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Between the Monmouth and Ocean County Tournaments whittling down the field to the semifinalists, the Shore Conference Boys Lacrosse Tournament being seeded, and three former Shore stars getting a shot at their NFL dreams, it was an action-packed weekend.

The OCT semifinals are now all set after Sunday's quarterfinals, with 12th-seeded Brick Memorial being the biggest underdog to make it to this Saturday's semifinals after knocked off fourth-seeded Jackson Liberty. The stunning score of the weekend was No. 16 Southern's takedown of top-seeded Toms River North, 5-4, on Saturday. That also mirrored the MCT, where No. 16 seed Middletown South knocked off No. 1 seed Colts Neck in April.

John Carello and Jackson Memorial will face Toms River South in Saturday's Ocean County Tournament semifinals. (Photo by Bill Normile)

Old Reliable, Toms River South, is in the semifinals thanks to a win over Donovan Catholic behind Ray Ligouri, and Jackson Memorial avenged a regular-season meltdown against Brick in which they blew an eight-run lead on Friday with a 13-0, five-inning rout of the Green Dragons on Sunday to reach the semifinals.

Three of the four semifinalists are set in the MCT, as Wall will host Middletown South, which rolled past St. John Vianney on Saturday, on one side of the bracket. Christian Brothers Academy, which got another dominant performance from Luca Dalatri in a win over Monmouth Regional on Saturday, awaits the winner of the Red Bank Catholic-Manalapan quarterfinal on the other side of the bracket.

Let's get to the weekend's Top 20 performers.

Ryan Orender, Sr., P, Wall

Wall senior Ryan Orender threw a four-hitter to help the Crimson Knights get past Freehold Township in the Monmouth County Tournament quarterfinals on Saturdauy. (Photo by Matt Manley)

Orender threw a complete-game four-hitter, striking out a career-high 10 and walking two, in a 4-1 win over Freehold Township in the MCT quarterfinals on Saturday.

Nick Matteo, Sr., OF, Brick Memorial

Matteo helped fuel the Mustangs' underdog run to the OCT semifinals by going 2-for-3 with a double, two RBI, a run scored and a stolen base in an 8-0 win over Point Boro on Saturday, and then hit a two-run homer in a 12-7 upset of fourth-seeded Jackson Liberty on Sunday. He went 2-for-4 with a run scored, three RBI and two stolen bases.

Jared Kacso, Jr., P/3B, Barnegat

Kacso picked up a complete-game win on the mound in an important 9-8 victory over Donovan Catholic in Class B South on Friday, then hit an RBI single and an RBI double in the same inning to fuel a rally from a four-run hole to beat Pinelands 9-5 in the OCT on Saturday. On Sunday, Kacso had a single, double and three RBI in an 8-3 win over Southern that advanced the Bengals to the OCT semifinals.

Aaron Ahn, So., 3B, Red Bank Catholic

It was a huge weekend for the Navy recruit, as he went 2-for-2 with a homer and three runs scored in a regular-season win over Monmouth on Friday night and then finished 2-for-3 with a grand slam and five RBI on Saturday in an 11-1 win in five innings over St. Rose in the MCT that ended a 13-game winning streak by the Purple Roses.

Jarrett Birch, So., A, Manasquan

Photo by Ray Richardson.

Birch scored four goals, reaching 100 career points as a sophomore, in a 19-5 win over Donovan Catholic on Saturday that put the Warriors one step closer to clinching the Class B South title.

Luca Dalatri, Jr., P, CBA

(Photo by Matt Manley)

The Colts' ace was dominating as usual, striking out 13 in a complete-game shutout in an 8-0 win over Monmouth in the MCT quarterfinals. He also went 2-for-3 with a double and two RBI at the plate in the win.

Ray Ligouri, Sr., P, Toms River South

Toms River South senior Ray Liguori struck out 11 and threw the first complete game for the Indians this year to beat Donovan Catholic on Sunday. (Photo by Matt Manley)

Ligouri had an RBI single and a scoreless inning of relief in a 5-0 win over Lacey in the OCT on Saturday, then followed that by throwing the Indians' first complete game of the season on Sunday. He struck out a career-high 11, scattering eight hits and walking one, in a 4-2 win over Donovan Catholic that put Toms River South into the OCT semifinals.

Brandon Janofsky, Sr., P, Jackson Memorial

Brandon Janofsky threw a two-hit shutout as Jackson Memorial blanked Brick 13-0 in five innings. (Photo by Bill Normile)

The Jaguars' standout had two hits in an 11-1 win over Manchester in the OCT on Saturday, then tossed a five-inning, two-hit shutout in a 13-0 win over Brick in the OCT quarterfinals on Sunday, while also hitting a two-run single.

Joey Appio, Jr., A, Ocean

Appio had two goals and a career-high eight assists, one of the highest single-game totals in the Shore Conference this season, in a 17-7 win over Middletown North that continued Ocean's best start ever at 9-1.

Chris Murphy, Sr., P, Colts Neck

The Cougars' ace continued his stellar season by throwing a complete game in a 5-1 win over Ocean on Friday, striking out 13, scattering eight hits, walking three and not allowing an earned run. The victory kept Colts Neck unbeaten in Class B North.

Mike Lee, Sr., 2B, Southern

Lee hit what proved to be the game-winning RBI double in the top of the seventh inning to help the 16th-seeded Rams stun top-seeded Toms River North, 5-4, in the OCT on Saturday. Lee also scored a run on a wild pitch in the victory.

Bryan Hess, So., M, Rumson-FH

Hess had four goals and an assist in a 12-3 win over rival Red Bank that gave the Bulldogs the Class B North title.

Nick Moglia, Sr., 1B, Brick

Moglia had a key RBI double in a seven-run sixth inning that helped Brick rally all the way back from an 8-0 hole to stun Jackson Memorial, 9-8, in eight innings on Friday. On Saturday, Moglia went 2-for-3 with a three-run homer and four RBI in a 15-0 win over Point Beach in the OCT.

Zac deRocco, Sr., P, Middletown South

DeRocco tossed a complete-game two-hitter, striking out seven, in a 10-1 win over St. John Vianney for Middletown South's 11th straight win that put the Eagles into the MCT semifinals.

J.J. McKenna, Jr., M, Barnegat

McKenna had a hat trick, two assists and six groundballs in a 10-8 win over Wall on Friday.

Chris Smith, Sr., M, Southern

(Photo by Ray Richardson).

The Rams' standout finished with a goal, an assist and 12 groundballs while also going 12-for-14 on face-offs in an 11-4 win over Toms River North on Friday night that gave Southern the Class A South title.

Bailey Sharpe, Sr., A, Brick Memorial

Sharpe had six goals and an assist in a win over Marlboro on Friday to reach a career milestone by reaching 100 points.

Nick Massa, Jr., P, Red Bank

Massa tossed a three-hit shutout in a 3-0 victory to give the Bucs the win in their "Battle of Ridge Road" rivalry game against Rumson-Fair Haven on Friday.

Will Johnson, Sr., 3B, Toms River East

Johnson hit what proved to be the game-winning two-run single in the top of the ninth to help the Raiders upset Toms River North 8-3 on Friday.

Kyle Missry, Sr., 1B, St. Rose

Missry had a double and three walks in a 2-1 win over Keyport on Friday that kept the Purple Roses tied for first with Mater Dei Prep in Class B Central. He also had a double and a run scored in a loss to Red Bank Catholic in the MCT on Saturday.


This is the final week before the cutoff for the Shore Conference Tournament, which is on Saturday, and the cutoff for the state tournament, which is on Friday, so it will be do-or-die time soon. It's looking like Colts Neck (Central Jersey Group IV) and St. Rose (Non-Public South B) will be No. 1 seeds in their brackets.

There are some good games lined up in both county tournaments for Saturday. Middletown South has been on fire and has a huge game against CBA on Monday in Class A North. They face a Wall team that got a second life when its loss on the field to Marlboro ended up being a forfeit by the Mustangs for using an illegal pitcher, keeping the Crimson Knights' hopes alive. They capitalized with a win over Freehold Township on Saturday.

In the other semifinal, CBA is either going to play Red Bank Catholic, which is always a great match-up, or have a third meeting with a Manalapan team that has been playing outstanding baseball the last two weeks.

In the OCT, Jackson Memorial and Toms River South have already split two exciting games this season, and they will meet a third time in the semifinals. The other side is the underdog bracket, where either 12th-seeded Brick Memorial or eighth-seeded Barnegat is going to punch its ticket to the championship game. Barnegat was the big winner of the weekend because coach Dan McCoy decided to hold his two top pitchers, Seamus Brazill and John Corbett, to make a run at first-place Jackson Liberty for the Class B South title this week. The Bengals showed their depth by fighting their way into the OCT semifinals without deploying their top guns.


The Shore Conference Tournament is set to kick off in full on Tuesday with the first round. Rumson-Fair Haven is the four-time defending champion, but undefeated Southern is the favorite as the No. 1 seed with a win over the Bulldogs under its best from the regular season.

CBA emerged from the three-way scrum in Class A North to claim the No. 3 seed, which means a Rumson-CBA semifinal will happen if the seeds hold true. There also will be a 3-6 match-up in the quarterfinals between CBA and Freehold Township after CBA beat the Patriots in the regular season in Class A North. A potential Howell-Manasquan quarterfinal is another game to watch out for.


Three former Shore stars will get their shot to make an NFL roster this summer. The only one who was drafted on Saturday is former Manasquan and Monmouth University star wide receiver Neal Sterling, who went in the seventh round to the Jaguars. Old Dominion long-snapper Rick Lovato (Middletown South) and North Carolina tight end Jack Tabb (Red Bank Catholic) signed with the Bears and Saints, respectively, as undrafted free agents.

As former Southern star Clark Harris has shown with the Bengals, Lovato could have a shot to have a nice career and become a millionaire if he can win the long-snapping job in Chicago. The good news for Tabb is that Jimmy Graham is no longer on the Saints, so a tight end spot is not blocked by a superstar. Sterling also has a good shot considering the lack of depth on the Jaguars, one of the NFL's worst teams, which means he could have an opportunity to crack the lineup.

Also, two more college commitments to report.

More on Monday:

  • Former Middletown North standout Shilique Calhoun is projected as a first-rounder in next year's NFL Draft as a defensive end on a loaded Michigan State team.
  • Colts Neck and Jackson Memorial are the two Shore baseball teams in this week's state top 20 by
  • Brad Brach (Freehold Township) got his first save of the season for the Orioles over the weekend.
  • Former Green Beret Nate Boyer, a 34-year-old long-snapper who played at Texas, will get his NFL shot with the Seahawks.
  • Massive Iowa lineman Brandon Scherff, who got taken by the Redskins in the first round, was once a 270-pound quarterback in high school.

On tap for today: We are heading down the stretch of the regular season in baseball, with division titles expected to be decided this week. Today includes a big showdown between first-place CBA and second-place Middletown South, which has won 11 straight, in Class A North. Red Bank Catholic also hosts Wall in a game it needs to have to set up a showdown with Colts Neck for the Class B North title. In Ocean County, Barnegat heads to Jackson Liberty for the first of two meetings this week with the Lions, who can all but put away the Class B South title with a win today.

In lacrosse, Brick hosts Middletown North in a play-in game in the SCT to highlight the day's action. This is Middletown North's first season as a varsity program, so the Lions could make some history with their first SCT win.

I'll end with a wicked shot for a goal by Southern's Kyle Mulrane on Friday against Toms River North, a diving catch by Matt Paturzo to start a game-ending triple play for Manasquan on Friday, and the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight re-done like Mike Tyson's Punchout.

BaseballTriplePlay from Tom Whalen on Vimeo.