JACKSON – With a team of big hitters and experienced pitchers, Toms River North has high expectations for 2015.

Those big players showed Saturday against defending NJSIAA Group IV champion Jackson Memorial that they are ready to execute the little things to win.

Junior third baseman Joey Rose was 3-for-4 with a home run, double, three runs scored and three RBI and senior right-hander Brett Hyers recorded the final five outs to squash a Jackson Memorial rally and give the Mariners – the No. 3 team in the Shore Sports Network Preseason Top 10 – an 8-7 win over the No. 2 Jaguars.

“This all started yesterday in practice,” Rose said. “We kept the intensity up, and we brought it with us to the field today. We got here and realized the wind was blowing out to right-center, and we made it a point to look for pitches out over the plate to drive that way.”

Toms River North junior Joey Rose lines his first-inning RBI double against Jackson Memorial on Saturday, the first of three hits and three RBI in an 8-7 Mariners win. (Photo by Matt Manley)

Hyers entered the game with the tying run on second and the go-ahead run on first in the bottom of the sixth inning with one out. The senior then picked off the runner at first base for the second out of the inning and won an 11-pitch battle against Jaguars senior left fielder Rich Rountree by inducing an inning-ending fly-out to center.

“The (secondary leads) they started taking were pretty big,” Toms River North coach Andy Pagano said. “We knew we had it, we just wanted to make sure we picked the right time to execute it in a big spot. I figured if we used it early, they’d shorten their leads, and we wouldn’t be able to use it in a big spot. Getting that out was huge at the time.”

Hyers retired the side in order in the seventh to nail down the save, his second in two games.

“It was nice to have Hyers (available),” Pagano said. “We feel he’s our most durable guy who can throw with little or no rest. It’s good to have a kid who pitches with his heart like that, knowing that if we can get a lead and get it to him, he’ll do the job.”

Toms River North made the most of eight hits, three of which went for extra bases. Rose accounted for two of those, scorching an RBI double to the right-center field gap in the top of the first and belting a game-tying, two-run home run to left field in the third. Rose also saved a run in the bottom of the third by charging in from third on an attempted squeeze bunt by Rountree and flipping the ball to junior catcher Owen Sulfrain with his glove for the tag and the out at the plate, which preserved a 4-4 tie at the time.

“I saw him square so I charged and thought squeeze all the way,” Rose said. “I noticed the runner from third was taking off, so I just flipped it to the catcher.”

Rose is playing third base – his natural position – this season after playing shortstop for the Mariners last year out of necessity. Through two games this season, the junior Oklahoma State University recruit is 5-for-7 with a double, a home run, five runs scored and four RBI.

“He’s one of the leaders of the team as a junior,” Pagano said. “A lot of times the seniors step up and become leaders, but even a lot of the older guys look to him for a leadership role and he’s embraced that real well. He’s played some high-level ball, he’s committed to a school so there is really nothing left for him to do other than just go out, play and have fun.”

“I wasn’t that uncomfortable last year, I just think I’m more comfortable this year because third base is my natural position,” Rose said.

Senior right-hander Ryan Larsen pitched 4 2/3 innings to earn the win for Toms River North, allowing five runs on 10 hits, three walks and six strikeouts. He stranded runners in scoring position with inning-ending strikeouts in the second, third and fourth innings.

“I knew right from the beginning I didn’t have my best stuff and I was going to have to grind for my team,” Larsen said. “My off-speed pitches were a little up, and I actually started turning to my fastball to get outs.

“I was getting ahead, but I wasn’t executing pitches late in the count, which is usually the opposite for me. My problem is usually when I’m not getting ahead and I have to pitch from behind, but today, the problem was as simple as just executing pitches better ahead in the count.”

After doubling in the first run of the game, Rose scored on a fielder’s choice ground out by junior right fielder Jeff Ciervo, and the Mariners jumped ahead, 2-0, before Jackson Memorial came to bat. The Jaguars answered with three in the bottom of the first, ignited by a leadoff home run to right field by junior third baseman Kyle Johnson.

The Jaguars added a run in the second to go up 4-2 when Johnson tripled with one out and scored on an RBI single by senior second baseman John Carello.

Rose tied the game with a two-run blast to left field in the top of the third after designated hitter Joe Venditto reached on an error. Rose’s home run came on a 1-1 fastball from Jackson Memorial right-handed starter Lorenzo Spinelli.

“I got up on the plate and noticed he was pitching me in, so I took a couple small steps off the plate,” Rose said. “He gave me another inside fastball and I pulled it.”

Toms River North then took the lead on a two-out RBI double to right-center by sophomore shortstop Mike Nyisztor in the top of the fourth inning. Nyisztor then scored on an RBI single by senior center fielder Kevin Blum to make it 6-4 heading to the bottom of the fourth.

Toms River North added two unearned runs in the fifth inning off Jackson Memorial reliever Jim Plaganis to go up 8-4, with Rose starting the rally with a leadoff single, followed by a wind-aided single on a high pop-up by Ciervo and two more errors by Jackson Memorial.

The Jaguars committed three errors in the game, which did not include a missed opportunity to turn a double play and the Ciervo pop-up that none of the Jaguars could track through the wind. Spinelli and Plaganis combined to allow three unearned runs on eight hits, while their Toms RIver North counterparts – Larsen, junior Anthony Deceglie and Hyers – allowed 13 hits.

“Those two guys gave everything that we could have asked of them for two guys who have never thrown a varsity game,” Jackson Memorial coach Frank Malta said. “We just didn’t hold up our end of the bargain for them defensively.”

The defending Group IV champions are off to an 0-2 start to the season with two losses to Toms River South and Toms River North by a combined three runs.

“I look at it as a challenge to find some guys to step up and get all hands on deck,” Malta said. “I’m just really happy with the way (Spinelli and Plaganis) stepped up and kept us in the game today. It makes things fun and interesting when you need everybody on the roster to contribute and help the team.”

While the record is not a concern just yet, the state of the pitching staff is more of one after senior right-hander Brandon Janofsky was scratched from his expected start on Saturday. Janofsky battled a hamstring injury during the preseason but expected to start on Saturday until Thursday, when Malta said he came to his coach to tell him he was feeling some shoulder discomfort. The senior Stony Brook commit went 7-0 with a 0.89 earned-run average as a junior and pitched a shutout in the Group IV final.

“He’s going to be out for two or three weeks,” Malta said of Janofsky, whose absence is limited to the pitcher’s mound, as he has started at shortstop and batted third in each of Jackson Memorial’s first two games. “He bulked up a lot over the winter and after he tweaked the (hamstring) he didn’t throw a lot. Then after he threw against Wall (in a scrimmage) he felt some discomfort that is usually normal at this time of year, but after a few days, we realized it wasn’t the usual discomfort.”

Janofsky’s injury is the second to one of Jackson Memorial’s three returning starters. Junior right-hander Chris Hawryluk – who is off to a 4-for-7 start at the plate – is also recovering from a shoulder injury that set in during the fall, according to Malta. Malta did not have a definite timetable for the return of Hawryluk, but is optimistic both he and Janofsky will be able to pitch this season, perhaps before the calendar turns to May.

“(Hawryluk) just threw a side day the other day, so he could be similar to Brandon in terms of how many weeks away,” Malta said. “I think a big part of it is just feeling confident to where he knows it’s not a problem and he can throw free and easy.”

 

Box Score

Toms River North 8, Jackson Memorial 7

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

R

H

E

Toms River North (2-0, 2-0)

2

0

2

2

2

0

0

8

8

2

Jackson Memorial (0-2, 0-2)

3

1

0

0

1

2

0

7

13

3

 

Toms River North

AB

R

H

RBI

BB

SO

Kevin Blum, CF

3

0

1

1

1

0

Joe Venditto, DH

4

2

1

0

0

0

Joey Rose, 3B

4

3

3

3

0

0

Mike Tiplady, 1B

3

0

0

0

1

2

Jeff Ciervo, RF

4

1

1

1

0

0

Brandon Fischer, 2B

4

1

1

0

0

0

Owen Sulfrain, C

3

0

0

0

0

1

David Cordoma, LF

3

0

0

0

0

0

Mike Nyisztor, SS

3

1

1

1

0

0

Totals

31

8

8

6

2

3

2B: Rose, Nyisztor
HR: Rose (3rd Inning off Spinelli, one on, one out)
SAC: Sulfrain

Jackson Memorial

AB

R

H

RBI

BB

SO

Kyle Johnson, 3B

5

2

2

1

0

0

John Carello, 2B

4

2

3

1

0

0

Brandon Janofsky, SS

3

1

1

0

1

0

Chris Hawryluk, 1B

4

1

2

0

0

2

Joe DeMaio, CF

4

0

1

2

0

0

Matt Crispe, RF

2

1

2

1

2

0

Rich Rountree, LF

3

0

1

1

0

0

Nick Rocco, C

2

0

0

0

0

2

--Kyle Lona, C

2

0

0

0

0

1

Matt Castronuova, DH

4

0

1

1

0

2

Totals

33

7

13

7

3

7

2B: Janofsky
3B: Johnson, DeMaio
HR: Johnson (1st inning off Larsen, none on, none out)
SF: Rountree
SB: Janofsky

Toms River North

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

HR

Ryan Larsen (W, 1-0)

4.2

10

5

5

3

6

1

Anthony Deceglie

0.2

3

2

1

0

0

0

Brett Hyers (S, 2)

1.2

0

0

0

0

1

0

 

Jackson Memorial

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

HR

Lorenzo Spinelli (L, 0-1)

3.2

5

6

5

1

0

1

Jim Plaganis

3.1

3

2

0

1

3

0

 

Pitches-Strikes: Larsen 96-63, Deceglie 11-7, Hyers 27-20, Spinelli 39-26, Plaganis 54-36
Groundouts-Flyouts: Larsen 6-2, Deceglie 2-0, Hyers 2-1, Spinelli 7-3, Plaganis 2-5