TOMS RIVER - The Jackson Memorial baseball team has not even begun its NJSIAA Group IV title defense, but this year's Jaguars squad already accomplished something last year's team did not do before its championship run.

Senior right fielder Matt Crispe hit a go-ahead RBI single in a three-run bottom of the sixth inning and senior Brandon Janofsky pitched a perfect seventh inning to nail down the save as the Jaguars rallied to beat Barnegat 8-6 at Toms River East on Thursday night to win their second Ocean County Tournament title in the last four years.

Jackson Memorial won its first OCT title since 2012 by rallying from three separate deficits to tie the game before ultimately taking its first lead in the bottom of the sixth on the second of Crispe's two RBI hits and his third overall hit of the game. That's the type of comeback the Jaguars rarely engineered last year until they made their run in Group IV.

Photo by Matt Manley

"We've really tried to improve our offensive approach this year," Jackson Memorial coach Frank Malta said. "Last year, we didn't have a lot of games like this one where we fell behind and had to come back, at least not until we made that run.

"This group is unfazed. They are a group of flat-liners. Us as coaches, we can yell and scream at them until we're blue in the face and they just stay the same. We've had to change our approach because we (the coaches) are pretty intense and they (the players) are so even-keeled. It makes games like tonight manageable because we know nothing is going to get to them."

Crispe was named the tournament MVP and finished 3-for-4 with two RBI on Thursday night. Barnegat took a 6-5 lead into the bottom of the sixth, but gave it up thanks to three errors in the inning behind pitcher Seamus Brazil, who took over for starter John Corbett in the bottom of the third.

Joe DeMaio led off the sixth with a walk and Janofsky followed with a single to right field, with both DeMaio and Janofsky taking an extra base on a fielding error in the outfield. Chris Hawryluk then reached on a dropped pop-up on the infield that allowed DeMaio to score from third and Janofsky to advance to third, with Hawryluk moving to second on the throw home.

Crispe followed by slapping the second pitch from Brazil through the right side of a drawn-in infield to bring home a second run, and Crispe moved to second on another error in the outfield.

"When Joe led off the inning with the walk, I had a feeling Brandon was going to do something big because Brandon has been doing that all year," Crispe said. "When Joe got on, I just had that feeling that we were going to tie this game. I came up in a big spot with runners on second and third, I saw the infield was in, and I just tried to hit a ball hard somewhere, and I did what I had to do."

Crispe also made a diving catch in shallow right field to rob Barnegat sophomore Anthony Lani for the second out of the top of the sixth, allowing reliever Matt Castronuova to work a 1-2-3 inning on seven pitches and get the Jaguars back to the plate down one run.

After scoring a run in the bottom of the sixth, Janofsky quickly warmed up and entered for his fourth appearance of the season on the mound. With a 1-2-3 inning that ended with two more strikeouts, Janofsky has now thrown 20 scoreless innings this season with eight hits and three walks allowed while striking out 29.

"I didn't come here expecting to start or anything, but I knew coach might use me late in the game if it was tight," Janofsky said. "I got back in the dugout and (pitching coach) J.M. (Gold) told me to go get loose quick."

Jackson Memorial rallied from deficits of 3-1, 5-3, and 6-5 to tie the game three different times, and the single by Crispe in the sixth gave the Jaguars their first lead. Hawryluk and Crispe hit back-to-back RBI singles in the fourth to tie the game at five after Kyle Johnson led off the inning with a double on a 10-pitch at-bat.

Catcher Kyle Lona nearly hit a game-tying two-run home run in the second inning, but settled for a double when the umpires ruled the ball hit the top of the wall. Castronuova came on as a courtesy runner for Lona and, along with Nick Rocco, scored later in the inning - Rocco on a ground out by DeMaio and Castronuova on a strikeout pitch that got away from catcher Nik Fraim behind the plate.

Johnson was 2-for-3 with a double and two runs scored and Lona finished 2-for-3 with two doubles.

Castronuova earned the win on the mound with three innings of relief, during which the right-hander allowed one run on one hit and two walks. Barnegat scored the go-ahead run off Castronuova in the fifth on a wild pitch. Fraim led the inning off with a walk and courtesy runner Mimo Padilla moved to second on a wild pitch. Jared Kacso followed with a single to move Padilla to third and the Bengals then took the lead when a wild pitch allowed Padilla to speed home with none out.

Jackson Memorial benefited from five Barnegat errors in the game and only half of the run output for the Jaguars came on RBI. Johnson singled and scored on an error by shortstop Aaron McLaughlin to open the Jaguars' scoring in the bottom of the first.

McLaughlin was 2-for-4 with a run scored and an RBI and quickly atoned for the error by delivering an RBI single with two out in the second. He also flew out to deep left field leading off the seventh against Janofsky.

Lani was 1-for-2 with a two-run single in the fourth to give Barnegat a 5-3 lead.

Jackson Memorial had a chance to tie the game in the fifth inning after Lona doubled with two out to bring up Johnson, who won a 10-pitch battle with Brazil in the fourth when he doubled. Johnson again worked the count full, but Brazil blew a fastball by him for the final out of the inning.

Corbett allowed three unearned runs in two-plus innings and Brazil struck out seven in four innings of work for Barnegat.

The Bengals lost in the OCT final for the second consecutive year after reaching the final for the first time in program history in 2014. Last year, Barnegat went 0-3 in tournament championship games, losing 6-0 to Central Regional in the OCT final, 1-0 to Buena in the South Jersey Group II final and 2-0 to Christian Brothers Academy in the Shore Conference Tournament final. Barnegat appeared to turn the tide by beating Jackson Liberty a week earlier to clinch its first outright Class B South division title.

"The positive is that we scored a run," McCoy said. "Going three championship games without a run is tough to swallow and we came out and swung the bats tonight. Unfortunately, we gave a really good team too many opportunities."

Jackson Memorial will now turn its attention to two more tournaments and two familiar foes, beginning with the Shore Conference Round of 16 on Saturday against Howell and the start of the NJSIAA Tournament on Monday with a Central Jersey Group IV game against Class A South rival Brick Memorial.

"Coach Malta really wanted to win this Ocean County title, and after missing out on (the Class) A South (title), this was the first championship we had an opportunity to win," Crispe said. "We didn't take this game for granted, and we didn't take (Barnegat) for granted. We wanted to get this championship, and now we want to get more championships."

Box Score

Jackson Memorial 8, Barnegat 6

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

R

H

E

Barnegat (14-9)

2

1

0

2

1

0

0

6

6

5

Jackson Memorial (17-5)

1

2

0

2

0

3

x

8

11

1

 

Barnegat

AB

R

H

RBI

BB

SO

Aaron McLaughlin, SS

4

1

2

1

0

0

Nik Fraim, C

3

0

1

0

1

2

--Mimo Padilla, CR

0

2

0

0

0

0

Jared Kacso, 3B

4

0

1

0

0

1

Ed Rogan, 1B

2

0

0

1

1

0

Max Ritner, LF

3

0

1

1

0

1

Collin O'Conner, CF

1

1

0

0

2

0

John Corbett, P

1

0

0

0

0

0

--Seamus Brazil, P

2

0

0

0

0

1

--Evan Albanese, CR

0

1

0

0

0

0

Anthony Lani, DH

2

1

1

2

1

0

--Eric Becker, RF

0

0

0

0

0

0

Justin Diefenbach, 2B

3

0

0

0

0

0

Totals

25

6

6

5

5

5

GIDP: O’Conner
FIDP: Lani
Outfield Assist: Ritner
SB: Ritner, O’Conner, Albanese
CS: Ritner

 

Jackson Memorial

AB

R

H

RBI

BB

SO

Kyle Johnson, 3B

3

2

2

0

1

1

Joe DeMaio, CF

3

1

0

1

1

1

Brandon Janofsky, SS

4

1

1

0

0

2

Chris Hawryluk, 1B

3

2

1

1

1

0

Matt Crispe, RF

4

0

3

2

0

0

Rich Rountree, LF

4

0

0

0

0

3

John Carello, 2B

4

0

2

0

0

0

Nick Rocco, DH

4

1

0

0

0

3

Kyle Lona, C

3

0

2

0

0

0

--Matt Castronuova, CR

0

1

0

0

0

0

Totals

32

8

11

4

3

10

2B: Lona 2, Johnson
SB: Johnson, DeMaio, Hawryluk

 

Barnegat

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

HR

John Corbett

2

3

3

0

2

3

0

Seamus Brazil (L, 5-3)

4

8

5

4

1

7

0

 

Jackson Memorial

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

HR

Ryan Takacs

3

5

5

4

3

1

0

Matt Castronuova (W, 3-0)

3

1

1

1

2

2

0

Brandon Janofsky (S)

1

0

0

0

0

2

0

 

Corbett pitched to one batter in the third.
Takacs pitched to three batters in the fourth.

Pitches-Strikes: Corbett 63-33, Brazil 91-57, Takacs 64-35, Castronuova 39-23, Janofsky 8-6
Groundouts-Flyouts: Corbett 1-3, Brazil 1-3, Takacs 5-1, Castronuova 2-2, Janofsky 0-1