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Class B Central had a solid overall showing in 2019, with Mater Dei Prep winning its second division title in five years, Point Pleasant Beach winning a Shore Conference Tournament road game before reaching the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group I championship game, and Ranney taking a serious step toward Shore Conference prominence under a new coach.

Those three teams have enough in place to rekindle a three-way rivalry in 2020, although if there is a season, there may not be enough time to fit a second turn through the division into the schedule. The budding Point Beach and Ranney rivalry, however, has a chance to carry into 2021 and beyond with all the underclass talent on both sides, so while we all hope for a 2020 season, a lot of the names in place for those teams – and even throughout the division – will still be donning the same uniform whenever play resumes.

2019 Class B Central Stats

In predicted order of finish

Point Pleasant Beach

Head Coach: Angelo Fiore, seventh season
2019 Record: 13-11 (9-2, second in B Central)
Returners: Alec Glen (Jr., 1B/OF), David Terra-Nova (Jr., C), Matt VanBrunt (Jr., RHP/2B/SS), Will Baranello (Sr., LHP/OF), Jeff Wall (Jr., OF/RHP), Hunter Alia (Jr., OF/INF/RHP), Phil Trebour (So., SS/RHP), Andrew Banick (So., INF/OF/RHP), Colin Matuschat (So., 3B), Aiden Conway (Sr., OF), Hunter Roselli (So., OF/1B), Steven Hrisafinis (Jr., OF/1B/LHP), Braden Ryan (So., INF/OF), Connor DeLorenzo (So., OF/INF/P), Cliff Smith (So., C), Guiseppe Taurozzi (So., RHP)
Key Losses:
Key Newcomers: Owen West (So., LHP), Aiden Jones (Jr., OF), Joe Favatto (Sr., OF), Jacob Bardsley (So., OF/C/P), Dan Finlay (So., OF), James Larsen (Fr., INF/C/P), Colin Reinhard (Fr., P/INF), Nick Vitale (Fr., INF/OF), David Fant (Fr., C/1B), Nate Van Norman (Fr., INF/OF/P), Jackson Killian (Fr., P/INF/OF)

Point Beach junior Matt Van Brunt. (Photo by Matt Manley)

With a record just two games better than .500, 2019 wasn’t all smooth sailing for Point Beach but by the end of the year, the most underclass-influenced team at the Shore was not only looking like a future sectional championship but close to a current one. The Garnet Gulls lost to Middlesex in the Central Jersey Group I championship game and return their whole team this year – making them one of the teams that has to be most eager to get a chance to play this season.

At the same time, Point Beach is still young throughout the roster. Left-handed ace Will Baranello is the only player from the 2020 class who was a regular contributor last year, although senior outfielder Aiden Conway could make an impact after dealing with an injury for most of last year. The juniors will steer the ship over the next two seasons, led by catcher David Terra-Nova, first baseman Alec Glen and center fielder Hunter Alia at the plate and Matt Van Brunt, Phi Trebour and Jeff Wall as two-way threats. Sophomores Andrew Banick and Colin Matuschat came up big down the stretch last year as well and round out a returning nucleus that makes Point Beach formidable whenever there is once again baseball to be played.

Ranney

Head Coach: Pat Geroni, second season
2019 Record: 11-9 (7-5, third in B Central)
Returners: Charlie Chropuvka (Jr., CF/1B/LHP), Tommy Jensen (Sr., 1B), Dev Bhatnagar (Jr., INF/OF), Ryan Kraushaar (Jr., 1B/LHP/OF), Brett Wehringer (So., SS/RHP), Lou Spadafora (So., C), Trent Redman (Jr., OF), Nate Aquino (Sr., 1B/OF), Gianni Feng (Jr., OF/1B), Saxon Dinowitz (Jr., INF)
Key Losses: Ethan Gavin (RHP/INF), Jacob Field (LHP/1B), Ben Kraushaar (RHP/3B), Cole Redman (C/1B/3B), Ryan Batista (C/1B)
Key Newcomers: A.J. Gracia (Fr., LHP/OF), Marcello Mastrioanni (Fr., LHP/OF), Nick Coniglio (So., RHP/1B), Will Presutti (Jr., C), Jack Tallent (Fr., 3B/OF/RHP), Glen Cantalupo (Fr., RHP/INF/OF/C), Ricky Nagy (Fr., LHP/1B/OF), Enrique Beltra (Fr., C/OF), Kris Bhatnagar (Fr., INF/RHP), Diego Tavarez (Fr., 2B/SS/OF/RHP)

In year two under Pat Geroni, Ranney’s potential as a factor in Shore Conference is starting to bubble to the surface – even if nobody plays a game this season. The Panthers return only one starter in the senior class in first baseman Tommy Jensen and are bringing in a talented group of newcomers, particularly in the freshman class. Among the returnees, junior outfielder Charlie Chropuvka is the proven standout after hitting .554 with 13 doubles as a sophomore. Junior Dev Bhatnagar also had a strong season and brings versatility to the roster while sophomores Brett Wehringer and catcher Lou Spadafora both succeeded as freshman starters.

Ranney’s biggest hit to graduation was on the mound but help is on the way. Freshman left-hander A.J. Gracia has already committed to Duke and will immediately anchor the rotation along with Wehringer. Fellow freshman left-hander Marcello Mastrioanni and sophomore right-hander Nick Coniglio also hope to make an impact right away and if Ranney gets a chance to take the field this year, there will be a chance to open some eyes with a still-young roster.

Mater Dei Prep

Head Coach: Pat Riddell, 16th season
2019 Record: 13-9 (12-0, first in B Central)
Returners: Sean Turner (Sr., SS/RHP), Patrick Mastro (Sr., CF/RHP), Pete Gorman (Sr., OF/MIF), Johnny Eckert (Sr., 3B/RHP), Mike Folk (Sr., OF/RHP), Jake Jacobsen (So., OF), Ashton Mejias (So., 1B/RHP), Vernon Morris (Sr., OF)
Key Losses: Brandon Sansone (RHP/3B), Chase Hardy (2B/RHP), Rob Cassin (C)
Key Newcomers: Jack Olausen (Jr., 1B), R.J. O’Keefe (Sr., 2B/1B), John Ferrara (Sr., C), Jesse Ascolese (Sr., OF), Matt Curti (Sr., 2B), Dylan Morales (Sr., OF)

Mater Dei senior Sean Turner. (Photo by Matt Manley)

With Point Beach’s strong finish and Ranney’s wave of talented young players entering the program, it’s worth remembering that neither won the Class B Central title in 2019. That team would be Mater Dei Prep, which collected its second division title in five years behind solid pitching staff that has some innings to replace but some quality innings back as well. Sean Turner is set to double as ace and shortstop for the Seraphs while centerfielder Patrick Mastro figures to be the 1-b to Turner’s 1-a in the rotation.

All-Shore basketball guard Pete Gorman was a versatile player for the Seraphs baseball team last year and can work in in the middle infield or the outfield while bringing some speed and contact to the lineup. Seniors Johnny Eckert and Mike Folk are also back to help out in the lineup while sophomores Jake Jacobsen and Ashton Mejias return after seeing time as a freshman. Mejias also did some quality work on the mound and that is where Mater Dei can still compete for a B Central title – an age-old formula that could prove effective if the Seraphs get a chance to defend their title this year.

Keyport

Head Coach: Kyle Keelen, ninth season
2019 Record: 4-11 (3-8, sixth in B Central)
Returners: Lucas Dant (Sr., INF/RHP), Ean Hospital (Jr., 2B/SS/RHP), John Lachky (Sr., 3B), Sean Lachky (Jr., C), Anthony Longo (So., 2B/SS/RHP), Jack DiPaolo (So., 1B/OF), Chris Johnson (Sr., OF), Bryan Mattos (Sr., 1B), Adrian Sabatino (Sr., OF)
Key Losses: Justin Young (OF/P), Michael Vargas (OF/P), Tyler Ely (C/OF)
Key Newcomers: Tristian Blashfield (Sr., OF), Ryan Schoenleber (Jr., 2B/SS), Josh Dswonyk (So., OF)

Keyport is another B Central team that played with a young group last year and has plenty of experience in place for a potential 2020 season. Senior Lucas Dant and sophomore Anthony Longo headlined the pitching staff last year and would do so again this year, with Longo looking to build on a strong showing as a freshman and Dant has struck out a batter per inning in each of the past two seasons.

