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In 2019, the Point Pleasant Boro baseball team came excruciatingly close to winning the overall NJSIAA Group II championship, but not to worry. The Panthers had ace Nick Guzzi leading a talented group of returnees and even added two impact transfers to form a roster that had a chance to be even better as it tried to finish off a championship run in 2020.

Of course, we all know what happened. There was no 2020 and even after a strong start to the Last Dance World Series in July, with Guzzi ready to join the team for the second week of the tournament, Point Boro had to pull out because of COVID-19 concerns within its team. The 2019 run was worth celebrating but so many of the players on that team thought they would at least have a chance to celebrate even more in 2020 and nothing could have been farther from the truth.

Off that sobering 2020, the 2021 Panthers pack plenty of promise, but it will be a very young team without much influence from the 2019 squad that won both the Ocean County and Central Jersey Group II Tournaments. One big bat still around is third baseman Frankie Dominici, who joined the team in the middle of 2019 and delivered some big hits in big games down the stretch.

Point Boro senior Frankie Dominici. (Photo by Paula Lopez)

Centerfielder Zach Hill is the only other senior starter for the Panthers and Point Boro will have as many freshmen in the starting lineup. Bryson Kirby will get the nod in right field Ryan Aquisto and Jayson Bennett are both freshmen making a bid for the starting catcher gig.

Trey Harpootlian moves in at first base and the double-play combination with be a pair of sophomores in Connor Cilento and Andrew Lockwood. Cilento will play shortstop and showed advanced hitting ability in Point Boro’s three games at Barnegat in the Last Dance.

Point Boro’s pitching staff is completely new, with sophomore left-hander Eric Anilonis emerging as the current and future ace of the staff. Kirby has also impressed early on as a top-pitcher-in-the-making while Cilento and juniors Matt DeWitte and Carl Divona will be key arms as well.

With such a young team, better days are ahead for Point Boro, but a big year from Dominici could spark the Panthers to another standout season with a mostly-new cast.

Point Pleasant Boro at a Glance

Head Coach: Dave Drew, 10th season
Key Losses: Nick Guzzi (RHP/3B), Sam Young (OF/RHP), Ryan Jasaitis (C), Nick Zbikowski (2B/RHP), Oscar Scott (OF/RHP), Kyle Fisher (OF), Cole Young (OF/RHP), Connor Kennedy (INF), Luke Severio (OF/P), A.J. Hernandez (RHP/INF)

Around the Diamond (Returning 2019 starters in bold with available stats)

Catcher: Ryan Aquisto, Fr.; Jayson Bennett, Fr.; Mitchell Decker, Jr.

First Base: Trey Harpootlian, Jr.; Nick Scelfo, Jr.; Declan Pratt, So.

Second Base: Andrew Lockwood, So.; Tommy Laspina, So.

Shortstop: Connor Cilento, So.

Third Base: Frankie Dominici, Sr. (.250/.372/.389, 3 2B, 1 3B, 7 R, 10 RBI)

Leftfield: Nick Scelfo, Jr., Chris Poggio, Jr.; Roberto Rodriguez, So.

Centerfield: Zach Hill, Sr.

Rightfield: Bryson Kirby, Fr.

DH: Eric Anilonis, So.; Nick Scelfo, Jr.

Other Key Hitters

Tommy Welch (Jr., 2B/OF)

Pitchers

Eric Anilonis, So., RHP

Matt DeWitte, Jr., RHP

Bryson Kirby, Fr., RHP

Connor Cilento, So., RHP

Carl Divona, Jr., RHP

 

College Commitments

Frankie Dominici – Chestnut Hill College