The Shore Daily, 5/29/15
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The Shore Conference's last two hopes in the NJSIAA Tournament will take their home field today in hopes of continuing their run, and in the case of Shore Regional, repeating as sectional champions.
The Blue Devils, who won the overall Group I title last year, host Middlesex in the Central Jersey Group I final at 4 p.m. Monmouth University-bound ace James Kelly is not eligible to pitch after striking out 14 in a semifinal win over Florence on Tuesday, but Shore has gotten some clutch innings from the group of Chas Breithoff, Ryan Campi and Devin McLaughlin, all of whom are available to throw today.
Middlesex's ace, Joe DiNizio, is unavailable after throwing on Tuesday, so this will come down to the secondary pitchers on both teams stepping up in a big spot. Shore has had the late-inning magic, beating Florence on a walk-off hit by McLaughlin in the seventh inning, so the Blue Devils are in a prime position to repeat. They have become a perennial Group I force under fourth-year coach Pat O'Neill, who has kept the wins coming since taking over for another successful coach, Jeff Karpell.
Seniors like Kelly, Campi, outfielders Sam Parrino and Justin Halper, and first baseman Matt McCarthy have all been big in the state tournament and served as the backbone of the team. McLaughlin also has emerged as a big-game player, so we'll see if Shore can bring it home and give itself a shot at a second straight Group title. The last Shore Conference team to win back-to-back Group championships was Manalapan, which won Group IV in 2011 and 2012.
No Group I team from the Shore has ever won consecutive Group titles, and the last team from around the state to do it was Audubon in 2011 and 2012. Shore Regional was actually the first team from the Shore Conference to ever win the Group I title last season.
In Non-Public South A, Christian Brothers Academy will look to keep its tremendous season rolling when it hosts Immaculata in the semifinals at 1 p.m. The starter will most likely be senior Mike Garvey, who was lights-out in his last start, buzz-sawing through Camden Catholic in a five-hit shutout in the first round on May 21.
Ace Luca Dalatri, the newly-minted Gatorade New Jersey Player of the Year, is not available to pitch after winning Tuesday's semifinal game. He will pitch Tuesday in the final if CBA wins or on Monday in the Shore Conference Tournament final against Red Bank Catholic if CBA loses.
Junior catcher Brandon Martorano has been unstoppable in the postseason, pounding six of his nine home runs in CBA's last 10 games, and Cid Porter has been all over the basepaths as the Colts' leadoff hitter. The Colts have become the kings of the walk-off win this season, led by a combined five walk-off hits by Martorano and Old Dominion recruit Will Morgan, so even if they get behind early, they are always a threat to find a way in the end. Plus they have the motivation of chasing the rare five-title season of division, county, conference, sectional, and Group titles. The other good news is that they will not be facing Immaculata ace Storm Parish, who has both of the team's tournament wins, because he threw on Tuesday.
After their stunning and historic overtime win over Mountain Lakes to capture the Group I title on Wednesday, Rumson-Fair Haven will play in the NJSIAA Tournament of Champions tomorrow night.
Speaking of Rumson, SSN's Mark Brown of B51 Photography caught up with former Bulldogs' star Chris Hubler, who was a freshman this season on one of the top men's teams in the country, NCAA semifinalist Johns Hopkins.
More on Friday:
- Toms River North defensive tackle Da'shon Copes (2016) picked up an offer from Liberty University on Friday, according to coach Dave Oizerowitz.
- Former Jackson Memorial star Matt Thaiss, now a catcher at Virginia, was named a third-team All-American by Louisville Slugger.
- Southern Regional is ranked as the third-best school district for athletics in New Jersey, according to a recent study.
- Manalapan grad David DeJesus has been a key performer hitting .322 for the Tampa Bay Rays so far this season.
- Delaware pitcher Ron Marinaccio (Toms River North) was named to the Colonial Athletic Association All-Rookie Team.
- Former Brick Memorial star tight end Garrett Graham should be getting some facetime on HBO now that the Texans are this year's team on "Hard Knocks."
- This is one of those stories about how if you keep working hard you don't know what good things can happen. A Vietnamese kid just started playing baseball last year, having to borrow a glove and learn by watching YouTube, and is now the starter on a California baseball team playing for a state championship at Dodger Stadium.
- Ramsey's Ashton Bardzell will try to break Mike Trout's single-season state home run record today.
- They're making a bobblehead of the crying piccolo player from March Madness.
I'll end with spelling bee kids making us all feel stupid, plus the story of a Georgia high school football team fulfilling a teammate's dying wish and bringing his casket on to the field one last time.