Like most small-school teams, Longo and Dant will double as big hitters for Keyport in its lineup, with Longo also serving as the top returning hitter along with senior Chris Johnson. Junior Ean Hospital is set to work the middle of the infield with Dant once again, senior John Lachky is slated to play third base and sophomore Jack DiPaolo is also back with experience at first base. It’s enough to get the Red Raiders out of the bottom two spots but overcoming the other young up-and-coming teams would be a challenge – albeit one Keyport would love to undertake this spring.

Henry Hudson

Head Coach: Matt Mancini, fourth season
2019 Record: 7-12 (4-8, tied fourth in B Central)
Returners: Mike Mohr (Sr., 3B/1B/RHP), Grady Hendrickson (Sr., 2B/SS/RHP), Josh Winters (Sr., 1B/RHP), Trevor Hendrickson (Jr., C/RHP), Casey Haupt (Sr., OF/LHP), Mike Hoey (Sr., OF), Tom Doherty (Sr., OF/RHP), Aaron Lynch (Jr., 2B), Garrett Shine (Sr., OF), Nick Brown (Sr., OF), Jack Crowley (So., OF)
Key Losses: Liam Hagan (C/3B/RHP), Timmy Farrell (SS/RHP), Matt Payne (OF/LHP/1B)
Key Newcomers: Nick Bigotto (Fr., 2B/SS/RHP), Jake Zydel (So., OF), John Mueller (Fr., OF), C.J. Murgolo (Fr., 2B)

Over the past three seasons, Henry Hudson has shown it can put runs on the board and this year’s group is capable of continuing that progress. The senior core of Mike Mohr, Josh Winters, Mike Hoey, Casey Haupt, Grady Hendrickson and Tom Doherty steadies the lineup, with Mohr two years removed from a huge statistical season as a sophomore (.458, 12 extra-base hits and 25 RBI in 48 at-bats) and Winters coming off a junior season in which he hit .351.

If Henry Hudson is to take the next step at some point in the next couple of seasons, the pitching will have to catch up. Grady Hendrickson is waiting on a chance to lead the staff this season, with junior Trevor Hendrickson, Mohr and Winters as strong candidates to log big innings as well should the season commence. With that experienced group that has made progress over the course of the last couple of seasons, Henry Hudson is certainly a team that would like a chance to play some games in 2020.

Keansburg

Head Coach: Ryan Lillis, fourth season (16th overall)
2019 Record: 4-11 (4-8, tied fourth in B Central)
Returners: Rian Rivera (Jr., RHP/OF), Connor Graf (Jr., INF/RHP), Chris Desantis (Sr., RHP/1B), Justin Hicks (Sr., OF/1B/OF), Brandon Rizzi (Sr., OF), Louis Chalmers (Jr., C/INF), Waylon Manoes (Jr., INF), Andrew Valle (So., OF)
Key Losses: Liam Meyer (CF/RHP), Liam Riecks (INF/OF/RHP), James White (OF), Gabe Torres (3B/RHP), Frank Sautner (OF/C/1B), Thomas McKeon (OF), Derek Martinez (OF)
Key Newcomers: Jesse Berecsky (Jr., 1B), Victor Matay (Jr., OF), Anthony Bello (So., OF), Matt Keelen (So., 1B), Ryan Agostini (Sr., OF), Dwan Davis(Sr., OF), Donald Antonucci (Fr., INF/P), Antonio Alejandro (Fr., OF/P), Ryan Comey (Fr., C/INF/OF), Aiden Flynn (Fr., OF), Kevy Gabriel (Fr., OF), Jovani Gochez (Fr., OF), Riley Jankowski (Fr., OF), Dominic Lipka (Fr., INF), Kyle Scott (Fr., INF)

Keansburg took the biggest hit to graduation with the departure of Liam Meyer – the coaches’ pick for B Central Player of the Year in 2019. Meyer was one of the Shore’s better hitters, but the rest of the Titans labored at the plate and will have to find ways to score some runs for a pitching staff that also leaned on Meyer during the course of his varsity career.

