Class A South is the kind of division that can produce a team that finishes fourth in the division and wins an NJSIAA Group IV title. Last year was a down year for the division: only its division champion won a state championship.

Jackson Memorial returns its top all-around player, three regular starters and three of the top four pitchers from a Group IV championship team and yet still might not be the favorite to win the division. While Class A North has the higher-profile pitching talent, it’s hard to come up with more bats and gloves than Class A South boasts. Read on and you will find two teams with a Division I shortstop – one of whom is committed to Virginia – ranked outside the top three in the division. That just about says it all.

Fresh off its first Group title in 42 years, Jackson Memorial will look to make it a much shorter wait between titles by winning again this year. (Photo by Matt Manley)
Fresh off its first Group title in 42 years, Jackson Memorial will look to make it a much shorter wait between titles by winning again this year. (Photo by Matt Manley)


Jackson Memorial

Head Coach: Frank Malta, 11th season
2014 Record: 20-7 (10-4, tied first in A South)

Returning StartersYr.Position2014 Batting Stats2014 Pitching Stats
Brandon JanofskySr.SS/P.333/.404/.555, 6 2B, 3B, 4 HR, 28 R, 11 RBI, 10 SB47 IP, 38 H, 12 BB, 46 K, 0.89 ERA, 7-0
Joe DeMaioSr.CF.265/.333/.368, 5 2B, 3B, 4 R, 10 RBI, 4 SB
Kyle JohnsonJr.3B/SS.278/.360/.444, 8 2B, 2 3B, 17 R, 8 RBI, 7 SB
Rich RountreeSr.OF.135/.179/.243, 2 2B, 3B, 6 R, 7 RBI, 5 SB
Matt CrispeSr.OF.237/.250/.289, 2 2B, 6 R, 6 RBI
Chris HawrylukJr.P/1B4-for-14, 2B34.2 IP, 36 H, 7 BB, 25 K, 3.63 ERA, 2-3
Ryan TakacsSr.P26.2 IP, 26 H, 8 BB, 13 K, 2.36 ERA, 2-1
Returning PlayersYr.Position2014 Batting Stats2014 Pitching Stats
Kyle LonaJr.OF/C4-for-21, 2 2B
John CarelloSr.INF3-for-13
Nick RoccoSr.C

Key Losses: Matt Guarino (P/1B), Mike Petrizzo (OF), Nick Dabrio (OF), Nick Babin (C), Mike Schmidt (2B/SS), Ricky Aviles (P)
Key Newcomers: Dylan Kanner (So., 1B/P), Dave Harlinski (Sr., P), Matt Castronuova (Sr., INF), Lorenzo Spinelli (Jr., INF/P)

Jackson Memorial has sported some of the most imposing lineups in the Shore Conference over the last 10 years and has featured some standout pitchers in that time as well. That’s partly what makes last year’s NJSIAA Group IV championship by the Jaguars so strange, so unexpected and so remarkable: last year’s team was less reliant on the home run than any Jackson team of the last six years, and the Jaguars relied heavily on two pitchers who entered the year more known for their bats and gloves. Jackson Memorial’s run to its first Group championship since 1972 was further proof that results are never predictable but the elements that lead to them – performance on the mound and defensive efficiency in the Jaguars’ case – often are.

The Jaguars return as one of three Shore Conference teams looking to defend a Group title. Jackson Memorial – despite a loaded Central Jersey Group IV bracket – might have the best opportunity to repeat. Although the Jaguars lose their horse on the mound and top run-producer in Matt Guarino, they bring back a trio of pitchers who all had success in 2014. Senior Brandon Janofsky – who is committed to play at Stony Brook next year – caught fire on the mound in the postseason and finished the season with a perfect record and a sub-1.00 earned-run average. Janofsky also tapped in to his power last year, belting four home runs and slugging .555 after posting a slugging percentage under .300 as a sophomore. Junior Chris Hawryluk showed excellent control through some mixed results, while Ryan Takacs posted a 2.36 ERA while exhibiting similarly good control.

