Baseball – 2021 Shore Conference Preview: Toms River North
The Class A South division is home to a few mystery teams in that they will have players that are new to regular-season high-school baseball but have been practicing as varsity players for a full year now – in some cases even two years. Toms River North – which passed on the Last Dance World Series last July – is one of those teams and while it remains to be seen just how good this group will be once the games start to count, the Mariners appear to at least be very good on paper despite their inexperience.
Right-hander Brandon Feigin, who emerged as the team’s top pitcher as a sophomore, will lead a deep group of arms that also returns senior left-hander and 2019 relief specialist Russ Thistle. Along with fellow senior left-hander Brandon Valles, Thistle is looking at an increased role as backup to Feigin, but there will be some competition from a collection of right-handers. Seniors Jack Tava and David Ventura were ready for their varsity debuts last season and sophomores Joe Loalbo and Brandon Lavallee have the potential to climb the depth chart quickly.
Offensively, Toms River North will boast a balanced lineup that has a few of hitters who saw competitive varsity at-bats in 2019. Second baseman Nick Mortellitto won a regular starting job by the end of his sophomore year, Rutgers football commit Zack Goodale was already one of the fastest players on an Ocean County baseball field and Lucas Malave collected a pair of doubles and a .281 average in spot duty. Malave is making the full-time move to catcher, while Mortellitto and Goodale remain in their 2019 spots.
Ventura and Tava will also be key infield bats, along with promising junior Dom Saldida, who was likely tabbed for a starting spot as a sophomore. Sean Mindas is another big bat in the outfield, while senior classmates Valles, Stevon Davis and Joey Boyle also look to make an impact.
With Jackson Memorial boasting a young group of position players coming off their dominant summer and impressive three-year run, Toms River North has the makings of a team that could fly under the radar and take the A South division back in 2021.
Toms River North at a Glance
Head Coach: Andy Pagano, seventh season
Key Losses: Robert Jeans (OF/RHP), Jake Dawson (C), Phil Antoniotti (INF/RHP), Nick DeRose (3B/RHP), Matt Ostroman (LHP)
Around the Diamond (Returning 2019 starters in bold with available stats)
Catcher: Lucas Malave, Sr.
First Base: Jack Tava, Sr.; Joey Boyle, Sr.
Second Base: Nick Mortellitto, Sr. (.269, 3 2B); Dom Saldida, Jr.
Shortstop: David Ventura (Jr., SS); Nick Mortellitto, Sr.
Third Base: Dom Saldida, Jr.; Brandon Feigin, Sr.
Leftfield: Brandon Valles, Sr.; Stevon Davis, Sr.
Centerfield: Zack Goodall, Sr.
Rightfield: Sean Mindas, Sr.
DH: Joey Boyle, Sr.; Brandon Feigin, Sr.
Other Key Hitters
Ty Kazanowski (So., 1B)
Connor McVicar (Jr., INF)
Jack Pesso (So., INF)
Jon Loalbo (So., 1B)
Brandon Lavallee (So., OF)
Brandon Feigin, Sr., RHP (1-2, 1.91 ERA, 25.2 IP, 23 H, 12 BB, 19 K)
Russ Thistle, Sr., LHP (0-0, 0.81 ERA, 17.1 IP, 8 H, 6 BB, 8 K)
Brandon Valles, Sr., LHP
Jack Tava, Sr., RHP
David Ventura, Sr., RHP
Joe Loalbo, So., RHP
Brandon Lavallee, So., RHP
Stevon Davis, Sr., RHP
Brandon Feigin – Salem University
Sean Mindas – Keystone College
Brandon Valles – Keystone College
Lucas Malave – Catholic University
David Ventura – Stockton University
Zack Goodale – Rutgers University (football)