Baseball – Toms River South Tops Brick Memorial to Clinch A South Share
BRICK TWP. - During Ken Frank's four decades as the head coach at Toms River South, any player that entered as a freshman is all but assured to be part of a program that wins a championship at the varsity level.
The Indians players from the Class of 2016 have made it to this point in their careers without one of those "balls on the wall" as Frank calls them - referring to the baseball placards that commemorate each championship on the outfield wall at the field that bears his name - and Thursday, they had a chance to change that while keeping up with tradition.
Seniors Tyler Wisnewski, Trevor Wagner, Connor Feeney and Mike Conover all came up big for the Indians in key spots and junior Justin Fall silenced a short-handed Brick Memorial lineup over five one-hit innings as Toms River South beat the Mustangs 3-2 to secure no worse than a share of the Shore Conference Class A South championship for the first time since 2012.
"It's a tough road," Frank said. "Everybody gave up on us this year and we hung right in there, so it's a good win. They just overachieved, a lot of them. Brick Memorial's a good team, it's a senior-laden team and it's a compliment to shut them down, 3-2."
After scoring on an error in the first inning, Toms River South scored a run each in the second and sixth innings, with Conover and Feeney each contributing RBI singles. T.J. Scuderi started the second-inning rally with a double down the left-field line, moved to second base on a ground out to shortstop by junior Matt Fitzpatrick and scored on Mike Conover's run-scoring hit.
Wisnewski later slammed a doubled to the left-center gap to begin the sixth. Dylan Danelson entered as a courtesy runner and moved to second on a ground out to third by Tom Campo before Feeney dropped a single into right-center to plate Danelson with Toms River South's third run.
In addition to contributing on offense, Wisnewski also threw out Brick Memorial pinch-runner Elie Lavarin on a pitchout as Lavarin was attempting to steal second as the potential tying run. Wagner then struck out the final batter of the inning to earn the save with two innings of relief work.
"I just had a feeling (the steal) was coming and I guess so did Wagner," Wisnewski said. "It all came together and I threw him out."
Fall entered Thursday eligible to pitch no more than five innings since he also threw five on Monday against Brick. Mustangs second baseman Dave Clark hit an RBI single through the middle in the bottom of the fourth for the only hit of the game off Fall, which came after first baseman Brian Markoski walked, advanced to second on a wild pitch and stole third base.
"Coming out after giving up one hit was tough, but coach told me he needed five strong innings," said Fall, who missed a brief stint earlier in the season with a neck injury. "I wanted to be out there, but coach said five and I gave him those five strong innings."
"We have a lot of confidence in those guys that they'll do whatever the team asks them to do," Toms River South assistant and pitching coach Mitch Powitz said. "Some kids might be selfish and they want to throw seven or they want to throw a certain day, but these guys are like, 'We want to win.'"
Brick Memorial actually put runners on second and third with one out in that fourth inning and Fall struck out Teddy Gonzalez and induced an inning-ending fly out by pinch-hitter Mike Kraft.
Fall exited after allowing just the one run on one hit while walking two, hitting a batter and striking out eight.
"Mitch and I have been on the phone at midnight the last two nights, texting back and forth," Frank said of how he and Powitz mapped out the pitching schedule during a heavy stretch. "We played seven games in seven days, so we're running out of arms and it was good to see Justin come back and pitch a great game and Wagner finish it off."
"It's a lot of fun catching Fall and Wagner," Wisnewski said. "They both pound the zone, they both get the job done and they did that today."
Brick Memorial played Thursday without starting shortstop and No. 3 hitter Matt Cuppari and right fielder and cleanup hitter James Donlon. Cuppari separated his shoulder against Brick on Tuesday night and Donlon missed his second straight game with a groin injury that has lingered for most of this season, according to Mustangs coach Evan Rizzitello.
Thursday's game was the final in Toms River South's Class A South schedule in 2016 and only Toms River North is capable of matching the Indians' 10-4 divisional record. For Toms River South to win the division title outright - which it has not done since 2010 - either Southern or Brick Memorial has to beat Toms River North.
"It means everything (winning championships)," Fall said. "Coach Frank has done everything here and we just want to add to it."
Toms River South 3, Brick Memorial 2
|TR South (15-6, 10-4)||1||1||0||0||0||1||0||3||7||2|
|Brick Mem. (12-8, 8-5)||0||0||0||1||0||0||1||2||3||1|
|Justin Fall (W, 4-0)||5||1||1||1||2||8|
|Trevor Wagner (S)||2||2||1||1||0||2|
|Alec Merritt (L)||5.1||7||3||2||1||2|
|TR South||Game Stats|
|Tyler Wisnewski||1-3, 2B|
|Connor Feeney||1-3, RBI|
|T.J. Scuderi||1-3, 2B, R|
|Mike Conover||2-3, RBI|
|Brick Mem.||Game Stats|
|Andrew LaRosa||1-4, RBI|
|Dave Clark||2-3, RBI, 2 SB|