Defensively, Jackson Memorial should continue to be one of the Shore’s top teams when Janofsky plays shortstop. Junior third baseman Kyle Johnson is in line to be a four-year starter and made significant progress in all facets of his game as a sophomore. Senior center fielder Joe DeMaio is also back for his third year in the starting lineup, while seniors Rich Rountree, Matt Crispe and Nick Carello all prepare for increased roles. Junior Kyle Lona will also push for time in the outfield, and sophomore Dylan Kanner has a chance to crack the lineup at first base and on the mound. Senior Nick Rocco is in line to catch after missing his junior year due to injury. Toms River North is hot on their trail, but with a similar roster to the one that won a share of Class A South and all of Group IV, the Jaguars enter the 2015 season as the favorite.


Toms River North

Head Coach: Andy Pagano, second season
2014 Record: 15-9 (9-5, third in A South)

Returning StartersYr.Position2014 Batting Stats2014 Pitching Stats
Joe RoseJr.3B.425/.530/.687, 10 2B, 3B, 3 HR, 18 R, 19 RBI, 6 SB
Mike TipladySr.1B/C.312/.345/.429, 4 2B, 3B, HR, 12 R, 14 RBI
Kevin BlumSr.CF/P.283/.370/.326, 2 2B, 13 R, 4 RBI
Jeff CiervoJr.OF.313/.392/.422, 2B, 2 HR, 9 R, 14 RBI
Joe VendittoSr.OF.358/.435/.388, 10 R, 19 RBI
Owen SulfrainJr.C.200 Avg, 2B, 6 RBI
Brett HyersSr.P43.2 IP, 38 H, 10 BB, 31 K, 3.21 ERA, 3-3
Doug MolnarSr.P47.2 IP, 44 H, 8 BB, 42 K, 1.17 ERA, 5-2
Ryan LarsenSr.P32.2 IP, 27 H, 10 BB, 27 K, 2.79 ERA, 2-2
Returning PlayersYr.Position2014 Batting Stats2014 Pitching Stats
Brandon FischerJr.INF.200/.333/.267, 2B, 3 RBI
Cody LeBarSr.P1.2 IP, 0 H, 0 BB, K, 0.00 ERA, 1-0
Anthony DeceglieJr.P/1B9.2 IP, 18 H, 0 BB, 3 K, 3.62 ERA, 1-0

Key Losses: Anthony Ferlise (1B), Julian Feliz (3B), Joe LaCava (2B), Beau Wyckoff (OF), Steve Slagmolen (P)
Key Newcomers: Mike Nyisztor (So., SS), Zach Burns (Jr., P), David Cordoma (Jr., OF), Jake Loffredo (Jr., 2B/1B)

The Mariners will have to go through the defending Group IV champion just to win the Class A South division, but that should be a welcome challenge since this Toms River North team has the look of a roster that should be thinking about winning a state championship. Even with three new starters on the infield, the Mariners have a chance to be an even better offensive team than they were a year ago, but the key to their season will be in the field. Junior and Oklahoma State recruit Joe Rose mashed in his first varsity season while playing out of position at shortstop and will now go back to his more natural third base as sophomore shortstop Mike Nyisztor moves up to the varsity squad. Second-year coach Andy Pagano praised Nyisztor for his great glove and athleticism, the latter of which was on display during his breakout season on the basketball court.

The returning outfield trio of Kevin Blum, Jeff Ciervo and Joe Venditto gives Toms River North some depth to the lineup that will help compensate for the lost offense of graduated corner infielders Anthony Ferlise and Julian Feliz. Senior Mike Tiplady will hit in the middle of the order after a strong junior campaign and will likely fill the open spot at first base as junior Owen Sulfrain returns behind the plate. Junior newcomer Jake Loffredo could also get some time at first and will also compete for time at second with fellow junior Brandon Fischer.

An improved defense would provide a nice complement to one of the best control staffs in the conference. Senior right-handers Doug Molnar, Brett Hyers and Ryan Larsen combined to walk 28 batters in 124 innings (1.58 walks per seven innings) and posted a cumulative strikeout-to-walk ratio of 3.57. Molnar was the most effective of the three, pitching to a 1.17 ERA while striking out 42 and walking only eight in 47 2/3 innings. Pagano has also been impressed with junior right-hander Zach Burns. With a handful of position players who can also provide innings when needed, Toms River North should have the staff to go with an improved defense and a lineup that is still as scary as any in the Shore.


Toms River South

Head Coach: Ken Frank, 37th season
2014 Record: 15-10 (8-6, tied fourth in A South)

Returning StartersYr.Position2014 Batting Stats2014 Pitching Stats
Ryan ShifferSr.C.389/.494/.472, 4 2B, 3B, 12 R, 12 RBI, 7 SB
Spencer KappSr.1B/OF.289/.357/.368, 6 2B, 13 R, 13 RBI
Jake RyanSr.RF.288/.397/.424, 6 2B, HR, 14 R, 6 RBI
Ray LiguoriSr.3B/P.278/.391/.389, 4 2B, 3B, 6 R12.1 IP, 6 H, 3 BB, 14 K, 0.00 ERA, 1-0
Trevor WagnerJr.OF/INF/P.255/.339/.327, 4 2B, 11 R, 10 RBI
Austin GonellaSr.INF.229 Avg
Anthony CarforaJr.INF/P.154 Avg
Chandler ThompsonSr.P36 IP, 26 H, 16 BB, 39 K, 1.36 ERA, 5-1
Tyler MellottSr.P
Vinny ScrudatoSr.P
Returning PlayersYr.Position2014 Batting Stats2014 Pitching Stats
Corey NaseSr.DH.250 Avg

Key Losses: Russell Messler (OF), Christian Campbell (SS), Tyler Fogler (P/1B)
Key Newcomers: Tyler Wisniewski (Jr., C), Michael Conover (Jr., OF), Ben Montenegro (So., 3B/OF/P), Matt Shiffer (So., INF/OF/P), Connor Feeney (Jr., 1B/3B), Justin Fall (So., P/1B), Anthony Genchi (Jr., INF), Nick Scrudato (Jr., OF/INF), Rich Thomas (Jr., INF), Stephen Altman (Sr., 1B/OF/DH), Jesse Liguori (Sr., INF), Joe Meyers (Sr., OF), Chris Famularo (Sr.), Jake Regan (So., INF), Dylan Danielson (Soph., OF), Joe Lodato (Jr., INF)

It’s rare that a Toms River South baseball team finishes outside the top three in the Class A South standings, but considering the 2014 Indians started only two seniors to open the season and senior standout Russell Messler was hobbled for most of the season, last year was a good showing by a group that remains mostly intact heading into this year. Naturally, replacing Messler is a tall task, and departed senior shortstop Christian Campbell was a steady player in the middle of the diamond, but Toms River South will be able to draw from a deep pool of talent to plug the holes while also returning some impact talent at other positions.

The Indians are set at arguably the most important position on the diamond thanks to the return of senior catcher Ryan Shiffer. Seniors Spencer Kapp, Jake Ryan and Ray Liguori will combine with Shiffer to give the order some depth and thunder. Junior Trevor Wagner held his own at the plate and on the mound as a sophomore, and the Indians are expecting him to be a big part of the equation the next two years. Senior Austin Gonella and junior Anthony Carfora each earned a helping of playing time last year and will factor into the battle for the two spots in the middle infield. Sophomores Michael Conover and Ben Montenegro could also contribute in the field and at the plate and will likely pick up some innings on the mound as well.

