Baseball – 2021 All-Shore Final Vote Winners
The votes are in and the Shore Sports Network readers have selected the final six members of the 2020 All-Shore Baseball Team. The six players selected come from six different Shore Conference teams and they range from emerging young stars to senior standouts.
Without further ado, let's meet the final six members of the 2021 All-Shore Team.
Cristian Soto, Fr., Central
The All-Shore Final Vote voters apparently watched Soto’s brilliant performance in the Ocean County Tournament championship, when he was machine blocking balls in the dirt behind the plate and coming up with clutch hit after clutch hit in a 13-inning championship win for his Golden Eagles. Soto finished that game 5-for-6 with a game-tying RBI single in the 12th inning and a game-winning, walk-off RBI single in the bottom of the 13th. Only a freshman, Soto cracked the .300 plateau and approached a .400 on-base percentage against a quality schedule and has a bright future ahead at Central.
Chris Marzo, Sr., Second Base, Manalapan
Marzo showed in a small dose during the Last Dance World Series that he was poised for a breakout season as a junior and after waiting an extra year, he had his breakout as a senior in 2021. Marzo ranked among the top five at his second base position in multiple categories: hits (third), average (fourth), on-base percentage (third), runs scored (tied third) and triples (tied first). Marzo posted 10 multi-hit games, four three-hit games and a four-hit game in a win over Freehold Township in which All-Shore left-hander Matt Villapiano started.
Sam Gates, Sr., Centerfield, Donovan Catholic
One of the most dynamic talents in the conference, Gates was a senior leader on a Donovan Catholic team that had a breakout year in winning a share of the Shore Conference Class B South championship while boasting a roster loaded with players that will be back in 2022 and, in some cases, beyond. Gates plays with game-breaking speed in centerfield and on the bases, which shows in his 20 stolen bases that put him among the Shore Conference top 10. A George Washington commit, Gates was the only player not from the Class B Central division (Ranney, Point Beach, Keyport, Keansburg, Henry Hudson and Mater Dei) to hit .400, post both an on-base percentage and slugging percentage of .500 or more, and also steal at least 15 bases.
Nick Wright, Sr., Second Base/DH, Marlboro
Wright played some DH and some second base in 2021 and no matter what position was next to his name, he hit. On a Marlboro team that finished No. 5 in the Shore Sports Network Top 10, Wright was the top hitter by average on the team and tied for the team lead in runs scored with fellow seniors Mark Capell and double-play partner Joe Lomangino. Wright logged 11 multi-hit games, including a 3-for-4 performance in a win over Manalapan in the NJSIAA Group IV quarterfinals.
Danny Furlong, Jr., RHP/Third Base, Howell
Howell entered the year with an optimistic outlook for its pitching staff but injuries and some uneven performances plagued the Rebels all year. Furlong, however, was a steady presence in the rotation as a junior, turning in quality outings in all but one of his starts. Three of his wins during the season came over top-10 teams (No. 6 Colts Neck, No. 7 Manalapan and No. 4 Freehold Township) and he quieted a high-scoring Wall lineup with just one run on five hits over six innings in a Monmouth County Tournament win. Furlong also hit over .400 and finished on a tear, hitting .488 over his final 14 games.
Chris Gonzalez, Sr., Shortstop/RHP, Raritan
Raritan was very competitive in a Class A Central division that was very good at the top of the division and the battle-tested qualities of the Rockets showed in a run to the Central Jersey Group II championship game. Gonzalez was Raritan’s best all-around contributor, serving as its No. 1 pitcher, its shortstop and finishing second on the team in extra-base hits (seven), RBI (15) and slugging percentage (.451). His season on the mound got off to a rocky start, particularly walking batters, but he pitched like an ace in three tournament games (3-0, 0.95 ERA, 22 IP, 11 H, 8 BB, 20 SO) between the Monmouth County Tournament and NJSIAA Playoffs – capped by a nine-inning, four-hit shutout in a 1-0 win at second-seeded Governor Livingston.