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There are teams in the Shore Conference and throughout New Jersey that lost an obvious opportunity for a big season in 2020 with the cancellation of the high school baseball season and some others that were gearing up for 2021 to be the big year. Colts Neck is somewhere in between – the Cougars had four very good seniors to help lead the way and some young talent emerging that could have made for a very good mix and surprised some of the Shore’s top teams.

The loss of those four seniors (listed below) takes some of the helium out of Colts Neck, but there is still an intriguing group of young players left over. Heading into the season, the Cougars have just two seniors lined up to start in the field and only two more figuring prominently into the pitching staff. One of Ben Goldman or Nick Villani will be a first-year starter at second base and Cameron Knipp earned some starts in the outfield as a sophomore. Mickey Thompson, Matt Jacobsen and Brandon Orbach are also in the mix for outfield and designated hitter at-bats should they be open.

Colts Neck junior Collin Kratzer. (Photo by Steve Meyer)
Colts Neck junior Collin Kratzer. (Photo by Steve Meyer)

The heart of the team, meanwhile, will be the junior class. Catcher Joe Cilea got some experience behind the plate as a freshman, as did Collin Kratzer on the infield and near the top of the batting order. Christian Rice was an impact pitching transfer from Staten Island last year and is now better acclimated to his new home. Rice will head up the rotation and play third base across from fellow junior Dave Cohen at first.

Brad Salamone is the other junior starter and he will play left field next to sophomore Tyler Spencer, who completes a strong defense up the middle.

Brendan Whalen is the senior leader of a pitching staff that will also ride Rice and junior left-hander Anthony Gubitosi, who transferred from Freehold Boro a year ago. Senior Sam Denmark will also be a key arm while Kratzer, Cohen and Spencer are all ready to fill in some innings as the Cougars look to claw back to the top of a Shore Conference division.

Colts Neck junior Christian Rice. (Photo by Steve Meyer)
Colts Neck junior Christian Rice. (Photo by Steve Meyer)

Colts Neck at a Glance

Head Coach: Mike Yorke, 21st season
Key Losses: Rob Mannino (C/DH), Dan Cowles (1B), Chase Masterson (LHP), Justin Coppola (RHP)

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

Catcher: Joe Cilea, Jr.

First Base:  Dave Cohen, Jr.

Second Base: Ben Goldman, Sr.; Nick Villani, Sr.

Shortstop: Collin Kratzer, Jr. (.250/.342/.313, 4 2B, 13 R, 5 RBI)

Third Base: Christian Rice, Jr.

Leftfield: Brad Salamone, Jr.; Matt Jacobsen, Sr.

Centerfield: Tyler Spencer, So.

Rightfield: Cameron Knipp, Sr.

Other Key Hitters

Brandon Orbach (Sr., OF)

Mickey Thompson (Sr., OF)

Andrew McDevitt (Jr., OF)

Nick Carell (Jr., SS)

Blaze Masterson (Jr., C)


Brendan Whalen, Sr., RHP

Christian Rice, Jr., RHP

Anthony Gubitosi, Jr., LHP

Sam Denmark, Sr., RHP

Collin Kratzer, Jr., RHP

Dave Cohen, Jr., LHP

Tyler Spencer, So., RHP


College Commitments

Collin Kratzer – Army

Christian Rice – Wofford College

Anthony Gubitosi – University of Delaware


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