Speaking of the mound, the Indians had one of the Shore Conference’s revelations in right-hander Chandler Thompson. The 6-foot-4 hurler delivered a 1.36 ERA over 36 innings and also tossed a five-inning no-hitter in an Ocean County Tournament win over Lakewood. Tyler Mellott and Vinny Scrudato have each been in the rotation since they were sophomores, while Wagner and Liguori both pitched last year. Liguori was a secret weapon out of the bullpen, throwing 12-plus scoreless innings while allowing only nine baserunners and striking out 14. With plenty of capable arms, a budding ace at the top and a deep lineup, Toms River South need not take a backseat to any team in a Class A South division that is once again stacked.



Head Coach: Jason Groschel, 10th season
2014 Record: 12-12 (6-8, sixth in A South)

Returning StartersYr.Position2014 Batting Stats2014 Pitching Stats
Carmen SclafaniSr.SS.403/.488/.642, 7 2B, 3 HR, 20 R, 15 RBI, 7 SB
Dan BergSr.2B.397/.520/.423, 2 2B, 20 R, 7 RBI, 10 SB
Matt GreenbergSr.3B.313/.397/.328, 2B, 10 R, 4 RBI, 5 SB
Nick MogliaSr.P/1B.208/.296/.208, 3 R, 2 RBI17.2 IP, 20 H, 10 BB, 17 K, 2.77 ERA, 0-2
Dan FinelliJr.1B.306/.352/.367, 3 2B, 6 R, 5 RBI
Steve ColeSr.P35.2 IP, 27 H, 16 BB, 26 K, 2.16 ERA, 3-3
Nick ChirichelloJr.P26.2 IP, 30 H, 20 BB, 23 K, 4.99 ERA, 2-3
Returning PlayersYr.Position2014 Batting Stats2014 Pitching Stats
Trevor RoweJr.C4-for-15, 2B
Ron ParliamentSr.OF/INF.100/.176/.100
Brandon WeberSr.P6.2 IP, 6 H, 7 BB, 4 K, 5.25 ERA

Key Losses: Nick Zbranak (3B), Brian Gallagher (C), Evan Lobato (P), Matt Olsen (OF)
Key Newcomers: John Canterelli (Sr., DH), Dominick Nesser (Sr., P), Matt Rosace (Sr., OF), Joe Sclafani (Jr., OF), Hunter Rizzuto (Jr., OF/P), Tom Zbranak (Jr., OF), Matt Schleifer (Jr., OF), Tito Morales (Jr., P), John Prato (So., OF), Mike Soldo (So., P), Gerry Hutchison (So., C)

Carmen Sclafani’s transfer from Toms River North to Brick prior to his junior year impacted the football programs of each school much more than the baseball teams, but as it turns out, the standout quarterback has elected to go with baseball at the next level. The Rutgers University recruit missed the postseason stretch last season due to injury, but still managed to put up big offensive numbers for a Brick club that boasted a formidable offense.

Brick will have to replace three of its biggest bats and an All-Shore pitcher from a year ago, but Sclafani heads up a group of returners who are capable of keeping Brick competitive in a difficult division. Senior second baseman Dan Berg ran an on-base percentage of over .500 as a junior and will combine with Sclafani to form, arguably, the best offensive double-play duo in the Shore Conference. Both third baseman Matt Greenberg and first baseman Dan Finelli each hit over .300 as well, and junior catcher Trevor Rowe showed promise in his bat in just 15 at-bats last year.

The graduation of Evan Lobato leaves a 60-inning hole at the top of the pitching rotation, but the Green Dragons will have the rest of their upstart staff back from a year ago. Senior left-hander Steve Cole emerged as a steady No. 2 pitcher behind Lobato and will anchor the staff this season. Junior left-hander Nick Chirichello pitched his best game of the season in a Shore Conference Tournament win over Colts Neck, and 6-foot-5 right-hander Nick Moglia might have the highest upside of the bunch after putting up a 2.77 ERA in 17 2/3 innings last year. If that staff can approach its potential, the Dragons have the position-player support to finish in the top four and perhaps take a run at the top spot.


