Tag: North Brunswick

Falcons have added maturity to hitting, pitching and fielding

There was no question St. Joseph of Metuchen could hit the ball last year, when – after a year off due to the COVID-19 pandemic – the Falcons were a two-seed and won the GMC Tournament. They had pitching, too. And they could play the field.

But one thing they feel like they have going for them this year is maturity.

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

It’s been a common theme with a lot of spring sports. Any senior right now who might have otherwise had a three- or four-year varsity career has maybe gotten two and some change under their belt.

Today’s junior only had one year under his or her belt coming into this season.

Top-seed and defending champion St. Joe’s hopes that will be at least part of the difference Sunday when the Falcons take on 6th-seed North Brunswick, which is seeking its first-ever county title, in the GMC Tournament Championship game at Ray Cipperly Field in East Brunswick.

Friday afternoon, GMC officials moved the game from Saturday – with thunderstorms in the forecast – to Sunday. Mike Pavlichko and Justin Sontupe will call all the play-by-play, with pregame beginning at 11:30 am and first pitch set for 12 noon. Click here to listen.

Click below for coverage from Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Mike Pavlickho, who stopped by St. Joe’s practice this week:

Catcher Mark Gialluisi
Centerfielder Robbie Carvelli

Future Rutgers stars Goldan and Konstantinovsky: the unflappable vs. the unhittable

Andrew Goldan is hard to rattle. As a sophomore, in his first varsity season at St. Joseph of Metuchen, he calmly, coolly, and collectedly, went the distance in the 2021 GMC Tournament championship game for the win.

In this year’s semifinals, with Donovan Zsak laboring through three innings, still getting a little twinge in that Tommy John-repaired elbow, Goldan – a full-time starter – jumped in as a reliever and kept Woodbridge off the board for the final four innings en route to a 9-1 win and a berth in this weekend’s finals.

Zack Konstantinovsky is hard to hit. The North Brunswick junior had an impressive sophomore campaign, striking out 70 and walking only ten. That’s a tough act to follow.

But follow it, he did. This year? Heading into Saturday’s GMCT finals, he’s racked up 101 strikeouts. And he’s walked only a single solitary batter.

Just one.

How impressive have both of them been? Well, both are going to play major Division I college baseball in the near future. And neither will be playing too far from the high school fields they currently call home.

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

Goldan’s family just has to head a little further down Route 27, and Konstantinovsky’s just up Routes One and 18 to Piscataway, where both will soon call Bainton Field home, as they play for the Steve Owens’ Scarlet Knights.

Goldan will join them next year; Zack in a couple of years. They’ll be joined by JT Kroner of Colonia, another solid GMC arm.

And when they get there, they’ll find Chris Brito, a Perth Amboy alum who is RU’s full-time first baseman this season as a redshirt junior.

The two will square off this Sunday as the starting pitchers in the GMC Tournament Championship Game, which will be played at noon at Ray Cipperly Field at East Brunswick Tech. It was rescheduled from Saturday, due to thunderstorms in the forecast.

You can hear the game on Central Jersey Sports Radio with pregame beginning at 11:30 am. Mike Pavlichko and Justin Sontupe will call all the action; click here to listen.

Click below to hear Zack Konstantinovsky and Andrew Goldan talk about their decisions to go to Rutgers, their connection with the GMC, and Saturday’s matchup:

Two catchers, one goal: bringing North Brunswick its first baseball GMC Tournament title

One only catches when Zack Konstantinovsky is on the mound. The other is the everyday catcher.

Both play significant roles in the lineup, are big bats, and are bigger leaders as well.

North Brunswick doesn’t get to last year’s semifinal – a tough-luck 2-0 loss to rival South Brunswick – without Frankie Garbolino and Omar Carreras.

And they definitely don’t get to this year’s final without them either.

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

The goal is to bring home a title, and they’re just one win away from doing just that.

Omar catches when Zack K is on the mound – “he doesn’t like me,” Frankie jokes – but both will be in the lineup and hoping to contribute against ace starter Andrew Goldan for top-seed and defending champion St. Joe’s of Metuchen.

Konstantinovsky gave up one hit in last year’s 2-0 GMCT semifinal loss to the Vikings, a solo home run that turned out to be the difference. He’s determined not to go through that again. Carreras will try and lead the way for Zack.

Sunday’s game can be heard live on Central Jersey Sports Radio, with first pitch set for 12 noon, and pregame at 11:30 am. The game was moved to Sunday with forecasters calling for scattered thunderstorms Saturday.

Mike Pavlichko and Justin Sontupe will bring you all the action; click here to listen.

Click below to hear Mike Pavlichko talk with North Brunswick’s Frankie Garbolino and Omar Carreras about their season, and the matchup with the Falcons

St. Joseph, Ridge, Rutgers Prep continue to lead Bellamy & Son Paving Top Ten, while North and East Brunswick debut

The top three teams remain the same in the Week 8 Bellamy & Son Paving Top Ten, but two new teams made the the Top Ten this week.

North Brunswick debuted and jumped all the way to fourth, on the strength of a big run as the 6th-seed in the GMC Tournament. They’re in Saturday’s title game after outlasting East Brunswick – the 7th-seed, which ousted 5-seed Old Bridge – by a 1-0 score in 12 innings Saturday in the semifinals.

Pingry dropped a spot this week after the addition of the Raiders and Bears, with No. 9 Old Bridge dropping out, along with South River, which had a 0-4 week. But the Big Blue are the first tournament champion in the area, after they won the Prep A Tournament Sunday with a 5-3 victory over Hun.

Below are the full Week 8 rankings:

INSTANT REPLAY-GMCT Semifinals: (6) North Brunswick 1, (7) East Brunswick 0 (12 innings)

In a 12-inning game that took three hours to play and used just four pitchers, 6th-seed North Brunswick outlasted 7th-seed East Brunswick 1-0 in the GMC Tournament Semifinals, as heard on Central Jersey Sports Radio.

Click below to hear Mike Pavlichko and Justin Sontupe call all the play by play from Ray Cipperly Field at East Brunswick Tech in East Brunswick on May 21, 2022:

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.

A complete preview of the 2022 GMC Tournament semifinals

Central Jersey Sports Radio will have live play-by-play coverage of both GMC Tournament Semifinal games today from Ray Cipperly Field at East Brunswick Tech, presented by Dayton Toyota Service, Route 130 in South Brunswick!.

Mike Pavlichko and Justin Sontupe will call all the action starting at 11:35 am with the pregame show for Game One.

Thanks also to all our local sponsors for supporting the broadcast, and the fine student-athletes from all four schools:

  • Dayton Collision
  • Bellamy & Son Paving
  • Baseball Warehouse
  • New Jersey State Federation of Umpires, Mickey Sedlak Chapter
  • Woodbridge Township & Mayor John McCormac

Scroll down for a closer look at today’s games, including pitching matchups, each team’s path to the semifinals, team notes and stats, past coverage from this season, and each team’s tournament history.

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

(6) NORTH BRUNSWICK (16-8) vs. (7) EAST BRUNSWICK (13-10), noon

How they got here: North Brunswick def. (11) Colonia 7-0 in the first round, def. (3) Middlesex 14-13 in the quarterfinals. East Brunswick def. (10) Spotswood 11-1 in the first round, def. (2) Monroe 4-2 in the quarterfinals.

Starting Pitchers: Zach Konstantinovsky for North Brunswick (5-1, 0.75 ERA). Michael Marchese for East Brunswick (5-3, 2.64 ERA)

Team Notes – North Brunswick:

For North Brunswick, Konstantinovsky – as always – is doing it at the plate and on the mound. The Rutgers-bound senior has struck out 94 batters, while walking only one, and he’ll need that pinpoint control and attack on the Barrons’ batters, as he’ll be limited to just 64 pitches, having already thrown 86 in six innings of first-round work against Colonia. At the plate, he’s second on the team behind Omar Carreras (.458) with a .385 batting average, knocking in a team-leading 24 RBIs. He also leads the Raiders with four home runs. The bats exploded in the 14-13 come-from-behind, almost-blew-it win against Middlesex in Wednesday’s quarterfinals on their home field at Community Park. Frandy Martinez and Konstantinovsky were both 3-for-4 with a home run, Martinez knocking in five runs and Konstantinovsky two.

More Coverage on North Brunswick:

Team Notes – East Brunswick:

East Brunswick may have ten losses, but four have come by just one run, and eight by three runs or less. It may not add up to wins, but they play tight games, and showed they can win them against Monroe in the quarterfinals, knocking out the No. 2 seed with a 4-2 victory after losing both regular season contests with the Falcons, by 3-2 and 2-1 scores. Ryan Basham is hitting .342 and leads the team in that and nearly every other offensive category, including singles (15), doubles (8) and triples (2), as well as slugging percentage (.486). He also pitched well against Spotswood in their second meeting of the week, Thursday in the Commander’s Cup game, another 4-2 win, to keep head coach Chris Kenney from having to use his bullpen. That’s a big deal, with the Bears playing their fourth game in five days today. (It would have been five, but Senior Day against Hightstown was rained out Friday).

More coverage on East Brunswick:

Tournament History:

Before last year’s appearance in the semifinals against South Brunswick, the Raiders’ hadn’t made the semis since 2010, when they went all the way to the finals.  They were a 16-seed and just 4-11 going into the semis that year. They beat Cinderella 20th-seed Carteret (which was just 9-12) to move on the finals for a second straight year, but the Raiders fell to South Brunswick, 9-2. Had they won, they would have become the lowest seeded team to win the GMC Tournament.  That was their second straight and second overall trip to the finals, having lost to St. Joseph 6-0 the year before, in 2009.

North Brunswick hasn’t been to the finals since that 2010 season. Their only two appearances came that year, and the year before. The Raiders were blanked by St. Joseph in the 2009 final 6-0, and lost 9-2 to South Brunswick in the 2010 title game.

It is East Brunswick’s first trip to the GMC Tournament semifinals since they won the whole thing in 2016.  They beat South Brunswick 10-0 in the semis to advance to the title game, where they beat JP Stevens 1-0 to win the Championship.

(1) ST. JOSEPH-METUCHEN (19-6) vs. (5) WOODBRIDGE (19-4), 2:30 pm

How they got here: St. Joseph def. (16) South River 5-0 in the first round, def. (9) South Brunswick 14-4 in the quarterfinals. Woodbridge def. (12) Metuchen 7-5 in the first round, def. (4) Old Bridge 3-1 in the quarterfinals.

Starting Pitchers: Donovan Zsak for St. Joseph (4-0, 0.75 ERA). Matt Troche for Woodbridge (4-1, 3.72 ERA)

Team Notes – St. Joseph:

St. Joseph has six losses, but only one coming to a GMC team, that being Old Bridge, which Woodbridge knocked off to get to this game. Zsak is a dominant pitcher who could get drafted right out of high school, even if missing all of last season due to injury. This is his first full year of high school ball since his freshman year, 2019, though he did pitch in the Mike Murray-organized Last Dance tournament in the summer of 2020. He’s got great control, striking out 43, while walking ten. Blessed with a bevy of arms they can throw at you all week, no pitch count issues here for the Falcons. Zsak is completely available, as is Andrew Goldan, who started against South Brunswick in the quarterfinals, but came out in the fourth with a comfortable lead. At the plate, pick your poison, with four players hitting .350 or better, including Mark Gialluisi at .476 and Josiah Brown at .419, then Tyler DelVecchio at .368, and Andrew Goldan at .364. The Falcons can also go yard, hitting nine homers, getting three each off the bats of Brown and Gialluisi, the latter of whom hit a grand-slam in the bottom of the sixth against South Brunswick that invoked the ten-run rule in walk-off fashion.

More Coverage on St. Joseph

Team Notes – Woodbridge:

Woodbridge has only lost to two teams this season, getting swept a pair by both Metuchen and Middlesex, who are both up from the GMC Blue this year; the Blue Jays won the White Division with the two victories over the Barrons right before the tournament seeding meeting. Senior Brett Lukachyk – whose brother Drew, a sophomore, may pitch in relief today – is tearing the cover off the ball, hitting .472 with 24 runs batted in. In a mild “upset” of fourth-seed Old Bridge in the quarterfinals, Ty Kobylakiewicz was 2-for-3 with a pair of singles, but knocked in two runs, including what turned out to be the game-winner. The Barrons tuned up with a 10-0 win over Linden Thursday, which saw Josh Vazquez go a perfect three-for-three at the plate, with a trio of singles and 3 RBIs. Matt Troche gets the ball here, with Vazquez and Nunez out due to pitch counts and their starting efforts in the first two rounds of the tournament earlier this week.

Tournament History:

St. Joe’s is the defending champion, having beaten South Brunswick in last year’s GMCT Final, 2-0, behind a complete game from Andrew Goldan. In other recent history, St. Joseph made it to the semifinals in 2019, but lost to Old Bridge 2-1.  Their last title before last year was in 2017, when they blanked Monroe in the title game 1-0.

READ MORE: “Goldan!” St. Joes wins seventh GMC Tournament title behind scoreless, 10 K effort from Andrew Goldan

Woodbridge is seeking its first trip to the finals in almost a quarter century. In their only trip to the GMC title game, the Barrons beat in-town rival JFK 1-0. The Barrons’ last appearance in the semifinals was in 2017, when they lost 3-1 to Monroe, which eventually lost 1-0 to St. Joseph in the title game.

Potential Finals Matchups:

  • St. Joseph and East Brunswick have played once in the finals, with the Falcons winning 8-1 in 2005.
  • St. Joseph and North Brunswick have played once in the finals, with the Falcons winning 6-0 in 2009.
  • Woodbridge has never faced East Brunswick nor North Brunswick in the finals.  Their only trip was a 7-1 win over JFK in 2000.

Trivia:

We’ll send a Central Jersey Sports Radio t-shirt and hat combo to whoever can guess the correct answer to our trivia question, which we’ll give out in the fourth inning of Game One of the doubleheader, between East Brunswick and North Brunswick.

The first person to correctly tweet the answer to @cjsportsradio.com will win a heather grey, super soft t-shirt and a grey New Era cap with our logo on it. Good luck!

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:

East Brunswick will play 5th game in as many days when Bears battle North Brunswick in GMCT semis

“Poor scheduling, I guess,” East Brunswick baseball coach Chris Kenney said with a chuckle after he was asked what his team would do on an off day that they didn’t really have.

Somehow, someway, the Bears will play Hightstown Friday on Senior Day, just another big moment wedged in between the GMC Tournament First Round and Quarterfinals and the Commander’s Cup game against Spotswood – all wins – and Saturday’s county tourney semifinals at East Brunswick Tech.

All in a week’s work.

No doubt Kenney will get some players in the game who may not typically get playing time, especially his pitchers.

That’s going to be an effort by committee Saturday afternoon when the 7th-seeded Bears (13-10) take on 6th-seed North Brunswick (16-8) in Saturday’s GMC Tournament Semifinals, which you can hear live on Central Jersey Sports Radio – driven by Dayton Toyota Service, Route 130 in South Brunswick – starting with pregame at 11:45 am and first pitch at noon.

It’s the first game of a doubleheader, as Mike Pavlichko and Justin Sontupe call all the action; click here to listen.

Kenney’s plan is to start junior Michael Marchese, who’ll be limited to 71 pitches after throwing 79 against Spotswood in Tuesday’s opening round win. Lefty Joseph Ditzel would be next in, followed by Aaron Warner, who closed out Thursday’s win over Spotswood and got the save.

East Brunswick hasn’t been to the finals since 2016, but has won its last two trips there. In their most recent appearance, they beat JP Stevens 1-0, and in 2005 they beat St. Joseph 8-1.

Though East Brunswick has never put together a string of GMCT finals berths, they are a consistent participant. The Bears own the distinction of being the only school in the league to make it to the finals in every decade. (The GMC began play in 1986.)

They’ve made five other appearances in the GMC title tilt, winning their first three in 1986, 1981 and 1997, but losing in 1998 and 2003.

But this one will be a challenge, at the end of a sort of Hell Week for the Bears. With Monday’s postponement due to a stormy forecast that moved the GMCT’s First Round to Tuesday, they will play their fifth game in as many days.

They beat 10-seed Spotswood in their opening tourney game 11-1, then doubled up second-seed Monroe 4-2 in the quarterfinals Wednesday night. Thursday afternoon they faced Spotswood again in their annual Commander’s Cup trophy game, winning 4-2 to claim the hardware for the first time since a 2016 win against the Chargers. Friday is Senior Night against Hightstown, then North Brunswick Saturday in the semis, a team they lost to 5-4 in a late-April GMC crossover.

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

Tired yet? East Brunswick should be running on adrenaline at this point. At least if they beat the Raiders, they’ll have a week to gear up and rest some bodies before the GMC Tournament Final the following Saturday.

Click below to hear East Brunswick head coach Chris Kenney talk with Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Mike Pavlichko:

Three upsets, top seed advances, and a controversial call: all in a night at the GMCT quarterfinal

Top-seed St. Joseph of Metuchen was the only higher seed to advance to the GMC Tournament semifinals, as Woodbridge, North Brunswick and East Brunswick all knocked off higher seeded teams Wednesday in the quarterfinals at North Brunswick Community Park.

It sets up a Saturday semifinal doubleheader featuring 7-seed East Brunswick and 6-seed North Brunswick in the opener at noon, and top-seed St. Joe’s against 5th-seed Woodbridge in the second game.

Both games can be heard on Central Jersey Sports Radio from Ray Cipperly Field at East Brunswick Tech, with Mike Pavlichko and Justin Sontupe calling all the action, with pregame for Game One beginning approximately 11:45 am. Click here to listen to both games live, and for free, thanks to presenting sponsor Dayton Toyota Service on Route 130 in South Brunswick.

The first team to advance Wednesday afternoon was the Barrons, over on Field Two, as they knocked off fourth-seed Old Bridge (14-11) by a 3-1 score behind another solid starting effort from Eddie Nunez.

Known as a strikeout pitcher, that wasn’t his M.O. in the game, but after giving up a run in the second, Woodbridge plated two in the third on back-to-back singles by Josh Vazquez and Ty Kobylakiewicz, the latter of which turned out to be the difference. Kobylakiewicz added an RBI double in the 5th to make it 3-1 Barrons.

Nunez went the distance, striking out four and scattering five hits in seven solid innings for Woodbridge (18-4).

Click below to hear postgame reaction from Woodbridge head coach Mike Monaco:

The Barrons will play St. Joe’s of Metuchen, the defending GMC Tournament Champions. In one of the two nightcaps, the top-seeded Falcons cruised past 9th-seed South Brunswick 14-4 by the ten-run rule in six innings. And it was one of the most undramatic walk-offs you’ll ever see: a grand-slam by Mark Gialluisi.

St. Joe’s (19-6) scored early and often, and built a 9-1 lead going into the top of the sixth. But South Brunswick (10-11) scored three times to make it 9-4. St. Joe’s got a run in the bottom of the inning before loading the bases for Mark Gialluisi, who hit a walk-off grand slam to end it. He finished with five runs batted in.

Falcons starter Andrew Goldan only pitched four-and-a-third innings, allowing a run on two hits, striking out seven to get the win. With a comfortable lead, head coach Mike Murray pulled him, with the intent of keeping his pitch count down – he only threw 66 pitches – to save him for a potential closer role Saturday.

Click below to hear postgame reaction from St. Joseph head coach Mike Murray:

The other opening game saw 6th-seed North Brunswick rally to beat 3rd-seed Middlesex, 14-13. It was a see-saw game that saw a pair of seventh-inning rallies, and ended with a controversial play at the plate.

Both teams were hitting the cover off the ball, with Middlesex holding a 2-1 lead after one inning. North Brunswick tied it at two in the third, but the Jays grabbed a run to make it 3-2. The Raiders got three in the fourth to make it 5-3, but Middlesex tied it up at 5-5 in the bottom of the inning. North Brunswick went ahead 7-5 in the top of the fifth, but the Blue Jays got three in their at bat to make it 8-7, then added two more in the sixth to make it 10-7.

And that’s where it got interesting, if not downright unfathomable.

North Brunswick exploded for seven runs in the top of the seventh – including a two-run homer by Frandy Martinez – to take a 14-10 lead.

And they almost gave it all back.

Middlesex got two on for AJ West, who cranked a three-run homer to pull the Blue Jays within one.

Middlesex senior AJ West cranks a three-run homer in the bottom of the seventh of the GMC Tournament Quarterfinals at North Brunswick Community Park on May 18, 2022. (Photo: Mike Pavlichko)

Ty Nicolay then got aboard, stole second, and made it to third on a fly ball to right, bringing up Bobby Ulmer, the walk-off grand-slam hero of last year’s Group 1 semifinal game.

Down 0-2 in the count after fouling off a tough pitch for strike two, the next pitch sailed over the catcher’s head. Nicolay broke from the third, and the play at the plate was close one, the throw low to the ground to the pitcher covering, and it appeared to beat him to the plate.

The home plate umpire called Nicolay out on the tag, ending the game and sending North Brunswick (16-8) to the semifinals, knocking out the Blue Jays (18-5).

Middlesex – including Nicolay and Ulmer – pleaded that the ball was loose on the ground and that the tag was never applied, but to no avail. Fan photos of the play show the ball out of the pitcher’s glove and on the ground, but after Nicolay had passed the plate.

Click below to hear postgame reaction from North Brunswick head coach Mark Blevins, and senior Frandy Martinez, via his cousin Gabriel Perez:

North Brunswick senior Frandy Martinez (Photo: Mike Pavlichko)

And so the Raiders are on to face 7th-seed East Brunswick, which avenged a pair of regular season losses to Monroe with a 4-2 win over the second-seeded Falcons in the other nightcap.

Monroe (14-7) got to Bears starter Dustin McGuinness in the bottom of the first for a pair of runs, but East Brunswick (12-10) got them right back in the top of the second on an RBI double by Romeo Diaz and and RBI single by Christian Bermudez.

They then took a 3-2 lead in the third on a throwing error on a ball hit to the left side of the infield by Jack Gerould, and added an insurance run in the seventh on an RBI double to the right field wall by Ryan Basham. They could have had more, but they left the bases loaded, with Gerould grounding into a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning.

But it didn’t matter the way McGuinness settled down after spotting Monroe a pair of runs. He only allowed one more hit the entire way, a tough ball hit by Ryan Syvertson to short that Michael Marchese threw in the dirt, but it wouldn’t have gotten the speedy Syvertson anyway.

After a walk to the next batter, McGuiness didn’t allow another baserunner the rest of the way, retiring eleven straight, closing the game with a three-hit, 10-strikeout performance to get the win.

Click below for postgame reaction from East Brunswick’s quarterfinal win:

East Brunswick starting pitcher Dustin McGuinness
East Brunswick head coach Chris Kenney