Baseball – 2021 Shore Conference Preview: Ranney
It has been a long time since there was an official high school baseball game played in New Jersey and no Shore Conference team will make that sentiment more obvious than Ranney. Way back in 2019, the Panthers were an improved team with a handful of talented underclassmen under first-year coach Pat Geroni – a Point Pleasant Boro graduate and former head coach of a successful Monroe program in Middlesex County.
Now, the Panthers are looking like a sleeping Giant in the Shore Conference and that giant might pick its head off the pillow this year. It is still a young team, although a number of the freshmen and sophomores from the 2019 have since reclassified, so the graduating years of a number of the starters might undersell what experience Ranney does have. Either way, Ranney has the makings of an impact team for the next several seasons.
A quartet of 2019 starters return for 2021, led by outfielder Charlie Chropukva – one of the players who reclassified from 2021 to 2022. Chropuvka absolutely dominated Class B Central last season and is one of the Shore’s top returning position players from two years ago. Senior Dev Bhatnagar is also back in the outfield after a solid sophomore season and the Panthers have two proven returnees at key defensive positions in catcher Lou Spadafora and reclassified sophomore shortstop Brett Wehringer.
The rest of the lineup will be filled out by sophomores, led by Duke commit A.J. Gracia in centerfield. Jack Tallent would likely have earned starts at third base as a freshman and is entrenched as the starter this season, while the right side of the infield will have two sophomores at each position vying for playing time.
Both first base candidates – Jack Renaud and Nick Coniglio – will be part of an overhauled pitching staff that has the makings of one of the Shore’s best, if not right away, then at some point over the next three seasons. Renaud transferred to Ranney after spending his freshman year at Donovan Catholic and Coniglio did the same last year – transferring from Monroe for his sophomore season before reclassifying as a 2023 graduate this season.
Gracia and fellow sophomore left-hander Marcello Mastroianni are the other two high-upside pitchers in the Ranney rotation, but the Panthers will have more arms behind them. Wehringer was a reliable pitcher as a freshman and will be part of a deep stable of spot starters and relievers to support the sophomore headliners.
With a tough non-conference schedule that includes games against Toms River North, Gloucester Catholic, Middletown South, Brick Memorial and Donovan Catholic, the Panthers are putting their talent to the test and attempting to become a team that does more than just win within the Class B Central division.
Ranney at a Glance
Head Coach: Pat Geroni, second season
Key Losses: Tommy Jensen (1B), Nate Aquino (1B/OF)
Around the Diamond (Returning 2019 starters in bold with available stats)
Catcher: Lou Spadafora, Jr., (.333/.500/.461, 5 2B, 11 R, 12 RBI)
First Base: Jack Renaud, So. (Transfer from Donovan Catholic); Nick Coniglio, So.
Second Base: Diego Tavarez, So.; Kris Bhatnagar, So.
Shortstop: Brett Wehringer, So. (.375/.507/.393, 1 2B, 25 R, 11 RBI, 16 SB)
Third Base: Jack Tallent, So.
Left Field: Dev Bhatnagar, Sr. (.254/.379/.473, 4 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 20 R, 14 RBI, 12 SB)
Center Field: A.J. Gracia, So.
Right Field: Charlie Chropuvka, Jr. (.554/.662/.786, 13 2B, 22 R, 24 RBI, 18 SB)
Other Key Hitters
Ryan Kraushaar (Sr., 1B/OF)
Marcello Mastroianni (So., OF)
Ricky Nagy (So., OF)
Glen Cantalupo (So., 3B)
Will Presutti (Sr., C)
Grayson Testino (Fr., 1B)
Logan Semevolos (Fr., OF)
Alberto Beltra (Fr., OF)
Enrique Beltra (So., OF/C)
Joe Celler (Fr.)
A.J. Gracia, So., LHP
Nick Coniglio, So., RHP
Marcello Mastrioanni, So., LHP
Jack Renaud, So., RHP
Brett Wehringer, So., RHP (3-2, 4.25 ERA, 29.2 IP, 30 H, 17 BB, 31 K)
Grayson Testino, Fr., LHP
Diego Tavarez, So., RHP
Glen Cantalupo, So., RHP
Jack Tallent, So., RHP
Ricky Nagy, So., LHP
Charlie Chropuvka, Jr., LHP
Ryan Kraushaar, Sr., LHP
Alberto Beltra, Fr., RHP
Logan Semevolos, So., RHP
Joe Celler, Fr., LHP
A.J. Gracia – Duke University