Brick Memorial

Head Coach: Evan Rizzitello, fifth season
2014 Record: 11-15 (8-6, tied fourth in A South)

Returning StartersYr.Position2014 Batting Stats2014 Pitching Stats
Matt CatheySr.2B.347/.372/.373, 2 2B, 5 R, 8 RBI, 6 SB
Brian MarkoskiJr.1B/OF.346/.480/.526, 6 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 17 R, 8 RBI, 7 SB
Nick MatteoSr.OF.297/.373/.359, 4 2B, 8 R, 10 RBI, 7 SB
Tim SantiagoJr.OF.257/.381/.400, 2 2B, 1 HR, 4 R, 4 RBI, 5 SB
Jake VossSr.C.200 Avg
Matt CuppariJr.SS/P.200 Avg., 2 2B, 8 R, 7 RBI5 IP, 3 K, 0.00 ERA, 1-0
Ian AmbroseSr.P24.2 IP, 24 H, 20 BB, 23 K, 3.69 ERA, 2-2
Returning PlayersYr.Position2014 Batting Stats2014 Pitching Stats
Kyle McCabeSr.P 11 IP, 12 H, 8 K, 0-1
J.T. HazeletSr.P/INF11 IP, 4 BB, 4K, 0-2
D.J. WilsonJr.P19.2 IP, 27 H, 7 BB, 6 K, 3.20 ERA, 0-2

Key Losses: Kyle Cala (OF), Anthony Assante (P), Joe Trafficante (P), Joe Pipher (OF), Tyler Hobbs (SS), Tyler Goodman (P)
Key Newcomers: Corey Cathey (Sr., OF), Cole Kachelhoffer (Sr., P/INF), Steve Schocket (Sr., P/3B), Shane Shekon (Sr., P/1B), Chris Sullivan (Sr., P), Drew Zytko (Sr., P), Justin Bates (Jr., C), David Clark (Jr, INF/P), James Donlon (Jr., OF/P), Dylan Evans (Jr., OF/P), Teddy Gonzalez (Jr., 3B), Andrew LaRosa (Jr., INF/P), Alec Merritt (Jr., P), Dylan Nolan (Jr., C)

Like Toms River South, Brick Memorial had to play around an injury to its star outfielder. Current Wagner College freshman Kyle Cala injured his knee prior to the season and while he was able to return and hit close to his usual standards, he was not able to run the bases or play the field. That made for some creative substituting by coach Evan Rizzitello, who will now have the luxury of some more versatility this season with a roster of players who got a chance to play last year. Although Cala was the standout talent of the Mustangs over the past two years, replacing pitchers Anthony Assante, Joe Trafficante and Tyler Goodman could turn out to be the key for Brick Memorial this season.

The good news for the Mustangs is that replacing 2013 All-Shore pitcher Brian Cottrell was supposed to be next to impossible last year, but Brick Memorial was one of the better teams at run prevention in the conference. Seniors Ian Ambrose, Kyle McCabe, Drew Zytko and J.T. Hazelet are all pushing for innings in the rotation, with Ambrose returning with the most experience. Juniors D.J. Wilson, Matt Cuppari, Alec Merritt and James Donlon are also potential options as the Mustangs look to stack up another effective rotation in a division that looks like it will boast plenty of offense this season.

Although the Brick Memorial offense was inconsistent last season, the Mustangs found some standouts at a number of spots on the diamond, most notably junior Brian Markoski at first base. The left-handed thumper has displayed great command of the strike zone since his freshman year and added some power to his offensive game as a sophomore last year. Senior second baseman Matt Cathey was a consistent source of offense in his first year as a starter, as was current junior Tim Santiago. Senior Nick Matteo is a three-year starter in the outfield, and junior Matt Cuppari could be in line for a breakout season moving from third base over to shortstop. The pitching staff is mostly unknown and the lineup will need to see some progress, but the Mustangs will have plenty of options and have proven they can compete year-in and year-out.


Toms River East

Head Coach: Dan Dietrich, first season
2014 Record: 17-8 (10-4, tied first in A South)

Returning StartersYr.Position2014 Batting Stats2014 Pitching Stats
Jon MeolaSr.SS.377 Avg, .623 Slug, 6 2B, 3 HR, 14 R, 12 RBI
Josh SommererSr.OF
Returning PlayersYr.Position2014 Batting Stats2014 Pitching Stats
Will JohnsonSr.3B
Nick CottoneSr.P

Key Losses: C.J. Hirschy (Sr., P/DH), Jerry Caporale (OF), Charlie Mulé (3B), Tommy Vincent (2B), Max Lasky (CF), Anthony DeBlasio (P), Jeff Cannova (P), Ron Calantoni (C), Noah Clark (1B)
Key Newcomers: Matt Corsi (Sr., INF), Bailey Engelhard (Jr., 1B), Tyler Idzinski (Jr., LF), Chad Leonard (Jr., CF), Kyle Catania (Sr., P), Kevin Brown (Sr., P), Jon LoBello (Sr., P), Randy Spillane (Sr., C), Jordan LaBoy (Sr., C), Nick D’Arcy (Sr., OF/C), Justin Arnold (Sr., DH/1B), Cole Robbins (Jr., INF)

Longtime coach Bill Frank’s swansong season lived up to expectations, as Toms River East made it back to the Class A South summit by sharing the division title with Group IV champion Jackson Memorial. The Raiders had a senior-laden team that had been building toward the 2014 season with Frank for the previous three years, and while the tournaments did not go as planned, the group mostly fulfilled on its promise. The downside to last season is there is not much left over in the starting lineup for new coach and longtime Frank assistant Dan Dietrich, particularly in the rotation, which graduated all three starters who made up one of the most dependable staffs in the Shore Conference.

On the bright side, senior shortstop and University of Virginia recruit Jon Meola is one of the two returning starters, along with senior right-fielder Josh Sommerer. Both are standout athletes as well as skilled all-around players, so Toms River East will have the top-level talent to compete in the division. Where the Raiders season will either sink or swim is in the rotation, which will undergo a complete overhaul after the graduation of C.J. Hirschy, Anthony DeBlasio and Jeff Cannova. Senior Nick Cattone will pick up some of the slack after pitching in relief last year, while fellow seniors Kyle Catania, Kevin Brown and Jon LoBello will fill in the rest of the rotation as first-year varsity pitchers.

In addition to a new pitching staff, the Raiders will also start new players at six other positions on the diamond. Senior Will Johnson was a regular contributor off the bench last year and will take over at third base, while senior Matt Corsi got a varsity taste last year as well. First baseman Bailey Engelhard, left fielder Tyler Idzinski and center fielder Chad Leonard make up a junior trio that could make a real impact as first-year varsity starters. With a legitimate high-level Division I shortstop leading the way, Toms River East could be a sleeper if all the new players get acclimated quickly.



Head Coach: Tom Natoli, sixth season
2014 Record: 7-15 (3-11, seventh in A South)

Returning StartersYr.Position2014 Batting Stats2014 Pitching Stats
Ronnie VelardiJr.SS/P.264/.325/.375, 3 2B, 3B, HR, 8 R, 12 RBI
Mike LeeSr.2B.222/.354/.222, 6 R, 3 RBI
Antonio DinisSo.OF.207/.258/.207, 4 R, 2 RBI
Zach MasonSr.P/1B34.2 IP, 35 H, 47 BB, 35 K, 6.49 ERA
Jared LubanskiJr.P/OF/SS26 IP, 37 H, 11 BB, 20 K, 7.96 ERA
Zach FillmoreSo.P18.2 IP, 22 H, 10 BB, 11 K, 2.41 ERA
Returning StartersYr.Position2014 Batting Stats2014 Pitching Stats
T.J. RingSr.C.133 Avg

Key Losses: Nick Sinopoli (OF/P), Chris Starner (1B), Eric Hammell (OF), Vinny Colecchia (C), Nick Scalone (P), Nick Liantonio (3B)
Key Newcomers: Matt Malatesta (Sr., OF), Joe Shine (Sr., P), Chris Leung (Sr., P), Anthony Mannarino (Sr., P), Mike Bruno (Sr., OF), Jared Haugland (Jr., 1B/P), Chris Darcy (Jr., 3B), Pat Barrett (So., P/3B), Joey Robertson (So., OF/DH), Nick Simone (So., P), Nolan Watson (So., C)

A close examination of Southern’s program suggests the Rams have been making progress under six-year coach Tom Natoli, but it is often hard to tell because of how difficult Class A South is – particularly for a team trying to work its way from the bottom up. Southern has had some standout offensive players and notched some big wins, like the one they got last year at Toms River South with coach Ken Frank looking to secure his 800th career win. Where the Rams have not quite measured up is in their pitching depth, where Southern has lacked either a shut-down ace or the depth required to make up for that deficiency.

Coming into the 2015 season, the Rams look to have more depth than in recent years and could have the makings of a pair of top starters as well. Senior Zach Mason has shown high-80’s velocity and strikeout stuff and could make the leap to top-of-the-rotation mainstay by cutting down on his walks. Sophomore Zach Fillmore showed flashes of promise as a freshman as well. In addition to those two, junior Jared Lubanski has the experience to serve as a capable rotation piece.

Losing Nick Sinopoli and Chris Starner from last year’s lineup will challenge some of the Rams’ returning players to develop quickly. Junior Ronnie Velardi has already turned himself into a top player in the division in his first two seasons and will be the regular shortstop this season after playing in multiple spots during his freshman and sophomore seasons. Sophomore outfielder Antonio Dinis saw time as a freshman and second baseman Mike Lee is back at second base after coming over from Steinert prior to last year. Senior outfielder Matt Malatesta is a transfer from Archbishop Wood in Pennsylvania who Natoli expects will help boost the offense. It will take some growth in the starting rotation and the emergence of a couple of young players on offense, but a top-five finish in the division is certainly on the table for the Rams this season.



Head Coach: Corey Hamman, third season
2014 Record: 6-15 (2-12, eighth in A South)

Returning StartersYr.Position2014 Batting Stats2014 Pitching Stats
Anthony ElefanteSo.OF/SS/P.211/.308/.298, 2 2B, HR, 6 R, 6 RBI2 IP, H, 0 BB, 4 K, 0.00 ERA
Anthony RuggerioJr.UTIL.231/.333/.231, 3 R, 2 RBI
Justin WeigandSr.INF/P.159/.275/.182, 2B, 7 R, 3 RBI14.2 IP, 16 H, 10 BB, 12 K, 1.91 ERA, 1-2
George PeddieSr.1B/P.173/.214/.231, HR, 4 R, 8 RBI
Brett KinseySr.OF/P3-for-6, 2B36.1 IP, 40 H, 17 BB, 15 K, 1.75 ERA, 0-5
Returning PlayersYr.Position2014 Batting Stats2014 Pitching Stats
Dan GreenerSr.INF/OF3-for-10
Rich HurleySr.3B/1B/P3-for-19, 3 RBI

Key Losses: Connor Rooney (SS/P), Eric Reitmeyer (CF), Paul Lynch (C), Justin Roth (P)
Key Newcomers: Donald Zellman (So., INF/P), Paul Carluccio (So., C), Brandon Haggerty (So., P)

It will take a huge jump in win total for Lacey to compete for a division championship this season, but considering 11 of its 15 losses were by a by a one-run margin last year, that climb could simply come down to a few more fortunate bounces of the ball. Of course, the Lions would prefer to kick down the door, and in order to do so, they will look to replace all-division performer Connor Rooney and two major contributors in Eric Reitmeyer and Paul Lynch.

Senior Brett Kinsey will anchor the pitching staff after falling victim to some defensive miscues during his junior campaign. Fellow senior Justin Weigand had a similar experience in his 14 innings last year, and while both will look for improved defense behind them, each will also attempt to cut down on their walk totals while hoping to let that defense work with more pitches in the zone. Sophomores Anthony Elefante and Brandon Haggerty will also pick up some innings, with Elefante looking to build on two scoreless, one-hit innings as a freshman.

