TOMS RIVER – Feeling low after two tournament losses in a five-day stretch, the Jackson Memorial baseball team still had a chance to win a Class A South championship on Thursday, and when it comes to winning division titles, not many teams in the conference are better-versed than the Jaguars.

Jackson Memorial shook off Ocean County Tournament and Shore Conference Tournament losses in consecutive games and rallied for three runs in the seventh inning to beat Toms River East, 4-1, and clinch a division co-championship with the Raiders.

Jackson Memorial junior Brandon Janofsky fired five solid innings and went 2-for-4 with two runs scored to help the Jaguars beat Toms River East Thursday to win a share of the Class A South title.

The Jaguars have now won at least a share of the last four Class A South titles and snapped a two-game skid to win a share of this year’s championship.

“We’ve experienced some things over the last couple of weeks that this program hasn’t really seen in a few years,” Jackson Memorial coach Frank Malta said. “I like to think that we’ve always taken a lot of pride in getting up for big games, and we relished playing in them. It just hasn’t been there lately, but even though we lost two tournament games already, we still had a chance to win a championship today. So I told our guys, ‘You can be mad if you want, but either way, we’re playing for a championship (on Thursday).’”

Senior Matt Guarino earned the win with two innings in relief of starter Brandon Janofsky and capped the three-run seventh inning with an RBI double to extend Jackson Memorial’s lead to 4-1. Guarino finished the game 2-for-4, as did Janofsky, who also had a key double in the seventh inning and scored two runs.

“Winning A South is a big deal for our team so regardless of what happened yesterday or over the weekend, we were fired up to play for the division,” Janofsky said. “We’ve been running the division the last few years and as long as we still had a chance to win a piece of it, we were going to keep fighting.”

Janofsky singled and scored on the second of two Toms River East errors in the sixth inning to tie the game at one and the Jaguars took the lead on a single by junior Eric Beal, who came in to play first base when Guarino moved from first base to the mound. Beal grounded a fastball off C.J. Hirschy – who just entered the game in relief of starter Anthony DeBlasio – through a drawn-in infield and into center field to plate Rich Rountree.

“The last time Beal faced Hirschy, it was a similar situation, and he hit a line drive back to the box that Hirschy knocked down,” Malta said. “He seemed like he saw the ball pretty well against him, so I actually liked the match-up. I told him if he gave me the same thing, I’ll take it."

Rountree started the rally with a one-out triple to deep right-center fielder to chase DeBlasio. Rountree, Beal and starting right fielder Kyle Lona have not been regular starters this season, but the three made contributions Thursday for a Jackson Memorial team that has had to go into its bench because of both injury and some struggles by other hitters.

“I’ve used more guys this year than I have in any other year, not just game to game but within the game,” Malta said. “We’ve had guys step up and contribute in spot duty, so at any point in the game, I feel like there are a few guys on the bench who are going to be capable of getting the job done.”

After Beal’s big hit off the bench, Janofsky hit his double over the first base bag to place runners on second and third with one out. The Toms River East dugout adamantly contested that the ball was foul.

“Honestly, my first thought was that it was foul, but it was hard to tell because the first baseman dove for it,” Janofsky said. “It might have gone over the corner of the bag, but it was close. It wasn’t as obvious as they (Toms River East) made it seem.”

Kyle Johnson plated Beal with a fielder’s choice ground out that shortstop Mike Schmidt deflected to Janofsky at second, where the junior threw to first for the out. Guarino followed with his RBI double to center to chase home Janofsky.

Matt Guarino RBI double in the 7th from All Shore Media on Vimeo.

After losing to Barnegat, 8-0, in Saturday’s Ocean County Tournament semifinal and then to Monmouth Regional, 6-3, at home in the first round of the Shore Conference Tournament, the Jaguars again came out cold at the plate over the first five innings and also gave away an unearned run to the Raiders in the third. Left fielder Jerry Caporale reached on an error by Schmidt, stole both second and third, and ran home when catcher Nick Babin’s throw down to third on the steal attempt went into the left field.

“I knew I had to watch out for (Jon) Meola, Hirschy and Caporale in their lineup,” Janofsky said. “I know all of those guys from playing with them in travel ball. Meola and Hirschy can hurt you in the middle of the order and Caporale is a good hitter too, plus he’s dangerous on the bases, like he showed today.”

