Baseball – 2021 Shore Conference Preview: Monmouth
Monmouth Regional was all set for a transition season in 2020, replacing an ace with some experienced depth on the mound. The Falcons were able to give some of their more talented sophomores and freshmen a chance to break in back in 2019 and that opportunity would have been there for a number of other underclassmen last season.
So where does that leave Monmouth heading into 2021? The Falcons have two seniors in Brian Yadlon and Dominick Santaniello that proved as sophomores that not only do they belong in a varsity starting lineup, but they can both excel in one. Yadlon was one of the top hitters in the Class A Central division in 2019 and Santaniello was Monmouth’s most consistent pitcher beyond ace Dante Ciaramella – now at Monmouth University. Those two returning should help stabilize the lineup and the pitching staff with so many unproven players surrounding them.
Aiden Denton was only a freshman in 2019 but established himself as one of Monmouth’s most important building-block players – one who will take over at shortstop for his junior campaign. Senior Mike Cavalluzi also got some time at second base, which gives the Falcons three game-ready infielders around which to build a lineup.
Chris Theobald is the other infielder lineup up the start and an all-junior outfield led by talented centerfielder Christian Zito will back them up. Catcher Joe Esposito is the lone sophomore in the starting lineup and will handle a pitching staff that will rely on Santaniello, Denton, Yadlon and Zito to lead the way against a competitive schedule.
Monmouth at a Glance
Head Coach: Paul Crivello, seventh season
Key Losses: Alex Alonso (INF/RHP), Nick Bogan (RHP/INF), Mike Bateman (OF/P), Brett Delutis (INF)
Around the Diamond (Returning 2019 starters in bold with available stats)
Catcher: Joe Esposito, So.
First Base: Brian Yadlon, Sr. (.316/.381/.382, 5 2B, 11 R, 21 RBI); Brett Minto, Sr.
Second Base: Mike Cavalluzzi, Sr.; Zach Lopes, Jr.
Shortstop: Aiden Denton, Jr.; Mike Cavaluzzi, Sr. (RS); Zach Lopes, Jr.
Third Base: Chris Theobald, Jr.
Left Field: Andrew McKinley, Jr.
Center Field: Christian Zito, Jr.
Right Field: James Kelly, Jr.; Brian Yadlon, Sr.
DH: Brett Minto, Sr.; Tyler Keefer (Sr., 3B)
Other Key Hitters
Brian Boccino (So., OF)
Mike Sluzis (So., OF)
Evan Schade (Jr., 2B)
Dominick Santaniello, Sr., RHP (1-2, 2.21 ERA, 25.1 IP, 26 H, 5 BB, 12 K)
Aiden Denton, Jr., RHP
Brian Yadlon, Sr., LHP
Christian Zito, Jr., RHP
James Kelly, Jr., LHP
Zach Lopes, Jr., RHP
Mike Cavalluzzi, Sr., RHP
Tyler Keefer, Sr., RHP
Joe Esposito, So., RHP
Evan Schade, Jr., RHP
Chris Theobald, Jr., RHP
Mike Sluzis, So., LHP
Brian Yadlon – Ocean County Community College