Tag: Somerset County Tournament

From pitchers to bunts, Santowasso makes all the right calls in Rutgers Prep’s title win over Ridge

To paraphrase the dating cliche, Larry Santowasso told Zach Fronio, “It’s not you, it’s him.”

That was the gist of the Rutgers Prep veteran skipper’s decision to go with Max Treonze in Tuesday night’s Somerset County Tournament final over Zach Fronio, the uber-talented sophomore who’s already committed to go to Maryland.

And boy, did it pay off.

Treonze pitched a complete game shutout, giving up six hits, no walks, while striking out eleven, the last of which gave Prep the county crown.

He came into the game with a 0.25 ERA, and lowered it to 0.20. He’d given up one earned run all year, a number that still stands. As wonderful as Zach Fronio may be, how could you ignore those numbers?

Well, that was only the first good call of the day by Santowasso, a decision he made no later than early this morning. And his decisions just kept getting better.

Like in the first inning, after Ethan Nepomuceno led off with a second-pitch double, Santowasso had his number-two hitter, Evan Laub, bunt. That might be a head-scratcher against any other opposing pitcher who shows signs of being a mortal, but as it turned out, it made perfect sense against Byrne.

Add to that the fact Ridge wasn’t expecting it. Luke Somelofske wasn’t too far in at third. So, when Laub pulled a bunt right out of the textbook, laying it on the grass down the line, Somelofske – who had a long way to go to get to it – had no play at first, and none at third.

So now it was first and third and nobody out, and Andrew Parisi singled to drive in the first – and only – run of the game, for either team.

Good thing, because Rutgers Prep didn’t get another runner past second base the entire game.

Oh, and back to the decision to go with Treonze over Fronio?

Well, Zach didn’t throw a pitch in the game, but he did throw a perfect strike. He was the cutoff man in the bottom of the seventh with one out on a bloop single to right by Connor Byrne. James Jackman fielded on a hop, threw to Fronio, the cutoff, who fired his only strike of the game – just not from the mound – to catcher Andrew Parisi, who turned, waited and applied the tag to the tying run for the second out of the inning, stealing the momentum from Ridge, and grabbing the trophy away from the defending champs.

Just call it a routine Win No. 321 for Larry Santowasso.

Click below to hear Rutgers Prep head coach Larry Santowasso recap and breakdown some of the key plays in the Argonauts’ 1-0 win in over Ridge in the Somerset County title game.

CHAMPS! Rutgers Prep wins pitchers’ duel, 1-0 over Ridge to claim Argos’ second Somerset County title

A leadoff double, a bunt and a single.

That’s all Rutgers Prep would need – oh, and a masterful pitching performance from junior Max Treonze – to win its second Somerset County title, and exact revenge for a loss to Ridge in the title tilt last year.

In a game heard on Central Jersey Sports Radio – presented by Zoned Sports Academy of Bridgewater – 12th-seed Rutgers Prep topped 2nd-seed and defending champion Ridge 1-0. In the process, they broke their own record to become the lowest seeded team ever to win an SCT title; their 2017 victory came as the 10-seed.

In the first inning, Ethan Nepomuceno led off with a double on the second pitch of the game. Planning to play small ball to try and get to Ridge ace Connor Byrne early, Evan Laub dropped a bunt down the third base line that Ridge wasn’t prepared for. Third baseman Luke Somelofske fielded it cleanly, but had no play at first or third.

Andrew Parisi singled home Nepomuceno to give Prep a 1-0 lead, but that was all they’d get, as Byrne got a strikeout and two groundouts to end the inning.

Good thing they got to Byrne early for as little as they did, because Prep wouldn’t get another hit until the sixth inning as Byrne really settled in. But Treonze was hot, too, and after giving up two hits in the first and one in the second, also didn’t allow another until the sixth.

Meanwhile, both pitchers were mowing guys down.

Fast forward to the bottom of the seventh, still 1-0 Rutgers Prep, and Ridge got a two-out double by Ezra Sadowski, putting Treonze in a bit of a spot with Connor Byrne coming up, who already had a double back in the second inning. With Jack Latourette coming in to pinch run at second, Byrne blooped a single into right. James Jackman fielded it on a hop, threw to first baseman Zach Fronio, the cutoff man, who fired a perfect strike to home plate to nail Latourette by a mile.

That left Steve Dresner – Byrne’s courtesy runner – on first for DH Andrew Reynolds, who struck out to end the ballgame.

The win got Rutgers Prep back to .500, at 9-9 on the season. Ridge had a 14-game win streak snapped, as the Red Devils fall to 17-3.

Click below for postgame reaction presented by Sportsplex at Metuchen:

Rutgers Prep pitcher Max Treonze
Rutgers Prep second baseman Evan Laub

Rematch! Ridge, Rutgers Prep will do it again tonight for Somerset County Tournament title

The same two teams as last year will battle it out Tuesday night at TD Bank Ballpark in Bridgewater as 2nd-seed Ridge and 12-seed Rutgers Prep rematch for the Somerset County Tournament title.