Jackson Memorial also struggled at the plate over the first five innings, during which the Jaguars had only one hit – an infield single by Babin. The Jaguars loaded the bases with one out in that inning, but came away empty when DeBlasio induced Rountree into an inning-ending, 1-2-3 double play back to the mound.

The Jaguars broke out with two hits in the sixth, beginning with a leadoff single by Janofsky on a line drive to center field. The offensive breakout against DeBlasio (6-1) handed the senior right-hander his first loss of the season.

Thursday’s game was a restart of a game suspended by rain in the fifth inning with the score tied at 5 back on April 29. In that game, Jackson Memorial led 5-0 and squandered the lead before the rains came. The Jaguars entered that game 10-3 and were 3-4 over their last seven games heading into Thursday, with crucial Class A South losses to Brick and Toms River South that cost them a chance to win the outright championship.

“Going back to the last time we were here (at Toms River East), we just haven’t been playing well,” Malta said. “Those first few innings today were a continuation of that. We just haven’t been sharp, but to our guys’ credit, they’ve been battling and we finally got a break today.”

The Jaguars hope to build on Thursday’s win when the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group IV tournament begins on Monday. Jackson Memorial is the No. 5 seed in the bracket and will host No. 12 seed and Class A South rival Brick Memorial, which eliminated Jackson Memorial in last year’s tournament en route to a sectional final appearance.

“We still have the same goals, so nothing has really changed,” Malta said. “We’re disappointed we didn’t win the Ocean County Tournament, we're disappointed we can’t win the Shore Conference Tournament, but we got one championship and there are still two more championships we can win. There is still sectional title and the overall Group IV title out there, and we’re going to try to get both. That’s how we’re thinking.”

 

Box Score

Jackson Memorial 4, Toms River East 1

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

R

H

E

Jackson Memorial (14-7)

0

0

0

0

0

1

3

4

7

2

Toms River East (15-5)

0

0

1

0

0

0

0

1

4

2

 

Jackson Memorial

AB

R

H

RBI

BB

SO

Brandon Janofsky, P-2B

4

2

2

0

0

0

Kyle Johnson, 3B

4

0

0

1

0

1

Matt Guarino, 1B-P

4

0

2

1

0

0

Joe DeMaio, CF

3

0

0

1

1

0

Nick Babin, C

2

0

1

0

0

0

-- Mike Petrizzo, PH

1

0

0

0

0

0

Mike Schmidt, SS

2

0

0

0

0

0

Kyle Luna, RF

2

0

0

0

1

0

Rich Rountree, LF

3

1

1

0

0

0

John Carello, 2B

2

0

0

0

0

0

-- Eric Beal, 1B

1

1

1

1

0

0

Totals

28

4

7

4

2

1

2B: Janofsky, Guarino
3B: Rountree
SAC: Schmidt
GIDP: Rountree

Toms River East

AB

R

H

RBI

BB

SO

Jerry Caporale, LF

3

1

0

0

0

0

Tom Vincent, 2B

3

0

1

0

0

1

Jon Meola, SS

3

0

1

0

0

1

C.J. Hirschy, DH-P

2

0

0

0

0

0

-- Noah Clark, 1B

0

0

0

0

0

0

-- Nick Cottone, P

0

0

0

0

0

0

Anthony DeBlasio, P-1B

2

0

0

0

1

0

Charlie Mulé, 3B

2

0

0

0

0

0

Josh Sommerer, RF

3

0

0

0

0

1

Ron Calantoni, C

3

0

1

0

0

1

Charlie Lasky, CF

3

0

1

0

0

0

Totals

24

1

4

0

1

4

2B: Vincent, Calantoni
SAC: Hirschy, Mulé
SB: Caporale

Jackson Memorial

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

HR

Brandon Janofsky

5.0

3

1

0

1

4

0

Matt Guarino, W (5-1)

2.0

1

0

0

0

0

0

 

Toms River East

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

HR

Anthony DeBlasio, L (6-1)

6.1

4

2

1

2

1

0

C.J. Hirschy

0.1

3

2

2

0

0

0

Nick Cottone

0.1

0

0

0

0

0

0