Tag: Somerville

Solid week for the Bellamy & Son Paving Top Ten, with little movement in the Week 6 rankings

Only two teams moved in the Week 6 Bellamy & Son Paving Top Ten, after the entire slate of ranked teams combined to go 20-3 in the week gone by, with nobody losing more than once.

Woodbridge and Somerville flip-flopped, as the Barrons moved up to third on the strength of a 2-0 week, while Somerville dropped to fourth after going 1-1.

The rankings – though released Monday night – were compiled before Monday’s Somerset County Tournament doubleheader.

Below are the full Week 6 rankings:

Rutgers Prep gets solid effort from Fronio, knocks off Somerville, clinches trip to SCT Finals

Freshman Maryland commit Zach Fronio threw six solid innings for Rutgers Prep, while fielders for both teams had difficulty with swirling winds and the sun field on pop ups, leading the 6th-seeded Argonauts to a 6-3 upset win over 2-seed Somerville in Game One of the Somerset County Tournament Semifinals at TD Bank Park in Bridgewater.

Fronio fanned four, walked three, and allowed just three hits, while Nick Baldev closed out the game.

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The win gets Prep in the finals for the first time since 2017, its only other appearance, when the Argonauts beat Montgomery 7-2.

Prep will face top-seed Ridge, which beat 4-seed Montgomery 3-1 Monday night, in the semifinal nightcap.

The Argos got on the board in the top of the first and had a 1-0 lead, but Somerville tied it in the third. Prep then scored twice in the fourth, and three more times in the fifth, chasing starter Kolbie Stellpflug, to go up 6-2.

Nick Baldev came in to close out the seventh, allowing a two runs on a one-out double down the right field line by Matty Wright, who was erased going past the second base bag, while the third run scored. But Baldev got Sean Noone on a groundout to short to end the game.

Click below for postgame reaction from Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Mike Pavlichko:

Rutgers Prep starting pitcher Zach Fronio
Rutgers Prep head coach Larry Santowasso

Somerset County Tournament Semifinals return to TD Bank Park Monday night

Between the COVID-19 pandemic and a shortened 2021 season, the first Somerset County Tournament for baseball since 2019 returns to TD Bank Park in Bridgewater Monday, with a pair of semifinal games on tape.

Ridge, Somerville, Bridgewater-Raritan and Rutgers Prep will all be vying for a spot in the finals, two weeks later on Monday, May 23rd.

All games can be heard live on Central Jersey Sports Radio by clicking here.

Somerset County Tournament Semifinals
4 pm: (2) Somerville vs. (6) Rutgers Prep
7 pm: (1) Ridge vs. (4) Bridgewater-Raritan

One thing is for sure, there will be a new champion, after Immaculata won the last two SCTs, in 2018 and 2019. In fact, the last three champions have all won back-to-back, Hillsborough in 2014 and 2015, followed by Rutgers Prep in 2016 and 2017, and then the Spartans.

Here’s a breakdown of both Monday’s semifinals:

(2) SOMERVILLE (10-7, 8-3 in the Skyland Conference Delaware Division, 3rd place) vs.
(6) RUTGERS PREP (12-2, 8-1 in the Skyland Conference Valley Division, 1st place)
First pitch weather: 65 degrees, mostly sunny, wind NE 12 mph (left field to right)

Starting Pitchers:
Somerville – Kolbie Stellpflug (3-1, 3.59 ERA)
Rutgers Prep – Zach Fronio (2-0, 1.02 ERA)

How they got here:

The Pioneers had a bye to the quarterfinals, and beat 7-seed Pingry 9-8 in their first game in the SCT. They nearly didn’t make it, though. Somerville led the Big Blue – playing its fourth game in as many days – 7-0 after two, but Pingry tied the game in the top of the 7th at 8-8. It took a three-base error on Pingry and a walk-off single by Tyler Stone to put The ‘Ville into the semifinals. For a top pitcher on the team, Kolbie Stellpflug is not a strikeout pitcher; he’s walked as many as he’s fanned this season, but he can get the job done.

Somerville starter Kolbie Stellpflug delivers to the plate in the fourth inning against Bridgewater-Raritan on April 21, 2022. (Photo: Mike Pavlichko)

Rutgers Prep had an opening round bye, and beat 11-seed Bernards in the second round 5-3 on April 23. They then knocked off third-seed Montgomery 8-3 on the road in the semifinals, avenging an earlier road loss to the Cougars, 9-1, on the second day of the season. Zach Fronio is just a freshman, but has fit nicely in with the starters on the pitching staff, and veteran head coach Larry Santowasso – who recently won his 300th game – trusts him with the ball in a big spot here.


Rutgers Prep and Somerville used to be in the same division, and played each other frequently, but after the 2020 season was cancelled and a shorter-than-ususal year last year, these teams haven’t played each other since 2018.

Throw out the record on this one, with Somerville playing in the Skyland’s top division, the Delaware. They have losses to Ridge – the top seed in the tournament – as well as Hunterdon Central, which was back in the statewide rankings last week, after beginning the season in the top five. The Pioneers have won four of their last six, and haven’t put together more than three wins in a row this season, with out-of-conference losses to Robbinsville, North Brunswick, Scotch Plains-Fanwood in the Autism Awareness Challenge, and Delran in the Thank You Classic. They also lost their last game, 11-5 to Hillsborough back on Thursday.

Rutgers Prep on the field after a 15-6 win over Bernards on April 16, 2022. (Photo: Mike Pavlichko)

Rutgers Prep, meanwhile, has had a long layoff, thanks in part to a rain-out Saturday morning against Pingry. But the six days off also means the pitching staff is fresh, and ready to go. The Argonauts have won seven in a row since a 3-2 loss to Voorhees up in Glen Gardner on April 20th. They’ve scored eight or more runs five times in that span, and ten or more three times. They lead Voorhees by a half game in the Valley Division standings.

Last titles, finals appearances:

Somerville last won the Somerset County Tournament in 1995 – it’s last trip to the finals – and has won four titles overall in the event, which began in 1973. They also won in 1992, 1987, and in the SCT’s second year, in 1974. The Pioneers are seeking their sixth finals berth.

Rutgers Prep has only been to the finals twice, but won it both times, taking back-to-back titles in 2016 and 2017.

Past Coverage:


Rutgers Prep:

(1) RIDGE (14-2, 9-2 in the Skyland Conference Delaware Division, tied for 1st) vs.
(4) BRIDGEWATER-RARITAN (9-8, 6-5 in the Skyland Conference Delaware Division, tied for 4th)
First pitch weather: 61 degrees, sunny, wind NE 11 mph (left field to right)

Starting Pitchers:
Ridge – Connor Byrne (7-1, 1.83 ERA)
Bridgewater-Raritan – Jason Cozzi (1-2, 4.71 ERA)

How they got here:

Both Ridge and Bridgewater – as top four seeds – had byes right to the quarterfinals of the SCT, and have only played one game each.

The Red Devils were 13-3 winners over 9-seed Gill St. Bernard’s on April 30th. Though the Knights took a 1-0 lead in that game in the top of the first, Ridge answered back with six in the bottom of the inning, and led 11-1 after three, with eight batters driving in at least one run each in the game. The Red Devils can score runs in bunches; it’s a big reason they’re the top seed in this tournament. Byrne has been solid all year long, and can go long, throwing 100 pitches twice this season, and topping 90 two more times.

Ridge pitcher Andrew Shawah delivers to Pingry in a game on April 29, 2022. (Photo: Mike Pavlichko)

Bridgewater-Raritan topped 5-seed Watchung Hills in the quarters, 5-3, scoring five unanswered for the win, coming back from a 3-0 deficit. The win was the fourth in five games for the Panthers, who then beat Phillipsburg in a regular season home game 7-1 to make it five of six, before a 6-4 loss to North Hunterdon back on Thursday.


Ridge beat Bridgewater-Raritan in their only other meeting this year, 10-2 on April 18th. It was a game suspended due to rain and lightning and finished two days later, and neither coach believes it’s indicative of how this one will go. (It was also the Panthers’ biggest losing margin of the season, as six of their eight losses have come by three runs or less.) The two will meet again on May 17th in Basking Ridge.

The Red Devils’ 12-game winning streak is their best in quite some time. They won eight in a row to close out April in 2014, a year they made the North 2 Group 4 semifinals. By the end of that streak, they had won 13 of 14, with the only loss coming to Warren Hills, and then won six straight after that until a 4-3 loss to Hillsborough in the Somerset County Tournament Finals. That team finished 22-6, but this year’s squad could give that record a run for its money.

Last titles, finals appearances:

Ridge last won the SCT in 2011, but made its most recent appearance in the title game in the last one played, losing 6-5 to Immaculata in the 2019 final. The Red Devils are third in Somerset County in trips to the finals, with 14, winning six titles, their most recent coming in 2011, when they beat Hillsborough 4-3. They also won titles in 1989, 1985, 1984, 1980 and 1976.

Bridgewater-Raritan last made it to the finals in 2012, losing to Hillsborough 4-3. The Panthers’ only title since the merger came in 1996, but Bridgewater-Raritan East won the title four times – in 1990, 1978, 1978, and he very first year, 1974. West won it once, in 1998. The current B-R has made the finals four times; the other appearances were in 1998 and 1997, the latter of which began a strecth of seven straight SCT crowns for Immaculata, and 11 in 13 seasons from 1997 to 2008.

Past Coverage:



Freshman Fronio has contributed in a big way to Rutgers Prep’s success

He’s just 2-0 on the season, in four starts, but the freshman has contributed in a big way to Rutgers Prep’s success.

Zach Fronio quickly established a pretty high bar for himself when he fanned a career high 15 Canucks in a regular season win over North Plainfield, but that wasn’t even his biggest moment.

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That came when Rutgers Prep – now 12-2 – rematched with third-seed Montgomery, a much bigger school, and a Cougar team they’d lost to decisively, 9-1, on Day Two of the 2022 season.

That rematch came in the Somerset County Tournament quarterfinals two Saturdays ago, and the Argonauts got the revenge win, 8-3. Fronio came up big in a big spot: five scoreless innings of five-hit ball, striking out eight, walking just three.

READ MORE: Rutgers Prep’s revenge win, and other SCT quarterfinal recaps

Grace under pressure, no doubt.

And that’s why the 15-year-old – who won’t turn 16 until soon after he starts his sophomore year – will get the ball in another big spot, a little more than a week later: in the SCT semifinals against second-seed Somerville (10-7).

That game will be Monday at 4 pm at TD Bank Park in Bridgewater, and you can hear Mike Pavlichko and Chris Tsakonas call all the action live – with pregame at 3:45 – on Central Jersey Sports Radio. Click here to listen.

Click below to hear Mike Pavlichko talk with Rutgers Prep freshman pitcher Zach Fronio:

Somerville offense has Banos feeling Pioneers can make a run at SCT title

When Somerville (10-7) faces Rutgers Prep (12-2) in the Somerset County Tournament semifinals Monday at TD Bank Park in Bridgewater, Pioneers’ head coach Chris Banos has a really good feeling about his team.

The ‘Ville has scored a lot of runs this year, and even when they give up a lot, that’s helped them win a good number of games.

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It’ll no doubt come in handy against a Rutgers Prep team that can swing the bat, and has lost only twice all season.

The teams used to play each other year, being in the same division. But due to the COVID year and a move, they haven’t faced each other since 2018. Still, there’s a lot of familiarity between the two, and Banos knows to beat a team lead by veteran coach Larry Santowasso, who recently reached the 300-win milestone: fundamentals.

Central Jersey Sports Radio will broadcast Monday’s game live, with pregame beginning at 3:40 and first pitch at 4:00. Mike Pavlichko and Chris Tsakonas will call all the action from TD Bank Park in Bridgewater; click here to listen.

Click below to hear Mike Pavlichko preview Somerville’s semifinal game against Rutgers Prep with Pioneers’ head coach Chris Banos:

Timely hitting and four solid starters key Rutgers Prep into SCT semis

Larry Santowasso has been through enough of these to know what works and what doesn’t. Sometimes you have it and sometimes you don’t.

Sometimes hitting is just not enough. Timely hitting is the key.

Click the logo above to hear Mike Pavlichko’s interview with Zoned Sports Academy founder and owner Duke Baxter!

Rutgers Prep (12-2) has got that, and that – along with four rock-solid starters – is why the sixth-seeded Argonauts are the only “non-chalk” seed to be alive and playing in Monday’s Somerset County Tournament Semifinals at TD Bank Park in Bridgewater.

Prep will take on second-seed Somerville (10-7) in the 4:00 semifinal, which can be heard live on Central Jersey Sports Radio, with pregame scheduled for 3:40 pm. Mike Pavlichko and Chris Tsakonas will have the call; click here to listen.

The game will be followed at 7 by the other semifinal, top-seed Ridge and fourth-seed Bridgewater-Raritan.

Rutgers Prep has only lost twice on the season: once to Voorhees – and they’ll get another crack at the Vikings Thursday – and once to Montgomery. But they avenged that loss to the Cougars with an 8-3 win over the third-seed in the SCT quarterfinals just over a week ago.

It’ll be Prep’s first meeting with Somerville – typically a frequent opponent, even before joining the Skyland Conference – since 2018.

Click below to hear Mike Pavlichko talk with Rutgers Prep head coach Larry Santowasso:

Stellpflug’s ’21 experience paying off for Somerville as Pioneers seek SCT finals berth

Then-sophomore Kolbie Stellpflug pitched a lot in his first season of high school baseball, with his freshman campaign wiped out by COVID-19.

And he didn’t do poorly by a longshot. In eight appearances, he never took a loss, going 4-0 on the season, which ended with a loss in the sectional quarterfinals of the state playoffs.

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

But even that kind of season strengthened him, to the point he’s the ace of the staff in 2022, and getting the ball in the first Somerset County Tournament in three years, when his second-ranked Somerville Pioneers (10-7) face 6th-seed Rutgers Prep (12-2) Monday at 4 pm at TD Bank Park in Bridgewater.

READ MORE: Zoned Sports Academy celebrating its 20th anniversary!

Central Jersey Sports Radio will broadcast the game live, with pregame set for 3:40 pm. Mike Pavlichko and Chris Tsakonas will call all the action; click here to listen.

This year, Stellpflug is 3-1, with a 3.58 ERA, and pitching well, especially of late. Head coach Chris Banos says he’s been pressing less, focused more on the hitters, and has become a more consistent pitcher in his most recent starts.

Click below to hear Mike Pavlichko talk with Somerville junior pitcher Kolbie Stellpflug:

Tourney wins and regular season streaks juggle bottom of Bellamy & Son Paving Top Ten, while St. Joe’s and Ridge remain at the top

Despite a pair of losses to North Jersey schools, St. Joseph of Metuchen remains at No. 1 – where it’s been all season long – in the Bellamy & Son Paving Top Ten rankings, followed closely behind by Ridge at No. 2.

At this point, the Falcons are widely expected to garner the top seed in the GMC Tournament, when the committee meets next Friday, May 13. St. Joe’s is the defending tournament champion.

The Red Devils already are the top seed in the Somerset County Tournament, and they won their opening game in the quarterfinals Saturday 13-3 against Gill St. Bernards, and will face 4th-seed Bridgewater-Raritan in the last of two semifinal games at TD Bank Park on Monday, May 9.

The top four spots all remained the same, with Somerville holding in third and Woodbridge in fourth. Rutgers Prep inched up to fifth, while Monroe flip-flopped with the Argonauts and fell to sixth.

Bridgewater-Raritan – one of the four remaining teams in the SCT – returned to the top ten after a week’s hiatus. The Panthers dropped out last week at 4-6 but rebounded with a very strong week, going 4-1 with regular season wins over Scotch Plains-Fanwood, Watchung Hills and Mongtomery, and their SCT win over 5th-seed Watchung Hills. Their only loss of the week came in Delaware Division play against Hunterdon Central.

Middlesex held in eighth, Pingry – on a 2-2 week – moved to ninth – and South River made its debut, at 11-2, the current leader in the GMC Blue Division. The Rams are one of just four GMC teams to begin the week with ten-plus wins – Woodbridge, Middlesex and Joe’s being the others – while having won seven straight games.

Below is the full Bellamy & Son Paving Week 5 Top Ten:

Somerset County Tournament semifinals set, as Ridge, Somerville, Rutgers Prep and Bridgewater clinch trips to TD Bank Park

Three of the four higher seeds won Saturday in the Somerset County Tournament quarterfinals, setting up the matchups at TD Bank Ballpark in Bridgewater for the semifinals on May 9th.

Top-seed Ridge, second-seed Somerville, and fourth-seed Bridgewater-Raritan were the higher seeds to move on, while 6th-seed Rutgers Prep knocked off third-seed Montgomery.

The Argonauts’ 8-3 win over the Cougars was an upset by seed, but Prep had come into the game at 9-2, while Montgomery was 5-5. Yet Rutgers Prep did lose to Monty earlier in April, 9-1 on the second day of the season. And both games were at Montgomery.

Nick Baldev went 2-for-2 and Andrew Parisi 2-for-3, with a double and 2 RBI each as Prep took a 3-0 lead in the top of the first and never looked back. Starting pitcher Zach Fronio got the win, scattering five hits over five innings of scoreless ball, striking out eight.

AUDIO: Rutgers Prep head coach Larry Santowasso on Prep’s “revenge win”:

In the semifinals, Rutgers Prep will face Somerville (9-5), which beat 7-seed Pingry 9-8. The Pioneers lead the game 7-0 after two, but the scrappy Big Blue clawed back throughout, despite playing its fourth game in as many days. Down 8-3 going into the sixth inning, they scored four times to cut it to one, and once more in the top of the seventh to tie the game at eight.

But Somerville won it in the bottom of the seventh as Tyler Stone reached on a two-out, three-base error, and then Devin McKinley smacked a 1-2 pitch back up the middle for a walk-off single.

AUDIO: Somerville head coach Chris Banos talks about the Pioneers’ dramatic win:

On the other side of the bracket, top-seed Ridge was a 13-3 winner over 9th-seed Gill St. Bernards, as the Red Devils (13-1) picked up their 12th straight win, while they continue to rise in the statewide rankings. Though Gill took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first, Ridge exploded for six in the bottom of the inning, and led 11-1 after three. Eight Ridge hitters knocked in runs in a balanced attack, with none driving in more than two runs in the game. Julian Keilb and Andrew Shawah each had triples in the game, and Ridge continued its aggressive base-running – a season-long trademark – stealing seven bases in the game.

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Ridge will face fourth-seed Bridgewater-Raritan, as the Panthers (8-7) beat 5th-seed Watchung Hills 5-3. Since losing four straight in mid-April, Bridgewater has turned it around, winning four of their last five, and three-in-a-row against Somerset County Competition. The Warriors jumped out to a 3-0 lead after two innings, but BR held them after that, and chipped away, taking a 5-3 lead in the fifth on the strength of a four-run inning, fueled by a three-run homer by Frankie Verano, his first of the season.

In the May 9th semifinals at TD Bank Park, Rutgers Prep and Somerville will square off in the 4 pm game, while Ridge and Bridgewater-Raritan will play in the 7 pm game.

You can hear both on Central Jersey Sports Radio with Mike Pavlichko and Chris Tsakonas calling all the action. The games are brought to you in part by Bellamy & Son Paving, and Zoned Sports Academy in Bridgewater.