Tag: state tournament

Immaculata falls to Ranney, 10-1, in Non-Public B title game

In so many ways, it didn’t play out like many people thought.

There prevailing thought was their might be a lot of scoring in the Non-Public Group B title game, especially after a home run to lead off the game by Ranney pitcher A.J. Gracia. But even though Immaculata got a run back in the second when Spartans’ starter Josh Thompson came home on a wild pitch, the game was a pitchers’ duel headed into the sixth, with both starters going well, and the score still tied at one.

The thing was, both pitchers were nearing the standard 110 pitch limit. And all of a sudden Josh Thompson was in trouble, allowing a leadoff walk and a bloop single to Gracia and Brett Wehringer, then after a strikeout, and RBI infield hit by Jack Tallent to break the one-all tie. And that’s when the floodgates opened, and there was no going back.

After a groundout back to Thompson, Diego Tavarez knocked in two runs with a single to give Ranney a 4-1 lead.

Then in the sixth, Ranney got plenty of insurance, scoring six more runs in an inning that saw more walks (five) than hits (three). And the Panthers still left the bases loaded.

Final score: Ranney 10, Immaculata 1, to win the Non-Public Group B title, the Panthers’s first.

Thompson took the loss, while Gracia got the win. The loss ends Immaculata’s season at 14-13, but it was a highly successful year, as a four-game run through their playoff section – including a win over top-seed Rutgers Prep – culminated with a come-from-behind walkoff win against Gill St. Bernard’s last Friday in the North B final, 8-7, giving Immaculata its fifth sectional title in program history, which is what the season will most be remembered for.

Well, that and their turnaround from an 0-3 start, a season that didn’t see them string together more than three wins in a row until the playoffs, which they entered with a sub-.500 record, and came out on the other side with a trophy.

Click below for postgame reaction with starting pitcher Josh Thompson and head coach Kevin Cust:

Sophomore Josh Thompson
Immaculata’s Josh Thompson (Photo: Mike Pavlichko)
Head coach Kevin Cust

Barrons enjoying the ride, but Nunez, Lukachyk and the rest are focused on bringing home a state title for Woodbridge

Few people expected them to be here, and that’s just the way they seem to like it.

The Woodbridge Barrons have surprised many people in 2022, just not themselves. They’re 25-6, and Friday, will take on top-seed Hunterdon Central (23-4) in the North Jersey, Section 2, Group 4 title game.

Should the third-seeded Barrons win, it will be their first-ever sectional title. This team is ready to make history.

But it’s not something they think about too much.

A scrappy bunch, in the mold of their head coach, Mike Monaco, they relish the role of underdog, but play loose.

They’re aggressive, and go after it, and while they may make physical mistakes, like any other high school baseball team, they’re focused enough not to make the mental mistakes that lead to errors on the scoreboard.

You can hear Friday afternoon’s game on Central Jersey Sports Radio, with game time set for 3:00. Mike Pavlichko and Chris Tsakonas will call all the action live from Flemington; click here to listen.

Click below to hear Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Mike Pavlichko talk with some of the Woodbridge Barrons on the eve of their state sectional title game against the Red Devils:

Sophomore pitcher Eddy Nunes, who will start against Hunterdon Central
Senior right fielder Brett Lukachyk

All-Somerset Non-Public North B final pits Immaculata against Gill St. Bernard’s

Immaculata and Gill St. Bernard’s have more similarities than you might think.

Though one is squeezed in right along Route 22 at the northern edge of Somerville and the other is nestled up in the Somerset Hills in Gladstone, you’ll see the similarities in how their seasons have played out in 2022.

Both are withing a couple games of .500, with the Knights 15-13, and the Spartans 13-12. They met in late April, with Gill winning 4-2 on the strength of a four-run top of the first, their first an only meeting in the last eleven years. Neither has lost more than three games in a row this season.

But it continues: both had to knock off two higher-seeded teams to get to Friday’s Non-Public North B final, which will be played at 1 pm at Diamond Nation in Flemington.

Immaculata had to beat top-seed Rutgers Prep, a tough task in itself against the Somerset County Tournament runner-up, but they did it in such convincing fashion, 11-2 on the Argonauts’ home field with six different players knocking in runs – and none driving in more than two – in a balanced attack.

Gill had to go up to Bergen County to knock off the two-seed, St. Mary of Rutherford, 5-0 on Tuesday.

It all sets up quite the final in North B, with the winner going on to the Non-Public Group B Final Wednesday, against either top-seed Ranney Prep or second-seed Gloucester Catholic, down at Veterans Park in Hamilton, which Central Jersey Sports Radio plans to cover.

Click below to hear Mike Pavlichko talk with both head coaches ahead of Friday’s Non-Public North B final

Immaculata head coach Kevin Cust
Gill St. Bernard’s head coach Dave Pasquale

11 Innings in 6 Minutes: Listen to all the highlights from Woodbridge’s N2, G4 semifinal win over Ridge

It had drama, it wasn’t always pretty, but Woodbridge is a win away from its first state sectional title in program history, after a 5-4, eleven-inning win over Ridge in the North Jersey, Section 2, Group 4 semifinals.

Listen to all the highlights as heard exclusively on Central Jersey Sports Radio, with Mike Pavlichko calling all the action:

Woodbridge stuns Ridge with Bosch’s almost-in-the-park-home run, to win in 11, gain North 2 Group 4 final

Officially, the play would go as a throwing error for missing the cutoff man on a triple, allowing the batter to score. But for all intents and purposes, it was just about an in-the-park home run.

A.J. Bosch never looked behind him. He didn’t see right fielder Luke Somelofske run past the ball as it fell just inside the foul line. Didn’t see the throw miss the cutoff man behind second base and go into the outfield. And he didn’t see the throw that came way too late to catch him after he dove head first into home plate to score the go-ahead run.

All that happened with one out in the eleventh inning, after the leadoff man, Dean Fiore, tried to bunt for a base hit and popped it foul behind the plate, where it landed in the glove of catcher George Busnach.

All of a sudden, it was 5-4 Woodbridge. But still, the Barrons and their fans could not exhale.

That’s because Ridge, with two outs, loaded the bases on an E6 and a pair of walks, before Eddie Nunez got Matt Aber to pop up to second baseman Drew Lukachyk to end an epic, marathon, wacky ballgame in the North Jersey, Section 2, Group 4 semifinals, as heard on Central Jersey Sports Radio.

Final: Woodbridge 5, Ridge 4, in 11 innings, and now the Barrons have a crack at their first-ever state sectional title.

It sure wasn’t without a lot of grief for both teams.

Combined, they left 24 men on base: 13 for Ridge, 11 for Woodbridge. Combined, there were six errors in the game: four for the Red Devils, including a pickoff move that sailed wide in the first, and two for the Barrons. And it rained for most of the first few innings, even if only a very light drizzle.

And yet, Woodbridge was in control most of the way, if only because they never trailed.

They scored in the top of the first on a bloop RBI single by Drew Lukachyk, but Ridge got it right back on a two-out single by Matt Aber.

Woodbridge went ahead 3-1 in the third on an bases loaded walks by Tyler Webster and Bosch, but Ridge got an RBI single by Luke Somelofske following a one-out triple by George Busnach in the fourth, and an RBI triple by Mile Olivo in the 5th to tie it at three.

No one would score until the Barrons score in the top of the ninth, in extra innings. With two out, Brett Lukachyk walked. On a Josh Vazquez hit to second, Andrew Shawah stopped a hard hit ball in the hole, had no play to first, but saw Lukachyk going for third. His throw was wide, went to the fence, and Lukachyk came in to score on the E4.

But then Ridge would tie it in the bottom of the inning. After a leadoff single by Somelofske and a sac bunt by Andrew Shawah moved him to third, Eddie Nunez came in to pitch. After Matt Shawah struck out, Brian Leitz hit a ball to the right side that first baseman Shawn Kish – in for the injured Ty Kobylakiewicz – fielded in front of the second baseman. He threw to Nunez covering at first but he couldn’t get there in time. Somelofske, scored, tie game again – but not before two intentional walks heightened the tension and Nunez got Matt Aber to strike out to keep things going.

That’s when the eleventh inning heroics by Woodbridge kicked in, sending the Barrons to the North 2 Group 4 final, where they will try and make history Friday, visiting top-seed Hunterdon Central.

Nunez got the win in relief for Woodbridge (25-6) to improve to 9-2 on the year; Mike Olivo took the loss in relief for Ridge (24-2) to fall to 5-1.

Click below to hear live postgame reaction on the air with hero A.J. Bosch, reliever Eddie Nunez, and head coach Mike Monaco:

Woodbridge having stellar season, seeking a chance to win its first-ever sectional title

It’s hard to win 24 games in a baseball season before you even get to a state title game and do it quietly, but that’s seemingly what the Woodbridge Barrons have done.

Part of that may be because they didn’t win their division; they dropped a pair-of mid-year regular season games to White Division newcomer Metuchen, and with a chance to clinch at least a share of the division crown, dropped another pair right before the GMC seeding meeting to another White Division newcomer in Middlesex.

But make no mistake about it, Woodbridge is a solid baseball team.

The Barrons have won games by a lot, and won games by a little. They’ve had a ten-game winning streak during the year. And like Ridge, the entire lineup can hit, which can make it grueling on opposing pitchers.

They’ll need that entire lineup to come up with timely hitting against Ridge on Tuesday afternoon, when the third-seeded Barrons visit the 2nd-seeded Red Devils in the North jersey, Section 2, Group 4 semifinals.

Game time is 4 pm, and the contest can be heard on Central Jersey Sports Radio with Mike Pavlichko calling all the action. Pregame is set for 3:45; click here to listen.

And just like Ridge, head coach Mike Monaco has not decided who will start the game, though his top two pitchers – Eddie Nunez and Josh Vazquez – are both readily available.

Click below to hear Mike Pavlichko talk with Woodbridge head coach Mike Monaco ahead of Tuesday’s game at Ridge:

Ridge “hitting” on all cylinders headed into sectional semi matchup with Woodbridge

Ridge and Bridgewater-Raritan played five-and-a-half innings of scoreless baseball Saturday afternoon in Basking Ridge. And when the Red Devils scored in the bottom of the sixth, with Connor Byrne cruising, that looked like it would be all they needed.

But in the top of the seventh, the Panthers got a baserunner, and Byrne came out nearing his pitch count limit. BR scored, and it was off to the home half of the seventh, with the bottom of the order coming up.

With two outs, the seven, eight and nine hitters took their turns setting the table. George Busnach walked, Luke Somelofskie singled, and Andrew Shawah walked, teeing things up for his younger bother, Matt.

An infield hit off the shortstop’s glove on a rocket of a ball in the hole won the ballgame. And that’s the type of timely hitting and quality at bats – throughout the lineup – that has been a staple of Ridge baseball this year.

READ MORE: Defending champ Ridge walks off Bridgewater-Rartitan in another playoff thriller to advance to North 2, Group 4 semifinals

And, to be frank, last year, too, en route to the North Jersey, Section 2, Group 4 championship.

The Red Devils are a win away from playing for that title again this year, when second-seeded Ridge takes on third-seed Woodbridge Tuesday in the North 2, Group 4 semifinals. Central Jersey Sports Radio will broadcast the game live, with pregame at 3:45 and first pitch set for 4:00.

Mike Pavlichko will call all the action; click here to listen.

Click below to hear Mike Pavlichko talk with Ridge head coach Tom Blackwell ahead of Tuesday’s matchup with Woodbridge:

Bridgewater seeking early jump on Ridge when they meet in Saturday’s sectional semis

There’s a lot of familiarty between Ridge and Bridgewater-Raritan. They’re Skyland Conference Delaware Division mates, and they even met in the Somerset County Tournament semifinals.

The Red Devils have won all three games, and in all three matchups, have scored first.

That’s a trend the 7th-seeded Panthers (15-12) hope to reverse in Saturday’s North Jersey, Section 2, Group 4 quarterfinal round, when they face 2nd-seed Ridge (23-3) for a fourth time in 2022.

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That game can be heard on Central Jersey Sports Radio, with Mike Pavlichko calling all the action from Basking Ridge. First pitch is set for 2:00, with pregame at 1:45; click here to listen live.

Ridge won the first meeting in mid-April, 10-2, an odd game that spanned more than one day, thanks to weather. The Red Devils won again 3-1 in the Somerset County Tournament semifinals, and 5-3 just a week later.

Click below to hear Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Mike Pavlichko talk with Bridgewater-Raritan head coach Max Newill:

Giant Killers: JFK pulls off a huge playoff upset for the second straight year with win over Brick Memorial

In 2021, Monroe earned the top seed in the GMC Tournament, and was promptly knocked out in the opening round by 16th-seed JFK, which hadn’t won more than three games in a row all season. Call it what you want, but head coach Tim Ballard at the time had a feeling about his team.

Fast forward 375 days later, and the Kennedy – which had only won back-to-back games once in all of 2022 – did it again, this time in the state tournament.

In a battle of the Mustangs, the 15th-seed from Iselin (9-18) beat 2nd-seed Brick Memorial on the road, 8-4, in the Central Jersey Group 4 first round, setting up a quarterfinal matchup Saturday – at a time to be announced – at 10th-seed Middletown North (16-10), which pulled a minor upset of its own Wednesday, winning 3-2 at 7th-seed Robbinsville.

READ MORE: JFK pulls off monumental upset, knocking off top-seed Monroe in GMC Tourney’s opening round

This time, it was Donovan Claiborne who came up big, a kid who has emerged as JFK’s ace, and he certainly pitched big in a big spot, allowing just four runs on six hits in 5 and 2/3 innings, while also going 2-for-4 with a double and four runs batted in at the plate.

Click below to hear Mike Pavlichko talk with head coach Tim Ballard about the victory:

North Brunswick rallies for another wild win, this time in the states

It wasn’t quite the seven-run seventh inning over Middlesex in the county tournament, but in a world of survive and advance, it’ll do.

Fresh off its first-ever GMCT Championship, North Brunswick found itself down by a run heading into the seventh inning of its opening round Central Jersey Group 4 NJSIAA playoff game against rival South Brunswick. They had just three outs to work with.

Turns out they didn’t need any of them. And it happened so quickly, too.

EJ Accetura led off with a double, and Frandy Martinez singled to put runners at the corners for Yomar Carreras, who walked to load the bases. Power-hitting Zack Konstantinovsky – hot off a three-hit complete game to win the GMC Tournament title Sunday – hit a hard liner to short for an infield hit to tie the game. Up came Omar Carreras, who already had a walk-off homer to beat East Brunswick earlier this year, somewhat of a turning point for the Raiders.

But he didn’t need to swing for the fences. He just drove a simple single to right field to score Frandy Martinez, and give 5th-seed North Brunswick a come-from-behind 5-4 win to advance to Saturday’s sectional quarterfinals.

Bing, bang, boom.

The win puts the Raiders at 21-9 on the season, setting a new program mark for wins in a season, besting the 1983 team that had 20, according to Korbis Thompson, who covers North Brunswick baseball on the King James Radio Network. That team also won the Central Jersey Group 2 title, the first of two the Raiders have won – the other in 1984.

It was also the Raiders’ tenth win in their last eleven games. Since starting the season 5-6, North Brunswick – now No. 2 in the Bellamy & Son Paving Top Ten after the GMC final upset of St. JOseph-Metuchen – has won 16 of its last 19 games.

Next up, the Raiders travel to 4th-seed Northern Burlington (17-8) for the quarterfinals. Game time is TBA.

Click below to hear postgame reaction from North Brunswick head coach Mark Blevins: