How good is this Class A North division? That could be a rhetorical question, but here are some possible answers to that question: 1) The No. 1 team in the state last year that went 27-5 with two third Team All-American players heading into this year did not even win the division outright; 2) Between the three top teams in last year’s loaded division, they return 12 Division I commits and seven players who were either All-Shore, All-Division or both; 3) those top three teams all look like seniors contenders to win NJSIAA sectional titles in three different Groups – III, IV and Non-Public A.

Even outside the projected top three, there is a team that returns most of its roster that reached the Central Jersey Group IV final and shut out the No. 1 team in the state twice, and four more teams capable of replicating that kind of success. Christian Brothers Academy enters this season as the defending No. 1 team in the state with a good chance to repeat that feat, but the Colts are going to have a hard time getting out of this division unscathed.

CBA swept all five titles in 2015. (Photo by Matt Manley)

In predicted order of finish

Christian Brothers Academy

Head Coach: Marty Kenney, 43rd season
2015 Record: 27-5 (10-4, tied first in A North)

Returning Starters Yr. Position 2015 Batting Stats 2015 Pitching Stats
Brandon Martorano Sr. C .444/.496/.870, 9 2B, 2 3B, 11 HR, 29 R, 31 RBI, 4 SB
Luca Dalatri Sr. P/1B .402/.480/.839, 11 2B, 9 HR, 16 R, 44 RBI 71 IP, 50 H, 7 BB, 122 K, 0.89 ERA, 9-0
Cid Porter Sr. CF .333/.422/.444, 10 2B, 3B, 29 R, 21 RBI
Kenny Campbell Sr. P/1B 41.1 IP, 42 H, 17 BB, 38 K, 2.03 ERA, 5-2
Returning Players Yr. Position 2015 Batting Stats 2015 Pitching Stats
Luke Chece Sr. P/INF 0-for-2, 3 R, RBI 5.2 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 5 K
Mason O'Mara Jr. P 0-for-1 17 IP, 12 H, 4 BB, 11 K, 0.00 ERA, 2-1
Nick Hohenstein So. P/INF 2-for-2, R, RBI 8.1 IP, 5 H, ER, 4 BB, 7 K, 1-0
Joe Gargana Jr. P .219/.286/.281, 2 2B, 4 R, RBI 13 IP, 11 H, 4 BB, 10 K, 2.69 ERA, 2-0
Brendan Galvin Sr. C/DH .276/.364/.310, 2B, 3 R, 4 RBI

Key Losses: Will Morgan (OF), Andrew Buccellato (2B), Matt D’Angelo (SS), James Miller (3B), John Moschella (1B), Shane Turk (OF), Mike Garvey (P)
Key Newcomers: Anthony Falconite (Sr., INF/OF), Evan Menendez (Jr., OF/P), Ronnie Meehan (Jr., P), Sal Morreale (Jr., P), Jack Harnish (So., SS), Andrea Dalatri (So., 3B)

CBA is coming off arguably the greatest season a Shore Conference team has ever had after winning the quadruple crown – division, county, conference and state group title – but it might be easy to forget just how close the Colts came to losing a few of those games. It took a four-run rally in the bottom of the ninth to survive a Shore Conference Tournament game against Middletown South and CBA also won the Monmouth County Tournament final against Wall and the NJSIAA South Non-Public A quarterfinal against St. Augustine in walk-off fashion. In addition, CBA did not actually win the Class A North title outright and lost four times during the course of the season. It is overwhelmingly likely that as talented as this CBA team is, it will lose at some point this season and will probably lose multiple times in A North given how good the division is.

If any team, however, can roll up a sweep of the major championships two years in a row, it’s a team that as two players the caliber of Luca Dalatri and Brandon Martorano. Both are committed to play at North Carolina next year, assuming a Major League organization does not make either a better offer by mid-August. Dalatri has been machine-like in his dominance since his sophomore year and is already in line to go down as CBA’s best pitcher ever. CBA also returns Cid Porter to center field and will be restocking a lineup that lost six starters with a number of potential breakout stars. Senior Anthony Falconite will get a shot at an outfield spot and possibly second base, while sophomores Andrea Dalatri and Jack Harnish have earned an inside track at starting infield spots – Dalatri at third and Harnish at shortstop.

CBA will have to replace senior Mike Garvey in the pitching staff, but the Colts pitching will be an unquestioned strength of the group. Kenny Campbell leads the stable behind Dalatri after giving CBA 41 quality innings last year, while juniors Mason O’Mara, Joe Gargana, Sal Morreale and Ronnie Meehan, as well as sophomore, Nick Hohenstein give coach Marty Kenney plenty of options. Senior Luke Chece also returns to the mix after an injury-shortened junior year and both Chece and Hohenstein will likely figure into the infield mix as well. Although the Colts lost some starting talent, their pitching depth behind three returning All-Shore players – two of whom were tabbed as Louisville Slugger Preseason First Team All-Americans – makes CBA the early favorite to finish as the state’s top team again in 2016.


Middletown South

Head Coach: Ryan Spillane, eighth season
2015 Record: 21-9 (10-4, tied first in A North)

Returning Starters Yr. Position 2015 Batting Stats 2015 Pitching Stats
Johnny Zega Sr. SS/P .326/.459/.551, 7 2B, 2 3B, 3 HR, 26 R, 19 RBI 29 IP, 12 H, 13 BB, 17 H, 0.97 ERA, 4-1
Zach Schild Sr. C .317/.355/.347, 3 2B, 13 R, 20 RBI
Austin Markmann Sr. P/INF .337/.409/.495, 6 2B, 3 HR, 19 R, 15 RBI 47.1 IP, 47 H, 23 BB, 31 K, 2.66 ERA, 3-2
Ian Scheuer Sr. 1B/P .250/.411/.295, 2 2B, 10 R, 7 RBI 27 IP, 31 H, 14 BB, 14 K, 4.41 ERA, 3-2
Ben Porpora Jr. 3B .276/.390/.391, 5 2B, 3B, HR, 14 R, 12 RBI
Jeff Lewandowski Jr. OF .216/.368/.216, 16 R, 8 RBI
Dave Mangarelli Jr. OF .291/.345/.320, 16 R, 14 RBI
Freddie Yahn Sr. C/1B/DH .279/.413/.311, 2 2B, 13 R, 9 RBI
Jon Martin Jr. P 5-for-12, R, RBI 28 IP, 12 H, 7 BB, 19 K, 1.00 ERA, 4-0
Returning Players Yr. Position 2015 Batting Stats 2015 Pitching Stats
Jeremy Joyce Jr. INF .325/.417/.325, 6 R, 5 RBI
Bobby Gyurindak Sr. P 0-for-1 10.1 IP, 13 H, 4 BB, 9 K, 4.07 ERA
Tom Gannon Sr. OF/INF 2-for-19, 2B, 3B, 14 R
Tom Frandsen Sr. OF 1-for-6, 5 R
Joe McLaughlin Sr. Sr.  5.2 IP, 10 H, 2 ER, 4 BB, 4 K
Transfer Yr. Position 2015 Batting Stats 2015 Pitching Stats
Ryan Ruziecki (Raritan) Jr. INF .319/.410/.402, 4 2B, 3B, 16 R, 11 RBI, 13 SB

Key Losses: Nolan Pereless (CF), Zac deRocco (P)
Key Newcomers: Mike Chiasano (Sr., 1B), Alex Beck (Jr., OF), Matt Salicco (Jr., P)

It might be easy to forget that Middletown South actually won a share of the overall Class A North title along with CBA last year, but it’s probably even easier to forget how poorly that same season started for the Eagles. Middletown South shook off a 0-4 start to win 21 games, including a 14-game winning streak that matched CBA for the longest of the season among Shore Conference teams. The Eagles could not get over the hump during the postseason last year, but with all but two starters back from last year’s squad, Middletown South is positioned to break through in 2016. Monmouth recruit Johnny Zega leads the squad as its shortstop at one of its top pitchers, although fellow rotation-mates Austin Markmann and junior Jon Martin are both on par with Zega as potential No. 1 pitchers on the staff. Martin, in particular, was a revelation as a sophomore who turned in an ERA of 1.00 in 28 innings last year.

The Eagles also return seasoned catcher Zach Schild, who will head to Monmouth with Zega next year and handle Middletown South’s deep staff this year. In addition to Zega and Markmann, Middletown South brings back experience in the infield in the form of juniors Ben Porpora and Jeremy Joyce, as well as seniors Ian Scheuer and Freddie Yahn. Middletown South will also add to its spoils on the infield with the addition of Raritan transfer Ryan Ruziecki, who was one of the Rockets’ top offensive players as a sophomore shortstop last year and will figure into the equation at second base this year. Replacing All-Shore center fielder Nolan Pereless will be one of Middletown South’s challenges, but juniors Jeff Lewandowski and Dave Mangarelli both bring plenty of speed to the table and saw plenty of at-bats as starters last year.

Like CBA, Middletown South is incredibly deep, perhaps even more than the Colts when it comes to position player talent. With that in mind, Middletown South has every reason to believe it can overtake the defending No. 1 team in N.J. during this year’s Class A North race.



Head Coach: Brian Boyce, 11th season
2015 Record: 18-10 (8-6, third in A North)

Returning Starters Yr. Position 2015 Batting Stats 2015 Pitching Stats
Jake Sadowitz Sr. 1B/P .430/.521/.684, 8 2B, 4 HR, 16 R, 25 RBI 17 IP, 30 H, 5 BB, 12 K, 7.00 ERA, 1-2
Chris Rodriguez Sr. SS .390/.455/.530, 8 2B, 3 3B, 26 R, 19 RBI
Stephen Carbonara Sr. C .329/.418/.388, 5 2B, 16 R, 17 H
Stephen Hansen Sr. CF .289/.354/.456, 13 2B, 3B, 22 R, 11 RBI, 5 SB
Mike Mollica Sr. OF .333/.379/.519, 6 2B, 2 3B, 8 R, 9 RBI
Matt Rosenberg Sr. OF .296/.387/.389, 5 2B, 11 R, 9 RBI
Tyler Stafflinger Sr. P/1B .292/.414/.417, HR, 9 R, 7 RBI 40 IP, 36 H, 11 BB, 36 K, 1.23 ERA, 3-2
Returning Players Yr. Position 2015 Batting Stats 2015 Pitching Stats
Carmine Rainone Sr. 2B .346/.433/.423, 2 2B, 7 R, 3 RBI
John Pudder Jr. P 10.2 IP, 15 H, 2 BB, 6 K, 3.94 ERA, 3-1

Key Losses: Ryan McGrane (1B/DH), Matt Klepper (2B), Nick Surhoff (3B), Nick Marotta (P), Nick Serra (P), A.J. Kawa (P)
Key Newcomers: Chris Winters (Sr., C/SS), Dan DeBlasio (So., 2B/SS), Robert Gargano (So., OF/P), John Michael Sabatino (Jr., P)

If there was one thing that separated CBA and Middletown South from Manalapan last season, it was that the two eventual A North co-champs were more consistent on the mound than the Braves were. When it comes to scoring runs, Manalapan is every bit the team that CBA and Middletown South are and with a loaded crop of returnees in their own right, the Braves should be considered a serious contender in every postseason tournament this year. Jake Sadowitz and Chris Rodriguez are coming off All-Shore seasons as juniors and fellow classmates catcher Stephen Carbonara and center fielder Stephen Hansen are also third-year starters coming off solid seasons. Seniors Mike Mollica and Matt Rosenberg were effective in sliding into the lineup last year and fellow senior and projected starting second baseman Carmine Rainone hit .346 with a pair of doubles in part-time duty last year.

In addition to the senior-heavy lineup, Manalapan will have a staff anchored by its best pitcher from a year ago, senior Tyler Stafflinger. The right-handed Braves ace and NJIT recruit pitched to some hard luck last year and still emerged with a 1.23 ERA. Sadowitz and junior John Pudder will back up Stafflinger and look to have breakout seasons on the mound. If the Braves can build up steady a staff behind Stafflinger, they have the makings of a team that can win any race or tournament they enter. They were one of the four teams to hand CBA a loss last year, so there won’t be a lack of confidence in the Braves dugout, regardless of the opponent.


Freehold Boro

Head Coach: Jon Block, 25th season
2015 Record: 16-13 (6-8, sixth in A North)

Returning Starters Yr. Position 2015 Batting Stats 2015 Pitching Stats
Nick LaMorte Sr. C .250 Avg, HR
Chris Cassandra Jr. SS .305/.376/.326, 2 2B, 18 R, 7 RBI, 17 SB
Nick Zuppe Sr. CF .253/.341/.304, 4 2B, 11 R, 10 RBI
Marco Meleo Sr. OF/P .274/.283/.304, 3 2B, 12 R, 15 RBI, 11 SB
Tom Holdorf Jr. 1B .271/.318/.383, 5 2B, 3B, HR, 9 R, 12 RBI
Steve Rullo Sr. P/OF .294/.375/.441, 3 2B, 3B, 7 R, 3 RBI 50 IP, 40 H, 16 BB, 20 K, 1.82 ERA, 4-2
Ryan Yee Sr. OF .169/.325/.261, 4 2B, 3B, 9 R, 10 RBI
Dan Chiusano Jr. P 47.1 IP, 47, 27 BB, 33 K, 3.57 ERA, 3-5
James Manos Sr. P/INF 20 IP, 15 H, 12 BB, 10 K, 1.05 ERA, 3-3
Returning Players Yr. Position 2015 Batting Stats 2015 Pitching Stats
Todd Burger Sr. P 1.00 ERA, 1-0

Key Losses: Dante Cuzzolino (2B/P), Nick Belka (INF), Anthony Matteo (3B)
Key Newcomers: Mike Belka (Jr., 3B/P), Pat White (Jr., P/1B), Mark Costanzo (So., P/SS), Phil Marcantonio (So., C)

There was only one team to beat CBA twice last season and not only did Freehold Borough accomplish that feat, but the Colonials did so by shutting out the No. 1 team in the state twice – including a mercy-rule win in the first meeting. The star of both games for Freehold Boro was right-hander Steve Rullo, who returns as a senior this season looking to head up a pitching staff that became a strength of the club over the course of the season. The Colonials will have to replace steady two-way talent Dante Cuzzolino, but Rullo has the profile to be that kind of pitcher and overall player. Rullo will head the staff along with left-hander Dan Chiusano while seniors James Manos, Todd Burger and Marco Meleo step into bigger roles on the mound.

The Freehold offense came alive at the end of the season and helped the Colonials to NJSIAA Tournament wins over Monroe and Manalapan before they lost to Hunterdon Central in the Central Jersey Group IV semifinals as a No. 14 seed. Meleo, catcher Nick LaMorte, and center fielder Nick Zuppe all return as seniors, while shortstop Chris Cassandra and first baseman Tom Holdorf stand to improve even more after starting as sophomores last year. Manos and senior outfielder Ryan Yee also return with experience in the field and at the plate, giving the Colonials lots of seasoned talent heading into the grueling A North schedule. This goes for any team in the division and the Colonials proved it last year: Freehold Boro can do plenty of damage come May, even if A North proves to be a rough ride.

Freehold Boro pitcher Steve Rullo. (Photo by Matt Manley)

Freehold Township

Head Coach: Todd Smith, seventh season
2015 Record: 13-14 (5-9, seventh in A North)

Returning Starters Yr. Position 2015 Batting Stats 2015 Pitching Stats
John Carroll Sr. 1B/P .354/.409/.532, 11 2B, HR, 10 R, 17 RBI, 5 SB
Matt Gorman Sr. CF .319/.390/.377, 2 2B, 3B, 14 R, 8 RBI, 23 SB
Ralph Gambino Jr. P/INF .171/.195/.286, 2B, 9 R, 4 RBI 36 IP, 36 H, 13 BB, 46 K, 3.31 ERA, 1-3
Mike Pirrotta Jr. P/1B .263/.328/.368, 3 2B, HR, 4 R, 4 RBI 44.1, 43 H, 17 BB, 27 K, 2.84 ERA, 4-1
Brian Oliver Sr. SS .176/.250/.329, 3 2B, 3B, 9 R, 8 RBI
Pete Nielsen Sr. P 1-for-2, RBI 41.2 IP, 38, 9 BB, 26 K, 2.86 ERA, 2-2
Returning Players Yr. Position 2015 Batting Stats 2015 Pitching Stats
Rob Nitti Sr. C 2-for-10, 2B, 3 RBI
Lane Shapiro Sr. 2B 1-for-7, 2 R

Key Losses: Joe Silvestrone (C), Kyle Fenton (P/3B), Rob Eriksen (INF), Brandon Roth (OF)
Key Newcomers: Nick Coluccio (Jr., C), Andrew Beam (Jr., C), Bryan Reed (So., P), Ryan Ford (So., P/3B), Zack Pericone (Jr., 3B/P), Joe Romanowski (Sr., RF), Greg Najar (Jr., P/OF), Matt Beuka (Jr., OF), Ryan Cardone (Jr., LF), Rodney Paulino (Sr., OF)

As far as retuning returning underclass talent goes, Freehold Township is well-positioned among the Class A North field. The Patriots even have some quality senior production back as well going into the season, but they do face a challenge of replacing their best hitter and their best pitcher – both of whom fit those descriptions by a wide margin. Joe Silvestrone was an All-Shore slugger behind the plate and Kyle Fenton emerged as the team’s ace last year while also swinging a mighty stick that Freehold Township is sure to miss. On the plus side, the Patriots return slugging first baseman John Carroll, who slammed a single-season school record 11 doubles to go with one home run last year. Senior Matt Gorman also returns in center field after a solid season at the top of the order but outside of the two seniors, there is not a lot of proven offense returning for Freehold Township.

If there is a reason to keep an eye on Freehold Township as a sleeper in A North this year, it is the Patriots’ up-and-coming pitching. Junior right-hander Ralph Gambino recently committed to Penn State and figures to head up the rotation after striking out 46 in 36 innings last year, but he will have some competition. Classmate Mike Pirrotta is a 6-foot-4 right-hander who also had success as a sophomore in 44 1/3 innings last year, while current sophomores Ryan Ford and Bryan Reed have a chance to do for this year’s Freehold Township team what Pirrotta and Gambino did last year. Senior Pete Nielsen also returns after posting a sub-3.00 ERA in 41 2/3 innings last year and Carroll will figure into the mix this season after an injury limited him to only two innings last year. With so many quality arms, it’s not hard to envision a scenario in which Freehold Township moves toward the top of the field this year and it’s certainly conceivable that the Patriots could position themselves as the A North favorite in 2017.

Freehold Township junior Ralph Gambino. (Photo by Matt Manley)


Head Coach: Jim Ferraro, eighth season
2015 Record: 12-9 (7-7, tied fourth in A North)

Returning Starters Yr. Position 2015 Batting Stats 2015 Pitching Stats
Brian Reilly Sr. 1B .339/.449/.482, 5 2B, HR, 6 R, 12 RBI
Will Trochiano Jr. SS .259/.397/.259, 12 R, 9 RBI
Matt DiSciullo Sr. OF/P .262/.314/.354, 4 2B, 3B, 14 R, 7 RBI
Gene Napolitano Jr. C .315/.387/.426, 4 2B, 3B, 8 RBI
Jeremy Dyzenhaus Sr. P 33.1 IP, 23 H, 16 BB, 25 K, 2.73 ERA, 2-3
Returning Players Yr. Position 2015 Batting Stats 2015 Pitching Stats
Andrew Gambardella Sr. 3B/2B 3-for-10, 3 R, RBI
Dylan Finn Sr. OF 3-for-14, 2B, R
Noah Thomas Jr. OF 0-for-1, R
Justin Kaplan Sr. P 11.2 IP, 8 H, 4 BB, 10 K, 3.60 ERA
Jeremy Bello Jr. P 7.2 IP, 19 H, 8 ER, 2 BB, 5 K
Jared Wright Jr. OF 1-for-7, 2 R, RBI

Key Losses: Andrew Nardi (P), Mike Santaromita (CF), Steve Santigate (3B), Phil Saglietto (RF/P), Jeremy Gerringer (2B), Steven Epstein (P)
Key Newcomers: Anthony Petrosino (Jr., OF), Mark Ventre (Jr, OF), Will Kramer (Jr., P), Justin Kapuscinski (Fr., 3B/C), Riley Keating (Jr., P/1B), Casey Hernandez (Sr., INF), Noah Hutter (Jr., P), Justin Levito (So., 2B)

In a division with so many good teams like A North, starting the year with a base of returning talent figures to be an advantage for any team trying to win. Like Freehold Township, Marlboro has some key losses to overcome but like everyone else in the division, the Mustangs have some legitimate talent to plug in. Andrew Nardi was a workhorse for Marlboro and it’s hard to see how the Mustangs will replace his quality innings. Senior Jeremy Dyzenhaus delivered a strong junior season on the hill and senior Justin Kaplan appears ready for a starting job, but constructing a rotation to follow up last year’s trio of Nardi, Dyzenhaus and Steven Epstein will be a tall order.

The lineup also has some holes in it left by graduation, but the Mustangs should be relatively steady throughout the diamond. Junior shortstop Will Trochiano will look to take a big step forward offensively after delivering in the field in his first two seasons, while classmate Gene Napolitano looks to follow up on a breakout sophomore campaign behind the plate. Senior first baseman Brian Reilly and senior outfielder Matt DiSciullo give Marlboro some offense at corner positions, while senior Dylan Finn and juniors Noah Thomas, Jared Wright Anthony Petrosino and Mark Ventre also figure in to the mix of outfielders. Senior Andrew Gambardella looks poised to start at either second or third base, while promising freshman Justin Kapuscinski vies for time on the infield while waiting his turn take over at his primary position behind the plate. The pitching will be a question mark in the early going, but Marlboro has had a good run of pitching in recent years and that track record should inspire some confidence that the Mustangs have an answer to account for the graduation of Nardi.

Marlboro senior pitcher Jeremy Dyzenhaus. (Photo by Matt Manley)


Head Coach: Eric Johnson, seventh season
2015 Record: 10-12 (7-7, tied fourth in A North)

Returning Starters Yr. Position 2015 Batting Stats 2015 Pitching Stats
Justin Steel Sr. C/INF .333/.370/.627, 8 2B, 3B, 4 HR, 13 R, 19 RBI
Troy Miller Sr. INF .283/.394/.383, 2B, 3B, HR, 11 R, 3 RBI
James Wynne Sr. OF/P .234/.308/.277, 3B, 6 R, 5 RBI 12.1 IP, 12 H, 6 BB, 14 K, 1.70 ERA
Connor Fey Sr. 2B/P .389/.451/.583, 5 2B, 3 HR, 12 R, 18 RBI 11.2 IP, 18 H, 5 BB, 11 K, 6.00 ERA, 1-2
Brian Chaballa Sr. P/OF 0-for-8 30 IP, 37 H, 12 BB, 29 K, 5.13 ERA, 2-4
Donovan O'Malley Sr. P/2B 26 IP, 26 H, 16 BB, 18 K, 2.42 ERA, 2-0
Returning Players Yr. Position 2015 Batting Stats 2015 Pitching Stats
Matt Furlong Sr. P 16 IP, 21 H, 8 BB, 17 K, 5.25 ERA, 1-1
Tom Scanlon Sr. OF 1-for-3
Christian Gedell Sr. OF 0-for-3, R

Key Losses: Rob Napolitano (C), Connor Boyle (CF), Dan Matrisciano (3B), John Stratton (OF), Mike Parisi (1B), Nick Poyer (P), Austin Kroeger (P)
Key Newcomers: Russell Quinlan (Sr., 1B), Grant Hackett (Jr., OF), Eddie Morales (So., INF), Mark Iacobino (Sr., 3B), Justin Jarosz (Sr., C)

Even in a loaded Class A North, the team that finishes seventh will have a lot to offer come tournament time, but don’t be too quick to dismiss the Rebels in the division race just because they come in at No. 7 on the list. Howell entered last season with some level of uncertainty on offense and ended up one of the top hitting teams in the conference, as they have routinely been over the last several years. Although the Rebels will have to replace a lot of production lost with the graduations of Connor Boyle and Rob Napolitano, Howell also brings back some thunder with Justin Steel, Connor Fey and Troy Miller. Steel cracked four homers last season and slugged over .600 while Fey hit three long balls and also hit .389. Those three will anchor a lineup that should again prove to be capable and help Howell compete day-in and day-out in a difficult division.

The questions for Howell arise in the depth of the lineup, as well as on the mound. James Wynne is another senior outfielder with a chance to pick up some of the lost production after he started last year, while fellow seniors Tom Scanlon, Christian Gedell, Justin Jarosz, Russell Quinlan and Mark Iacobino also look to make an impact at the plate and in the field. On the mound, Howell will try to improve upon a 2015 season in which the Rebels struggled to find consistency. The staff did, however, make some progress over the course of the season and seniors Brian Chaballa – a St. John’s recruit – and Donovan O’Malley came on strong as the year ended. Wynne also pitched well over 12 1/3 innings, which included 14 strikeouts and a sub-2.00 ERA, and senior Matt Furlong showed some ability as well. Although Howell is not as proven on the mound as some of the other teams in the division, the Rebels have a lot of potential options that could end up providing a nice complement to a strong nucleus of hitters.


Middletown North

Head Coach: Justin Nathanson, second season
2015 Record: 7-16 (3-11, eighth in A North)

Returning Starters Yr. Position 2015 Batting Stats 2015 Pitching Stats
Kyle Capo Sr. 3B .400/.453/.493, 4 2B, HR, 12 R, 14 RBI, 5 SB
Tyler Ras So. CF/P .250/.293/.294, 3 2B, 10 R, 11 RBI, 6 SB 18 IP, 20 H, 9 BB, 15 K, 3.11 ERA, 1-3
Walter Shopf Sr. C .293/.346/.373, 6 2B, 5 R, 10 RBI
Cole Fluta Sr. SS .244/.306/.282, 3 2B, 9 R, 8 RBI, 7 SB
Hunter Rinn Sr. P 21.2 IP, 16 H, 8 BB, 12 K, 1.94 ERA
Phil Pecherski Sr. P/OF .270/.341/.324, 2 2B, 4 R, 6 RBI 33.1 IP, 48 H, 13 BB, 23 K, 5.46 ERA, 2-4
Mike Mercier Jr. P/OF 3-for-11, 2B, 3 R 15.2 IP, 20 H, 10 BB, 7 K, 5.36 ERA, 1-3
Returning Players Yr. Position 2015 Batting Stats 2015 Pitching Stats
Seth Ziegler Sr. 1B .258/.343/.258, 4 R, 3 RBI
Garrett French So. 2B 0-for-10, BB, 2 R

Key Losses: Anthony Pianoforte (1B/P), Anthony Vetrano (OF), Chuck Estelle (Sr., P/OF), T.J. Vivian (P)
Key Newcomers: Marc Cerbo (Jr., 2B), Matt Jelinski (Sr., P/INF), Nick Liubicich (Jr., 1B), Thomas Loria (Jr., C), Frankie Wilton (Jr., C), Cody Sharkey (Jr., P/OF), Connor Welsh (So., OF)

Stop me if you have heard this before: this is another A North team that could jump up the standings and do damage in the postseason. Middletown North is coming off a last-place finish and has endured a long rebuilding phase, but the Lions have the makings of a good squad this season with the development of some of the young talent. Senior Kyle Capo is already an All-Shore-caliber performer after hitting .400 last year, and senior teammate and catcher Walter Schopf proved to a valuable hitter on top of guiding the Lions pitching staff. Cole Fluta also returns with experience up the middle and fellow seniors Hunter Rinn and Phil Pecherski will help anchor the rotation. Rinn, in particular, was good out of a swing role, throwing 21 2/3 innings between the starting rotation and the bullpen while pitching to a 1.94 ERA.

Sophomore Tyler Ras could hold the key to a big season for Middletown North after playing a sizable role on the team as a freshman. Ras will again be relied upon for key innings on the mound and after some mixed results at the plate last year, he should have enough at-bats under his belt to take a big leap forward and help Capo lead the offense. Classmate Garret French will also look to improve with more at-bats this season and the Lions hope to benefit from and influx of junior talent as well. Middletown North has a longer climb to the top of the standings than the rest of the field does, but with some all-division caliber talent in players like Capo and Ras, the Lions should not be taken lightly.


Division Lineup

Brandon Martorano, Catcher, CBA

Jake Sadowitz, First Base, Manalapan

Connor Fey, Second Base, Howell

Johnny Zega, Shortstop, Middletown South

Chris Rodriguez, Shortstop, Manalapan

Kyle Capo, Third Base, Middletown North

Cid Porter, Center Field, CBA

Stephen Hansen, Center Field, Manalapan

Justin Steel, Utility, Howell


Division Rotation

Luca Dalatri, RHP, CBA

Ralph Gambino, RHP, Freehold Twp.

Austin Markmann, RHP, Middletown South

Steve Rullo, RHP, Freehold Boro

Tyler Stafflinger, RHP, Manalapan


Breakout Players to Watch

Tyler Ras, OF, Middletown North

Matt DiSciullo, OF, Marlboro

James Wynne, OF/LHP, Howell

Nick Hohenstein, RHP/2B, CBA

Carmine Rainone, 2B, Manalapan