Senior Brandon Rizzi and junior Rian Rivera figure to lead the pitching staff after finishing second and third, respectively, on the team in innings last season. Rizzi also posted a solid 2.37 ERA and Rivera struck out 28 in 21 innings so if the defense backs the duo up and Rivera can work in the strike zone more (35 walks last year), it’s a potentially formidable duo. Senior Justin Hicks returns after putting up a .386 on-base percentage with a triple and seven steals – which puts him out in front to lead the offensive attack if the 2020 season gets going.

Asbury Park

Head Coach: Chris O'Donnell, first season
2019 Record:
1-9 (1-9, seventh in B Central)
Potential Returners: Jansi Medez-Garcia (Sr., OF/P), Jarred Chathuant (Jr., 3B/RHP), Jasir Walker (Jr., P/INF), Exevier Chathuant (So., C/P)
Key Losses: Alex Peavy (RHP/2B), Jamir Cancel (2B/RHP), Darwin Gutierrez (RHP/SS)

Asbury Park is under new direction after 13-year coach Johnny Grasso stepped down to accept the principal job at Martin Luther King Middle School and will focus on developing what was a young core last season. The Blue Bishops lost key a few key contributors from a year ago, but Jansi Mendez-Garcia, Jarred Chathuant, Exevier Chathuant and Jasir Walker all made positive contributions as underclassmen.

 

Division Lineup (with 2019 stats)

David Terra-Nova, Jr., C, Point Beach (.318/.423/.485, 6 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 10 R, 13 RBI)

Mike Mohr, Sr., 3B/1B/RHP, Henry Hudson (.250/.388/.375, 2 2B, 1 HR, 7 R, 13 RBI)

Phil Trebour, Jr., SS, Point Beach (.290/.432/.377, 2 2B, 2 3B, 18 R, 14 RBI, 10 SB)

Sean Turner, Sr., SS/RHP, Mater Dei (.393/.443/.540, 6 2B, 1 HR, 17 R, 16 RBI, 9 SB)

Brett Wehringer, So., SS/RHP, Ranney (.375/.507/.393, 1 2B, 25 R, 11 RBI, 16 SB)

Alec Glen, Jr., 1B/OF, Point Beach (.473/.518/.581, 6 2B, 1 3B, 12 R, 27 RBI)

Charlie Chropuvka, Jr., CF, Ranney (.554/.662/.786, 13 2B, 22 R, 24 RBI, 18 SB)

Dev Bhatnagar, Jr., 3B/OF, Ranney (.254/.379/.473, 4 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 20 R, 14 RBI, 12 SB)

Lou Spadafora, So., C, Ranney (.333/.500/.461, 5 2B, 11 R, 12 RBI)

 

Division Rotation (with 2019 stats)

Will Baranello, Sr., LHP, Point Beach (5-3, 39.1 IP, 40 H, 21 BB, 43 K, 2.70 ERA, 1.55 WHIP)

Patrick Mastro, Sr., RHP, Mater Dei Prep (4-0, 30 IP, 14 H, 17 BB, 23 K, 0.47 ERA, 1.03 WHIP)

Anthony Longo, So., RHP, Keyport (3-2, 32.1 IP, 27 H, 9 BB, 32 K, 2.60 ERA, 1.11 WHIP)

Jeff Wall, Jr., RHP, Point Beach (2-3, 25.1 IP, 28 H, 9 BB, 17 K, 1.93 ERA, 1.46 WHIP)

Matt Van Brunt, Jr., RHP, Point Beach (3-2, 25 IP, 28 H, 10 BB, 15 K, 2.24 ERA, 1.52 WHIP)