Baseball – RBC and TR North Set for Battle in SCT Final
Shore Conference Tournament - Bracket
At FirstEnergy Park, Lakewood
No. 4 Red Bank Catholic (21-8) vs. No. 7 Toms River North (19-7)
This year's Shore Conference Tournament championship game features the two champions from the county tournaments this year, Red Bank Catholic in Monmouth County and Toms River North in Ocean County. Both teams fell short of winning regular-season titles in their respective Shore Conference divisions, but the tournament season has been kinder to each of this year's finalists.
Red Bank Catholic was a perfect 14-0 in games outside of the Class B North division before losing to St. Augustine Friday in the NJSIAA South Jersey Non-Public A semifinals. The Caseys are 7-0 between the Monmouth County and Shore Conference Tournaments and had to pull out their last two SCT wins in the final innings. Senior catcher Brian Sheehy hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the sixth inning of RBC's 2-1 win over Lacey in the quarterfinals and the Caseys scored the winning run of the SCT semifinals against Toms River South on a seventh-inning misplay in the outfield.
Toms River North is also 7-0 between the Ocean County and Shore Conference Tournaments and the Mariners' only two losses outside of A South are a regular-season defeat at the hands of Jackson Liberty and a loss to Lenape in the first round of the South Jersey Group IV playoffs. Toms River North hasn't had to sweat out its SCT wins like RBC has, defeating Freehold Township, 5-2, and Wall, 5-0, in the last two SCT victories.
The pitching matchup is likely to pit RBC sophomore right-hander Vin Bianchi and Toms River North junior right-hander Craig Larsen. RBC coach Buddy Hausmann confirmed that Bianchi will be the Caseys starter, while Toms River North coach Andy Pagano did not go on record with his choice between available junior right-handers Larsen and Brendan Mullins. Larsen is 5-2 with a 2.71 ERA and 37 strikeouts in 41 1/3 innings.
Both teams have played one game at FirstEnergy Park this year, with RBC winning the MCT final over Freehold Borough in Lakewood by a 10-3 count. Bianchi earned the save in that game with three scoreless innings and the Caseys blasted two home runs that cleared the fence at the Minor League ballpark - one by senior designated hitter JonMichael Rotondo and the other by senior second baseman Aidan Supp.
Toms River North, meanwhile, lost a regular-season meeting against Toms River North, 3-2, at FirstEnergy Park. The Mariners held a 2-1 lead in that game before two errors on one play helped the Indians take the lead, one they would not give up.
Both programs have SCT championships in their recent history - Toms River North in 2013 and RBC in 2011. Toms River North is the last team to win the SCT other than Christian Brothers Academy, which won the last three conference tournament titles.