The Shore Daily, 4/2/15
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It was an eventful Opening Day of Shore Conference baseball, a big night for Manasquan basketball star Marina Mabrey and a day filled with three one-goal thrillers in boys lacrosse on Wednesday.
I'll start with baseball, as 34 Shore Conference teams were in action to open the season, with several intriguing results and big performances.
The headliner was No. 7 Toms River South knocking off No. 2 Jackson Memorial in Class A South to continue what has become a great rivalry. The game was tied 2-2 before the Indians pushed across two in the top of the seventh, including the winning run on an infield single by Spencer Kapp, to take home a 4-2 win.
It's no surprise that the pitching was on point right out of the gate, as Indians pitching coach Mitch Powitz and his Jaguars' counterpart, J.M. Gold, are two of the Shore's best, and the 50-degree temperatures probably also didn't hurt because it's not exactly the best hitting weather. Ray Ligouri extended his scoreless innings streak to 13 1/3 dating back to last season with a scoreless seventh to get the save for the Indians.
This is just the beginning of the Class A South wars, as this division race is always a marathon. It's not one of those top-heavy divisions where a win on Opening Day over a fellow contender might put you in the driver's seat for no worse than a tie for the title. It's a day-in, day-out grind of survival, but this is certainly a strong start for Toms River South in getting a road victory over the defending Group IV champions.
Brick also won a nail-biter, 3-2, over Lacey in Class A South thanks to a seventh-inning RBI single by Ron Parliament that unfortunately continued a depressing trend for Lacey, which suffered 11 one-run losses last year. Another bright spot for Brick was senior Steve Cole, who threw 4 1/3 scoreless, one-hit innings. Lacey sophomore Anthony Elefante was strong in defeat with five innings of one-run ball and a two-run homer.
The Toms River North lineup looks like it will be one of the fiercest in the Shore, and the No. 3 Mariners put up nine runs in a win over Brick Memorial to open the season, led by a four RBI-day and a pair of doubles for Jeff Ciervo.
In the other Top 10 match-up of the day, No. 4 Colts Neck topped No. 10 Middletown South 8-4 behind St. John's recruit Mike Antico, who went 3-for-5 with two triples and four RBI, and Mario Ferraoli, who threw for five scoreless and also had three hits for a solid Class A North win.
Another score of note was Pinelands coming out of the gate with a 6-3 win over No. 5 Barnegat for a nice Class B South victory to start the season. Senior Dave DeFeo, also a football standout, led the way with a two-run bomb in the sixth and also got the save on the mound. Last season, Pinelands surprised Jackson Liberty on Opening Day, only for the Lions to come back and win the division, so the big key for the Wildcats is to maintain the consistency to stay in the hunt in Class B South after a strong opening win.
Speaking of Jackson Liberty, the Lions also picked up an important Class B South victory right away with a 5-0 win over Central thanks to UNC-Asheville recruit Howard Taylor, who threw six shutout innings and also had three hits, two runs scored and an RBI.
Other performances of note from the opener were Howell's Troy Miller with two hits, including an inside-the-park home run, in a win over Manalapan, Toms River East's Kyle Catania throwing six scoreless for Toms River East against Southern in his debut after moving from Long Island, which was complemented by four hits by Kyle Leonard, and Manchester's Steve Rodriguez nearly hitting for the cycle in his first game, going 3-for-4 with a double, triple and home run in a win over Point Boro.
Jim McAteer struck out 12 in a five-hitter for Keansburg against Henry Hudson, Mater Dei Prep's Liam Olausen and Vinny Stanziale combined on a one-hitter in a shutout of Keyport, Donovan Catholic's Russ Petranto banged out four hits, including two doubles, in a win over Lakewood, Freehold's Dante Cuzzolino whiffed 10 in a victory over Long Branch, and Marlboro junior Matt Discuillo went 4-for-4 with two extra-base hits and four RBI to help the No. 9 Mustangs roar out of the gate with a 9-1 win over Class B Central favorite St. Rose in a nondivisional game.
The St. John Vianney team that finished No. 1 in the state last year and won Non-Public A had to replace the bulk of its lineup due to graduation, but the Lancers are out to show they will keep the wins coming. They rolled to a 10-2 win over Red Bank, ringing up 12 hits, led by three by senior Nick DeLuise. Freehold Township sophomore Mike Pirotta got his first varsity win by allowing two runs in six innings in beating South Plainfield.
Finally, No. 1 Christian Brothers Academy started the season down in Florida with a 10-1 wipeout of Springfield (Pa.), with sophomore Mason O'Mara getting his first varsity win and senior John Moschella registering three hits.
An unbelievable senior year for Manasquan's Marina Mabrey, the Gatorade New Jersey Player of the Year, was capped by earning co-Most Valuable Player honors in Wednesday night's McDonald's All-American game at the United Center in Chicago. Mabrey, who led the state in scoring, had 12 points and six rebounds for the East squad to become the first Shore Conference player to ever earn MVP honors in the prestigious McDonald's game, which features the top players from across the country.
She still has one more national all-star game to go, as she was also selected to play for the East team in the Jordan Brand Classic at Barclay's Center up in Brooklyn on April 17 in the inaugural girls version of the game, which has been around for 14 years on the boys side.
The headline of the day belonged to No. 7 Manasquan, which tied No. 5 Freehold Township with 30 seconds left on a goal by Chris Klodowski and then won it 7-6 in overtime on a goal by rising sophomore star Jarrett Birch for its second big win in less than a week after knocking off Red Bank Catholic last weekend.
Unranked Wall also had a strong win of its own in rallying from a two-goal hole entering the fourth quarter to beat No. 9 Red Bank, 10-9, behind a game-high five goals by Mike Steppe. In one other one-goal thriller, Shore Regional held off Toms River North, 7-6, thanks to a combined five goals by football stars James Bedell and Doug Goldsmith.
One other win of note was No. 10 Barnegat roaring to a 12-5 win over a solid Lacey team behind five goals from junior J.J. McKenna.
The ground-breaking proposals to change the football landscape and the transfer rules got the rubber stamp to proceed by the NJSIAA yesterday, but the really big votes are still up ahead. The NJSIAA will vote on the changes to strengthen the transfer rule in June, so that's the time to keep an eye on because if it gets voted through, the new rules would go into effect for the 2015-16 school year.
I can just imagine a bunch of transfers trying to swap schools in the time leading up to that vote so they can get in under the wire before a mandatory 30-day sitting period and a one-year ban from those players participating in the state tournament go into effect. I'm also curious to see what happens with the coaches of these programs who rely heavily on transfers every year if this goes through. They all talk about "doing it for the kids," but we'll see how bad they want to coach when they are not rolling in a new all-star team of transfer talent every year. "I really want to spend more time with my family...."
On the football side of things, the proposal to create at 37-team non-public conference separate from the publics still has a way to go. It has to go through discussion at NJSIAA meetings next month and in June, and then it would come up for an official vote by the NJSIAA membership in December. If it actually passes, it would go into effect in the 2016 season. There's already a growing sentiment that the whole non-public imbalance is just a North Jersey problem and doesn't apply to the rest of the state, so the other non-publics are fighting the change.
More on Thursday:
- Toms River South grad Kyle Perry and CBA grad Pete Papcun helped Monmouth University baseball knock off Rutgers.
- A pair of future North Carolina teammates, Monroe's Robbie Peto and Old Bridge's Zach Attianese, dueled in Monroe's season-opening win. The Tar Heels have been grabbing top NJ talent right and left, as the CBA junior battery of ace Luca Dalatri and catcher Brandon Martorano are also committed there.
- Some great pics of Boston-area high school baseball teams playing at a turf complex while still surrounded by piles of snow.
- The oral history of the great Butler run to the NCAA final in which it nearly shocked Duke on that half-court attempt by Gordon Hayward.
- Talk about an athletic family. One of the boys players and one of the girls players in the McDonald's All-American Games are cousins who both had strong performances.
- Wait, now even asking people to the prom costs over $300 because of these over-the-top promposals? Thank God I finished high school a long time ago.
On tap for today: The baseball action continues with another full slate today as three more Top 10 teams begin their seasons, led by No. 8 Manasquan at defending Group I champion Shore Regional, while Jackson Memorial at No. 9 Red Bank highlights the boys lacrosse schedule.
I'll end with a spinning grab by Toms River South outfielder Ryan Shiffer in the win over Jackson Memorial.