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Toms River East entered 2020 with a lot of momentum coming off a spirited run in the 2019 NJSIAA South Jersey Group III Playoffs as a double-digit seed. That momentum will be extremely hard to recover with the graduation of the three pitchers who were expected to headline the rotation, as well as a catcher, shortstop and three top hitters.

The hope for the Raiders is that the players who were ready to play key roles as juniors and sophomores are now prepared to take on leadership roles – both on the field and in the dugout. The most proven of those players is Joe Ussery, who is a quality athlete who will handle second base and be one of the team’s top hitters.

Mark Roma, Sal Gioia and Elijah Santiago are seniors who were hoping to break in as varsity outfielders last year, so they will have a chance to lead the way this year. Sophomore Bobby Sabatino takes over the ever-important shortstop job and Akkash Santiago is the new junior catcher.

Junior left-hander Aidan Gallipoli heads up the rotation and will play first base on his non-pitching days, while senior Mike Florie does the same as third baseman. With Michael Mezza and Evan Mills backing them up, Toms River East will look to navigate the season in A South with hungry, young team with something to prove.

Toms River East at a Glance

Head Coach: Keith Smicklo, third season
Key Losses: Ryan Goodall (C/OF), Matt Santos (RHP/1B), Reece Miller (RHP), Ryan Cicardo (SS), Robert Pero (INF), Mason Tampuu (P), Dan Facchiano (RHP), Jake Steinmetz (INF), Riley Engelhard (INF), Nasceem Davis (OF), Erik Munoz (P/OF), Alex Xenakis (P)

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

Catcher: Akkash Santiago, Jr.

First Base: Aidan Gallipoli, Jr.; Ryan Ushock, So.

Second Base: Joe Ussery, Sr. (.182/.316/.318, 6 2B, 1 HR, 17 R, 8 RBI, 8 SB); Mike Florie, Sr.

Shortstop: Bobby Sabatino, So.

Third Base: Mike Florie, Sr.; Joe Ussery, Sr.

Left Field: Mark Roma, Sr.

Center Field: Sal Gioia, Sr.

Right Field: Elijah Santiago, Sr.; Kyle Healy, Jr.

DH: Chris Hamilton, Sr.

Pitchers

Aidan Gallipoli, Jr., LHP

Mike Florie, Sr., RHP

Michael Mezza, Sr., RHP

Evan Mills, Sr., RHP