Baseball: TR South’s Ken Frank Registers His 800th Win
In a 36-year career that has become the best in the history of New Jersey high school baseball, Toms River South coach Ken Frank crossed another record-setting milestone off the list on Saturday night.
Frank became the first baseball coach in state history to reach 800 wins when the Indians defeated visiting Bayonne, 7-2, in a nonconference game. It was the second crack at the milestone after Southern rallied to beat Toms River South, 4-3, a night earlier, and it put Frank in rarefied air among coaches in any sport in the state. Fittingly, it came on the field that bears his name - Ken Frank Baseball Stadium.
Toms River East transfer Tyler Folger pitched a complete game six-hitter and also went 3-for-3 to lead the way to the milestone win. Jake Ryan and Spencer Kapp opened the scoring for Toms River South with back-to-back doubles in the second inning and Kapp later scored on an RBI single by Trevor Wagner. Ray Liguori and Ryan each singled in a run in the fourth and fifth innings, respectively, to give Folger all the support he would need.
It added to Frank's legendary resume, as he became the state's all-time winningest coach in April of 2012 when the Indians beat Southern for victory No. 755.
"The thing that has meant the most to me is just the tradition and the players,'' Frank said. "What is always the most gratifying is seeing guys come back and watch our games or check up on the team because they will always be part of the family that we have created here. I've just been blessed with great coaches and great players to work with, and this is really all about these kids and giving them a positive experience."
Players all the way from current Cincinnati Reds third baseman Todd Frazier to current Monmouth University star lefty Andrew McGee to the pitcher who earned the win in Frank's first career victory have all remained close to the program after their high school careers ended. Mike Garrity was the winning pitcher in an 8-2 victory over Monmouth Regional in 1978 for Frank's career win and was in attendance on Saturday night. Top assistant Mitch Powitz, the team's pitching coach, has been by Frank's side for 21 years after starring for him as a player in the mid-1980s.
Frank took the style of hard-nosed baseball he learned while playing at Snyder High School in Jersey City under coach Gerry McKinney in the early 1960s. He went on to play at Miami-Dade Junior College in 1966 under Doc Mainieri, the father of current LSU head coach Paul Mainieri, and then finished his career at Montclair State. Frank has been a fixture at Toms River South since he began teaching there in 1969 and coaching under the legendary Al Fantuzzi before taking over as the head coach in 1978.