Baseball – Teammates Jason Lundy and Joe Serrapica Among Shore Standouts in ABCCL All-Star Game
LAKEWOOD - Jason Lundy and Joe Serrapica played at high schools separated by only a few miles and both played in the biggest game of their respective high school careers on the same Saturday in June of 2012, at the same time, in the same town, but in two different locations. Although always in relatively close proximity with one another, the two never crossed paths.
Now, the two former Shore Conference standouts are teammates at Fordham University and are each tuning up for pivotal individual seasons as all-stars in the ABCCL, which showcased the best its league has to offer Wednesday night at FirstEnergy Park in its annual Capt. Ryan K. Iannelli All-Star Game.
Lundy earned Most Valuable Player recognition for the Larry Doby All-Stars in a 3-2 loss to the Yogi Berra All-Stars by going 2-for-2 in his two trips to the plate while Serrapica flashed the top velocity among all pitchers who took the mound, sitting between 89 and 91, according to the radar gun of one Major League scout on hand.
Serrapica is looking to build on a junior season that he described as disappointing by improving his command while building on a spike in velocity that he experienced this season. After shifting from the starting staff to the bullpen, Serrapica topped out at 96 miles per hour in game action this past season. The former Manalapan standout is directing his efforts toward harnessing that power in whatever role he serves for the Rams in his senior season.
"I didn't really have a great season this year," said Serrapica, who has struck out 19 batters in 12 innings for the Ocean Giants this summer and worked around a two-out double off the third-base bag to pitch a scoreless sixth. "It was really a no-show, in my opinion. This summer is all about putting it in the past and having fun. I'm looking to get my confidence up, and I feel like I really am and I feel a lot better."
One lasting source of confidence for the right-hander is the state championship run he led as a senior in 2012, when Serrapica caught fire on the mound during the NJSIAA Group IV Tournament and capped his season with a shutout in the Group final to deliver the Braves their second consecutive Group IV title.
"I think about it sometimes when I'm down," Serrapica said of the championship run. "It's pitching. It's about confidence and you try to remind yourself that you know what you're doing out there, even when you go through struggles."
Lundy was a junior that same year and knew Serrapica as one of a slew of Manalapan players during that stretch of 2011 and 2012 who were going on to play at the next level. The center fielder at Freehold Boro, Lundy was doing his own part to help his team win a state championship, a goal that narrowly eluded the Colonials, who lost in the Group III championship game to Cranford at the exact same time Serrapica was pitching the Braves to another title.
"I just knew him as the kid going to Fordham to pitch," Lundy said of Serrapica. "Obviously, we all knew he was a top pitcher on a Manalapan team that was pretty stacked with talent, so from that standpoint, I knew he was probably pretty good, especially pitching for a state championship team."
"I honestly had no idea who he was," Serrapica said of Lundy. "I had never seen him play and he didn't commit to Fordham until after I graduated, so we didn't really cross paths until he came to Fordham last year. Even though we didn't know each other, it's nice to have someone on the team who grew up in the same area."
After a broken hand cut his freshman season at Fordham short, Lundy bounced back to win the starting job in center field and started all but one game for the Rams in 2015. Lundy hit .230 with four doubles, two triples and 10 stolen bases in his first season as a full-time player and is aiming to build on that effort with the experience under his belt. Entering play Wednesday, Lundy had posted a .429 batting average over the summer with seven doubles and a league-leading 18 RBI for the Freehold Clippers.
"I got injured to end my freshman year and I went back to work on my game, played in the summer (in the NYCBL in Syracuse, N.Y.) and came back and won the starting center field job," Lundy said "The summer time has been a chance for me to work on my game, and I felt like coming back this year off the injury and the summer, I earned that spot."
The Fordham duo from the Freehold Regional District accounted for two of the 21 Shore Conference alumni who played in Wednesday's All-Star game. Former Middletown South and current Rowan University right-hander Rob Grilli threw a scoreless top of the eighth inning to earn the win, while Monmouth University catcher Connor White (Wall), Brookdale right hander Michael Imperato (Marlboro) and infielder Spencer Young (Jackson Memorial), and Rowan outfielder James Halasy (Manalapan) also played on the winning Yogi Berra squad. Imperato threw a one-two-three top of the fifth in his inning of work.
White is among the ABCCL leaders this season with a .438 batting average and .640 on-base percentage for the Monmouth Monarchs, which includes a pair of doubles.
A Shore-heavy lineup nearly rallied the Doby All-Stars back from a 3-1 deficit in the top of the ninth inning, highlighted by an RBI triple by Brookdale catcher and former Manchester standout Aaron Kane that plated University of Scranton outfielder Brian Healy (Middletown South) to cut the deficit to 3-2.
Kane also hit a deep fly ball to left-center field for a fly out in his first at-bat. He was a three-year starter behind the plate at Manchester for coach John Musolf, who announced his retirement at the end of this past season.
Other Larry Doby position players from the Shore included Rowan infielder Dan Valerio (Monmouth), Stillman College infielder Troy Reynolds (Brick), Felician College outfielder Rob Fischer (St. John Vianney), Rutgers-Newark outfielder Ryan McFarlane (Freehold Township), Monmouth first baseman Tyler Saito (Manasquan) and Neumann University catcher Evan Worth (Donovan Catholic). Fischer was the lone member of the group to record a hit, grounding a single through the left side in his first at-bat.
The Doby All-Stars also ran out a Shore native to the mound for seven straight innings from the third to the eighth. Along with Serrapica's scoreless sixth inning, St. Peter's University right-hander Anthony Assante (Brick Memorial), Brookdale left-hander Mike Pepio (Colts Neck), Wesley College right-hander Taylor Reynolds (Jackson Memorial), and Alvernia University right-hander Matt Osgoodby (Wall) each threw a scoreless inning. All but Assante recorded one strikeout and Assante retired the side in order on just seven pitches.
Felician submarining right-hander Dan Naif (Jackson Liberty) allowed the first run of the game in the top of the third and Neumann right-hander Jerome Cevetello (Ocean) allowed two - one earned - in the eighth to take the loss.
Sam Houston State catcher Hunter Courson won the Most Valuable Player award for the Yogi Berra All-Stars.
The ABCCL is a 10-team league comprised of clubs based in various locations througout Central N.J. Its all-star game is named in honor of Capt. Ryan K. Iannelli - a United States Marine killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan. Iannelli was a former ABCCL player while playing for Oral Roberts and graduated from Kingsway High School.
"This is the place to be for everyone here," Lundy said. "If you play in this league, you want to come to (FirstEnergy Park). Especially for the guys that grew up in the area. It's a honor and a privilege to be out here with these guys."