The Shore Daily, 4/27/15
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The Monmouth County Baseball Tournament produced upsets, games going to the wire and a forfeit win after a great game on the field, while Manasquan lacrosse all but officially wrapped up a division title to highlight the weekend's action.
There were some monster individual performances over the weekend, so here are the Top 20 performers in no particular order.
Matt Vincenti, Sr., OF, Monmouth
Vincenti had a career day in a 12-11 loss to Raritan on Saturday, going 6-for-6, including hitting a single, double, triple and home run to get the cycle.
Jarrett Birch, So., A, Manasquan
The Warriors' sophomore standout helped them all but officially win the Class B South title in a 12-6 victory over Wall by scoring a game-high six goals.
Chris Murphy, Sr., P, Colts Neck
The Cougars' standout helped them stay right in the front of the Class B North race in a Top 10 showdown with Ocean when he fired a complete-game four-hitter, striking out 12, in a 5-2 win on Friday.
Rob Napolitano, Sr., C, Howell
Napolitano hit a walk-off RBI single in the bottom of the seventh inning to cap a three-run rally in a 7-6 win over Middletown North on Friday for Howell's third walk-off win of the season. He also homered and finished 2-for-4 with three RBI. On Saturday, he went 3-for-3 with a run scored and an RBI in a loss to Manalapan in the MCT.
Nick Roditis, Jr., P, Mater Dei Prep
Roditis helped the Seraphs knock off Shore Regional in the Monmouth County Tournament with a 5-2 win on Saturday, as he came on in relief and induced a game-ending double play with the tying run at the plate in the seventh, while also hitting a two-run single. Mater Dei's MCT run then came to an end with a loss to No. 1 CBA later in the day.
Matt Ferullo, Jr., A, Jackson Liberty
Ferullo scored four goals, including the game-winner in overtime in a thrilling 8-7 victory over cross-town rival Jackson Memorial on Friday night for the Lions' first win over the Jaguars in history. He added two assists and nine groundballs in the game, which also helped raise money for autism awareness.
Anthony Arneth, Sr., P, Central
The Golden Eagles shook up the Class B South race on Friday with a 4-2 upset of first-place Barnegat behind Arneth, who allowed six hits and struck out five in a complete-game victory. Arneth also had an RBI single in an 8-4 nondivisional loss to No. 2 Toms River North on Saturday. Also a football standout, he capped the weekend by receiving an Academic All-Shore award from the Shore Football Coaches Foundation on Sunday and also will play for Ocean County in this summer's All-Shore Gridiron Classic.
Cid Porter, Jr., OF, Christian Brothers Academy
Porter led a 15-hit assault as the No. 1 Colts broke open a close game to beat another Top 10 team, Marlboro, 15-2 and sweep the season series from the Mustangs while also taking a two-game lead in the race for the Class A North title. Porter went 4-for-5 with a double, three RBI and two runs scored in the win.
Ryan Clancy, Jr., A, Toms River North
Clancy poured in seven goals in an 11-1 rout of Brick in Class A South to give him 13 goals in his last two games.
Brett Habich, Jr., M, Red Bank Catholic
The Caseys' midfielder hit a career milestone with six goals and two assists in a 16-10 win over Shore Regional on Saturday to pass 100 career points.
Tom Pulcine, Sr., C, Raritan
A big reason the Rockets were able to outslug Monmouth 12-11 on Saturday despite a huge day by Matt Vincenti was because of Pulcine, who had a memorable day of his own in finishing 3-for-5 with a career-high six RBI in the win. That gave him 10 RBI in two games as he also went 2-for-4 with four RBI for a big 14-4 win over Manasquan in Class A Central on Friday. He is hitting .424 with 15 RBI for the season.
Johnny Zega, Jr., SS, Middletown South
The Eagles have been on fire since an 0-4 start, and Zega has been one of the key cogs in their offensive resurgence. He had a two-run double as part of a two-hit day in a 9-3 win over Manalapan on Friday, then belted a grand slam in a 16-0 rout of an eight-win Donovan Catholic team on Saturday.
Connor Daly, Jr., M, Ocean
Daly scored a game-high four goals in a 9-4 win over St. John Vianney on Friday to help Ocean improve to 7-1 for the first time in program history.
Ryan Gilmartin, Jr., M, Red Bank
With the Bucs' state playoff hopes hanging in the balance, the CBA transfer came through with four of the Bucs' five goals in a 5-4 overtime win against Holmdel to keep Red Bank in the hunt for a berth in the postseason.
Mitch Merrill, Sr., SS, Pinelands
Merrill went 2-for-4 with a double in a 6-4 loss to Lacey on Friday, then helped the Wildcats snap a six-game losing streak and upset Donovan Catholic in Class B South with a three-run double in a 12-6 win on Saturday. He also had a game-tying RBI single in the 13th inning of a 10-9 win over Lakewood on Saturday in a game that was completed after it had been suspended by darkness on Thursday. Merrill finished 3-for-6 with a double, three RBI and two runs scored in the win over the Piners.
Ryan McGrane, Sr., 1B, Manalapan
The Braves' offense has been one of the most prolific in the Shore, and McGrane has been an important part of it. He hit a three-run homer in a 10-4 win over Howell in the MCT early on Saturday and then followed that by going 2-for-2 with a triple in a 9-1 win over Bayonne later on Saturday.
Jake Sherman, Sr., A, Howell
Sherman scored six goals as the Rebels continued their best start ever with an 18-6 win over Middletown South on Saturday.
Jake Talarico, Jr., P, Ocean
Talarico fired a three-hit shutout, striking out three, and also scored a run in a 2-0 win over Red Bank in Class B North on Friday.
Kyle Fenton, Sr., P, Freehold Township
Fenton has now allowed just one run in 14 innings in the two games that he has started this season, as he threw a six-hit shutout with one walk in a 3-0 win over Holmdel that put the Patriots into the MCT Round of 16.
Billy Porter, Jr., A, Brick Memorial
Porter racked up racked up five goals and three assists to help the Mustangs pull out a 12-11 win over Toms River South on Saturday.
The Monmouth County Tournament is starting to heat up, as six of the eight quarterfinalists are set, while other games still have to be played, which is always an adventure because regular-season divisional games get scheduling priority over MCT games. That's how you have six teams already in the quarterfinals, while Raritan and St. Rose have yet to play each other in a first-round game.
The only quarterfinal match-ups that are set right now are Middletown South-St. John Vianney and Monmouth-CBA. Middletown South has roared back to life, going from an 0-4 start to No. 6 in the Shore in Matt Manley's latest Top 10 rankings by winning nine of its last 10 games.
The wildest loss was obviously Wall winning by forfeit over Marlboro because the Mustangs used an illegal pitcher who had thrown five innings two days earlier, violating an NJSIAA pitching rule. Marlboro won the game on the field in dramatic fashion on a walk-off homer by Steve Santigate but it didn't end up counting. The other tough part is I believe the stats from a forfeited game don't count, so anyone who had a big game on the field gets that wiped off their season stats.
With the division races heading down the stretch, three divisions have clear front-runners in CBA (A North), Colts Neck (B North) and Toms River North (A South), while B South and A Central continue to be free-for-alls, and the trio of St. Rose-Mater Dei Prep-Point Beach look to decide the B Central crown in their second trip through the divisional schedule. To me, the biggest darkhorse surprises are Raritan in Class A Central and Donovan Catholic in B South. They are young teams that were thought to maybe be a year away from contending, but they are ahead of schedule and right in the thick of it heading into crunch time.
It was a great day to honor the seniors who work as hard in the classroom as they do on the field at Sunday's annual Academic All-Shore banquet at Gibbs Hall in Eatontown that is put on by the Shore Football Coaches Foundation.
Eighty-six seniors, two from each team, were selected by their respective coaches to receive the honor. Our own Kevin Williams emceed the event, and other than a few comments about Northwestern being a Big Ten cellar-dweller even though they beat his beloved Penn State last year, he did a great job.
Compliments also have to go out to the great job behind the scenes in organizing a banquet with nearly 400 people by Raritan head coach Anthony Petruzzi, who did the thankless work and pulled it off seamlessly. SFCF president Gerard O'Donnell, the former head coach Manchester and now a Donovan Catholic assistant, also deserves recognition for his hard work on it as well.
The rosters for this summer's U.S. Army All-Shore Gridiron Classic were also unveiled, as the Monmouth County and Ocean County senior all-stars will collide on July 16 at Long Branch High School. Monmouth County's backfield of record-setting rushers Dahmiere Willis of Long Branch and Charlie Volker of Rumson-Fair Haven will go against an Ocean County group that includes All-Shore Brick quarterback Carmen Sclafani and seemingly the entire starting lineup from the Jackson Memorial squad that finished No. 1 in the Shore and won the Central Jersey Group IV title.
Congrats also go out to Shore Regional coach Mark Costantino, who will coach the Monmouth squad and be inducted into the SFCF Hall of Fame at halftime to cap a season in which he led the Blue Devils to an 11-1 record, a division title and the Central Jersey Group I title. Joining him in the Hall of Fame this year will be former coach Chris Barnes, who built up the Jackson Memorial program to set the stage for back-to-back state titles after he left and went to Wall, which he led to the 2002 Central Jersey Group III title as well as multiple division titles and playoff appearances.
More on Monday:
- CBA and Toms River North are both ranked in the top 10 in the state in the latest Star-Ledger baseball Top 20.
- The arms race among Alabama high school football is ridiculous, even among public schools, with three teams in one county having indoor practice facilities and one of them having a $14 million stadium. Coincidentally, Alabama's school system is ranked 49th out of the 50 states, but at least they know where their priorities lie.
- In Florida, high school football teams have 20 days of official spring practice.
- A runner from Colorado completed a marathon just over a year after having a massive brain tumor removed.
- NFL Draft prospect Zach Hodges of Harvard overcame enduring the deaths of both of his parents and his grandmother by his junior year of high school.
- An Oklahoma man completed a marathon with a heart transplanted from a 16-year-old who died from an asthma attack in 2012.
On tap for today: Another full baseball schedule, headlined by rivals Toms River North and Toms River South playing under the lights at Ken Frank Stadium, plus the rematch of St. Rose and Point Beach in a big B Central game after the Garnet Gulls routed the Purple Roses the first time around.
I'll end with the awesome Leah Still touchdown at Temple's spring game, a kid who decided to just catch a pitch rather than get hit by it while batting, and a picture of a jaguar attacking a crocodile because it's a jaguar attacking a crocodile.