Tag: playoffs

Another 7th inning rally for Middlesex, another CJSR audio recap!

Junior DH Bobby Ulmer’s walk-off grand slam in the Group One semifinals against Woodstown gave his Blue Jays a 7-5 win over Woodstown, and a berth in the Group 1 championship game Saturday at 1 pm at Veterans Park in Hamilton.

Middlesex (20-4) will take on New Providence (17-7), which beat Hasbrouck Heights 12-1 Monday in the other semifinals.

The rally by the Blue Jays in the 7th inning was their second in-a-row. In fact, they loaded the bases against Point Pleasant Beach, too, in their 2-1 win Friday afternoon in the Central Jersey Group 1 title game.

Click below to hear an audio recap of Middlesex’s 7th-inning rally against Woodstown:

MORE COVERAGE:

Listen to Bobby Ulmer talk with Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Mike Pavlichko about his walk-off grand-slam

Middlesex gains Group 1 final on Ulmer’s dramatic, walk-off grand slam

Postgame breakdown: Mike and Dom look back at Blue Jays’ thrilling come-from-behind win

Postgame breakdown: Mike and Dom look back at Blue Jays’ thrilling come-from-behind win

Between postgame interviews, kind words from parents still lingering around Worowsky Field, and trying to make sense of what happened Monday afternoon on a baseball diamond behind Middlesex High School, Central Jersey Sports Radio did its very best to put a bow on a wild one: a 7-5 Blue Jays win over Woodstown in the Group 1 semifinals, won on a walk-off grand-slam with two outs by DH Bobby Ulmer.

Junior DH Bobby Ulmer and his teammates come off the field after his walk-off grand slam gave Middlesex a win and a berth in the Group 1 finals for the fourth time in six seasons under head coach Justin Nastasi.

If you didn’t get to hear our barely lucid comments, don’t worry. We collected ourselves, and now here they are, in a (semi) organized (we hope) fashion.

Click below to hear Mike Pavlichko and Dom Savino talk about the Blue Jays’ 7-5 come-from-behind win Monday afternoon:

Middlesex gains Group 1 final on Ulmer’s dramatic, walk-off grand slam

A walk-off home run is the stuff kids dream of, maybe before they even play Little League.

But how about a walk-off grand slam with two outs, on an 0-2 pitch?

That’s exactly what junior DH Bobby Ulmer did Monday afternoon at Mountainview Park, sending his team and their fans into utter delirium.

It didn’t win Middlesex a championship, but it did give them a 7-5 victory and send the Blue Jays to the Group 1 final for the fourth time in five seasons, where they’ll try to win the school’s third Group 1 title under sixth-year head coach Justin Nastasi, and the program’s sixth overall.

Listen to Middlesex junior Bobby Ulmer’s walk-off grand slam.
Middlesex DH Bobby Ulmer

CLICK HERE for Bobby Ulmer’s live postgame interview with Mike Pavlichko on Central Jersey Sports Radio.

The Blue Jays (21-4) will play in the Group 1 title game Saturday afternoon at 1:00 at Veterans Park in Hamilton, facing North 2 champion New Providence. The Pioneers (17-7) beat North 1 title winner Hasbrouck Heights 12-1 in a five-inning mercy rule-shortened game in the other semifinal Monday.

Middlesex got the scoring going in the top of the first, when they took a two nothing lead on an RBI double by Ulmer – who finished the game with a pair of doubles and six runs batted in. He drove in pitcher Stephen Young – who led off the game with a single – and Ryan Vollmer, who worked a one-out walk.

Woodstown cut it to 2-1 when Middlesex conceded the run with a groundout by Ben Woodruff following a one-out triple by Chase Swain, who would do even bigger things in the fifth inning.

It was there Woodstown began to hit Young, who looked to be cruising, retiring five batters in a row to close the fourth.

But before that, Middlesex would extend the lead to 3-1 on an RBI single in the fourth by Matt Venutolo.

In the next half-inning, Caden DeSiato worked out a walk for Woodstown, and Brent Williams moved him to second with a single. Chase Reiger beat out a bunt onto the grass down the third base line that Young fielded, but he had no throw by the time he got to it and everyone was safe.

Thenm on a 2-2 pitch, Swain cranked a grand slam to left field to give Woodstown a 5-3 lead.

Young settled back in and got three flyouts on the next six pitches to end the inning.

Meanwhile, Reiger was settling in, and came out for the seventh just three outs away from sending his team to the Group 1 final.

But just like against Point Pleasant Beach in the Central Jersey Group 1 title game, Middlesex loaded the bases and won the game.

In that game, however, the Jays loaded the bases with no outs. This time, it was a little more dramatic.

Ty Nicolay, the nine-hitter, led the inning off with a single. Stephen Young followed with the same.

Woodstown head coach Mark DiCastro had seen enough, and pulled Reiger for Lucas Prendergast, who had started the game at second base. The junior started well, striking out the hero in the game against the Gulls, Anthony Long.

On a 1-0 pitch, Ryan Vollmer hit a ground ball to first that could have been the ballgame. First baseman Tyler Wolf fielded a few feet from the bag, threw to second, but the toss was wide and pulled second Baseman Brant Williams – who moved over from third to replace Prendergast, now on the mound, off the bag. Everyone was safe.

Even had Wolf just gotten the one out, the game would have been over when Raiden Yost flied out to left. Instead, there were two out and the bases still loaded.

That brought up Bobby Ulmer, who quickly found himself in an 0-2 hole.

On the next pitch, he found the lawn behind the left field fence, and it was all over. A walk-off grand slam, capping a wild comeback, and giving Middlesex its second straight state playoff walkoff win.

Click below to hear postgame reaction from Middlesex’s 7-5 Group 1 semifinal win against Woodstown:

Middlesex pitcher Stephen Young
Middlesex head coach Justin Nastasi

Listen to Bobby Ulmer talk with Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Mike Pavlichko about his walk-off grand-slam

If you wanted high drama in Monday’s Group 1 semifinal, you got it.

The game featured two grand slams, but it wasn’t Chase Swain’s in the fifth inning for Woodstown that was the difference, though it looked for a while like it might be.

No, the grand slam that won it was Bobby Ulmer’s in the bottom of the seventh, with two outs, and an 0-2 count.

Click below to listen to Ulmer after the game, live on Central Jersey Sports Radio with Mike Pavlichko. Note: the clip includes the game-winning call:

Complete Group 1 Semifinals Preview: Middlesex vs. Woodstown

This afternoon at 4:00, Central Jersey Group 1 champion Middlesex takes on South Jersey Group 1 winner Woodstown for a trip to the statewide Group 1 finals.

DETAILS:

Middlesex (20-4) vs.
Point Pleasant Beach (20-4)
4:00 pm Monday at Mountainview Park in Middlesex, NJ

LISTEN:

The game will be broadcast live on Central Jersey Sports Radio.
Pregame coverage begins at 3:30 pm.
Mike Pavlichko and Dom Savino will call all the play-by-play.
Click here to listen live.
Postgame reaction will be on cjsportsradio.com following the game.

STARTING PITCHERS:

Middlesex: Stephen Young (3-1, 2.47 ERA – postseason 1-0, 8 IP, 3 H, 9 K, 0.00 ERA)
OR Aidan Kozak (3-1, 2.47 ERA – postseason 1-0, 5 IP, 2H, 10 K, 0.00 ERA)
Woodstown: Chase Reiger (5-2, 5.47 ERA – postseason 1-0, 6 IP, 5 H, 3 R/ER, 3.50 ERA)

HOW THEY GOT HERE:

Middlesex (1-seed, Central Jersey Group 1 champ)
1st Round: def. (16) Piscataway Tech 16-1
Quarterfinals: def. (8) South Hunterdon 6-0
Semifinals: def. (12) Florence 11-0
Finals: def. (6) Pt. Pleasant Beach 2-1

Woodstown (4-seed, South Jersey Group 1 champ)
1st Round: def. (13) Penns Grove 6-0
Quarterfinals: def. (12) Haddon Twp. 6-1
Semifinals: def. (8) Pennsville 8-3
Finals: def. (2) Schalick 3-1

WHAT’S NEXT?

The winner moves on to Championship Saturday at Veterans’ Park in Hamilton, where all four public school group finals are being played.

The winner of the Middlesex/Woodstown Semifinals will take on the winner of the North 1/North 2 semifinal. Second seed Hasbrouck Heights (20-4) came out of North 1, beating 4th-seed Kinnelon in the title game 6-2. The North 2 winner was 2nd-seed New Providence (16-7), which topped 12-seed Whippany Park 6-2.

The Group 1 final is scheduled for 1 pm this Saturday. That follows the Group 4 final at 10 am. The Group 2 final is set for 4 pm, with the Group 2 title game at 7 pm.

The rain dates are Sunday and Monday, if needed.

AUDIO COVERAGE LINKS:

Middlesex in familiar territory, a win away from another group final

Woodstown comes to Middlesex for Group 1 semifinals riding 15-game win streak

AUDIO: Listen to the Blue Jays’ 7th inning rally in 90-seconds!

GAME BROADCAST: Middlesex 2, Point Pleasant Beach 2

Yost Pitches Middlesex to 4th Straight Central Jersey Group 1 Championship

Jays want to put one on the thumb, seeking fifth overall, fourth straight CJ1 title under Nastasi Friday afternoon

Listen to all 11 runs scored by Middlesex in CJ1 semifinal win over Florence

Blue Jays fly into fourth straight CJ1 title game with 11-0 win over Florence

GAME BROADCAST: Middlesex 11, Florence 0 (5 inn.)

Middlesex a win away from fourth straight sectional final, fifth in six years

Vollmer wants to go out like he came in – with a Blue Jays’ championship

STATS & NOTES:

While Middlesex has won 12 of its last 13 games, against Pt. Pleasant Beach, the Jays had a streak snapped where they had scored at least six runs a game since a May 18th win over Dunellen in all but their 8-1 loss to South Brunswick in the GMC Tournament quarterfinals a couple of weeks ago. Still, they’ve scored ten or more runs in six of their last 11 games.

The Blue Jays only mustered two runs against the Garnet Gulls, but they put the bat on the ball when they needed to, and with good wood. For the most part, all they were guilty of was not “hitting it where they ain’t.”

Several balls were hit hard, but right at Gulls’ fielders, including Ryan Vollmer lining into an unassisted double play at first to end the fifth inning. The scorcher was hit right to Alex Glen, who just stepped on the bag to double off eventual hero Anthony Long.

But talking of Long, he was he was 1-for-3 against Point with a fielder’s choice, and the hero in the bottom of the seventh. With nobody out and the bases loaded after an intentional walk to Stephen Young, he hit a liner to second, and on fielding in, Matt VanBrunt threw wide to home trying to get the force, allowing Mark Geist to score the winning run.

Still, Ryan Vollmer is the Jays’ hottest hitter in the tourney. Though he was 0-for-2 against Point, he had a sac fly RBI in the third inning to tie the game at 1-1. He had a three-run homer, and later a two-RBI single to end Wednesday’s semifinal by the mercy rule in walk-off fashion. Overall in the NJSIAAs, he’s gone 7 for 13 (.538) with 9 RBIs, two triples, and two home runs.

On the mound, the lone run Middlesex gave up in the first inning with two outs was just the second run they’ve allowed in the state tournament, snapping a string of 24 and 1/3 scoreless innings (which includes a regular season makeup game against South River a week ago). The last run they had surrendered was with two out in the top of the first against Piscataway Tech in the opening round.

Which means the Jays’ have not allowed a run after the first inning in all four games of the NJSIAA Tournament.

Despite the run allowed to Point, Middlesex’s team ERA remains astonishingly low of late: 0.58 in the postseason.

On the Woodstown side, they have won 15 straight since a May 6 loss to Schalick, their second of the regular season, though they avenged that this weekend with a 3-1 win over the Cougars in the South Jersey Group 1 title game Saturday afternoon. They’ve won 19 of 21, in fact, since starting the season 1-3, with losses to Schalick, Overbrook and Gloucester Catholic.

Head coach Mark DiCastro, whose first season was supposed to be last year before it was wiped out by the COVID-19 pandemic, says he fully expected the slow start from his team, with only one experienced player – catcher Chase Swain – returning.

Swain and Lucas Pendergrast – who will likely start at second base Monday – Swain are tied to top the team in hitting, with .514 batting averages. Pendergrast has knocked in a team-leading 40 runs, while Swain’s three homers pace the Wolverines. DiCastro says Pendergrast can be nearly impossible to get out when he’s at the top of his game, which he believes he is right now.

Prior to coming up empty against Schalick, he was 6-for-9 with ten RBIs and three home runs in the first three playoff games. He was 0-for-3 against the Cougars.

Right fielder Ben Woodruff is another one to watch. He was 6-for-14 with six RBIs in the South Jersey Group 1 sectional.

DID YOU KNOW?

Woodstown’s win over Schalick in the South Jersey Group 1 title game gives them their first sectional crown in over two decades, and there’s a local connection to their last one. In 2000, they won the South Jersey Group 2 title, but lost to Ridge in the Group 2 semis by a score of 7-5. The Red Devils trailed 5-1 in that game before reliever Eric Dial came on in relief in the fifth inning. All he died was retire the last nine batters he faced and put the team on his back at the plate, slugging a pair of three-run homers to send Ridge to the finals, where they beat Wesr Morris-Mendham for the Group 2 title. They’d go on to win another over Dumont in 2002.

TITLETOWN, NJ??:

Having won their fourth straight Central Jersey Group 1 trophy, and fifth in six seasons under head coach Justin Nastasi, the Blue Jays continue a string of unprecedented success for the program.

The Middlesex Blue Jays pose following their 2-1 victory over Point Beach in the CJ1 championship game.

Nastasi has helped guide the Blue Jays to titles in 2015, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2021. The best stretch before that was in the early 90s when they won their section (Central Jersey Group 2) three years in a row from 1990-1992, and again in 1994, making it four titles in a span of five years.

Overall, Middlesex has won 15 sectional titles, with their first coming in 1965.

As far as group champions – which weren’t played until 1971 – Middlesex has won five titles: 1990, 2007, 2013, 2017 and 2018, the two most recent coming under Nastasi.

The Blue Jays are tied for fifth all-time for NJSIAA state (group) titles with those five, along with Cranford, Don Bosco Prep, Glen Ridge, Notre Dame, St. Rose of Belmar and Toms River South.

Only seven schools have won more. Emerson (1-1 against Middlesex in group finals) has won six, Pennsville and Hamilton East (Steinert) have won seven, Audubon, Bishop Eustace and Seton Hall Prep have won eight, and Gloucester Catholic leads the pack by a country mile, with a whopping 20 state titles.

Nastasi’s teams in five-plus seasons are 123-39 overall (.759) and 30-9 (.769) in the postseason since he took over in 2015, including a whopping 27-3 in the states.

Here is a look at their five previous seasons under Nastasi:

2015 (17-7):
2-1 in GMC Tournament (reached the quarterfinals)
Beat Shore 15-3 for the Central Jersey Group 1 title
Lost 3-1 at Emerson in the Group 1 title game

2016 (14-12):
Eliminated in GMC Tournament preliminary round
Lost in Central Jersey Group 1 semifinals

2017 (26-5):
GMC Tournament quarterfinal exit
Beat Metuchen 3-2 for Central Jersey Group 1 title
Beat Emerson 5-4 in the Group 1 title game

2018 (24-4, GMC Blue Division Co-Champs):
GMC Tournament first round exit
Beat Pt. Pleasant Beach 2-0 for the Central Jersey Group 1 title
Beat Park Ridge 3-0 in the Group 1 title game

2019 (22-7, GMC Blue Division Champs):
GMC Tournament first round exit
Beat Pt. Pleasant Beach 6-1 for the Central Jersey Group 1 title
Lost 3-0 at Glassboro in Group 1 semifinals

2020 – No season

2021 (20-4, GMC Blue Division Champs):
Reached GMC Tournament Quarterfinals
Beat Pt. Pleasant Beach 2-1 for the Central Jersey Group 1 title
Currently in Group 1 Semifinals vs. Woodstown

CONTINUED SUCCESS, PART TWO:

The Middlesex win against Point Pleasant Beach gives them six straight wins against the Garnet Gulls – all in the playoffs – since the Blue Jays moved down from Central Jersey Group 2 to Group 1 after the 2012 season. Middlesex has outscored them by a total of 41-6, with one shutout, though this year’s meeting was the closest by far.

Here are the last five matchups:

6/11/21 – CJ1 Final: Middlesex def. Point Beach 2-1
5/31/19 – CJ1 Final: Middlesex def. Point Beach 6-1 (lost in Group 1 semis)
5/29/18 – CJ1 Final: Middlesex def. Point Beach 2-0 (Group 1 Champs)
5/24/17 – CJ1 Quarterfinals:  Middlesex def. Point Beach 11-2 (Group 1 Champs)
5/22/14 – CJ1 Quarterfinals:  Middlesex def. Point Beach 9-1 (lost in CJ1 semis to South River)
5/29/13 – CJ1 Semifinals:  Middlesex def. Point Beach 11-1 (Group 1 Champs)

Woodstown comes to Middlesex for Group 1 semifinals riding 15-game win streak

There was no moment at which first-season (second year) head coach Mark DiCastro felt like hitting the panic button.

The Wolverines started the season 1-3, with losses to divisional foes Schalick and Overbrook, and another to perennial power Gloucester Catholic.

But DiCastro says he knew his team would start slow, and that was more important how they finished.

They’re still not done, but since a second loss to Schalick on May 6th, they have won 15 straight, never looking in the rearview mirror.

The South Jersey Group 1 Champion Wolverines – who won the title by avenging both those regular season losses to Schalick with a 3-1 win over the Cougars Saturday afternoon – will put that streak on the line against Middlesex Monday afternoon at 4 in the Group 1 semifinals. The game can be heard on Central Jersey Sports Radio with Mike Pavlichko and Dom Savino – starting with the pregame at 3:30 – by clicking here.

Click below to learn more about the Wolverines as Mike Pavlichko speaks with Woodstown head coach Mark DiCastro:

Middlesex in familiar territory, a win away from another group final

It’s anything but ho hum, but here comes anther Middlesex baseball team, just a win away from another berth in the group finals.

They’ve done this three times in the first five seasons under head coach Justin Nastasi, but it’s relatively new for this year’s group, considering there was no season last year, and the 2019 squad lost to South Jersey Group 1 champ Glassboro in the group semifinals.

They have been as outstanding as they need to be, and sometimes a little more in this postseason, winning two games in the sectional playoffs by the ten-run rule, and winning a 2-1 game in the title tilt over Point Pleasant Beach in the final at bat, and a fielder’s choice with the bases loaded and the infield in.

No one every said it would be easy, but sometimes Middlesex makes it look that way.

That’s mostly because of their pitching. Yet, Nastasi was not ready to reveal who his starter would be for Monday’s Group 1 semifinal with South 1 champ Woodstown, with first pitch scheduled for 4 pm at Worowski Field in Mounatinview Park.

You can hear the game live on Central Jersey Sports Radio, with Mike Pavlichko and Dom Savino on the pregame show at 3:30. Click here to listen.

Nastasi could very well go with Stephen Young, who was only thrown eight innings in the tournament so far, including one start. He’s allowed no runs, just three hits, three walks, and struck out nine.

Or he could put Aidan Kozak out there, the sophomore who struck out ten and allowed only two hits and a walk (plus one hit batsman) in five innings of a mercy rule win over Florence in the CJ1 semis.

Either way, Nastasi would have a winner on the mound.

Click below to hear Mike Pavlichko talk with Justin Nastasi about the CJ1 title game win, and Monday’s Group 1 semifinal against Woodstown:

Instant Replay: Middlesex beats Point Beach 2-1 for CJ1 title, heads to state semis

The strong suit of the Middlesex Blue Jays in the NJSIAA playoffs has been pitching.

Not that the hitting hasn’t been good, but the pitching has been stellar.

Middlesex got both Friday afternoon, as the top-seeded Blue Jays beat 6th-seed Point Pleasant Beach for the third straight time in the Central Jersey Group 1 finals to win the section for the fourth straight season, and the fifth time in six seasons under head coach Justin Nastasi.

Middlesex got two on in the bottom of the seventh with the game tied at one, then Stephen Young was walked intentionally to load the bases.

Point appeared to get what it wanted: a chopper hit to second base by Anthony Long with the infield in. But a wide throw home on the force out attempt let Mark Geist come in to score, giving the Blue Jays a 2-1 walkoff win.

Not a lot of hits. Timely hits.

The win gives Middlesex a shot at a fourth straight trip to the statewide Group One finals. They won in 2017 and 2018, but lost in the Group One semifinals to Glassboro in 2019.

Click below to hear the complete game broadcast of Middlesex vs. Point Pleasant Beach in the Central Jersey Group 1 championship game:

Yost Pitches Middlesex to 4th Straight Central Jersey Group 1 Championship

Scroll down to hear postgame reaction from pitcher Raiden Yost and head coach Justin Nastasi.

Raiden Yost tossed seven strong innings, allowing just one run on five hits, to earn the complete game victory as Middlesex won its fourth straight Central Jersey Group 1 title, defeating Point Pleasant Beach, 2-1, Friday afternoon at Mountainview Park in Middlesex.

Yost allowed a two-out run in the top of the first inning, but blanked the Garnet Gulls from that point forward. He struck out five, and set down 10-straight batters at one point in the middle innings.

Trailing 1-0, the Blue Jays scrapped together a run in the bottom of the third on a Ryan Vollmer sacrifice fly. It could have been more, but terrific outfield defense by Point Beach helped starting pitcher Andrew Banick strand the bases loaded.

From that point, Yost continued to fire zeroes. Only one baserunner — catcher David Terra-Nova — reached second base against the Blue Jays’ lefty throughout the final six innings. Post-game, Yost credited his defense and said it was easy to pound the strike zone with his “brothers” behind him.

The Blue Jays rallied for the game-winning run in the bottom of the seventh. Catcher Mark Geist, who finished 3-for-3, launched a double to right-center field to begin the inning. Ty Nicolay beat out a sacrifice bunt to put runners at the corners, and then an intentional walk to leadoff hitter Stephen Young loaded the bases.

That set the stage for third baseman Anthony Long, who pulled a soft line drive to second base. Point Beach’s Matt VanBrunt smothered the ball on a short hop, but his throw to the plate was wide and may not have been in time to get Geist anyway. The Blue Jays’ dugout emptied and the team piled on each other in the outfield grass just beyond second base. For the fourth consecutive season, head coach Justin Nastasi’s bunch became Central Jersey Group 1 champions.

This was the sixth time since 2013 that Middlesex met Point Beach along the line in the Central Jersey Group 1 tournament. The Blue Jays are 6-0 in those meetings, but this was by far the closest.

Middlesex will next be in action Monday afternoon at 4:00 pm at Mountainview Park in Middlesex when they take on the winner of the South Jersey Group 1 championship game. Mike Pavlichko and Dom Savino will broadcast the game right here on Central Jersey Sports Radio. Coverage begins at 3:30.

Click below to hear Justin Sontupe speak with Middlesex starting pitcher Raiden Yost and head coach Justin Nastasi.

Starting pitcher Raiden Yost breaks down Middlesex’s 2-1 victory over Point Beach in the CJ1 championship game.
Head coach Justin Nastasi discusses the Blue Jays’ 2-1 win over Point Beach in the CJ1 championship game.