Tag: Skyland Conference

Last year, Rutgers Prep was a finalist; this year, the goal is to finish

Rutgers Prep baseball coach Larry Santowasso is the first to admit that maybe the 2022 version of the Argonauts was a little ahead of schedule.

Counting on two uber-freshmen, a host of sophomores and juniors, and just four seniors – only two of whom saw significant playing time – Prep went 19-6, and reached the finals of both the Prep B Tournament and the Somerset County Tournament. They earned the top seed in Non-Public North B in the state tourney, but were upset in the first round by eventual champion Immaculata.

They reached two finals, but couldn’t finish. So now, that’s the goal in 2023.

The team is now bonding and partaking of Spring Training in the most Spring Training of settings: Vero Beach, Florida, where they work out every year and scrimmage teams from the Sunshine State at the Jackie Robinson Sports Complex. And yet, this team may need it the least, because the Argonauts are mostly in tact from last season.

The Rutgers Prep baseball team after a scrimmage in Vero Beach, FL, as the Argonauts prepare for the 2023 season. (Submitted photo by head coach Larry Santowasso)

Sure, the Argonauts lose two significant seniors. Nick Baldev – a position player and fielder who hit .217 and drove in 11 runs, but also pitches 32 innings and struke out 55, while walking only 18 to the tune of a 2.62 ERA – has graduated, along with first baseman/outfielder Anthony Brigante, who his .262 but drove in 22 runs.

Everyone else is back, though. There’s senior James Jackman (.353, 11 RBI, 4 HR), junior Evan Laub (.333, 15 RBI), junior Nick Pizzie (.400, 26 RBI) and sophomore Cody Rullo (.358, 10 RBI). And then, the biggest bat of them all, Andrew Parisi, who as a freshman only hit .537, led the state in RBIs with 54, and cranked 11 home runs – good for fourth in New Jersey.

On the mound, the top pitcher returns in Zach Fronio. As a freshman, he threw 42 2/3 innings, striking out 58, walking 19, finishing with just a 1.64 ERA.

Rutgers Prep opens its season on Tuesday, April 4th against Montgomery, and make an appearance on Central Jersey Sports Radio on Thursday, April 13th, when the Argonauts entertain Somerville in a Raritan Division game set for 4 pm.

Click below to hear Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Mike Pavlichko talk with Rutgers Prep head coach Larry Santowasso:

Ridge will look to defend Somerset County Tourney title with a mix of veterans and newcomers

Win some, lose some. Graduate some, return some.

That’s the story for the Ridge baseball team as it embarks upon the 2023 season, which it will open on Tuesday, April 4th at Diamond Nation in Flemington against Immaculata, a game you can hear on Central Jersey Sports Radio.

The Red Devils won the Somerset County Tournament championship in 2022, blanking Rutgers Prep in the final 6-0. And they had the horses to make a run at the North 2, Group 4 championship, but they lost an epic 5-4 game in 11 innings in the sectional semis to Woodbridge.

It might not have been how he planned it, but Ridge head coach Tom Blackwell says the emotions of that game are still felt, and it’s given the 2023 club a fuel for the fire, a sense that they left some unfinished business.

That’s the win some, lose some.

On the roster side of things, the offense will lose catcher George Busnach (2 HR, 17 RBI), centerfielder Mike Olivo (.433, 1 HR, 17 RBI) and left fielder Brian Leitz (.411, 1 HR, 16 RBI). But Ridge returns outfielder Luke Somelofske (.413, 10 RBI), shortstop Brendan Callanan (.446, 1 HR, 22 RBI) and top run producer and infielder/outfielder Julian Kielb (.429, 2 HR, 27 RBI).

On the mound, the Red Devils also will miss Olivo and his miniscule 0.31 ERA in 45 1/3 innings pitched, as well as Andrew Shahwah. But they bring back Callanan and Connor Byrne, who combined for over 102 innings thrown last year, neither, with Callanan sporting a 2.03 ERA, and Byrne at 1.83.

Blackwell believes his team – which has spent a lot of time with each other win the offseason – will be poised for another run this year.

Click below to hear Mike Pavlichko preview the Ridge season with head coach Tom Blackwell:

Central Jersey Sports Radio unveils 2023 H.S. Baseball Broadcast Schedule

The high school baseball season in New Jersey begins on Monday, April 3rd, and Central Jersey will be there from Opening Day right through to the end with live play-by-play of ten regular season games, the Greater Middlesex County Tournament, Somerset County Tournament, and the state tournament.

We’ll open April 3rd with some small-school love, as East Brunswick Magnet visits Timothy Christian in Piscatway for a GMC Gold Division game, then hop over to Flemington for a Somerset County matchup at Diamond Nation between defending Non-Public North B Champion Immaculata and defending Somerset County Tournament Champion Ridge.

Week two will feature another matchup from each county, with Somerville at Rutgers Prep on Thursday, April 13th, followed by in-town rivals JP Stevens and Edison squaring off on the Eagles’ red turf on Saturday, April 15th at noon.

We’ll also have a rematch of last year’s GMC Tournament Final – with defending champion North Brunswick at 2021 champion St. Joseph in Metuchen – on Tuesday, April 18th.

The North Brunswick Raiders celebrate winning the 2022 GMC Tournament Championship, their first ever. (Photo from video by Mike Pavlichko)

On Sunday, April 23rd, Central Jersey Sports Radio will brig you a doubleheader from the Autism Awareness Challenge at North Brunswick Community Park. We’ll be on the air at 10 am for a GMC-Skyland crossover between South River and Bernards, then Edison and Barnegat at 1 pm.

Tuesday, April 25th – unless either team is playing in the SCT quarterfinals – we’ll have the Battle of Route 206 as Hillsborough travels up the road to take on Bridgewater-Raritan. Then, that Thursday, we’ll be at TD Bank Park in Bridgewater for the Somerset County Tournament Semifinals.

May begins with a pair of GMC matchups, as Perth Amboy visits Woodbridge on Tuesday, May 2nd, for a game under the lights at 7 pm. Then, on Thursday, May 4th, it’s rivals North Brunswick at South Brunswick at 4 pm.

Ridge players watch from the dugout in the 2022 Somerset County Tournament Championship Game at TD Bank Park in Bridgewater on May 23, 2022. (Photo: Mike Pavlichko)

The second week of May has us squarely into county tournament play. Tuesday, the 9th, it’ll be the Somerset County Tournament Finals back at TD Bank Park at 7 pm. Then, on Wednesday, the 10th, it’s a doubleheader featuring two of the four games in the GMC Tournament quarterfinals from North Brunswick Community Park.

On Saturday, May 13th, it’s the GMC Tournament Semifinals at Ray Cipperly Field at East Brunswick Magnet High School, with games set for 12 and 2:30 pm, followed by the GMCT Championship Game a week later, on Sunday, May 20th, at 2 pm.

Mike Pavlichko, Justin Sontupe, Dom Savino and Chris Tsakonas will bring you all the action all season long, along with interviews, previews, recaps and more at cjsportsradio.com. Postgame reaction once again will be sponsored by SportsPlex at Metuchen, for an immersive sporting experience! They have leagues, classes and parties, and open gym on the courts and turf; simply check their Instagram for daily availability.

Coverage of area teams in the NJSIAA State Tournament will be announced at a later date. Click here for the full broadcast schedule complete with dates and times.

INSTANT REPLAY: No. 3 Rutgers Prep 64, No. 2 Gill St. Bernard’s 43 (Boys)

Third-ranked Rutgers Prep led nearly wire-to-wire in a 64-43 home win over No. 2 Gill St. Bernard’s, fueled by a game-high 22 points from senior Marist commit Jadin Collins, in a game heard on Central Jersey Sports Radio.

Cameron Piggee, in his fourth game back off a high-ankle sprain had 10 points, including a pair of treys, while Nick Losada led Gill will 13, including two threes of his own.

Click below to hear Mike Pavlichko and Chris Tasakonas call all the play-by-play on January 24, 2023:

INSTANT REPLAY: No. 1 Rutgers Prep 75, No. 3 Gill St. Bernard’s 36 (Girls)

Mikayla Blakes scored her 1,000th point and the junior finished her night with 1,026 as top-ranked Rutgers Prep kept the pedal to the metal all day on defense, en route to a 75-36 home win over 3rd-ranked Gill St. Bernards, in a game heard on Central Jersey Sports Radio. The win locked up the Skyland Conference Delaware Division for the Lady Argonauts, and the top seed in the Somerset County Tournament.

Blakes had game-high honors with 29, including five threes, while Katie Ledden chipped in 14 – including two treys – and Chloe Escanillas added 13, helped by three from downtown.

Click below to hear Mike Pavlichko and Chris Tasakonas call all the play-by-play on January 24, 2023:

INSTANT REPLAY: No 10. South River 66, No. 6 Bound Brook 61 (Boys)

Sophomore point guard Alex Grospe was the game MVP for South River, as the 10th-ranked Rams knocked off 10th-ranked Bound Brook on the road in the finale of the GMC-Skyland Challenge, 66-61, as heard on Central Jersey Sports Radio.

Grospe finished with 18 points, as South River improved to 9-0 for the first time since the 1977-78 season, when they won their first 11 games before getting upset by New Brunswick.

Click below to hear Mike Pavlichko and Justin Sontupe call all the play-by-play on January 7, 2023:

No. 7 South Plainfield guts one out against Franklin in GMC-Skyland Challenge

It wasn’t the best defensive effort they’ve had all season – coach and his star player agree – but a win is a win.

No. 7 South Plainfield got by Franklin Saturday evening in the fourth game of the five-contest GMC-Skyland Challenge at Bound Brook High School, with a 76-65 win. Senior guard Brandon Dean, the GMC’s leading scorer at nearly 26 points a game, finished with 23, including eight three-pointers.

The win improves South Plainfield to 8-1, winners of two straight since suffering its first loss of the season earlier this week to St. Joseeph-Metuchen. Franklin drops to 4-5.

Click below to hear postgame comments from Tigers’ head coach John Greco and senior guard Brandon Dean:

No. 10 South River, No. 6 Bound Brook set to clash Saturday in nightcap of GMC-Skyland Challenge

Anthony Melesurgo’s squad is in a familiar situation. To say Bound Brook has started the last two seasons strong would be akin to saying the Empire State Building is a tall structure.

So strong did they start in the COVID-shortened 2021 season, in fact, that they went undefeated, 14-0, for the first time in modern history, perhaps ever. Last year, they won their first 13 games before suffering a loss.

This year, they are 7-0 at the moment, the third straight full season (read: beginning in December) that they’ve entered January with an unblemished record.

South River, meanwhile, has matched last year’s 8-0 start, and the No. 10 Rams – ranked in the Bellamy & Son Paving Top Ten for the first time ever will look to best that mark when they take on the No. 6 Crusaders in the finale of the GMC-Skyland Challenge in Bound Brook Saturday night at 7:00, in a contest that can be heard on Central Jersey Sports Radio.

With the five-game slate starting at 11 am, pregame is tentatively set for 6:45 pm, with Mike Pavlichko and Justin Sontupe calling all the action. You can hear the game by clicking here.

Follow Sportsplex at Metuchen on Instagram for the latest on open gym sessions on their courts and turf!

A win for the Rams would put them at 9-0 for the first time since the 1977-78 season, when they began the year 11-0 before getting upset at New Brunswick. That team’s star was Kenny Jackson, who went on to be an All-American football standout at Penn State, and was later the fourth overall pick in the 1984 NFL Draft by Philadelphia.

Click below for a preview of the game with both head coaches:

Bound Brook head coach Anthony Melesurgo
South River head coach Brandon Walsh

Losada’s three as time expires powers No. 3 Gill St. Bernard’s past No. 2 Rutgers Prep

Gill St. Bernard’s head coach Mergin Sina had no timeouts left after Jadin Collins hit a 15-foot jumper head-on to put Rutgers Prep up 65-64 with 10.5 seconds remaining.

And, he says, that was probably a good thing.

The No. 3 Knights got the ball down the floor and into the right corner for senior Nick Losada, the only returning player with any real experience from last year’s Somerset County Tournament Champion squad.

Losada – with a defender in his face – took the three, falling down. It hit no rim, and plenty of twine with 1.2 seconds to go.


By the time he got up off his rear end, time had expired, and Gill had fired the opening salvo in the teams’ two-game series this regular season, with the Knights and No. 2 Argonauts now in the same division.

It was a 67-65 win that is just another in a long line of wars between these two squads.

Gill (6-2, 4-0 in the Skyland Delaware Division) was led by senior Mario Castro’s 36 points, while Losada chipped in 17. Rutgers Prep (5-4, 2-1) was paced by Jadin Collins’ double-double of 31 points and 14 rebounds.

While Rutgers Prep scored the opening bucket, GSB went on a run to take a double-digit lead they wouldn’t relinquish until early in the third quarter. Gill got the lead back with 4:32 to go in the game on a pair of free throws, and then it went back-and-forth down the stretch.


The Knights had a 62-61 lead with 1:27 left when they got called for a travel. Jordan Atkins lost it in the lane the other way for Prep, but Gill fell on it, it was called a travel, and the Argonauts got the ball back. The Knights got a tie-up on John Kelly, but the arrow favored Prep, and they retained possession yet again.

Jadin Collins hit a runner for the Argos’ to put them up 63-62 with 32-seconds to play, then Castro got fouled with 18.6 to go and hit a pair of free throws to put the Knights up one.

Collins then drove the length of the floor to hit a jumper from the foul line with 10-seconds left, leaving Gill enough time to get down the floor and put the ball in the hands of its most-experienced Knight, who became the hero as he fell to the hardwood.

Click below to hear Mike Pavlichko talk with Gill St. Bernard’s head coach Mergin Sina about his team’s wild win over Rutgers Prep:

INSTANT REPLAY: Hillsborough 64, Montgomery 43 (Boys)

Hillsborough used an onslaught of nine three pointers – six in the first quarter – to power past Montgomery for the first time in nearly six years with a 64-43 home win in Skyland Conference Raritan Division play, as heard on Central Jersey Sports Radio.

Zion harrison led the assault with three triples in the first quarter, four overall, and led all scorers in the game with 22 points. Four other players hit from beyond the arc as the Raiders matched a season-high from downtown.

Click below to hear Mike Pavlichko and Justin Sontupe call all the play-by-play on January 3, 2023: