The Ridge Red Devils – coming off a 24-4 season, a Somerset County Tournament championship, and a heartbreaking 11-inning loss in the Central Jersey Group 4 semifinals to end their season – will begin 2023 right where they left off: Number One in the Bellamy & Son Paving Top Ten.
Not only does Ridge take the top spot in our preseason rankings, but the top four teams remained the same. The rest saw some significant movement.
The Red Devils have some key pieces back from last year’s club, including pitchers Connor Byrne and Brendan Callanan, while Callanan, Luke Somelofske and Julian Kielb – the team’s top run producer a year ago – are among the top hitters returning.
In second, it’s North Brunswick, which won its first-ever GMC Tournament Championship last year, beating defending champ St. Joseph of Metuchen in the final. The Falcons check in at No. 3.
The Raiders went 22-10 last season, and have a lot of key hitters back, including Omar and Yomar Carreras and Frankie Garbolino, while Rutgers-bound strikeout whiz Zach Konstantinovsky returns for his senior season. Last year, “Zack K” threw 67 innings, struck out 120 hitters, and walked only two, with a miniscule 0.73 earned run average.
The Falcons finished 22-9 last year, and were the Red Division Champions. Their returning lineup is loaded, with standouts like Mark Gialluisi, Robbie Carvelli, Josiah Brown and many more returning, though they lose two of the best pitchers in the league – Donovan Szak and Andrew Goldan, both of whom are now at Rutgers.
Checking in at No. 4 is Woodbridge. The Barons were 25-7 last year and a North Jersey, Section 2, Group 4 finalist, having won an epic 11-inning game at Ridge, but falling to Hunterdon Central in the final. The Barrons return their top pitcher in Eddy Nunez, as well as key offensive players like senior Ty Kobylakiewicz, and juniors Drew Lukachyk and A.J. Bosch.
In fifth is Rutgers Prep, which was 19-6 last season and won the Skyland Conference Valley Division, and made it to the Somerset County final, falling to Ridge. A young team in 2022, they still won’t have a lot of seniors, but players like sophomores Andrew Parisi (.537, 54 RBI, 11 HR) and Zach Fronio (42 2/3 innings pitched, 1.34 ERA) will have lots of experience to call upon.
East Brunswick checks in at No. 6. A Central Jersey Group 4 finalist, the Bears were 17-13 last season, and lost an epic GMC Tournament semifinal game to North Brunswick 1-0 in 12 innings.
Monroe – 16-11 a year ago – is in seventh, while Pingry comes in eighth. The Big Blue were 23-3 last season and had just one regular season loss, to Ridge. Their other two losses were in the county and state tournaments.
Immaculata – 14-13 a year ago – comes in ninth. A young ballclub went 14-13 last season, but lost some key offensive players and some big arms, like Aiden Rumain, Matt Warzeniak and Christian Martell.
And Bridgewater-Raritan, which has a veteran group returning from last year’s 15-13 team debuts in this year’s poll at No. 10.
Below is the complete Bellamy & Son Paving Preseason Top Ten: