While Class A North and Class A South are typically considered the strongest division in the Shore Conference, the top of B North was as good as the top of any division. The No. 2 team in the Shore Conference at the end of last year hailed from B North and it was not the one that went 14-0 in B North divisional play. Colts Neck went 14-0 in the division and was not even the highest-ranked team from the division, a distinction that belonged to Red Bank Catholic.

Wall also acquitted itself by beating Middletown South – the A North co-champion – via the 10-run rule in the Monmouth County Tournament, ending the Eagles’ 14-game winning streak. Even Ocean did its part, going 11-3 in non-division games, while Matawan reached a sectional final for the second straight year. Class B North will bring it again in 2016, with all five of those teams returning strong rosters with Red Bank, Neptune and Long Branch expecting to show improvement.

Evan Madigan went 2-for-4 with a double, an RBI and a run scored to help Red Bank Catholic beat Jackson Memorial 4-1 Wednesday and advance to the Shore Conference Tournament final. (Photo by Mark Brown, B51 Photography)

In predicted order of finish

Red Bank Catholic

Head Coach: Buddy Hausmann, ninth season
2015 Record: 20-9 (11-3, second in B North)

Returning Starters Yr. Position 2015 Batting Stats 2015 Pitching Stats
Evan Madigan Sr. SS .451/.504/.618, 8 2B, 3 3B, HR, 31 R, 21 RBI, 17 SB
Doug Facendo Sr. C .286/.370/.472, 6 2B, 4 3B, HR, 9 R, 23 RBI
Mike Spinelli Sr. 2B/OF .342/.359/.380, 2B, 3B, 17 R, 16 RBI, 4 SB
Aaron Ahn Jr. 2B .405/.505/.658, 6 2B, 3B, 4 HR, 27 R, 27 RBI, 4 SB
Anthony DeRosa Jr. 3B .438/.515/.650, 6 2B, 4 3B, HR, 16 R, 23 RBI 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 4 BB, 0 K
Dom Caraballo Jr. CF .338/.430/.338, 13 R, 14 RBI, 8 SB
John Poccia Sr. P 49.2 IP, 50 H, 13 BB, 31 K, 1.55 ERA, 5-2
Jack Ipsen Sr. P 36.1 IP, 40 H, 14 BB, 35 K, 3.28 ERA, 4-2
Justin Liggett Sr. P 42.1 IP, 46 H, 28 BB, 35 K, 3.64 ERA, 5-2
Returning Players Yr. Position 2015 Batting Stats 2015 Pitching Stats
Jack Smith Sr. P 8.2 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 4 BB, 4 K
Mike Veit Jr. 1B/OF 2-for-2, 2B, 3 RBI
Suli Abas Sr. OF 1-for-9, 2B, 3 R, 2 RBI
Steve Turk Jr. 2B/3B 0-for-1

Key Losses: Mike Ianelli (DH/1B), Tom Merlo (OF), Chris Bender (OF), Tom Montano (P), Eric Klimowicz (P), Joe Montano (P)
Key Newcomers: Frank Buono (Sr., OF), Brian Sheehy (Jr., 1B), Connor Caizza (Sr., OF), Pat Leonard (Sr., OF), Kevin Freibott (Sr., OF), Aiden Supp (Jr., 2B/SS), Eddie Barnwell (Jr., C), Austin Nappi (So., P), Jake Birnbaum (So., P), Blaise Panzini (So., P)

Position by position, it’s hard to find a better team in the Shore Conference than Red Bank Catholic. The Caseys have speed and power all over the field, particularly on their infield, where they return starters at four of the five positions and are simply moving the fifth of those five to the outfield. The lineup starts with shortstop Evan Madigan, a first-team All-Shore player a year ago and Bucknell recruit who stands out at the plate and in the field. Fellow senior Doug Facendo returns as one of the Shore’s top returning catchers and a dangerous bat in the middle of the order, while senior Mike Spinelli will play more of a starting utility role after serving as the starting second baseman last year.

That senior position-player trio is a great starting point for the Caseys, but its core of juniors might be even better. Aaron Ahn is going to make the move from third base to second this year, while classmate Anthony DeRosa shifts across the diamond from first base to third base. Both posted an OPS north of 1.100 as sophomores and are Division I recruits – Ahn with his commitment to Navy and DeRosa to Rutgers. Junior Dom Caraballo returns after starting in center field as a sophomore and is likely to be more on an extra-base threat in the batter’s box after reaching base at a .430 clip last year. Junior Mike Veit will also move into a starting spot at first base, which allows DeRosa and Ahn move to their ideal spots.

While the Caseys don’t have the pitcher who lights up the radar gun like some of the other teams among the elite of the Shore Conference and Non-Public A, they have four seniors who have proven they can throw strikes and get outs at the varsity level. John Poccia, Jack Ipsen and left-hander Justin Liggett each posted an ERA under 4.00, with Poccia catching fire at the end of the year and finishing with a 1.55 mark. He beat Colts Neck, Jackson Memorial, Wall, Toms River South and St. Rose during the season and also took a hard-luck loss in a Shore Conference Tournament final loss to CBA. Senior Jack Smith also tossed 8 2/3 shutout innings as a junior and will add to the rotation depth, along with a handful of sophomores who should be varsity-ready if called upon. CBA is going to be a consensus No. 1 team at the Shore, but with so much talent back in the lineup and the rotation, Red Bank Catholic is going to be right there with the Colts.

 

Colts Neck

Head Coach: Mike Yorke, 17th season
2015 Record: 21-4 (14-0, first in B North)

Returning Starters Yr. Position 2015 Batting Stats 2015 Pitching Stats
Mike Antico Sr. CF .333/.444/.568, 6 2B, 5 3B, HR, 29 R, 15 RBI, 29 SB
Tim Cavrak Sr. SS/P .333/.433/.436, 5 2B, HR, 7 SB
Mario Ferraioli Sr. P .207/.258/.241, 2B, R, 3 RBI 48.1 IP, 34 H, 20 BB, 63 K, 2.32 ERA, 7-1
Andrew Conforti Sr. OF .255/.382/.309, 2B, 3B, 11 R, 13 RBI, 4 SB
Mike D'Ottavio Sr. P 39 IP, 33 H, 19 BB, 38 K, 2.33 ERA, 5-1
Jeremy Slad Sr. C .226/.402/.306, 5 2B, 6 RBI
Returning Players Yr. Position 2015 Batting Stats 2015 Pitching Stats
Jake McTigue Sr. OF .458/.594/.500, 2B, 11 R, 5 RBI, 4 SB
Nick Umbro Sr. 2B 6-for-16, 2 2B, 15 R, 7 RBI, 9 SB
Brendan Clarke Jr. INF .208/.321/.333, HR, 3 R, RBI,
Dante Caruso Sr. OF 7-for-16, 5 R, 6 RBI
Anthony Galason So. P/OF 6 IP, 4 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 1-0

Key Losses: Tyler Kapuscinski (1B), Tyler Kay (RF), Sam Devitis (2B), Jordan Gonzalez (3B/C), Chris Murphy (P)
Key Newcomers: Jonathan Weitzman (Jr., 1B/P), Jack Tirrell (So., INF), Kevin Condon (Jr., P), Connor Schauer (Jr., C)

Last season, Colts Neck was the best regular-season team in the Shore Conference, entering the Monmouth County, Shore Conference and NJSIAA Central Jersey Group IV Tournaments as the No. 1 seed. The Cougars went 20-1 in regular-season games, losing only to Brick Memorial at the Strike Out Autism Challenge. The postseason was not as kind to Colts Neck, which lost its opener in both the Monmouth County and Central Jersey Group IV Tournaments and needed 10 innings to beat Freehold Borough in its only Shore Conference Tournament win. This year, the Cougars will be targeting a deeper run into the season with enough returning talent to make it happen – including seven seniors likely to start in the opening-day lineup.

Seniors Mike Antico and Mario Ferraioli led the crop of returnees, with Antico coming back after an All-Shore season at the plate and in center field. Ferraioli was a workhorse last year with a 2.32 ERA and 63 strikeouts in 48 1/3 innings, and also started 7-0 before finally taking a loss in an SCT defeat against Red Bank Catholic. Shortstop Tim Cavrak, outfielder Andrew Conforti, catcher Jeremy Slad and right-handed starter Mike D’Attavio all stood out in their first season as varsity contributors and the Cougars are hoping for similar performances from senior Jake McTigue, senior Nick Umbro, junior Brendan Clarke and sophomore Anthony Galason now that they are looking at more playing time. With Ferraioli and D’Attavio at the top of the rotation and a bunch of seniors leading the lineup as well, Colts Neck will present RBC with a formidable B North nemesis this year.

 

Wall

Head Coach: Todd Schmitt, 19th season
2015 Record: 20-8 (10-4, third in B North)

Returning Starters Yr. Position 2015 Batting Stats 2015 Pitching Stats
Nolan Cloney Jr. SS/P .333/.419/.449, 3 2B, 2 HR, 17 R, 13 RBI, 6 SB
Regan Dombroski Sr. P/1B .327/.377/.473, 5 2B, HR, 8 R, 14 RBI 43.2 IP, 50 H, 19 BB, 21 K, 2.40 ERA, 3-4
Nick Maciejewski Sr. OF .333/.418/.394, 2 2B, 3B, 9 R, 14 RBI
Mike Yard Sr. 1B/3B .220/.343/.288, 2B, HR, 13 R, 10 RBI
Sean Larkin Jr. CF .377/.424/.443, 4 2B, 14 R, 6 RBI, 9 SB
Matt Yard Jr. P 44.1 IP, 41 H, 12 BB, 19 K, 2.21 ERA, 5-2
Returning Players Yr. Position 2015 Batting Stats 2015 Pitching Stats
Mike Nocchi Sr. P 26 IP, 25 H, 11 BB, 34 K, 2.15 ERA, 4-0
Connor Metelski Sr. P 2-for-2, RBI
James Loesch Sr. C/1B 1-for-9, 2 RBI
Jake Malone Sr. OF .318/.400/.409, 3B, 5 R, 4 RBI

Key Losses: Dan Wondrack (C), Ryan Orender (3B/P), Nick Martinez (OF), Brendan Barcas (2B)
Key Newcomers: Shane Richey (Jr., INF), Joe Castellucia (Sr., INF)

Another year, another 20-win season for Wall, which entered last year with uncertainty in the pitching staff behind Ryan Orender and still put together a strong rotation that backed up a quality offense. That lineup won’t be nearly as potent this season without slugging catcher Dan Wondrack, as well as Orender, Nick Martinez and Brendan Barcas. Despite losing four significant bats, some good defense and its top pitcher, Wall returns a collection of players that proved to be ready to carry the mantle for the program. Wall returns three pitchers who threw more than 25 innings with an ERA below 2.50 ERA, led by Monmouth recruit Regan Dombroski and junior right-hander Matt Yard. Senior Mike Nocchi dominated in 26 innings as well, striking out 34 while pitching to a 2.15 ERA.

Dombroski is also a middle-of-the-order bat who led all of this year’s Wall returnees in slugging percentage last year. Juniors Nolan Cloney and Sean Larkin also slugged over .400 as sophomores and both play premium defensive positions – Cloney at shortstop and Larkin center field. Senior Mike Yard and Nick Maciejewski also return to the starting lineup, with Maciejewski hitting .333 as a junior. Senior Jake Malone also looks to figure into the lineup after an effective season as a part-time player, while James Loesch is the first in line to replace Wondrack behind the plate. Connor Metelski will add depth to the pitching staff and also picked up a couple of hits in two at-bats last year. With a pretty solid trio of pitchers back, the Crimson Knights look like a contender in B North again and a more balanced look to the lineup could end up suiting Wall well.

 

Ocean

Head Coach: Cip Apicelli, seventh season
2015 Record: 18-10 (7-7, fourth in B North)

Returning Starters Yr. Position 2015 Batting Stats 2015 Pitching Stats
Brian Kochenash Sr. SS .273 Avg, 2 3B, 23 R
Marc Chernin Sr. C .286 Avg, 2 HR, 15 RBI
Brian Olesen Sr. 1B .305 Avg, 5 2B, HR, 16 R, 30 RBI
Tyler Rossback Sr. 3B .263 Avg, 18 R, 15 RBI
Kenny Pickett Jr. OF .260 Avg, HR, 11 RBI
Jake Talarico Sr. CF/P .279 Avg, 11 RBI 28 IP, 1.00 ERA, 3-1
Travis Lillie Jr. P 2.05 ERA, 3-0
Returning Players Yr. Position 2015 Batting Stats 2015 Pitching Stats
Phil DeMarco Jr. P/OF/1B 2 IP
Alec Keezer Jr. 2B/P .250 Avg
Anthony Tedesco Jr. C .286 Avg
J.T. Toomey Sr. P 3.1 IP, 5 K
Scott Bradley Sr. P 2.2 IP, 5 K

Key Losses: Anthony Bartolomei (1B/P), Sam Maxwell (CF), Frank Henry (2B), Blake Demeter (P)
Key Newcomers: Brandon Stevens (Sr., OF), Tyler Rawding (Sr., OF), Yarelvin Pardilla (Sr., INF), Carver Martinez (Sr., C), Jack D’Auria (So., OF/INF/P), Max Winters (Fr., P/C/INF)

Ocean ran out pitcher after pitcher last season and regardless of who coach Cip Apicelli handed the ball to, it seemed he came through for the Spartans. The offense, however, was a different story. The Spartans wore out plenty of teams at the plate, but against pitchers on top teams, the Ocean pitchers did not have much margin for error. The Spartans will have to replace their top two pitchers from last year, but that deep rotation from last year will come in handy as Ocean tries to hang with the top teams in the division. Jake Talarico allowed only four earned runs in 28 innings and junior Travis Lillie logged a 2.05 ERA with a 3-0 record. Seniors Scott Bradley and J.T. Toomey were also effective in spot work and junior left-hander Phil DeMarco is poised for a strong season after missing almost all of last year with a broken jaw.

Even if it is not as dominant as it was last year, the Ocean pitching should again be good enough for the Spartans to contend. That makes the offense the key to the season for Ocean and although the Spartans have to replace three productive players from last year’s lineup, they have the makings of an improved offense. Talarico, shortstop Brian Kochenash, catcher Marc Chernin, first baseman Brian Olesen, third baseman Tyler Rossback and outfielder Kenny Pickett all started last year, but only Olesen hit above .300. Chernin belted a pair of homers, Rossback scored 18 runs and drove in 15 and Pickett went yard as a sophomore, so there is some underlying production for the lineup outside Olesen as well. Kochenash has also shown an ability to have quality at-bats and get on base while also showing some extra-base ability with two triples. If that core of returning starters can all progress at once, the Spartans will have a balanced enough team to compete with Red Bank Catholic, Colts Neck and Wall.

 

Matawan

Head Coach: Bobby Carnovsky, fourth season
2015 Record: 11-13 (6-8, fifth in B North)

Returning Starters Yr. Position 2015 Batting Stats 2015 Pitching Stats
Adam Elliott Sr. INF/P .352/.425/.549, 3 2B, 2 3B, 3 HR, 11 R, 14 RBI 42.2 IP, 36 H, 18 BB, 37 K, 2.30 ERA, 4-2
Chris Vetter Sr. C 1.86/.255/.209, 2B
Colin Thompson Sr. P 23 IP, 29 H, 11 BB, 12 K, 2.43 ERA, 0-4
Anthony Hirujo Sr. P 2-for-5, 3B, 3 RBI 29.1 IP, 42 H, 16 BB, 19 K, 6.68 ERA, 2-2
Returning Players Yr. Position 2015 Batting Stats 2015 Pitching Stats
Richard Joa Sr. P 6 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 7 K
Isaiah Phillip Sr. OF .273/.364/.273, 9 R, 4 RBI
Dylan Dobbin Sr. OF .206/.289/.235, 2B, 2 R, 4 RBI
Makel Caldwell Sr. OF 2-for-12, 2B, 17 R, RBI, 6 SB
Brandon Rivera Sr. 2B/3B/P .154/.186/.154, 2 R, 2 RBI 12 IP, 22 H, 5 BB, 5 K, 6.42 ERA, 0-2
Tom Collazo Jr. SS 4-for-18, 4 R, RBI

Key Losses: Nick Smith (P/1B), Alex Cella (3B), Joe Piscopo (CF), Billy Rodriguez (OF), Matt Esposito (1B), Kyle Chapman (OF)
Key Newcomers: Jake Burlew (Jr., INF/OF/P), Alex Cosentino (Sr., INF)

*CLICK HERE FOR AN EXTENDED MATAWAN PREVIEW BY PAT HENNESSY*

 

Red Bank

Head Coach: Nick Tucker, third season
2015 Record: 7-16 (5-9, sixth in B North)

Returning Starters Yr. Position 2015 Batting Stats 2015 Pitching Stats
Nick Massa Sr. P/DH .160/.263/.200, 2 2B, 3 R, 7 RBI 50 IP, 53 H, 28 BB, 52 K, 3.36 ERA, 3-5
Matt Reardon Sr. P/SS 3-for-20, 2 BB 29.2 IP, 42 H, 23 BB, 24 K, 4.48 ERA, 2-3
Matt Santos Jr. P/1B .254/.333/.254, 3 R, 12 RBI 27 IP, 33 H, 14 BB, 28 K, 4.15 ERA, 2-3
Claudio LoBraico Sr. C/P .275/.408/.325, 2 2B, 7 R, 3 RBI 2 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 2 K
John Juco Jr. 2B .288/.408/.339, 3 2B, 10 R, 3 RBI
Returning Players Yr. Position 2015 Batting Stats 2015 Pitching Stats
Josh Horowitz Jr. P 0-for-2 13.1 IP, 22 H, 5 BB, 3 K, 4.72 ERA
Will Weaver Jr. P 1-for-4 15 IP, 18 H, 5 BB, 9 K, 5.13 ERA
Brandon Alvaro Sr. 2B 1-for-3, R
Derrick Bradley Sr. C 0-for-1
Sam Tekelch Sr. OF 0-for-6, R, RBI

Key Losses: Ryan Santos (C), Drew Cook (SS), Isaiah Sestito (OF), Leo DiGuilio (OF), Connor Kelly (OF), A.J. Forgione (P)
Key Newcomers: Michael Wolff (Sr., OF/P), Kevin Laughlin (Jr., C), Jack Mangold (Jr., P/SS), Jonah Rosen (Jr., OF/DH), Jack Stamer (Jr., OF), Danny Wagner (Jr., OF), Mike Eulner (So., 1B/P)

If pitching wins championships, as the cliché goes, the Bucs could be a sleeper come state tournament time and be a torn in the side of the top teams in Class B North. Red Bank returns its three top starters from a year ago and two of them – senior Nick Massa and junior Matt Santos struck out more than a batter per inning. Third starter Matt Reardon fanned 24 in 29 2/3 innings and while all three will look to cut back on their walk totals, each has enough stuff to keep the Bucs in every game with some potential to be shut-down pitchers.

Like Ocean Red Bank’s offense lacked punch last year and in Red Bank’s case, the lack of power was more extreme. No Red Bank starting position player slugged better than .385, which meant the Bucs had to play a lot of small ball and string singles together to score on most days. With that being said, Red Bank returns a pair of quality hitters in senior Claudio LoBraico and junior John Juco, both of whom posted an on-base percentage of .408. The Bucs will hope for more offense out of their trio of pitchers, although this year’s wave of newcomers could take some of the pressure off of Santos, Massa and Reardon. The pitching will keep Red Bank in nearly every game and if the offense comes around, the Bucs will be dangerous in a tournament setting, when they can alternate between Massa and Santos while incorporating Reardon.

 

Neptune

Head Coach: Kevin Frederick, second season
2015 Record: 3-15 (1-13, eighth in B North)

Returning Starters Yr. Position
Matt Jegou Sr. SS
Mike Hand Sr. 3B/OF
Justin Tucker Jr. OF/P
Sean Maxcy Sr. 1B/RF
Tyler Schembri Sr. 2B
Jake Giblin Sr. CF
Returning Players Yr. Position
Ernesto Rodriguez Sr. OF
Zach Krause Sr. C/P
Alon Height Sr. OF

Key Losses: Hunter Daly (P/1B), James Hand (C/P)
Key Newcomers: Ron Cole (Fr., SS/P), Sebastian Jean Baptiste (Fr., OF/P), Devin Furges (So., C), Chris Lambertson (Jr., 3B/1B), Aedan Martin (Jr., 2B/P), Dylan Taliaferro (Jr., 1B/P), Jeremy Sleifer (Jr., 3B/P)

Neptune heads into 2016 looking to replace a pair of impact players in Hunter Daly and James Hand, both of whom also logged innings on the mound. While both players were two of the team’s top producers, the Scarlet Fliers return a long list of position players that also offer plenty of senior experience as well. Matt Jegou and Mike Hand lead the list of position player returnees, while Sean Maxcy, Alon Height, Tyler Schembri, Ernesto Rodriguez and Zach Krause return with experience as well.

Outside of some work by Krause, Neptune’s pitching will come from its younger crop of talent, led by returnee and left-hander Justin Tucker, who will also play in the outfield. The freshman duo of Ron Cole and Sebastian Baptiste will get a look, as will Jeremy Sleifer, Dylan Taliaferro and Aedan Martin. With a senior group behind them, Neptune’s pitchers should have a chance to succeed by throwing strikes. If everything comes together, Neptune will be vastly improved from a year ago.

 

Long Branch

Head Coach: James Reilly, first season
2015 Record: 4-19 (2-12, seventh in B North)

Returning Starters Yr. Position
Sean Cuddy Sr. OF
Alonzo Rawls Sr. 2B
Carlos Pacheco Sr. P
Matt Mincielli So. SS
Terrance Brewer So. C

Key Losses: Nick Conklin (C), Travis Carroll (3B/P), Anthony Brier (1B), Zach Piatkowski (OF), Louis Trezoglou (P/2B), Christian Sanchez (P), Saione Washington (OF), Austin Cannon (Jr., CF) – Transferred to Shore
Key Newcomers: Justice Johnson (Jr., 1B/P), Leo Morabito (Jr., 3B), Jalen Walls (Jr., 1B), Justin Navarro (Jr., P/C), Ryan Lorme (Jr., 2B), James Horniacek (So., P), Juwan Wilkins (So., 3B/P), Pasa Fields (So., OF), Nick Lunn (So., INF), William Pagan (Sr., OF), Nick Soden (Sr., OF)

Long Branch’s senior trio of Sean Cuddy, Carlos Pacheco and Alonzo Rawls lead a young Green Wave club that will look to overcome the graduation of three big contributors and the transfer of another. Nick Conklin, Travis Carroll and Anthony Brier moved on after helping to lead the Green Wave last year, while junior Austin Cannon moved west to Shore Regional after starting in center field for the Green Wave last year. Cuddy and Rawls will lead the effort on offense, while the left-hander Pacheco heads up the pitching staff.

With Cannon off to Shore, will turn to a new group of juniors to fill in some open spots, namely Justin Johnson, Leo Morabito, Justin Navarro, Jalen Walls and Ryan Lorme. Returning sophomores Matt Mincielli and Terrance Brewer started last year and will play up the middle – Mincielli at shortstop and Brewer behind the plate. Pacheco will give Long Branch a chance to pick up a few wins in B North this season and in order to take it further, Long Branch’s roster of juniors and sophomores will have to make an immediate impact.

 

Division Lineup

Doug Facendo, Catcher, Red Bank Catholic

Regan Dombroski, First Base/Pitcher, Wall

Aaron Ahn, Second Base, Red Bank Catholic

Tim Cavrak, Shortstop, Colts Neck

Evan Madigan, Shortstop, Red Bank Catholic

Anthony DeRosa, Third Base, Red Bank Catholic

Mike Antico, Center Field, Colts Neck

Sean Larkin, Center Field, Wall

Adam Elliott, Infield/Pitcher, Matawan

 

Division Rotation

Mario Ferraioli, LHP, Colts Neck

John Poccia, RHP, Red Bank Catholic

Nick Massa, RHP, Red Bank

Mike D’Attavio, RHP, Colts Neck

Jake Talarico, RHP, Ocean

 

Breakout Players to Watch

Phil DeMarco, LHP, Ocean

Richard Joa, RHP, Matawan

Nick Umbro, 2B, Colts Neck

John Juco, 2B, Red Bank

Justin Tucker, OF/P, Neptune