You can hear the game on Central Jersey Sports Radio, with all our tournament coverage presented by Zoned Sports Academy in Bridgewater. Game time is 7:00.

The Red Devils topped the Argonauts in last year’s title game, 6-0, behind a gem from Connor Byrne, and is looking for its eighth title overall. Rutgers Prep is seeking its second, with the first title coming in 2017.

Click the logo above to learn more about baseball training and more at Zoned Sports Academy in Bridgewater!

Pregame coverage on Central Jersey Sports Radio Tuesday night begins at 6:40 pm. First pitch is set for 7:00 with Mike Pavlichko and Chris Tsakonas calling all the action. Click here to listen live and for free.

Scroll through this story for links to coverage of both teams this season, the finals at-a-glance, how they got here, team record in the finals, and other notes and stats:


(2) Ridge (17-2 UPDATE, 8-2 Skyland Conference Delaware Division) CLICK FOR PREVIEW
(12) Rutgers Prep (8-9, 1-7 Skyland Conference Raritan Division) CLICK FOR PREVIEW

Date and Time: Tuesday, May 9 at 7 pm
Location: TD Bank Ballpark, Bridgewater
Weather: 66 degrees, partly sunny, wind ENE 5 mph (in from left field)
Listen on: Central Jersey Sports Radio (click here)
Announcers: Mike Pavlichko, Chris Tsakonas

Starting Pitchers:
Ridge: Connor Byrne (3-0, 0.59 ERA)
Rutgers Prep: Zach Fronio (0-1, 2.06 ERA) or Max Treonze (4-0, 0.25 ERA)

Head Coaches:
Ridge: Tom Blackwell, 182-138 (18th season)
Rutgers Prep: Larry Santowasso, 320-262 (27th season)


First and Second Round bye
Quarterfinals: def. (10) Bernards, 1-0 (Connor Byrne pitched a perfect game)
Semifinals: def. (6) Pingry, 6-2

Rutgers Prep:
First Round: def. (13) Watchung Hills, 8-0
Second Round: def. (5) Franklin, 5-4
Quarterfinals: def. (4) Somerville, 3-2
Semifinals: def. (1) Bridgewater-Raritan, 4-3


Ridge has won 14 straight, with the last loss coming almost a month ago, on April 11th, to Bridgewater-Raritan, their only defeat at the hands of a Somerset County opponent all year.

Rutgers Prep has only two winning streaks all year, a two-gamer with wins on April 18th and 19th against Phillipsburg and Watchung Hills, with the game against the Warriors their opener in the Somerset County Tournament. They then dropped one, and won their next four, the first three of which were one-run games in the SCT, over Franklin, Somerville and Bridgewater-Raritan.


Read and listen to more about Ridge:

Read and listen to more about Rutgers Prep:


Ridge (7-8): The Red Devils are the defending champs, and before last season, had been to the finals twice since their last title in 2011, when they beat Hillsborough 4-3 in eight innings. They lost in the 2014 finals to the Raiders 4-3 in nine innings, and lost in 2019 to Immaculata, 6-5 in 12 innings, matching the longest game in SCT finals history. Technically, this is a third straight SCT finals appearance for the Red Devils, since there was no tournament in 2020 or 2021. Current head coach Tom Blackwell won his first of three SCT rings as a player, in the Red Devils’ 1989 win over Bridgewater-Raritan West.

1976: Ridge 4, Watchung Hills 3 (10)
1979: Hillsborough 2, Ridge 0
1980: Ridge 7, Franklin 1
1984: Ridge 2, Immaculata 0
1985: Ridge 5, Immaculata 0
1987: Somerville 2, Ridge 1
1988: Bridgewater-Raritan West 3, Ridge 1
1989: Ridge 5, Bridgewater-Raritan West 4
1995: Somerville 7, Ridge 6
2000: Immaculata 2, Ridge 0
2002: Immaculata 10, Ridge 0
2011: Ridge 4, Hillsborough 3 (8)
2014: Hillsborough 4, Ridge 3 (9)
2019: Immaculata 6, Ridge 5 (12)
2022: Ridge 6, Rutgers Prep 0

Rutgers Prep (1-1): The Argonauts had won their only trip to the finals in 2017 before last year’s defeat to Ridge. In ’17, they beat top-seed and defending champion Montgomery 7-2. They were the 10-seed that year, and won a huge game over 2nd-seeded Watchung Hills in the quarterfinals. In the title game, starting pitcher Sam Beck went the distance, allowing just five hits. That’s believed to be the lowest seed to win a Somerset County Tournament title, but if they do it this year – as a 12-seed – they’ll break their own record.

