Tag: Old Bridge

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

Blue Jays make big jump, Old Bridge debuts, St. Joe’s stays atop new Bellamy & Son Paving Top Ten

With two wins over Woodbridge to break a first-place tie and claim the GMC White Division title, earning the third-seed in the GMC Tournament, Middlesex made a big lead from 8th to 5th in the Week 7 Bellamy & Son Paving Top Ten rankings.

St. Joseph and Ridge remained Nos. 1 and 2, while Rutgers Prep – which claimed a berth in the Somerset County Tournament finals next Monday with a semifinal win last week – rose from fifth to third. Monroe climbed two spots to third after gaining the second-seed in the GMC Tournament.

Woodbridge fell to sixth, while Somerville dropped out. And Old Bridge made its first appearance in the Bellamy rankings this season, finishing 3rd in the tough GMC Red, and earning the fourth seed in the county tournament.

Below are the full Week 7 rankings:

St. Joe’s is the favorite, but here’s how all 16 teams can win the GMC Tournament

No team worth its weight in stirrups and rawhide enters the Greater Middlesex Conference Tournament bemoaning its seed and wishing they were someone else.

If you’re picked as one of the top 16 teams in the league and make the “big dance,” there’s reason to think you have a shot, or else why get up in the morning?

The way the tournament is laid out, with enough time for every team’s No. 1 starter to pitch three games – that is, if Mother Nature cooperates on Monday – just about everyone has a shot, since there are so many good No. 1s in the county.

So why should 16th-seed South River have hope like top-seed St. Joe’s or third-seed Middlesex has hope that they can win it all?

Click below to listen to Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Mike Pavlichko break down all 16 teams:

Remembering Ron Mazzola, Mr. Old Bridge

The high school sports world – especially the Old Bridge community – is heartbroken over the loss of the man who always wore a smile, whether he was calling the PA at home Knights’ football games, organizing the wrestling tournament, gymnastics, or printing t-shirts, or minting trophies.

Ron Mazzola died Monday at the age of 61. A lifelong Old Bridge resident, he rooted for everyone to have success, and always had a positive word to say about everyone and anyone.

Tributes have poured in all over social media for Mazzola, and we caught up with some of them to pay their respects to – and share some memories of – the man who will forever be known as Mr. Old Bridge.

Click below to listen:

Tip: To download the tribute, right click on the player above, and choose “Save Sound As.”

Central Jersey Sports Radio caught up with Ron Mazzola for a “Sunday conversation” this past fall, talking to him about all manner of things he’s done in the high school sports realm.

Click here to read that story and hear our conversation with him.

No major upsets, Harper gets win No. 700, and the GMC Tournament Girls’ Quarterfinals are set; here’s a preview

It was another night of mostly chalk in the Greater Middlesex Conference girls’ basketball tournament, as seven of the eight higher seeds won their first-round games Tuesday night.

The only upset of the night was by seed, as 9th-seeded North Brunswick blew by 8th-seed Woodbridge Academy 71-38 for a road win that sends them to Saturday’s quarterfinals at Middlesex County College in Edison.

Top-seed St. Thomas Aquinas advanced with a 79-35 win over 17th-seed JFK, and will face the Raiders in the final of four games Saturday at 5 pm.

Also on that side of the bracket, 5th-seed East Brunswick battled to get past 12-seed JP Stevens 49-48, while 4th-seed Old Bridge took care of Spotswood 50-26.

On the other half of the bracket, 3rd-seed Colonia got by 19-seed Metuchen 44-31, while 6th-seed Middlesex beat 11-th seed South River 43-34, in a win that earned head coach Kevin Harper – the winningest coach in GMC history – his 700th career win.

The other side of that bracket had 7th-seed South Brunswick getting over 10-seed Woodbridge 62-40, while 2nd-seed Monroe beat 18-seed South Plainfield 53-43.

Here’s the schedule of games for Saturday’s GMC quarterfinals at Middlesex County College in Edison:

11 am – 3-Colonia vs. 6-Middlesex
1 pm – 2-Monroe vs. 7-South Brunswick
3 pm – 4-Old Bridge vs. 5-East Brunswick
5 pm – 1-St. Thomas Aquinas vs. 9-North Brunswick

In the opener, the Patriots (21-2) will face Middlesex (19-2), their second straight opponent from the Blue Division. They are unbeaten against GMC opponents this season, their two losses coming only to Albertus Magnus (NY) in the season opener, and at Westfield on January 12th. Their last GMC loss came to the Blue Jays last year, in the regular season finale, 57-51 on March 1. This year’s best scorers – Mattison Chiera and Taylor Derkack – combined for 29 points in a 57-51 win over the Blue Jays, who were led by now-graduated Kristen Yonker, with 22 points. Middlesex’s only losses this year have come playing up in the GMC, a 47-38 defeat in the Woodbridge Holiday Classic to the Barrons, and a 58-48 loss to East Brunswick on January 15th; they’ve since won 14 straight.

READ MORE: Middlesex girls win 43rd straight GMC Blue Division game, a 62-45 home win over South River

In the other game in that half of the bracket, Monroe (15-4) will face South Brunswick (16-6) for the third time this season. The Falcons beat the Vikings 49-38 on January 22nd at home, then completed the regular season sweep January 31st with a 65-58 road win, although both games were competitive. The Falcons haven’t lost a GMC game since a January 4th win against East Brunswick at home 51-36. The Vikings’ last win against Monroe came on January 22, 2019 – a 51-49 road victory. Of note, the Falcons have had five different players score in double figures against South Brunswick this season, but while three did it in the first meeting – Hally Cottrell (18), Nicole Turco (12) and Sydney Wolven (11) – two others did it in the second meeting – Haley Higgins (20) and Katelyn Louro (17, and 10 rebounds). That’s a tough defensive assignment for South Brunswick.

Game three has Old Bridge (13-6) facing East Brunswick (15-7), with the Knights having won four of the last five matchups against the Bears. The second of those games was an overtime affair at East Brunswick broadcast on Central Jersey Sports Radio, with Old Bridge winning 69-63. Click here for a recap of that game. Both teams sputtered a bit heading into the GMC Tournament. The Knights lost to St. Thomas Aquinas and South Brunswick before edging Bridgewater-Raritan by five on February 10th to head into the GMCT on a high note. The Bears dropped three straight – to Aquinas, South Brunswick, and Blue Division opponent South River, but got back on the winning track in the GMCT’s first round Tuesday night with the win over JP Stevens.

The final game of the marathon at Middlesex County College in Edison has St. Thomas Aquinas (18-3) facing North Brunswick (14-7), the only team outside the top eight seeds (they’re a nine) to make it to quarterfinal Saturday. The Trojans have lost just one GMC game this season; that was a 55-41 defeat at Monroe, on the same night the boys’ knocked off St. Joseph at the buzzer in a doubleheader at home. The Trojans may not be the same team they were last year, but they’re still very good, and a heavy favorite to win it all; a potential matchup against second-seed Monroe in the finals would be quite entertaining for both teams, and maybe a pick-’em game, but there’s still a lot of basketball to be played before that point. As for Saturday, the Raiders will be looking for their first win against St. Thomas Aquinas since January 29, 2013, when the school was called Bishop Ahr, and North Brunswick won a 41-38 home game. Saturday, the Raiders will try and end a 13-game skid in the series. They also beat them the year before on a neutral floor, 53-51 in the GMC Tournament semifinals (they would lose to South Brunswick in the title game). North Brunswick’s last win at Ahr/Aquinas came on February 7th, 2012, by a 57-48 score.

Rutgers Prep remains No. 1 in Bellamy & Son Paving Girls’ Top Ten after loss to national power St. John Vianney

Sunday’s game at Kean University said less about Rutgers Prep than it said about just how untouchable St. John Vianney is this year. For the second week in a row the nation’s fifth-ranked team – according to ESPN – beat the No. 2 team in the New Jersey (last week it was Saddle River Day). This time it was the Argonauts, who still remain No. 1 in the Bellamy & Son Paving Week 8 Girls’ Basketball rankings, the final Top Ten until the end of the year, with the county tournaments set to get underway in earnest this week.

The top eight teams remained the same, in face, with only a handful of losses by those teams, and all to out-of-conference foes.

The rankings welcomed a new member for the first time since Week 5, with South Brunswick (15-6) jumping in at No. 9, replacing Watchung Hills, which had a rough week, going 0-4 with losses to Summit and Snyder out of league, then No. 5 Gill St. Bernard’s and No. 8 Mount St. Mary, dropping their record to 9-8.

Below is the full Week 8 Bellamy & Son Paving Girls’ Top Ten:

Playoff update: Boys’ Basketball Public Sections

Continuing with a look at state playoff seeding projections, we’re taking a look at boys’ basketball public sections in Central and North 2. Remember that unlike most years when the first 16 games on a team’s schedule are counted, only the top 13 power point values are added this year. So, teams playing past their 16th game can still accumulate power points, but not full games’ worth. If a game makes the top 13, the lowest score is dropped, and all that is gained is the difference between the lowest of the 13, and the new score.

(Example: a team’s lowest among it’s top 13 scores is a 15. If it wins a game worth 20 points, the 15 is dropped, and the 20 added, for a net gain of 5.)

The analysis below is based on official NJSIAA calculations as available on NJ.com as of 9 am Tuesday:

Central Jersey Group 4: The top team here is Marlboro (17-2) with 454 points, and Monroe (18-3) is behind in second them at 413. They’re unlikely to get the top seed, but also unlikely to get caught from behind by Jackson Memorial (12-5, 361, 3rd) and definitely not by South Brunswick (12-6, 329, 4th). Both teams could gain since their 13th power point value is a loss, but not enough to overtake the Falcons. Next up from the CJSR area is No. 10 Montgomery (10-8, 244), then East Brunswick (8-8, 242) at 12. Both could move in a tight pack either up or down. Speaking of which, teams 15 through 17 are all from the GMC, and could be make or break this week. Old Bridge is 15th at 7-12 with 208 points, followed by Sayreville (8-10, 184) and North Brunswick (7-14, 176). It’s probably the Bombers and Raiders battling it out for that last playoff spot. North Brunswick has Edison Wednesday, and Sayreville is at St. Thomas Aquinas Tuesday and hosts Colts Neck Friday. Either team could add games before Saturday’s cutoff to get in. This could get interesting.

North Jersey, Section 2 – Group 4: You’ve got Watchung Hills (14-3, 361) in the catbird’s seat here, led by Elijah Lewis, who just committed to Adelphi this week. Westfield is 16 points behind, and it may be tough for them to catch up with 13 wins already. How about Franklin (11-6, 341) making a push, though? The Warriors have room for two more wins here, and might be able to make up the 20 point disparity, so look out; they currently sit in third. Ridge is right behind them wrapping up the top four at 13-5 with 326 points, but with 13 wins, they’re less likely to make a move than Franklin. Toward the middle of the pack, JP Stevens (9-7, 275) is tied with Elizabeth (8-5, 275) for 7th, but both have room for improvement this week. Edison (12-6, 260) is right behind, but already has 12 wins, so it’s doubtful the Eagles can crack the top eight. Bridgewater-Raritan (8-11, 250) is 12th, followed by resurgent Piscataway (8-7, 246), which has won four in a row and six of its last eight after a rough 2-5 start.

Central Jersey Group 3: The only area team in contention here is Somerville (5-12, 161 points) in the bottom half of the pack in 12th place, solidly in that bottom half, but solidly in the field of 16. Manasquan is the current top team at 13-4, followed by 14-4 Robbinsville.

North Jersey, Section 2 – Group 3: Here’s some intrigue: South Plainfield out of the GMC Blue is in first at 17-3, with 351 power points, while Colonia from the GMC White at 14-3 with 332 points is in second. It’ll be tough for the Patriots to make up that ground having 14 wins already; getting one of the pair against St. Thomas Aquinas sure would have helped. They’re the only area teams in contention in this section.

Central Jersey Group 2: With 13 wins already, a loss to Immaculata may not have hurt Bound Brook all that much, but it didn’t help either. The Crusaders (13-1, 357) have a slim shot at No. 1 Rumson-Fair Haven (13-2), which is only ahead by six points, with 363. For example, their lowest value is a 15, a win over North Plainfield. A win over Hunterdon Central (which has 7 wins) Tuesday would be worth 6 quality points, 4 group points, and 15 residual points, for a total of 25. Drop the 15, add 25 and the net gain is 10. They’d jump ahead of the Bulldogs, but now it depends what they do. Bottom line: the Crusaders are still in play in the critical final week for a top seed. South River (13-4, 312) checks in 5th here, with Middlesex (9-10) at ten, and Roselle (11-15, 251) and Spotswood (13-5, 248) not far behind them. Metuchen (7-10, 165) appears to be sitting comfortably in 16; don’t expect anyone behind the Bulldogs to challenge them.

Central Jersey Group 1: It looks like Perth Amboy Tech (11-4, 214) is a lock for the four- or five-seed. They currently sit in fifth, and the only real difference as a potential extra home game if things go to chalk. Further down the standings, Highland Park (4-12, 141) checks in at 12, followed immediately by Manville (7-9, 135, 13th) and South Amboy (5-9, 122, 14th). Somerset Tech (3-15, 105) is 14th. Burlington City is the top team here at 12-4

No change, top to bottom, in Week 7 Bellamy & Son Paving Girls’ Basketball Top Ten

Not a single team moved one single place in the Week 7 Bellamy & Son rankings for girls’ basketball, with few losses by anyone, and many out-of-conference or to other ranked clubs.

Rutgers Prep remains No. 1, as the Argonauts have been since the rankings debuted at the start of last season, making it 14 straight week in the top spot for Mary Klinger’s squad. They had a 3-0 week, and a huge win Sunday over the 5th-ranked team in the state, Red Bank Catholic, in the Coaches’ Choice USA College Showcase in Holmdel.

Colonia – at No. 2 – also has a perfect week, going 2-0 with wins at North Brunswick and over Woodbridge. The Patriots have not lost a GMC game yet this season, their only two losses coming in their season opener to Albertus Magnus (NY) and January 12th at Westfield.

Third-ranked Bound Brook lost at Bayonne last Tuesday, while No. 4 St. Thomas Aquinas lost twice, to Long Island Lutheran Tuesday at home, and to Rumson-Fair Haven in the showcase down in Holmdel Sunday.

No. 7 Monroe lost to Bound Brook on Thursday, Watchung Hills lost to unranked Immaculata Thursday, and tenth-ranked Old Bridge lost Saturday at St. Thomas Aquinas.

Below are the full Week 7 Bellamy & Son Paving Girls’ Basketball rankings:

Top five keep winning and stay in place in Week 6 Bellamy & Son Paving Girls’ Basketball Top Ten

The top five teams in the Bellamy & Son Paving Girls’ Basketball rankings went a combined 12-0 in the week gone by, with no changes among them.

Led by Rutgers Prep (12-1) at No. 1, the rest – Colonia second, followed by Bound Brook, St. Thomas Aquinas and Gill St. Bernard’s – didn’t budge.

Even the rest saw minimal changes. Monroe flip-flopped with Franklin to take 6th place after the Warriors lost to Gill St. Bernard’s last Thursday (on Central Jersey Sports Radio) 35-33 on a buzzer-beater by Brooke Baisley, while Monroe went 2-0. The Falcons have the longest active win streak in the GMC at the moment, at nine games.

Watchung Hills did the same with Mount St. Mary, moving up to 8th after the Lions split with Pingry last week, while the Warriors went 2-0.

Old Bridge held in tenth, despite a 48-36 loss last Tuesday at Monroe.

Below are the full rankings for Week 6:

Big shuffle in Week 5 Bellamy & Son Paving Girls’ Basketball Top Ten, though Rutgers Prep remains at the top

Only one team in this week’s Bellamy & Son Girls’ Basketball Rankings was in the same place a week ago. Other than Rutgers Prep, everyone shuffled into a new position, thanks to a couple of upsets.

Most notable was Monroe, previously unranked, knocking off No. 2 St. Thomas Aquinas by 12 on Thursday night, a little more than a month after losing to them in the season opener by 38. It was a convincing win, too; the Falcons led virtually wire-to-wire.

Not to be outdone, unranked Watchung Hills beat No. 3 Gill St. Bernard’s, while Franklin beat Watchung Hills and now just has two losses; to Gill and No. 1 Rutgers Prep, which has now held the No. 1 spot every week of the Central Jersey Sports Radio/Bellamy & Son Paving Top Ten, since its inception in CJSR’s inaugural season last year, a total of 13 weeks.

Many other teams also shuffled around with a mix of wins and losses. Below are the full Week 5 Bellamy & Son rankings: