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Great pitching was the name of the game on Thursday, as several of the Shore's best along with some up-and-comers were outstanding on the mound.

Also, before I get to the top performers from the day, make sure to check out the preview of Saturday's Strike Out Autism Baseball Challenge, a 36-team showcase of 18 games that will be played across nine sites. They are selling T-shirts at all nine sites for $12 like the one below, with the proceeds being divided between a donation to Autism Speaks and funding for the special services programs at schools in Monmouth and Ocean counties.

The sales of T-shirts for the Strike Out Autism Baseball Challenge will be donated to Autism Speaks and to helping special services programs at local schools. (Photo by Scott Stump)

Teams have also been doing fund-raising on their own with T-shirt sales and other fund-raisers to bring in money for the cause, so it's been an outstanding outpouring by the Shore Conference baseball community. Saturday is expected to be a beautiful day, so stop by, watch some great baseball and grab yourself a T-shirt. Director Jerry Frulio, a former head coach at St. Rose and Central who has a son, Dayton, 7, with autism, has done a tremendous job growing the event in only three years. It started out as a double-header at Central two years ago and now has 36 teams.

Now, on to Thursday's 10 best performances, in no particular order.

Luca Dalatri, Jr., P, Christian Brothers Academy

Dalatri remains unbeatable, as the Colts' ace fired a three-hit shutout in which he struck out a career-high 14 and only walked one in a 4-0 win over Howell to improve CBA to 7-1. His batterymate and future North Carolina teammate, catcher Brandon Martorano, backed him up by going 3-for-4 with a home run and two RBI.

Tyler Fischer, Jr., P, Holmdel

Fischer struck out six and only allowed one earned run in six innings to help the Hornets claim their first divisional win in Class A Central with a 7-4 victory over Raritan. Fischer is a remarkable story given all that he has gone through with several heart surgeries, and he has gotten interest from multiple Division I programs.

Dan Schirmacher, Sr., P, St. John Vianney

Dan Schirmacher fired seven innings Thursday against Monmouth, allowing just one unearned run on five hits and two walks while striking out 10. (Photo by Matt Manley)

The Lancers' ace put his team into a tie for first place in Class A Central by handing Monmouth its first divisional loss in a 9-1 victory. Schirmacher did not allow an earned run in a complete-game five-hitter, walking two, while striking out 10, including the 100th strikeout of his career.

Ian Scheuer, Jr., P, Middletown South

The Eagles' pitching continues to be stellar, as Scheuer tossed a two-hit shutout to lead Middletown South to a 2-0 victory over Freehold Boro in Class A North.

Matt Edwards, Sr., SS, Manasquan

Edwards has become a late-inning clutch hitter for the Warriors, and he did it again on Thursday with the game-winning RBI single with two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning for a 3-2 victory over Rumson-Fair Haven in Class A Central. Edwards finished 2-for-4 with a pair of RBI in the win.

Kyle Malloy, Jr., P, Donovan Catholic

Malloy continued the outstanding pitching this season for the Griffins by throwing a complete-game one-hitter in which he did not allow an earned run and didn't walk a batter in a 5-1 win over Manchester. Malloy struck out four to help Donovan Catholic remain at the front of the pack in the early going in Class B South.

Isaiah Sestito, Sr., OF, Red Bank

Sestito went 3-for-3 with a triple and three runs scored to help the Bucs pick up their biggest win of the season so far, 9-6 over Matawan in Class B North.

Ryan Mahon, Jr., Midfielder, Lacey

Mahon had a big afternoon with six goals and three assists while also going 19-for-21 on face-offs to lead the Lions to a 22-9 win over Donovan Catholic.

Chris Murphy, Sr., P, Colts Neck

Murphy only allowed one earned run on four hits in six innings of work, striking out eight, to help the Cougars edge Wall, 4-2, and continue their unbeaten start.

BASEBALL

Marlboro pulled out another close one by outlasting Freehold Township in extra innings to continue one of its best starts ever.

CBA ace Luca Dalatri is now 13-0 since the start of last season after beating Howell on Thursday...Marlboro continued one of its best starts ever with a 4-3 win in extra innings over Freehold Township. The Mustangs' pitching has been among the top in the Shore, and they have found a way to win multiple close games in late innings or extra innings, which bodes well for the postseason...Manalapan's Tyler Staffinger picked up his first varsity win in a 12-2 victory over Middletown North with 5 1/3 innings of two-hit ball.

BASKETBALL

(Photo by Ray Richardson)

Gatorade New Jersey Player of the Year Marina Mabrey will cap her brilliant high school career on Friday by representing Manasquan one last time at the inaugural girls Jordan Brand Classic all-star game up at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The game is at 3:30 p.m. and will be streaming online on ESPN3.

FOOTBALL

Another college commitment to report, as Keyport RB/WR Chase Bright will continue his career at Wilkes University.

More on Friday: 

  • Asbury Park resident and top national Class of 2018 basketball prospect Naz Reid of Roselle Catholic says Kansas is in the early lead for his services.
  • A high school pitcher up in New York City has a 98-mph fastball that has scouts and even Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski coming to watch.
  • The Pleasantville baseball team that got beat 52-3 by Buena earlier this season has not gotten down on itself as it tries to rebuild.
  • In an effort to boost attendance for tennis, the Big 12 now allows heckling at its matches.
  • Being a modern day Indiana Jones and going on adventures is great and all, but how do you pay your rent with that?
  • The most nonchalant bank robbery of all time. Is that Ditka?
  • Twins with autism bring inspiration to the Boston Marathon.
  • The Nolan Ryan Fireball Grill in Texas...caught on fire.
  • Book recommendation: The Martian, by Andy Weir. I couldn't put this down. I ripped through it in like three days. It's a super entertaining story of an astronaut stranded on Mars and how he has to survive for more than a year before a rescue mission can even be attempted. Amazing story behind it, too. Andy Weir just wrote it in serialized chunks and posted it on his personal blog for fun. People encouraged him to put it all together as an e-book on Amazon and he sold it for 99 cents because he didn't think it would be that big. It blew up, and last year a major book publisher bought the rights to it. The same week, the book was optioned to become a movie. Weir's entire life changed in a week, and the book became a best-seller.

On tap for this weekend: Four divisions are in action today in baseball, although that could be touch-and-go given the condition of some of the fields after the early rain today. The lone Top 10 match-up is in Class A South, where No. 8 Brick heads to No. 5 Toms River South for a night game at 7. Another key divisional game is Jackson Liberty at No. 10 Barnegat at 4 p.m., weather permitting. Saturday is all about the Strike Out Autism Challenge, which will feature 18 games.

In lacrosse, the big showdown is No. 5 Howell at No. 3 CBA in Class A North. CBA can all but officially wrap up the division title, while the Rebels can take their own huge step toward the crown. One other Top 10 match-up is No. 7 Freehold Township, fresh off its win over Red Bank Catholic, taking a crack at No. 1 Southern in a nondivisional game. Also, No. 10 Toms River North heads to Lacey in a good Ocean County match-up.

I'll end with a pair of highlights from St. John Vianney's 9-1 win over Monmouth yesterday. There's the Lancers' Dan Gesior ripping an RBI double and Monmouth Regional rightfielder Christian Hoplock with a laser to nail a runner at the plate.