2017: Rutgers Prep 7, Montgomery 2
2022: Ridge 6, Rutgers Prep 0


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Ridge and Rutgers Prep were supposed to meet last year in the regular season, the game – the Friday before the Monday final – was cancelled as warmups were wrapping up, with heavy thunderstorms passing through. So, last year’s final was their first since 2015.

They got their regular season meeting in this year, with Ridge winning 7-3 in basking Ridge on April 8th, the first week of the season. Luke Somelofske got the win in relief as the Red Devils scored twice in the fifth and four times in the sixth after falling into an early 2-0 hole.

In the last five meetings, the Red Devils have won the last four (this year’s regular season meeting, last year’s final, plus 7-5 in 2015, 4-3 in 2014) and the Argonauts have won once (3-2 in 2012).


While Connor Byrne’s perfect game came against Bernards in the semifinals of the tournament, there has been one no-hitter thrown in the Somerset County finals. It came in 1997, when Immaculata’s Scott Allan shut down Bridgewater-Raritan for a 2-0 win. He struck out nine and walked four in his third no-hitter of the season. He was so good, he had allowed only two earned runs all year to that point.

Long Games, Short Game…

In the last ten Somerset County Tournaments, four of the finals have gone to extra innings, including Ridge’s loss to Immaculata, 6-5 in 11 innings, in 2019.

Before 2019, the 2014 title game saw Hillsborough beat Ridge 4-3 in nine, the Raiders beat Bridgewater-Raritan 4-3 in 12 innings in the 2012 title game, and Ridge beat Hillsborough the year prior 4-3 in eight innings.

That means last year’s final was the first Ridge coach Tom Blackwell has been to that did not take extra innings to decide.

Since 2010, there’s only been one mercy-rule-shortened final, and that came in 2010 when Montgomery stunned Immaculata with a five-run first-inning and an eight-run fourth en route to a 13-3 victory. There have been three ten-run rule wins in the SCT finals all-time. In addition to the 2010 final, Ridge lost 10-0 to Immaculata in 2002, and Watchung Hills beat Bridgewater-Raritan West in 1982 by a 15-0 score.

Byrne could join rare company…

With a win, Connor Byrne could be among the few pitchers to win two SCT title games in his high school career.

The last time a starting pitcher won two SCT finals was in 1999 and 2000, when Casey Cahill did it for Immaculata during the Spartans’ run of six straight titles and ten in 12 seasons.

But two wins came more recently for Dylan Finer of Hillsborough, who got the win in both the 2014 and 2015 title games. However, in 2014’s win, he was the starter. He got the victory in 2015 in a relief effort.

Many rematches…

There have been six rematches in Somerset County Tournament finals, but this will be the first since 2007 and 2008, when Immaculata beat Hillsborough twice in a row. They also faced off in 2004 and 2005, with the Spartans winning the first, but the Raiders returning the favor in ’05.

Immaculata at Bridgewater-Raritan met for three straight years from 1996 to 1998, with the Panthers winning the first of the meetings, and the Spartans winning the next two.

In 1993 and ’94, Watchung Hills and Immaculata met back-to-back years, with the Warriors winning the first, and the Spartans winning the second. It was also the first time the tournament featured the same starting pitchers in back to back finals – Ben Matsil for Hills and Jason Ryan for ‘Lata.

The 1988 and ’89 finals featured Ridge and Bridgewater-Raritan, with the Panthers winning the first, and the Red Devils taking the second; that was the team that featured current Ridge head coach Tom Blackwell, who scored a run in the victory in 1989.

And the first rematch in the SCT final came in 1985, when Ridge won its second straight title – and fourth overall – blanking Immaculata 5-0.

Overall, there have been seven rematch games, with repeat wins coming in three of them: Ridge in 1985 and Immaculata in 1998 and 2008.

Ready for the Postseason?

Since baseball returned from COVID in the 2021 season, Ridge is 11-2 in its last 13 postseason games. There was no county tournament in 2021, but the Red Devils won four games to claim the North Jersey, Section 2, Group 4 title over Franklin, but fell to Montclair in the Group 4 semifinals. In 2022, they won all three games they played in the SCT to take home the championship, then won their first two in the states before falling to Woodbridge in 11 innings in the North 2, Group 4 semis. This year, they are 2-0.

As for Rutgers Prep, they are just 8-9 this season, but it breaks down to 3-9 in regular season play, and a perfect 5-0 in playoff games. They won four SCT contests to get to Tuesday’s final, and also beat Princeton Day 13-2 last Thursday in the Prep B Tournament quarterfinals.

Ridge and Rutgers Prep: A look back at eight championships, and last year’s title tilt

No, Phil Connors, it’s not Groundhog Day.

When top-seed Ridge and 12-seed Rutgers Prep meet Tuesday night for the Somerset County Tournament title, it will be a rematch of last year’s meeting, which Ridge won 6-0 for its first title in eleven years.

Ridge has won more seven SCT crowns over the years, the Argonauts just one.

The Red Devils won in 1976, 1980, 1984, 1985, 1989, 2011 in addition to last year, while Rutgers Prep won it in 2017.

And some of those games were pretty wild, so we thought we’d refresh your memory.

Click the logo above to learn more about baseball training and more at Zoned Sports Academy in Bridgewater!


1976: Ridge 4, Watchung Hills 3 (10) – It was the last game of the year for the Red Devils, who’d already been eliminated from the state tournament, falling in the state Group 3 final to Lakewood. So this was it. Ridge jumped out to a 3-0 lead with the help of some Watchung Hills errors, but the Warriors got back into it with two in the fourth and one in the sixth to tie it. In the eighth, Lane Hobby slapped an 0-2 pitch down the left field line for a single. On a steal attempt, he was called out at second, but the umpire changed his call after he saw the ball had been dropped. Glenn Harris was intentionally walked, and with runners on first and second, Steve DeToro lined a shot back up the middle into center. Coach Pete Hall decided to send Hobby home, even though he told the media “the center fielder had the ball before Lane reached third base.” Figuring they might not get another chance to score – and it would still be tied if he were called out – he sent Hobby, who dove under the tag to win in walk-off fashion, before the term “walk-off” was fashionable. (This was 1976, after all.) Ridge finished what – at the time – was it’s longest baseball season ever: 25-6.

1980: Ridge 7, Franklin 1 – Less than 24 hours after losing to South Brunswick in the Central Jersey Group 2 title game, the Red Devils had to get back out there and put it all behind them, to try and end the season on a high note. The defeat at the hands of the Vikings – in which Ridge played uncharacteristically poor defense – was just their second of the year against 23 wins, and had left a bad taste in everyone’s mouth. In fact, still “shell-shocked,” as writer John Belis put it in the Courier News, the Red Devils found themselves down 2-1 in the top of the fourth before the skies opened up. The game was called, wiped from the scorebook, and started anew five days later, which allowed the Red Devils some time to realize “this was our championship game now,” according to pitcher Brad Powell. And Powell – their star pitcher – by then had enough days’ rest he could start. As usual, he mowed just about everyone down, even retiring 14 straight at one point en route to a 7-1 victory, and a 24-2 finish to the season. Ridge also was the Mountain Valley Conference champion.

1984: Ridge 2, Immaculata 0 – Ridge got on the board with a two-run home run by Bob Saraceno in the top of the first inning, and the Red Devils took that 2-0 lead into the seventh with starter Dave Kern having not allowed a single hit to the Spartans. He and Immaculata’s Steve Jasinski were locked in an epic pitcher’s duel, that two-run homer notwithstanding. But the Spartans nearly took the lead in the top of the seventh. With one out, Pete Anderson reached on an infield error, and after another out, Angelo Parenti singled up the middle. Then, the unthinkable nearly happened: Andy Castin hit a high fly deep to left, but nearly at the wall, left fielder Dan Pace reeled it in for the last out. Ridge had the title, and denied Immaculata its first ever SCT championship, in just its second finals appearance ever. Ridge finished the year 20-4, winning its third title in eight seasons.

1985: Ridge 5, Immaculata 0 – The two would meet again in the 1985 SCT final, with Ridge trying to become just the second team in the event’s 13-year history to win back-to-back titles, after Watchung Hills did it in 1982 and 1983. This one would be a little more comfortable for Ridge, which saw left fielder Steve Alexander knock in all all five runs in the victory, on a three-run smash in the second inning, and a two-run crush in the fourth, in a game played in front of a standing room only crowd at Somerset County College in North Branch, two years before it would be renamed Raritan Valley Community College.

1989: Ridge 5, Bridgewater-Raritan West 4 – While Ridge head coach Tom Blackwell has been the Red Devils’ skipper in three Somerset County Tournament Championship games – winning it it in 2011 – he also won a title as a player, in 1989. And for a while, he had scored the go-ahead run, as he and Rich Swift scored on a triple into the gap in right field by Jason Hipsher to make it 5-3 Ridge over the Golden Falcons. In the top of the seventh, though, West made it interesting. Mike Winchock hit a screaming line drive to third that would have been extra bases, but Eric Schneideman leapt into the air to grab it for the out. Bob Collins then hit a double that would have driven him in and made it 5-4. Collins eventually came in to score on a single, and had Winchock reached, it would have been 5-5. But it wasn’t, and Ridge ended a two-game skid in the county final – having lost in 1987 and 1988 – and avenged the previous year’s 3-1 loss to Bridgewater-Raritan West in the process. But it also was the last in a stretch of 14 years in which the Red Devils had made eight Somerset County finals in 14 seasons, winning five of them. They would go 0-for-their-next-3 SCT title games – in 1995, 2000 and 2002, before Blackwell would return, taking over as head coach for the 2006 season.

2011: Ridge 4, Hillsborough 3 (8) Ridge was the eighth seed in the Somerset County Tournament in 2011, and rode senior right-handed pitcher J.B. Kole all the way to the county championship. With an 0-2 mark heading into the tournament, he was the winning pitcher in the opening round against Gill St. Bernard’s, in the quarterfinals against top-seed Immaculata, and in the semifinals against 4-seed Watchung Hills. Now, at TD Bank Park in Bridgewater, they faced third-seed Hillsborough, and fell behind early. But no matter; they had come back before. They erased a 3-0 deficit against the Warriors in the semis, and would have to do it again, allowing the Raiders two runs in the first and one more in the second. But he would keep his team in it as they chipped back. Ridge got a run in the fourth. Another in the sixth cut the lead in to 3-2. They tied it in the top of the seventh when Dan Volpacchio singled, moved to second on a balk, and came into score on Dan Curcio’s two-out single into right field, coming on a 3-2 pitch with two out. Then, Kole put his team ahead with one out in the eighth, driving in Greg Fazio, who’d reached on an infield error. All he had to do now was set Hillsborough aside in the eighth, and he did: 1-2-3 for a complete game, eight inning effort, scattering five Raider hits. The win put Ridge over the .500 mark at 11-10; they finished 15-13, going 3-1 in regular season play the rest of the way, and getting knocked out in the second round of the North 2 Group 4 playoff section by Hunterdon Central, 5-3, a team they’d beaten 3-2 in a regular season game just two days prior.

2022: Ridge 6, Rutgers Prep 0 – Connor Byrne was lights out for the Red Devils, and the bats did the rest. The junior allowed only four baserunners all night, allowing just two hits, one walk and notching ten strikeouts. But Rutgers Prep freshman Zach Fronio was battling him step-for-step until the fourth, when – thanks to a throwing error that prolonged the inning – Ridge got to him for three unearned runs. They picked up an insurance run in the fifth and two more in the sixth, as Byrne won his ninth game of the season against just one loss. The county championship was the first in eleven years for Ridge – since 2011 – and snapped a two-game finals’ skid for the Red Devils, who had lost in 2014 and 2019, the last SCT before 2022, with COVID wiping out the entire high school season in 2020, and the shortened season in 2021 making an SCT impossible with not enough time to play enough games to seed the tourney in time to play the finals before the states. Check out the full game recap with postgame audio here.


2017: Rutgers Prep 7, Montgomery 2 – If you make a tournament final, of any kind, in any sport, you’re playing well. Call it luck, call it skill, you’re playing well. And many had discounted 10-seed Rutgers Prep five years ago, but nobody in an Argonaut uniform believed it. After all, they had beaten 2nd-seed Watchung Hills in the quarterfinals, 2-1 in 11 innings. Then they exploded against 3-seed Bridgewater-Raritan for a 12-2 semifinal win. But to all outside observers, no one imagined they’d beat top-seeded defending champion Montgomery. And yet, they did. Starter Sam Beck had the Cougar hitters off balance all night. The defense was crisp. And the bats came out to play. All that led to the first county title in program history. Beck threw 6 and 1/3 innings, alloweing just two runs on four hits, walking one and striking out six. The win also was career victory number 250 for head coach Larry Santowasso, who this year eclipsed the 300 mark, and now sits at 311 and counting heading into the 2022 SCT final, in this, his 26th season.

Rutgers Prep looks to keep late-season momentum building in pursuit of SCT crown

Sitting among his fellow coaches in the Somerset County seeding meeting just two weeks into the regular season, Larry Santowasso – a veteran coach in his 27th season – knew his Rutgers Prep team was better than its 1-6 record would indicate.

The Argonauts, loaded with talent, had gotten off to (nearly) the worst start possible. With significant parts back from their run to the title game last year, they found themselves playing on the opening weekend of the tournament as the 12th-seed, with a 2-6 record heading into their first-round game at Watchung Hills.

Put that down as an 8-0 win over the 13th-seed, a mild first-round upset.

Good enough, but then Rutgers Prep would go on – after a regular season 11-10 loss at Montgomery – to win three straight in the county tournament.

They picked up revenge wins over 5th-seed Franklin, 5-4 in the second round, and over 4th-seed Somerville, 3-2 in the quarterfinals, both on the road.

Then, at TD Bank Ballpark, in the semifinals, against top-seed Bridgewater-Raritan, the Argonauts jumped out to a 4-0 lead, and hung on to win 4-3, thanks in large part to a solid pitching performance by Zach Fronio, who got in some late trouble, but made like Houdini in the end.

Now, here they are in the county final again, set to take on 2nd-seed Ridge Tuesday night for the second year in a row in the Somerset County Tournament Championship Game presented by Zoned Sports Academy of Bridgewater.

Game time is 7:00; pregame is 6:40 pm on Central Jersey Sports Radio with Mike Pavlichko and Chris Tsakonas calling all the action. Click here to listen.

Click below for a preview with Rutgers Prep head coach Larry Santowasso:

INSTANT REPLAY: SCT Semifinals – (12) Rutgers Prep 4, (1) Bridgewater-Raritan 3

Rutgers Prep moved on to the Somerset County Tournament title game for the second straight year and third time in its history with a 4-3 win over top-seed Bridgewater-Raritan, the No. 5 team in the statewide rankings. The 12th-seeded Argonauts got two runs in each of the first two innings, and sophomore pitcher Zach Fronio – who gave up three in the fifth – made it stick, while Joey Dwek closed it out with two scoreless innings in relief.

Rutgers Prep will meet 2-seed Ridge in the finals on May 9th.

Click below to hear Mike Pavlichko and Chris Tsakonas call all the action from TD Bank Ballpark in Bridgewater, NJ on April 27, 2023:

INSTANT REPLAY: SCT Semifinals – (2) Ridge 6, (6) Pingry 2

Second-seed Ridge earned a chance to defend its 2022 Somerset County Tournament title with a 6-0 win over 6th-seed Pingry, putting them back in the championship game for the third straight time. Brendan Callanan was brilliant on the mound with six shutout innings pitched and 11 strikeouts, adding a two-RBI single in the fourth, while Nick Rossie hit a first-inning solo home run and was 2-for-2 with a walk and three runs scored.

Click below to hear Mike Pavlichko and Chris Tsakonas call all the action from TD Bank Ballpark Bridgewater, NJ on April 27, 2023:

Rutgers Prep ousts top-seed and state No. 5 Bridgewater-Raritan, moves on to SCT finals on the arm of Fronio

After two revenge wins over Franklin and Somerville in the second round and quarterfinals of the Somerset County Tournament, 12th-seed Rutgers Prep didn’t look like the same team that only had 2 wins before the event even started.

They didn’t look like it Thursday afternoon either in a 4-3 win over top-seed Bridgewater-Raritan (11-2) that puts them in the finals of the SCT in 12 days against second-seed and defending champion Ridge.

Zach Fronio threw five innings, giving up five hits and three runs, striking out five to get the win. But he almost didn’t.

With a 4-0 lead, he almost gave it away in the fifth, surrendering a two-run homer to Matt Moore, and an RBI single to Matthew Fattore, who was 3-for-4 with an RBI single himself.

But head coach Larry Santowasso had faith in his sophomore Maryland committ. After a mid-batter mound visit, Fronio bucked down, and got out of trouble without any further damage.

The Argonauts got two in the first and two in the second against Bridgewater-Raritan starter Jason Cozzi, who has been limited all year due to back issues. He walked six in just 1 1/3 inning, and took the loss.

Rutgers Prep (6-7) moves on to play in the Somerset County Tournament Final on May 9th at TD Bank Ballpark against top-seed and defending champion Ridge. It’s the same matchup as last year’s final.

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Click below for postgame reaction from Ridge, presented by Sportsplex at Metuchen!

Rutgers Prep pitcher Zach Fronio
Rutgers Prep head coach Larry Santowasso

Callanan’s strong 6 innings, 6-run outburst propel Ridge into SCT finals with 6-2 win over Pingry

When Brendan Callanan struck out five six of the first seven batters he faced, retiring the first seven he faced, one could be forgiven if they thought: “Could it happen again?”

No, Callanan didn’t throw a perfect game like Connor Byrne did Tuesday in the Somerset County Tournament quarterfinals against Bernards, but he pitched a pretty good game himself. He gave pitched five shutout innings, scattering three hits and struck out eleven, as second-seed Ridge (10-2) beat Pingry (6-4) in the first of two SCT semifinal games at TD Bank Ballpark in Bridgewater Thursday afternoon, as heard on Central Jersey Sports Radio, presented by Zoned Sports Academy.

Callanan took a 1-0 lead into the second after catcher Nick Rossi blasted a one-out solo homer to left in the bottom of the first. It was the first homer of his scholastic career.

For a while, that looked like it was all Ridge would need, until Pingry got two runs in the seventh on a two-RBI single by Nick Lorenzo.

Ridge got three runs in the third, on an RBI single by Julian Kielb, and a two-RBI single by Connor Byrne, which chased Pingry starter Alex Payne.

The Red Devils added two more in the fourth on a two-RBI single by Callanan, helping his cause.

Ridge moves on to play either top-seed Bridgewater-Raritan or 12th-seed Rutgers Prep, which played in the later semifinal at 4 pm.

It will be the third straight trip to the finals for defending champion Ridge, which made it in 2019 (there was no tournament in 2020 or 2021) and won it last season.

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

Click below for postgame reaction from Ridge, presented by Sportsplex at Metuchen!

Ridge pitcher Brendan Callanan
Ridge catcher Nick Rossi
Ridge head coach Tom Blackwell

SCT Semifinals take center stage at TD Bank Ballpark in Bridgewater as four teams vie for trip to county championship

After three rounds of play, the Somerset County Tournament semifinals are upon us!

Four teams – Bridgewater-Raritan, defending champion Ridge, Pingry and Rutgers Prep – will be gunning for a chance to play for the county title in nearly two weeks, in semifinal games to be held at TD Bank Ballpark.

Central Jersey Sports Radio will have complete coverage of all the games, starting at 12:35 pm Thursday with pregame for the first semifinal between top-seed Bridgewater-Raritan and 6th-seed Pingry. Coverage will continue with the 4:00 game, featuring 2-seed Ridge and 12th-seed Rutgers Prep.

Central Jersey Sports Radio’s coverage of the Somerset County Tournament is presented by Zoned Sports Academy in Bridgewater.

Below are full previews of each of Thursday’s semifinal games, with stats, notes, record and analysis.

#2 Ridge (9-2) vs. #6 Pingry (6-3)

First pitch weather: 57 degrees, partly sunny, wind ENE 4 mph (in from left field), 22% rain chance

Starting Pitchers:
Ridge – Brendan Callanan (4-0, 0.23 ERA)
Pingry – Alex Payne (2-1, 0.78 ERA)

How they got here:

Ridge had a bye in the first two rounds, and in its first SCT game – Tuesday’s quarterfinals – got a 76-pitch perfect game from senior Connor Byrne in a 1-0 win over 10-seed Bernards. Clearly, you couldn’t ask for more from Byrne, who had good defense behind him and got just enough offense for the win.

Pingry had a first-round bye, and won their first SCT game in the second round, blowing away 11th-seed and red-hot Manville 13-1, behind a mercy-rule, five-inning no-hitter by Alex Payne. In the quarterfinals Tuesday, they got a stellar outing from Jake Francis on the mound in a 4-1 win over 3rd-seed Montgomery. Coach Anthony Feltre called Kailar Ahn’s home run to break a 1-1 tie – the Big Blue’s first of the season – “the biggest hit of the year.”


This is Pingry’s first trip to the the SCT semifinals since 2006, when they lost 8-0 to Immaculata in the county championship game. But they’re no stranger to tournament play, having won the state’s Prep A tournament last spring.

Ridge is the defending champion, and has made the last two finals, three years apart. They made the finals in 2019, losing 6-5 to Immaculata, then after a two-year break due to COVID – with no season in 2020 and a shortened season in 2021 that didn’t allow time to put on a county tournament, the Red Devils won it all last season, beating Rutgers Prep 6-0 in the final.

Ridge players run onto the field after the final out of the 2022 Somerset County Tournament title game at TD Bank Park on May 23, 2022. (Photo: Mike Pavlichko)

The quarterfinals were all about great pitchers. The losing teams in the quarters were held to three combined runs. Rutgers Prep scored two, Montgomery one, and Immaculata and Bernards got shutout. On this game specifically, Brendan Callanan and Alex Payne have a combined 1.01 ERA, and in one start each in the SCT so far, they have combined to allow zero hits. Even without knowing that number, if you saw either of them pitch, you’d know this could come down to a 1-0 game.

That said, it may be a matter of who gets the timely hit, who is aggressive – or patient – at the plate, and who makes the mistake in the field. Pingry knows from that; they played Ridge to a 1-0 game earlier this year where a dropped fly ball was the difference.

At 6-3, Pingry has won four straight coming in, after a three-game skid where only one game got out of hand, a 10-1 loss to Pennington. Otherwise, there was the one-run loss to Ridge – which was ranked statewide in the preseason and is back this week – and a 2-1 loss to North Hunterdon.

Ridge, meanwhile, has a single loss on the season, that coming via shutout, 3-0 at Bridgewater-Raritan back on April 11th. They haven’t necessarily been tearing the cover off the ball, but they haven’t had to with the pitching they’ve gotten from Callanan – today’s starter – and Byrne.

Preview Audio:

Ridge head coach Tom Blackwell
Pingry head coach Anthony Feltre

Last titles, finals appearances:

Ridge has made the last two finals, winning last season, and falling to Immaculata in 2019. The Red Devils are have made the finals 15 times in their history, winning seven of them. In addition to the 2022 title over Rutgers Prep, they won in 2011, 1989, 1985, 1984, 1980 and 1976.

Pingry has only made two finals, losing both times: in 2006 to Immaculata and in 2003 to Montgomery, 6-1.

Past Coverage:


Ridge starter Andrew Shawah pitches in the third inning against Pingry’s Alex Payne on April 29, 2022. (Photo: Mike Pavlichko)


#1 Bridgewater-Raritan (11-1) vs. #12 Rutgers Prep (5-7), 4 pm

First pitch weather: 61 degrees, partly sunny, wind E 4 mph (in from left field), 6% chance of rain

Starting Pitchers:
Bridgewater-Raritan – Jason Cozzi (1-0, 6.17 ERA)
Rutgers Prep – Zach Fronio (0-1, 1.27 ERA)

How they got here:

Bridgewater-Raritan had a bye in the first two rounds, and in the Panthers’ first SCT game – in Tuesday’s quarterfinals – got a combined one-hitter from three pitchers in a 5-0 win over Immaculata. Starter Matt Fattore felt some soreness and came out after one inning as a precaution. Then, Noah Matheson and Corey Rible threw four and two innings, respectively, of no-hit ball the rest of the way to close out the Spartans and move on to the semifinals.

Zach Fronio – who’ll get the start tonight – pitches in the 2022 Somerset County Tournament semifinals at TD Bank Ballpark in Bridgewater on May 9, 2022. (Photo: Mike Pavlichko)

Rutgers Prep had to play in the opening round, and picked up an 8-0 shutout win over 13-seed Watchung Hills. They then picked up a big revenge win over 5-seed Franklin, 5-4, in the second round, eleven days after a 15-3 regular season home loss to the Warriors. In Tuesday’s quarterfinals, the Argonauts got by 5-seed Somerville 3-2 on a solid outing from Max Treonze: 9 Ks, 5 hits, no earned runs in a complete game effort.


Bridgewater has now cracked the top five statewide, and for good reason. Their pitching has been phenomenal, and they can hit. They’ve got a team ERA of 2.04, and three pitchers with at least 14 innings thrown with ERAs under two: Matthew Fattore (0.41 ERA, 17 innings pitched), Matheson (1.00, 14 IP) and Rible (1.68, 16 2/3 IP). At the plate, three regulars are hitting over .400: Matthew Fattore at .485, James Turchi at .478, and Joey Letko at .429. And as a team, they’ve hit six home runs, three off the batt of Matthew Fattore, while his older brother, Michael, has one, as does Devin Goldberg and Kevin Lee.

Rutgers Prep isn’t really an enigma, but they may be the exception to the rule that you are what your record says you are. They were 2-7 coming into the SCT, but have won three straight in the bracket to get here, with a regular season loss at Montgomery last week sandwiched in there, and that was just by a single run, 11-10. The win over the Pioneers Tuesday atoned for a 12-8 loss in a slugfest back on April 13. There is talent here, but it’s taken Rutgers Prep a little time to figure it all out. They can be dangerous, and surely won’t be overlooked by Max Newill’s club.

As much as the numbers don’t compare to the pitchers in the first game, these are two solid pitchers. Bridgewater senior Jason Cozzi is committed to UMass, while Prep sophomore Zach Fronio already has committed to Maryland. But neither has pitched a lot; combined they have five appearances on the year.

Bridgewater-Raritan’s Jason Cozzi pitches against Ridge in the Somerset County Tournament semifinals on May 9, 2022 at TD Bank Ballpark in Bridgewater, NJ. (Photo: Mike Pavlichko)

For the Panthers, Cozzi has had some back issues. He went didn’t go long enough to get the win in his first outing at St. Joe’s of Montvale, then came out early of the 4-2 win over Hunterdon Central, throwing just four innings before having to deal with back issues. Newill says he’s kept him out as a precaution, and hopes he’s ready to go for the SCT.

Fronio, meanwhile, has been a bad-luck pitcher. He’s only allowed two runs in 11 innings for a 1.27 ERA, but nine unearned runs have been scored against him. The Argonauts will have to play much better in the field to have a chance against the Panthers.

Preview Audio:

Bridgewater-Raritan head coach Max Newill
Rutgers Prep head coach Larry Santowasso

Last titles, finals appearances:

Rutgers Prep was in last year’s final, falling to Ridge 6-0 in the SCT championship game. They last won the county title back in 2017, and notably, did it as a ten-seed, stunning top-seed Montgomery, 7-2. Those are their only two finals appearances.

Bridgewater-Raritan, meanwhile, made its last trip to the finals in 2012. That was a 4-3, 12-inning loss to Hillsborough. Since the East-West merger, B-R has made four finals, winning it once, in 1996, a 7-5 win over Immaculata. The losses – in addition to 2012 – were back-to-back in 1997 and 1998 to Immaculata, the start of the Spartans’ dynasty, which saw them win six in a row, and ten of 12 SCT championships from 1997 through 2008.

Past Coverage:


Rutgers Prep: