Five years ago, the Strike Out Autism Challenge began as a humble benefit hosted by Central Regional and Wall and has ballooned into a Shore-wide fundraising effort and celebration of baseball, hosted by the Central Regional Autism Club. This Saturday, 10 sites will host 21 games with 40 of the 42 teams involved coming from the Shore Conference. There are also 22 softball teams involved, making for a full Saturday of action with a lot of games from which to choose.

Here is a look at the baseball games scheduled for Saturday.

 

Strike Out Autism Challenge

At Central Regional

Southern vs. Central, 11 a.m.

Veterans Park is the central hub of the Strike Out Autism Challenge, which is the baby of former Central and St. Rose coach Jerry Frulio. The Golden Eagles leadoff the event by hosting Class A South rival Southern – a game pitting two teams looking to have turnaround seasons against one another. Southern began its quest on a good start by walking off with a win over Brick Memorial on Wednesday. The Rams have their whole staff available heading into Friday.

Central lost its opener on Wednesday, but it was a 4-1 defeat at the hands of the No. 1 team in the Shore Sports Network Top 10, Toms River North. The Golden Eagles actually struck first in that game before the Mariners got going, but Central battled on the mound.

Freehold Twp. vs. New Egypt, 2 p.m.

Freehold Township opened its season against Marlboro and Freehold Boro, which were the two teams picked by Shore Sports Network to finish at the top of the Class A North standings. The Patriots scored just a single run in the two games, but they also pitched fairly well.

Central junior Tom Ruscittie. (Photo by Ray Richardson)

At Toms River South

Williamstown vs. Toms River East, 10 a.m.

The Raiders are coming off a tough loss in their season-opener Wednesday at Brick and will take on a Braves team that beat them in last year’s benefit game at Toms River South. Toms River East boasts an impressive junior rotation, which Nick DeGennaro represented with 11 strikeouts and no walks in the 4-1 loss to Brick – a game in which Toms River East led 1-0 with two out in the sixth.

No. 7 Middletown North vs. No. 1 Toms River North, 1 p.m.

In would could well be the marquee game of the day, Middletown North will head to Toms River to play the No. 1 team in the Shore Sports Network Top 10 with junior ace and Alabama commit Tyler Ras on four days rest. Ras threw 94 pitches over 6 2/3 innings Monday in a 4-3 win over Middletown South, while Toms River North finally opened its season on Wednesday with a 4-1 win over Central.

Barnegat vs. No. 3 Toms River South, 4 p.m.

Toms River South got off on a winning foot with a 2-0 win over Jackson Memorial Wednesday, sparked by a four-hit gem on the mound by St. John’s recruit and senior left-hander Justin Fall. The Indians employ a deep pitching staff that they can unleash on Barnegat, which used two of its top three pitchers in its opener against Jackson Liberty, a 6-4 loss to the Lions, but will have both Ryan Bush and Tyler Suydam available.

Toms River South junior T.J. Scuderi. (Photo by Matt Manley)

At Wall

Pinelands vs. Wall, 11 a.m.

Pinelands sophomore Noah Dean stole the Wednesday headlines by firing a no-hitter in a 2-1 Wildcats win over Lakewood. Pinelands is likely to throw fellow sophomore Joey Ventresca in a Friday game against Barnegat, but should the Wildcats go in a different direction or the field is not yet playable following Thursday’s rain, Ventresca could go against the Crimson Knights, who will have a full menu of pitchers since they have not played since Monday. Freshman Teddy Sharkey took the ball in the opener against Monmouth Regional, which Wall dropped 3-1.

No. 9 Manasquan vs. No. 10 St. Rose, 2 p.m.

Inter-divisional games on the weekend rarely feature two aces pitching against one another, but there is a distinct possibility that Manasquan’s Tommy Sheehan and St. Rose’s Brandon Mology will oppose one another on Saturday. Sheehan last pitched on Monday, when he struck out 10 in 77 pitches over four-plus innings in a loss to Ocean, while Mology has yet to toe the slab in 2017 live action. Manasquan bounced back nicely from the loss to Ocean by beating Middletown North on Wednesday, while St. Rose beat Point Beach on a no-hitter by Sam Sestito. The schedule actually shakes out for Sheehan to potentially pitch against St. Rose, Wall and No. 2 Red Bank Catholic in his next three starts – all of which would be on exactly four days of rest.

Manasquan ace Tommy Sheehan. (Photo by Matt Manley)

At Jackson Memorial

Jackson Liberty vs. Jackson Memorial, 11 a.m.

The battle of Jackson has produced some memorable moments over the years, including last year, when Jackson Liberty handed the Jaguars their first loss of the season, which turned out to be the beginning of major slide for Jackson Memorial during a 9-14 season. Jackson Liberty pulled out a road win over Barnegat in its opener behind a solid outing from junior ace Matt Pickus, while Jackson Memorial could not solve Toms River South ace Justin Fall in a 2-0 loss to Toms River South.

Donovan Catholic vs. Brick Memorial, 2 p.m.

Both teams in this game are coming off tough losses on Wednesday – Brick Memorial a walk-off loss at Southern and Donovan Catholic an 8-5 defeat at Manchester. Donovan Catholic has No. 1 pitcher Zach Mann ready to pitch on Friday should they elect to use him in a non-divisional setting.

 

Jackson Memorial senior Tim Halasnik. (Photo by Matt Manley)

At Red Bank Catholic

Manalapan vs. No. 2 Red Bank Catholic, 10 a.m.

Manalapan opened its season by blasting four home runs in a 10-4 win over Colts Neck Monday, then got a taste of its own medicine when CBA hit three homers in a 9-1 win over the Braves on Wednesday. Count Basie Park sees its share of home runs during the course of a season, in part because of the lineup that plays its home games there. Red Bank Catholic has put up 22 runs in two games thus far, although no Caseys has left the yard yet. If the first two games are any indicator, this game could feature some fireworks.

Manchester vs. Red Bank, 1 p.m.

Gavin Pabst and Joe Felipe pitched and hit Manchester to a win over Donovan Catholic in the Hawks’ opener on Wednesday and after playing Jackson Liberty on Friday, the Hawks will take on a Red Bank team whose pitching has lived up to high expectations thus far in allowing five runs in two games.

RBC senior Anthony DeRosa. (Photo by Matt Manley)

At Point Boro

CBA vs. Point Boro, 10 a.m.

The first game at Point Pleasant Boro High School features a pair of teams that lost a lot of production from last year and are have very opposite experiences in coping with those losses so far. Point Boro is 0-2 and has yet to score a run, while CBA won a 1-0 game over No. 6 Freehold Boro behind Nick Hohenstein’s shutout and RBI double and beat Manalapan, 9-1, behind three home runs.

Lacey vs. Point Beach, 1 p.m.

Lacey entered the season with high hopes because of a talented, senior-laden pitching staff and have delivered thus far. Tom Coraggio and Anthony Elefante shut down Brick in a 2-1 win on opening day and Don Zellman pitched a one-hit shutout with eight strikeouts against defending B South champion Point Boro. Point Beach, meanwhile is loaded with promising juniors and will set out to make a statement by taking down one of the Shore’s hot teams out of the gate.

Point Boro senior Josiah Gliddon. (Photo by Matt Manley)

At Howell

Holmdel vs. Howell, 11 a.m.

After letting an opening-day lead slip away in a 7-5 loss to Neptune, Howell bounced back by beating No. 5 Marlboro, 7-3. The Rebels will host 0-2 Holmdel, which lost to Red Bank on Wednesday despite a home run from junior slugger Sal Monticciolo.

Neptune vs. Monmouth, 2 p.m.

Neptune returns to the site of its first A North win, which the Scarlet Fliers picked up at Howell on Monday thanks to a six-run sixth inning. Monmouth defeated Wall and Long Branch earlier in the week behind sharp outings on the mound from Dante Ciaramella and Charlie Kelly and will try its hand against a Class A North team in what should be a good test for both squads.

 

At St. John Vianney

Rumson-Fair Haven at St. John Vianney, Noon

Two A Central foes meet in the first game at St. John Vianney Saturday in a divisional showdown. Rumson is off to a 0-2 start and fell victim to two grand slams by Shore’s Michael Jelliff in one 14-run inning on Monday, then fell to Raritan in a more conventional fashion. St. John Vianney picked up an opening-day win over Holmdel and Saturday’s game is its return to action.

Colts Neck vs. Matawan, 2 p.m.

Despite losing nearly its entire starting lineup to graduation, Matawan is off to a 2-0 start heading into a Friday game against Holmdel and should the Huskies make it to Saturday without a loss, the perfect start will be put to the test against a quality A North program. Colts Neck also returns just three starters from a year ago and after a rough opener against Manalapan, the Cougars recovered with a 9-1 win over Neptune on Wednesday.

 

At Ocean

Freehold Boro vs. Shore, 10 a.m.

Mike Jelliff’s performance in the sixth inning of Shore’s opener against Rumson is the story of the week in the Shore Conference and one that will be tough to top for the rest of the year. The senior second baseman hit two grand slams in one inning during a 15-1 Blue Devils rout. Shore is coming off a loss to Matawan on Wednesday and will have to take on a ranked Freehold Boro team that will likely go past its top two pitchers for a starter, unless the Colonials and Marlboro are unable to play on Friday.

Long Branch vs. Ocean, 1:30 p.m.

The Green Wave are 0-2 despite getting six one-hit innings from junior Matt Mincielli on Wednesday in a 1-0 loss to Monmouth. The other loss was at No. 2 Red Bank Catholic, so the Green Wave will be tested heading into Saturday’s divisional game against Ocean, which opened its season with a statement win over Tom Sheehan and Manasquan. The Spartans fell to Red Bank Catholic on Wednesday, so they will be looking to get back on track with games against Middletown South and Long Branch on back-to-back days.

Shore Regional senior Mike Jelliff belted two grand slams in the same inning in the Blue Devils' season-opening win. (Photo courtesy of Mike Jelliff)

At Raritan

No. 4 Middletown South vs. Raritan, 10 a.m.

Middletown South has had several days to think about a walk-off loss to rival Middletown North on opening day Monday and could be walking off the bus at Raritan looking for its first win. Raritan is off to a 2-0 start behind some quality pitcher from Zack Johnston, Jake Tennant and Matt Birdsall and will put that start on the line against Red Bank on Friday and the Eagles on Saturday, with Johnston and Tennant both available.

Asbury Park vs. Mater Dei Prep, 12:30 p.m.

Mater Dei has yet to win a game this year while Asbury Park has yet to play one and both of those things could happen for the first time on Saturday. The Seraphs have only played one game, which was a 7-0 loss to Raritan on Monday.

 

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