Baseball – 2022 Shore Sports Network All-Shore First Team
It’s time to meet the members of the 2022 Shore Sports Network All-Shore First Team and if you read on, you may find yourself wondering if there are more players on this year’s team than in years past. That is because there are. The SSN All-Shore First Team has been a 15-player roster throughout its history, but this year, there are 18 First-Team selections.
The reason for the expanded All-Shore roster is because of the presence of “bridge-year” players: players who a graduated from high school in 2021 but were allowed to play for their high-school alma mater per a law passed by New Jersey in response to the lost 2020 season due to COVID-19. Four bridge-year players posted seasons that could not be denied as All-Shore seasons and three of those made the cut as All-Shore First-Teamers.
Since those players would normally not be playing high school baseball in 2022 under normal circumstances, it is not a stretch to say their return to high-school baseball for a fifth season of eligibility took spots away from conventional high-school players. In an attempt to remedy that somewhat, Shore Sports Network is giving out an extra First-Team spot for each of the bridge-year players that made the team.
Despite the change to the first team, there will still be 50 All-Shore spots in all between the First, Second and Third Teams, meaning the Second and Third Teams – which have had 17 or 18 players in recent years – will carry 16 players apiece this season. One could argue that four more players are being denied Third Team All-Shore spots due to the presence of the bridge-year players and that would, more or less, be true. However, it was only eighth years ago that the All-Shore Team expanded from 47 to 50 players and the postseason awards packages also features the All-Shore Vote – a chance for the SSN readers to pick four more All-Shore Players.
With all that in mind, the executive decision is to keep the All-Shore team at 50 spots to maintain a degree of exclusivity while recognizing three additional First-Team players in order to account for the impact of the returning fifth-year players.
With that business out of the way, it is time to meet the 18 members of the 2022 Shore Sports Network All-Shore First Team.
2022 Shore Sports Network All-Shore Team
Shane Andrus, Jr., Red Bank Catholic
In his first year as a varsity starter a year ago, Andrus cut his varsity teeth catching current Kansas City Royals prospect Shane Panzini and he quickly earned the trust of his older teammate. His offense was not a major part of his game a year ago, but his defensive foundation made him an indispensable piece for the Shore Conference Tournament champions heading into 2022. This season, Andrus took his game to another level as both a defender and a hitter. Thanks to his efforts, Red Bank Catholic was both adept at controlling the running game and was in control regardless of which pitcher was on the mound, even though the Caseys got just 10 innings all year from a senior pitcher.
At the plate, Andrus got off to a torrid start before cooling off some during the second half of the year. He still wound up taking a big step forward as a hitting, displaying significant power during the early part of the year. All five of his home runs came between opening day and May 4, with his fifth home run coming in a 4-3 loss to Rumson-Fair Haven. He also went 2-for-2 vs. CBA ace and Tulane commit Colin Reilly and helped jumpstart an early rally against Jackson Memorial ace with a single in the Shore Conference Tournament final.
The Caseys went on to win a third consecutive SCT title and whether he was delivering in the middle of the batting order of shining behind the plate while donning the catchers gear, Andrus staked his claim to the title of the Shore’s premier backstop.
Joe Stanzione, Fifth-Year Sr., Middletown South
Stanzione returned to Middletown South to attempt to help his Eagles repeat as NJSIAA Group IV championship and perhaps an additional title or two. The Eagles came up short of another Group IV championship, but Stanzione still made the most out of his bridge year at his alma mater. The Gardner-Webb University commit unleashed a power barrage unlike any the Shore has ever seen, crushing 15 home runs to break a 28-year Shore Conference record held by Jackson Memorial’s Marc Fink. On top of leading the Shore Conference in home runs, he finished third in hits, second in slugging percentage, fifth in RBI and ninth in batting average.
Stanzione not only terrorized opposing pitchers – he went off against some of Middletown South’s toughest competition. On the way to 15 home runs, he posted three two-homer games and they came against three of the conferences’ best teams. He blasted two longballs against Group III champion and rival Middletown North in a game started by Seton Hall commit Colin Dowlen. He then smacked two homers in an 11-10 road win over Group IV champion Howell. Stanzione’s third two-home game came in the Monmouth County Tournament championship game against Wall. Stanzione also sent Middletown South to the MCT final by belting a walkoff homer in the bottom of the ninth to beat Red Bank Catholic, 2-0.
Middletown South was not able to defend its Group IV title, but Stanzione’s huge hot streak in early May sparked the Eagles to their first Monmouth County Tournament title since 2011. Over the past two seasons, Stanzione slugged 21 homers while establishing himself as one of the prodigious home-run hitters – and all-around hitters, for that matter – the Shore has seen over the last two decades.
Charlie Meglio, Jr., Shortstop, Jackson Memorial
An All-Shore Second Team selection as a sophomore in 2021, Meglio ascends to the First Team as a junior thanks to what might have been the best all-around season of any infielder in the conference this past season. He ranked in the top 10 in the Shore Conference in home runs (tied fifth), RBI (seventh), doubles (tied fifth) and slugging percentage (10th) to go with a batting average comfortably over .400 and while playing shortstop.
Meglio’s all-around season also came with him performing against quality pitching, as well as in tournament games for a Jackson Memorial team that advanced deep into all three of the tournaments the Jaguars entered and played more tournament games (12) than any other team in the Shore Conference. In those 12 games, Meglio hit .412 with four doubles, four home runs and 14 RBI, including a double and a home run in Jackson Memorial’s 11-2 win over Central that clinched the program’s first Ocean County Tournament title since 2015.
Meglio also made an impact against the top pitching he faced, going 6-for-19 (.316) with five RBI against pitchers who made one of the three All-Shore teams, including a homer off Ranney ace and Duke commit A.J. Gracia in the Jaguars’ Shore Conference Tournament round-of-16 over the Panthers. The Campbell University commit also went deep in Jackson Memorial’s quarterfinal win over Old Bridge in the NJSIAA Central Group IV Playoffs and drove in six runs in Jackson Memorial’s final three games. With his standout performance to close the season, Meglio sets himself up as one of the 2023 Player of the Year frontrunners.
Brady Oswick, Sr., Shortstop, St. John Vianney
After a breakthrough junior season as an all-division player, Oswick took his game to another level in his senior season for a productive St. John Vianney lineup. While playing a solid shortstop, Oswick, turned in one of the best offensive seasons by any hitter in the Shore Conference, regardless of position. His .532 batting average was No. 1 in the entire conference and he also led the field with 49 total hits. Oswick also placed high among his peers in a number of other categories, including second in runs scored, fifth in on-base percentage, tied 11th in doubles, tied 12th in both home runs and stolen bases.
Oswick’s big moment during the 2022 season game came a win over Red Bank that helped the Lancers hang around in the Class B North division race. Having already homered in the game, Oswick stepped to the plate in the bottom of the seventh in a 5-5 game and sent his team home with a game-winning, walk-off, solo home run to ice a 6-5 Lancers win and Oswick’s first ever two-homer game.
Clutch moments were not uncommon for the St. John Vianney shortstop, who hit 13-for-29 (.448) with two doubles and two homers in his team’s tournament games, including a homer in SJV’s thrilling, 13-11 win over Pingry in the NJSIAA South Jersey Non-Public quarterfinal, handing Pingry just its third loss of the season. He also went 2-for-4 in SJV’s biggest win of the season – a 6-5, extra-inning win over Non-Public B champion Ranney in the Monmouth County Tournament. With big-time at-bats and huge hitting numbers, Oswick made a case as the best all-around infielder in the Shore Conference during 2022.
Thomas Strauch, Sr., Shortstop, Howell
Video of Strauch homer courtesy John Kroeger, Twitter (@Jkroegerjt)
Last season, Chris Ellison turned in one of the best offensive seasons in the history of the Howell program, setting a school record with 11 home runs, which also led the entire state. One year later, Strauch outdid his former teammate by tying his home-run record while also beating him in doubles (12-8) and RBI (42-38). Strauch did get more games than Ellison to rack up the numbers, but there is good reason for it: Howell kept winning. Strauch was the starting shortstop on the No. 1 team in the Shore Conference and overall Group IV champion with big-time numbers to boot.
Strauch’s 11 homers ranked third in the Shore Conference this season, a reflection of just how many outstanding power hitters were packed into the conference this season after Ellison’s 11 homers in 2021 were five more than the next closest Shore Conference player. Strauch also finished tied for second in the conference with 12 doubles, tied for third in RBI and sixth in slugging percentage.
Howell made its run to the Group IV final with Strauch mostly quiet at the plate through the first five games, but when the Rebels needed an offensive jolt against a dominant pitcher, their shortstop and No. 3 hitter rose to the occasion. Strauch crushed a first-inning, two-run homer off Maryland commit Kyle McCoy to give Howell a 2-0 lead on Hunterdon Central in the Group IV final – the first runs McCoy allowed all season. He went on to go 2-for-4 with an RBI double to go with his homer in Howell’s 9-8 win. Earlier in the year, Strauch also delivered a clutch, two-run double during a four-run seventh inning against Middletown South ace Ben Schild – further evidence that the wiry, 6-foot-3 shortstop could hang with the best pitchers in the state.
Andrew Fischer, Sr., Third Base, Wall
You would be hard-pressed to find a player in the Shore Conference more respected by his peers than Fischer, whose refined approach at the plate has been his calling card over the past two seasons while playing for Wall and fed into a reputation that preceded his official high-school career. Before his sophomore year, which ended up being canceled due to the COVID-19 outbreak, he gave his verbal commitment to Duke University and over the last two years, he has demonstrated what the Blue Devils – and many other college coaches and pro scouts – like about him.
For the second straight season, Fischer led the Shore Conference in walks, this time posted 33 to give him a whopping 65 over the past two seasons. His keen eye came with just 10 strikeouts on the year and with seven of them looking, there is a good chance he had a better idea of the strike zone than the umpire on a few of those. Fischer, of course, also did damage when he swung his bat, particularly during tournament play. With Fischer hitting .350 (7-for-20) with a .629 on-base percentage, two doubles and a home run in nine tournament games, Wall reach the finals of both the Monmouth County and Central Jersey Group III Tournaments and lost to eventual champion Red Bank Catholic in the Shore Conference Tournament quarterfinals as well.
Fischer’s bat was no surprise, but his stellar pitching gave Wall a major weapon out of the bullpen in big games and that performance put his All-Shore First-Team case over the top. He started the year as a one-inning pitcher who could close out games for the Crimson Knights and gradually expanded his role to a multi-inning reliever, even starting the SCT quarterfinal game at Red Bank Catholic and allowing just one run in four innings before handing the ball over. With Fischer contributing in every way possible, Wall remained one of the Shore’s most competitive programs three years removed from winning the Group III title and came awfully close to collecting more hardware in 2022 in an extremely competitive conference.
A.J. Gracia, Jr., Ranney
An elbow injury robbed Gracia of his full range of ability during the first two years of his high-school career, although a healthy arm wouldn’t have done him much good in 2020, when the entire high school season was canceled. Still, the Duke-bound two-way star made it back to serve as designated hitter as a sophomore in 2021 and offered a glimpse of what was to come in 2022. What came was one of the most staggering statistical seasons you will ever see from a player who does anything and everything that can be done on a baseball field.
The raw numbers ranked Gracia at the top of the Shore Conference in on-base percentage, slugging percentage, runs scored and stolen bases and second in batting average, home runs, RBI and walks. It is completely fair to be somewhat skeptical of those numbers considering Gracia played in an overmatched Class B Central division and at a home field that boasts the shortest outfield fence in the conference, but a deeper dive into the numbers and a look at some of his majestic blasts reveals a player whose skills translate in any setting. Gracia hit a staggering .533 (8-for-15) with a .750 on-base percentage, two doubles, four home runs and six RBI in tournament games, including a towering short to lead off the Non-Public B final. Gracia also held his own against four high-level Division I commits, going a combined 4-for-10 with a homer, double and three walks against Jackson Memorial’s Zach Crotchfelt (Auburn), Rumson’s Charlie Jones (Wake Forest), St. John Vianney’s Aiden Cody (West Virginia) and Gloucester Catholic’s Tanner Nolan (Rutgers).
On top of that impressive offensive resume, Gracia was also Ranney’s top pitcher and threw all but one of his innings outside of Class B Central play, with the one inning within the division coming against Central Jersey Group I champion Point Pleasant Beach. His four wins on the mound came against Ferris, state No. 1 Don Bosco Prep, Holy Spirit and Immaculata, the latter two of which came in the state tournament and the first two in relief. Gracia will enter his senior season as a major prospect in the MLB Draft as, perhaps, New Jersey’s best all-around player and with 17 career home runs, he is within 14 of setting a new Shore Conference record.
Russell Halvorsen, Jr., Howell
After starting the season sidelined by an injury, Halvorsen quickly made up for lost time by slotting into the top of the Howell order and making the Rebels the well-oiled, run-scoring machine they turned out to be. Despite Halvorsen missing the first five games of the season, only seven players in the entire Shore Conference had more extra-base hits than Halvorsen’s total of 16. Meanwhile, his .434 batting averaged ranked 11th in the conference, while he posted the ninth-best slugging percentage at the Shore while his six homers tied him for eighth in the conference with three other players. His 33 runs scored were also tied for seventh in the Shore Conference.
Halvorsen had several memorable moments during his breakout junior season, with three of his six dingers coming in tournament play. Two of those home runs came in one game – a wild, 8-7, extra-inning win over Middletown North in the Monmouth County Tournament round of 16 that ended with Halvorsen launching a walk-off, solo homer in the bottom of the eighth to cap a career day. In addition to ending a big tournament win, he also jumpstarted one when he led off the bottom of the first inning of the Central Jersey Group IV final with a game-tying solo home run on the way to an 8-2 Rebels win over East Brunswick.
Halvorsen capped his season with a sparking all-around game in the Group IV final, which featured the go-ahead two-run single in the top of the fifth that gave Howell an 8-7 lead and an acrobatic, sliding catch in left field that kept the tying run on second base with two out in the bottom of the seventh. Howell put its entire roster on display during its first Group IV championship run and Halvorsen’s late-game heroics provided some of the lasting images of the Rebels’ historic season.
Alex Stanyek, Jr., Red Bank Catholic
One of four players to be named to the Shore Sports Network All-Shore First Team for the second straight season, Stanyek once again flashed every tool imaginable for a Caseys team that won its third straight Shore Conference Tournament. Last year, Stanyek powered his Red Bank Catholic squad’s postseason run with his bat and while pitching in relief. This season, Stanyek was again a steady presence at the top of the Caseys lineup and one of the Shore’s top defensive outfielders, but his greatest contributions to this year’s championship run came on the mound as RBC’s No. 1 starter.
Although he made only six starts on the season, all six were electric. He fired five no-hit innings against Monmouth Regional, then four more against Holy Spirit to open his season with nine hitless frames. He then held CBA to one run over seven innings in the Monmouth County Tournament, pitched six shutout innings against Middletown South in the MCT semifinal, went the distance for a one-hit shutout in a 7-1 win over Wall and pitched five solid innings in the Shore Conference Tournament final vs. Jackson Memorial to pick up the win before exiting with an oblique injury. Against four teams ranked in the final Shore Sports Network Top 10, Stanyek went 2-0 with a 1.12 ERA and 43 strikeouts in 25 innings.
Although his pitching overshadowed his offense, Stanyek was still a huge contributor at the plate during RBC’s run to a third straight Shore title. During the Caseys’ four-game run to the championship, Stanyek went 7-for-13 with a double, a homer and six RBI, including at least one hit in every round of RBC’s trek through the SCT. The George Washington commit is due back in 2022 as a dual threat on a Caseys team that will return a significant amount of starting talent, particularly on the pitching staff. With Stanyek’s upside in every facet of the game and Red Bank Catholic’s potential state-championship-caliber roster, Stanyek will be a serious Player of the Year candidate heading into 2023.
Gavin Degnan, Jr., Donovan Catholic
Playing division games in Class B South does not always net the notoriety that players like Degnan deserve, despite the fact that there have been some impressive arms, hitters and teams to come out of the division in recent years. With that in mind, Degnan made sure to make an impression when he had a chance to play outside of B South, as well as against some of the top pitchers within his division. He clubbed three of his seven home runs off of pitchers named to a coaches’ all-division team, including an opposite field shot against CBA in an 11-1 Donovan Catholic rout in the Shore Conference Tournament. Degnan also went 3-for-5 with a homer off Jackson Liberty ace Chris Sasso, took Rider-bound Barnegat ace P.J. Craig deep as well, and singled off Auburn-bound left-hander Zach Crotchfelt in Donovan Catholic’s SCT semifinal loss to Jackson Memorial.
With his seven home runs, Degnan finished seventh in the Shore Conference and was one of 11 players at the Shore to post a slugging percentage over .700. Degnan was also a major base-stealing threat, as he tied for 10th in the conference with 20 stolen bases. Of the 11 players who stole at least 20 bases in 2022, only Gracia (12) hit more home runs than Degnan and his .714 slugging percentage.
Degnan’s explosiveness also came into play in centerfield, where he became a regular at making the spectacular play. After playing second base for most of his sophomore season, Degnan’s full-time move to center has helped him quickly establish himself as one of the Shore’s top defenders, regardless of position. Add Degnan to the list of dynamic talents from the Class of 2023 that are set to return as seniors a little under a year from now.
Matteo Pasculli, Fifth-Year Sr., Third Base, St. John Vianney
Like Stanzione, Pasculli opted to take advantage of the “Bridge Year” law and played at St. John Vianney as a post-graduate for the Lancers. Not only was Pasculli one of the best hitters in the Shore Conference by the numbers, but he was an outstanding leader for an SJV team that made noise throughout the season. When senior teammate and catcher Kyle Pollack was out due to illness, Pasculli stepped up to play catcher despite lacking high-level experience at the position and held his own during a Shore Conference Tournament rout of Colts Neck. When he wasn’t filling in behind the plate, Pasculli was the Lancers’ regular starting third baseman.
Whatever the defensive profile and however vocal he was for his Lancers squad, Pasculli let his bat to the majority of the talking for him in 2023. He led the Shore Conference with 45 RBI and finished fourth in all four of batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage and doubles (seven-way tie). Pasculli’s six homers were also good for an eighth-place tie within the conference.
While Pasculli’s overall numbers were beyond impressive, his numbers in postseason games were flat-out ridiculous. St. John Vianney reached the quarterfinals of both the Monmouth County and Shore Conference Tournaments and advanced to the sectional semifinal round of the South Jersey Non-Public A bracket, giving Pasculli seven games to rack up a stat-line that is hard to believe. In seven tournament games, Pasculli hit .640 (16-for-25) with six doubles, four home runs, 22 RBI and a .727 on-base percentage. His biggest swing came in the top of the ninth inning in SJV’s 6-5 upset of Ranney in the MCT round of 16, which he won with a tiebreaking solo homer to centerfield. Pasculli also went 4-for-5 with a homer against a 26-3 Pingry team and capped his career by going 3-for-4 with two doubles against St. Augustine, the No. 2 team in the state.
Cam Leiter, Sr., Pitcher/DH, Central
With the last name Leiter, everyone expects a flame-throwing, strikeout machine on the mound and on days when he was called upon to pitch, Leiter delivered on that expectation. What made Leiter’s senior season so special, however, was what he was doing during the half-innings when his team was not in the field. With a family legacy of dominant high-school careers and successful paths to the Major Leagues by way of the pitching rubber, Leiter swung the bat this season like no one in his family ever has.
Leiter tied a Central single-season record with 45 hits, which ranked second in the entire conference and fed a batting average that was the fifth-best at the Shore. In one of the best overall offensive seasons for the Shore’s top players in quite some time, Leiter was the only player to rank in the Shore top 10 in eight major offensive categories: batting average (fifth), hits (second), doubles (tied fourth), home runs (tied fifth), runs scored (tied seventh), RBI (eighth), on-base percentage (seventh) and in slugging percentage (fifth).
If there is one way to describe Leiter in his senior season, it is “big-game player.” He could have made more starts on the mound, but lobbied to pitch against Central’s toughest opponents: Jackson Memorial twice, St. Augustine and Kingsway, which ended up being his four losses on the season. That big-game moniker applied to his hitting as well, with Leiter hitting .517 (15-for-29) with two doubles, five home runs, 12 RBI and a .717 on-base percentage in Central’s 10 tournament games.
For more on Leiter’s 2022 season, check out his 2022 SSN Player of the Year Profile.
Colin Dowlen, Fifth-Year Sr., Pitcher/Third Base, Middletown North
Dowlen is the third of three bridge-year players on the All-Shore First Team and his return to Middletown North had the greatest impact on his team, which is saying something considering Stanzione hit a Shore-Conference-record 15 home runs in his return to Middletown South this season. That is because Dowlen served as both the ace of the staff and the top hitter in the lineup for a Lions team that, despite a 5-8 start to the season and a 9-10 mark at the Shore Conference Tournament cutoff date, rumbled all the way to the NJSIAA Group III final and captured the program’s first ever state championship.
Dowlen had an uneven start to the season, going 2-2 with rough outings against both Howell and Middletown South while one of his two wins came against a winless Long Branch squad. His other win was a 1-0 shutout against Manalapan that ended with Dowlen singling home the winning run in the bottom of the seventh off Braves ace Tyler Kane. Getting knocked around by Middletown South, including a home run by Stanzione, seemed to provide Dowlen with a wake-up call and he quickly returned to the form that earned him a First-Team All-Shore spot a year ago. He pitched six one-hit innings with 12 strikeouts against CBA his next time out and the start after that was a six-inning perfect game in a win over Freehold Boro.
Dowlen carried the hot streak into the state tournament, pitching Middletown North to road wins over Robbinsville and Somerville before the Lions slugged their way to a 14-11 win over Colts Neck in the sectional final. That put Middletown North two Dowlen starts away from a championship and the fifth-year ace delivered another complete-game in a 6-1 win over Delsea in the state semifinal, then pitched into the eighth inning of the state final against Cranford thanks to a pitch-counting error. The Lions walked off with the championship-winning run in the bottom of the eighth and Dowlen’s dominant all-around season in his return to Middletown North was rewarded with the team’s first ever state title.
Zach Crotchfelt, Sr., LHP, Jackson Memorial
At 6-foot-5 and sporting a fastball that was clocked into the mid-90-miles-per-hour range during the season, Crotchfelt was certainly the Shore Conference’s most intimidating pitcher to face in 2022. He committed to Auburn following his freshman season, which has put the target on his back for opposing hitters and lineups who want to make a name for themselves by getting a hit off of one of New Jersey’s top players in the Class of 2022. Crotchfelt handled that pressure swimmingly, going 9-2, routinely making his starts on either four or five days of rest, and throwing at least 106 pitches in each of his final eight outings.
Beyond evolving into a workhorse starter, Crotchfelt was also as overpowering as you might expect a left-handed pitcher with a fastball well into the 90’s fastball, quality slider and fast-improving changeup to be. He led the state with 131 strikeouts, finished 10th in the Shore Conference in ERA, second in strikeouts per seven innings, tied for first in wins and third inning innings pitched.
Crotchfelt also took the ball against some top-notch competition, squaring off against the likes of Ranney, Red Bank Catholic, Bishop Eustace and Central Regional. Crotchfelt’s biggest win of the season came in a Shore Conference Tournament round-of-16 victory over Ranney, while his most dominant outings were a no-hitter with 13 strikeouts at Toms River East, a career-high 16 strikeouts in a three-hit shutout of Toms River North, and one-hitters against both Brick Memorial (14 strikeouts) and Southern (11). Crotchfelt also showed off his hitting prowess with a solid batting line that included a home run off Leiter.
For more on Crotchfelt’s season, check out his 2022 SSN Player of the Year Profile.
Anthony Gubitosi, Sr., LHP, Colts Neck
On the pure stats, no pitcher in the Shore Conference had a better season than Colts Neck’s ace. Gubitosi was a model of consistency from the very first day of the season, going a perfect 9-0 with Colts Neck going 10-1-1 in games in which he pitched (the one loss was a game against Robbinsville in which Gubitosi threw one scoreless inning of relief with the Cougars already down). By the end of his season, he finished atop the Shore Conference in pitching record, innings pitched, and ERA while finishing second in strikeouts and fifth in WHIP.
Gubitosi started his senior season like gangbusters. He kept Wall quiet for five innings in an opening-day win while striking out six and walking three, then went off over his next several starts. His most dominant start came at St. John Vianney, where he pitched a one-hitter with 18 strikeouts and one walk against a team that boasts three middle-of-the-order hitters with batting averages over .400 and OPS figures of 1.100 or better. One of those three hitters – Brady Oswick accounted for the lone hit and scored an unearned run – but Gubitosi struck out Matteo Pasculli and Kyle Pollack three times each. The Delaware-bound left-hander then followed that performance up with 15 more strikeouts in six one-hit innings while facing Manasquan ace Cullen Condon. Strangely, that was the lone start in which Gubitosi did not earn a win, but his team did rally to pull out the victory in the bottom of the seventh.
Gubitosi did not get a chance to face some of the marquee teams that pitchers like Leiter, Dowlen, Crotchfelt, Ben Schild and Stanyek did, which, of course was no fault of Gubitosi’s. Instead, he owned the opponents in front of him the rest of the way, one of which was his former team. At Freehold Boro on May 10, Gubitosi pitched a 17-strikeout no-hitter in a 3-0 Cougars win – authoring what might have been his greatest start on the field where his high-school career started. The Colts Neck left-hander then wrapped up his season with state tournament wins over Ocean and Steinert, but his team could not get past the sectional final to give him a chance to pitch Colts Neck to a Group III title. In the three tournament games Colts Neck lost – none of which Gubitosi pitched, Colts Neck allowed run totals of 12, 18 and 14. That cost the Cougars a chance at a tournament championship in 2022 but in the 10 games in which Gubitosi handled the bulk of the pitching, they were, more or less, unbeatable.
Ben Schild, Jr., RHP, Middletown South
On an inning-per-inning basis, Schild was the Shore Conference’s best pitcher in 2022 and one could argue it was by a fair margin. Some arm trouble limited him during the middle of the season and both forced him to skip a start while also shortening the length of several that he actually made, but when Schild toed the slab, he was just about untouchable – especially as a starter. Overall, Schild ranked fourth in the Shore Conference in ERA, sixth in strikeouts, first in WHIP and had the second-highest win total of any undefeated pitcher, trailing only Gubitosi in that category. If you distill Schild’s numbers down to the eight games he started, he was 6-0 with a 0.43 ERA in 48 1/3 innings with 93 strikeouts and 15 walks.
More than just the surface level numbers, what made Schild’s year so special was the teams he faced while putting up those numbers. The 6-foot-5 UConn commit picked up wins over Group III champion Middletown North, Group III runner-up Cranford, Shore Conference Tournament champion Red Bank Catholic and Central Jersey Group II runner-up Wall in the Monmouth County Tournament final. In those four wins, Schild allowed three runs (two earned) over a total of 23 innings with 40 strikeouts and six walks. He also picked up a win in relief over Group IV champion Howell, although that came after he gave up a four-run lead in the bottom of the seventh – the outing that spoiled his 0.43 ERA in eight starts.