Elefante also returns with offensive upside as well after socking a couple of doubles and a home run. Junior Anthony Ruggerio and senior George Peddie also return with experience at the plate and in the field, while Weigand and Kinsey will both help out offensively as well. Lacey faced the harsh reality of life in Class A South last year, one in which a team can be competitive for 14 games and still lose 12 of them. While luck has something to do with it, the Lions will look to make their own luck behind the development of players like Elefante and breakout years from their two senior pitchers.


Division Lineup

Ryan Shiffer, Catcher, Toms River South – Three-year varsity backstop is a proven hitter and showed last year he can help a young staff.

Brian Markoski, First Base, Brick Memorial – On-base machine (.480 OBP) also broke out the big lumber for nine extra-base hits and flashed the wheels with seven steals.

Brandon Janofsky, Shortstop, Jackson Memorial – The classic dilemma: Is Jackson Memorial a better team with its best pitcher on mound or with its best shortstop in the field? When Janofsky is as red-hot as he was in late May and early June, it’s a good problem to have.

Jon Meola, Shortstop, Toms River East – The offense has been good over the last three years, but not enough people talk about Meola’s defense and athleticism at shortstop.

Joe Rose, Third Base, Toms River North – Now at his natural position on the hot corner, the Oklahoma State recruit should be more comfortable. Then again, he went .425/.530/.687 as a sophomore last year, so either playing shortstop did not affect him or he is about to have a colossal season.

Jeff Ciervo, Outfield, Tom River North – Somewhat overshadowed by Rose, Ciervo was another sophomore standout for the Mariners and could end up leading the Shore in a bunch of categories.

Joe DeMaio, Center Field, Jackson Memorial – The multi-sport athlete had some big at-bats during the Jaguars’ Group IV title run and he also plays a very good center field.

Jake Ryan, Right Field, Toms River South – A classic right fielder, Ryan threw out a whopping 11 baserunners from right to go with seven extra-base hits at the plate.

Carmen Sclafani, Shortstop, Brick – Although he lost the end of the season to injury, the Rutgers recruit was an all-division player and still slugged 10 extra-base hits with 20 runs scored.


Division Rotation

Chandler Thompson, RHP, Toms River South – Thompson’s season went relatively overlooked because of all the great pitching in the Shore Conference, but his emergence has the Indians thinking about an A South crown again this season.

Doug Molnar, RHP, Toms River North – Steady strike-thrower posted an ERA under 2.00 and a WHIP under 1.00 thanks to a strikeout-to-walk rate better than 5.00.

Chris Hawryluk, RHP, Jackson Memorial – Although Hawryluk got hit a few times during his sophomore season, he showed exceptional control that bodes well for a player with a tall, athletic build and room to improve.

Brett Hyers, RHP, Toms River North – Despite not being 100 percent all season, Hyers still threw strikes and gave the Mariners a chance to win most times he was out there.

Ryan Larsen, RHP, Toms River North – The Mariners had one of the statistically underrated pitching staffs in the Shore Conference last year and Larsen is the underrated pitcher of the underrated bunch.


Breakout Players to Watch

Anthony Elefante, OF/SS/P, Lacey – Showed flashes of promise as a freshman last year with a couple doubles and a homer.

Tim Santiago, OF, Brick Memorial – Slugged .400 as a sophomore last season and will get more at-bats this year.

Zach Mason, LHP, Southern – Big arm from the left side will be very tough with improved control.

Mike Nyisztor, SS, Toms River North – Fresh off a breakout on the basketball court, Nyisztor now takes his act to the diamond.

Ray Ligouri, 3B/RHP, Toms River South – Threw 12 2/3 scoreless innings out of the bullpen thanks to a plus curveball. Somewhat ironically, he is a very good fastball hitter with home run power.

More From Shore Sports Network