge. Joey Letko drove in Michael Fattore with a walk-off RBI single to win an up-and-down game in which the second-seeded Panthers led 7-2 after three innings, but found themselves up only 9-8 heading into the seventh, when Woodbridge tied it. The Panthers (23-6) will face fifth-seed Bayonne (24-6), which beat 8th-seed Westfield 14-3 in a mercy rule-shortened five-inning game Tuesday.

Click below for postgame comments from Bridgewater-Raritan head coach Max Newill:

Central Jersey Group 2

Third-seed Spotswood will play at top-seed Rumson-Fair Haven on Friday afternoon, after the Chargers beat Delran Tuesday, 5-3 at home. It’s Spotswood’s first trip to a final since 2010, when they beat Governor Livingston 7-5 to win Central Jersey Group 2.

Click here for a full recap with audio of Spotswood’s win over Delran.

Central Jersey Group 1

Third-seeded Middlesex will face a familiar opponent in the Central Jersey Group 1 final after beating second-seed Shore Regional on the road Tuesday, 7-2. This will be the fourth year in a row the Blue Jays (17-8) will play Point Pleasant Beach for the title, winning in 2019 and 2021 – with no season in 2020 due to COVID, but losing last season to the Garnet Gulls at home. This one will be on the road for Middlesex, with the last three finals clashes all being at Mountainview Park.

Aiden Kozak was 3-for-4 with three RBIs in the win, while Michael Canavesio went the distance, scattering seven hits and two runs over seven innings, striking out seven.

Point Beach knocked out 5th-seed Manville 10-0 in five innings on Tuesday.

Below are Tuesday’s results, followed by the immediate upcoming schedule in all sections with CJSR-area teams remaining:


Central Group 4
(1) Old Bridge def. (5) East Brunswick, 8-0
(2) North Brunswick def. (6) Monroe, 4-3

North 2, Group 4
(5) Bayonne def. (8) Westfield, 14-3 (5 inn.)
(2) Bridgewater-Raritan def. (3) Woodbridge, 10-9 (8 inn.)

North 2, Group 3
(1) Millburn def. (4) South Plainfield, 3-2

Central Group 2
(1) Rumson-Fair Haven def. (12) Ocean Township, 2-1
(3) Spotswood def. (10) Delran, 5-3

Central Group 1
(1) Point Pleasant Beach def. (5) Manville, 10-0 (5 inn.)
(3) Middlesex def. (2) Shore, 7-2


Non-Public North B
(4) Montclair-Kimberley at (1) St. Mary-Rutherford
(7) Gill St. Bernard’s at (3) Rutgers Prep, 12 pm (Diamond Nation, Flemington) (LISTEN on CJSR)

Non-Public South A
(4) St. Augustine at (1) Red Bank Catholic
(6) Notre Dame at (2) St. Joseph-Metuchen, 4 pm (Diamond Nation, Flemington)


Central Jersey Group 4 Final
(2) North Brunswick at (1) Old Bridge, 4 pm

North 2, Group 4 Final
(5) Bayonne at (2) Bridgewater-Raritan, TBA

Central Jersey Group 2 Final
(3) Spotswood at (1) Rumson-Fair Haven, TBA

Central Jersey Group 1 Final
(3) Middlesex at (1) Point Pleasant Beach, TBA

SATURDAY, MAY 3: Non-Public Sectional Finals