Schild also opened his season with a no-hitter with 16 strikeouts and one walk against a Freehold Township squad that spent part of the season ranked and beat Middletown South in the second of their two meetings. Schild also picked up wins over Lacey and Princeton to close out the season, with the latter coming in the first round of the NJSIAA Tournament. Unlike in 2021, Middletown South could not get by the quarterfinal round of the Central Jersey Group IV bracket and give Schild another chance to start. After helping lead Middletown South to a Group IV title as a sophomore, Schild will return in 2023 with unfinished business, both in his pursuit of a Pitcher of the Year award and another state title.
Colin Reilly, Sr., RHP, Christian Brothers Academy
People around the country know the last name that Cam Leiter had to live up to, but Reilly had a family member of his own he was trying to follow in his senior season at CBA. While his older brother, Pat, finished his sophomore season at Vanderbilt, Colin Reilly was dissecting hitters in the Class A North division and beyond for a CBA team that called upon him against its toughest competition. While Colin – who is headed to Tulane in the fall – did not feature the 97-mile-per-hour fastball or the wipeout strikeout stuff that his older brother showed prior to graduating from CBA, Colin settled in as a big-game pitcher who could rely on multiple weapons and handle any situation.
Reilly made nine starts in 2022 and all but one of them came against teams that were, at one point, either ranked in the Shore Sports Network Top 10, the NJ.com State Top 20 or nationally. Reilly’s two losses were to nationally-ranked Archbishop Moeller out of Ohio during CBA’s trip to Myrtle Beach and a 1-0 road loss to North Jersey Non-Public A runner-up Seton Hall Prep in a game in which Reilly struck out 10 while pitching into the sixth inning. As for his wins, the CBA ace took down the likes of Howell, Ferris, Freehold Township, Manalapan and both Paul VI and St. Joseph of Metuchen in the state tournament. Reilly also allowed one run in eight innings in taking a no-decision against Red Bank Catholic in the Monmouth County Tournament.
Despite facing one of the toughest slates of any pitcher in the Shore Conference, Reilly finished with the 12th-best ERA at the Shore. He was one of 18 Shore Conference pitchers to win at least six games and one of 10 to win at two games in the NJSIAA Tournament. CBA enjoyed a strong finish to its 2022 season and setting up Reilly to pitch against as many tough opposing lineups as possible was as big of a reason as any.
Charlie Jones, Sr., RHP, Rumson-Fair Haven
With so many of the top players in the Shore crossing paths during the summer travel circuit, there are not nearly as many strangers playing baseball across the state as there may have been a couple decades ago. Jones is certainly not a stranger to players around the Shore, both for his with his colorful, affable personality and for his bulldog mentality on the mound. Those are two very different personality types, but Jones jumps between both seamlessly, keeping things loose for his team when he is not pitching and going for the jugular of the opponent when he is.
The All-Shore Team is not a personality contest, so Jones has plenty of credentials as a First-Teamer as well. Rumson tabbed him to start some of its biggest games, including his two losses to Red Bank Catholic. One of those losses was his lone shaky outing of the year, while the other was a loss in which he pitched well (six innings, four hits, one earned run, three walks, 11 strikeouts) against a Caseys team that was red-hot at the time. As for his wins, Jones racked up victories over division opponents St. Rose and Monmouth and postseason wins over Neptune (Shore Conference Tournament) and Bordentown (Central Jersey Group II quarterfinals). Jones’s best win was a complete-game effort against Non-Public B champion in which he allowed no earned runs and he also kept a ponent Wall lineup to two runs in six innings in taking the no-decision in Rumson’s thrilling, walk-off win in the sectional final.
Before heading south to Wake Forest to begin his college career, Jones posted the No. 17 ERA in the conference, a top-25 strikeout total and a top-10 WHIP while featuring an over-the-top delivery from his 6-foot-6 frame and one of the state’s nastiest curveballs. At one point during the middle of the season, he was slowed by arm trouble, but worked his way back and routinely made it to the mound when his team needed him. Rumson’s pitching was the lifeblood of its first sectional championship team in 18 years and Jones was the group’s senior leader and big-game performer.