The Shore Daily, 4/14/15
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Monday was all about thrillers going down to the wire, with three walk-off wins in baseball, plus Rumson's 11-10 victory over Christian Brothers Academy in a big lacrosse showdown between two of the Shore's top three teams.
In football, another one of the Shore's top juniors made a verbal commitment to an FBS program, as Red Bank Catholic offensive lineman Liam Smith announced his decision to commit to Duke.
With all those close games on Monday, you know there had to be some great performances in crunch time, so let's take a look. Here are the top 10 performers in no particular order.
Lucas Seckler, Sr., Midfielder, Rumson-FH
Seckler snapped a 10-10 tie thanks to a game-winning goal with only 42.5 seconds left in regulation to give the No. 2 Bulldogs a thrilling 11-10 win over No. 3 CBA in a nondivisional clash that could end up being for the No. 2 seed in the Shore Conference Tournament. Seckler finished with a pair of goals in the win.
Nik Fraim, Sr., C, Barnegat
Fraim belted a game-winning three-run homer in the bottom of the eighth inning to give the Bengals a walk-off victory in a 4-2 win over Donovan Catholic. Fraim finished 2-for-4 in the victory.
Justin Steel, Jr., DH, Howell
Steel delivered the third of three straight two-out RBI singles for the Rebels in the bottom of the seventh to give Howell a walk-off 4-3 win over Freehold Township. His game-winning hit up the middle followed clutch RBIs by junior Connor Fey and senior Rob Napolitano. Steel finished 3-for-4 in the win.
Ryan Aker, Jr., A, Middletown North
The Lions continue to make great strides in only their second season as a varsity program as they took down a Top 10 team in No. 10 Wall with a 9-8 nondivisional win in which Aker registered a hat trick.
Jake Dominguez, Sr., P, Central
Dominguez delivered a walk-off hit of his own, smacking a two-out RBI single in the bottom of the ninth inning for a 3-2 win over No. 9 Pinelands in Class B South. Dominguez also threw 5 1/3 innings on the mound, not allowing an earned run, striking out seven and walking two while giving up three hits to keep the Golden Eagles right in the game.
Zach Mason, Sr., P, Southern
Mason helped the Rams get their first win of the season by allowing one run on three hits and striking out 10 in 5 2/3 innings of a 3-1 win over Lacey in Class A South.
Billy Sasso, Sr., Midfielder, Freehold Township
The Patriots' star scored four goals to help them stave off an upset big by Shore Regional with a 7-6 overtime victory in a nondivisional game.
Ryan Larsen, Sr., P, Toms River North
A member of a deep and talented staff for the Mariners, Larsen pitched a complete-game one-hitter with 11 strikeouts, only allowing two baserunners, in an 11-1 win over rival Toms River East that kept No. 1 Toms River North unbeaten against Shore Conference competition.
Andrew Halmi, Jr., G, Colts Neck
Halmi's brilliant season continued with 14 saves in a hard-fought, 9-8 nondivisional win over Red Bank that also featured a hat trick by Jack Schaefer.
Jeremy Slad, Jr., C, Colts Neck
Slad was yet another play with late-inning heroics on Monday as he nailed what proved to be the game-winning two-run double in the top of the seventh inning to cap a three-run rally that helped the unbeaten Cougars avoid the upset in a 6-4 win over Freehold Boro in a nondivisional game.
While Monday night's 11-10 thriller in which host Rumson-Fair Haven held off a hard-charging CBA team in the fourth quarter sets Rumson up as the primary challenger to No. 1 Southern, it's clear that the Shore's top three teams aren't separated by much.
Southern beat Rumson 16-14 earlier this season, and now the Bulldogs pulled out a one-goal win over CBA. That means that the Shore Conference Tournament could be awfully interesting, with Southern looking to finish the job for its first championship after reaching the last two finals, and CBA and Rumson looking to turn the tables and win it all when it counts the most. Rumson is the four-time defending SCT champion, so the Bulldogs will not be giving it up without a fight, while CBA showed it also has the talent to make a serious run at the title.
As for the rest of the rankings, Bob Badders has his latest Top 10 here. The main intrigue involves who will be that fourth SCT semifinalist and if anyone can stop those top three teams from reaching the SCT final four.
Middletown North also picked up a big win on Monday by knocking off No. 10 Wall in a 9-8 victory. This is only the second year of the varsity lacrosse program at North, but the Lions are showing that they soon should be a regular threat and a Top 10 contender as they continue to grow along with the Middletown South program.
After slow starts, a pair of preseason Top 10 teams are starting to get back on their feet as Middletown South topped Manalapan 4-1 to win its second straight after starting in an 0-4 hole, and Jackson Memorial routed Brick 13-2 in five innings after a 1-4 start for the Jaguars.
Middletown South has the ingredients to get things turned around quickly because of its pitching depth. Johnny Zega followed a strong outing by Zac deRocco at the end of last week by only allowing an unearned run in 6 2/3 innings against Manalapan, while senior Nolan Pereless led the offense with a pair of hits and three RBI.
Jackson Memorial just needs to get its pitching staff healthy, with several of its top arms limited to playing in the field or batting as they recover. Junior Kyle Johnson and senior Rich Rountree continue to lead an offense that has been up and down but has great potential. Also in Class A South, Toms River South senior Ray Ligouri continues to be the Rollie Fingers of the Shore Conference by being able to pitch multiple innings of shutdown relief. He threw two more scoreless yesterday out of the pen in a win over Brick Memorial to extend his streak to 18 1/3 scoreless innings dating back to last season, and he also chipped in a two-run single at the plate.
The Class B South race is looking like a free-for-all with just about every team in the division able to make a run. Lakewood surprised Manchester, Barnegat pulled out a walk-off win over Donovan Catholic, Central beat Pinelands on a walk-off hit and Point Boro outslugged defending champion Jackson Liberty. All of these teams are in a cluster right now with no one having emerged yet from the pack.
In addition to Southern, Holmdel also picked up its first win of the season on Monday with a 2-1 nondivisional victory over Long Branch, with junior Tyler Fischer pitching two scoreless innings of relief and driving in a run to back up five scoreless innings by starter Sal Monticiollo.
The accolades keep rolling in for New Jersey Player of the Year Marina Mabrey of Manasquan, as MaxPreps named her a first-team All-American, stamping her as one of the five best players in the country. After winning the co-MVP award at the McDonald's All-American Game earlier this month, she has one more national all-star game left. She will play for the East squad in Friday's Jordan Brand Classic up at Barclay's Center in Brooklyn.
RBC's Liam Smith (Duke) is the latest top prospect in the Shore Conference Class of 2016 to commit, following on the heels of a verbal by Red Bank wide receiver Sadiq Palmer to Syracuse over the weekend. Smith and Palmer are actually former teammates, as Smith played at Red Bank as a freshman before transferring to RBC, and he and Palmer also were on the same Pop Warner/AYF teams before coming to high school.
Smith gives RBC two ACC recruits in two years, following senior linebacker Jamie Gordinier, who is headed to the University of Miami. In the not-too-distant future, Smith and Gordinier could be colliding in a game on the big stage.
In other commitment news, Matawan running back Devon Spann, the leading rusher for the Central Jersey Group III champions, will continue his career at Montclair State as part of a large group of incoming Shore talent for the Red Hawks. Brick lineman Chris Kimbiz, a key cog up front on both sides for the Class A South champs, will continue his career at Kutztown University.
More on Tuesday:
- A pitcher on Ocean City struck out 15 in taking down one of South Jersey's best teams, St. Augustine, on Monday.
- The Marlins' Carter Capps has one of the weirder deliveries you'll see. He jumps when he pitches.
- The hidden ball trick was just too much for this announcer.
- Tonight is Matt Harvey Day.
- Cincinnati State signed a homeless hoops standout after an outpouring of support from the community for him.
- Not quite "Captain Phillips," but still a harrowing story of escaping Somali pirates.
On tap for today: Another full slate of baseball action, headlined by unbeaten Red Bank Catholic at defending Class B North champion Wall, and Matawan traveling to undefeated Ocean in Class B North. On the lacrosse side, there are only two games today.
I'll end with Lucas Seckler's game-winning goal for Rumson inside the final minute to beat CBA last night.