Baseball – 2022 Shore Sports Network All-Shore Second Team
Shore Sports Network All-Shore Team
Owen Kenney, Jr., Rumson-Fair Haven
Kenney hit his first two home runs in a Rumson rout of Shore on May 5, then went into a 2-for-20 skid over his team’s next eight games. It turns out Kenney was just getting himself aligned for the most important part of the season. The junior catcher caught fire in the NJSIAA Tournament, homering in four straight playoff games to help lead the Bulldogs to their first sectional championship in 18 years. The six longballs led all Shore Conference catchers, as did his 14 extra-base hits and .786 slugging percentage.
Cristian Soto, So., Central
Even though he is only a sophomore, Soto has already cemented a reputation as one of the best defenders in the Shore Conference. He also held his own at the plate as a freshman and as the 2022 season progressed, the Central backstop got better and better with the bat. On top of his defense, Soto has proven to be a big-game player. His freshman year ended with him going 5-for-6 with the game-winning RBI single in the 13th inning of the Ocean County Tournament final and this season, he hit .400 (12-for-30) with four doubles, a homer and eight RBI in eight tournament games and also went 5-for-10 with two doubles and a homer against pitchers who made one of the three All-Shore teams.
Mike Damato, Sr., First Base/Pitcher, Manchester
Damato’s 2022 season got off to a slow start, which can be said about his Manchester team as a whole. He left the season-opener with an injury, missed three games and had just one hit through April 20. Manchester, however, is no stranger to slow starts and Damato got both his bat and his right arm working. It was almost enough to get Manchester back to the South Jersey Group II final as the No. 10 seed one year after the Hawks won the section as a No. 12 seed. Damato won on the mound at Oakcrest and Delran in the first two rounds of the tournament and crushed two state-tournament homers as well.
Charlie Tallman, Sr., Shortstop, Rumson-Fair Haven
Last season, Tallman hit at the bottom of the order for one of the Shore’s deepest lineups and put up numbers more resembling those of a leadoff hitter. This season, Tallman moved to the top of the order, shifted from second base to shortstop and didn’t miss a beat. Along with Ranney standout A.J. Gracia, Tallman was one of only two players in the Shore Conference to hit .400 or better with 10 or more doubles and 10 or more stolen bases. He also delivered one of the biggest hits in Rumson history when he singled in the tying an winning runs in the bottom of the seventh to give the Bulldogs a 4-3 win over Wall in the Central Jersey Group II championship game.
Ryan Frontera, Jr., Shortstop, Middletown North
On top of his impressive numbers while playing a quality shortstop on a championship team, Frontera did two things that make All-Shore players: he showed out in the postseason and hit quality pitching. During Middletown North’s run to the Group III championship, Frontera hit .350 with a double, triple, homer and seven RBI and also went 4-for-8 with a homer in two Monmouth County Tournament games. Frontera went 3-for-5 with a homer and three RBI in the Central Jersey Group III final at Colts Neck and his lone regular-season homer was a solo shot off Middletown South ace Ben Schild.
Harrison Campi, Jr., Shortstop, Christian Brothers Academy
In his two varsity seasons, Campi has proven to be the total package at shortstop. He is one of the state’s best defenders at the position and he has also been a difference-maker with a bat in his hands. His 16 extra-base hits tied him with five other players for the seventh-best mark in the Shore Conference and his 11 doubles were tied with six other players for the fourth-best total in the conference. Campi is already committed to Wofford University and will return in 2023 as one of the Shore’s best all-around players.
Charlie Chropuvka, Fifth-Year Sr., Ranney
It wasn’t long ago that Ranney was a middle-of-the-pack Class B Central team and while it feels like a much longer time ago than it actually was, Chropuvka was the lone player on this year’s Ranney squad who part of the old Ranney baseball program. The new Ranney program is now a championship program, and it took a big swing from its elder statesman to get the Panthers to promise land. Chropuvka hit a three-run, walk-off home run to win the South Jersey Non-Public B final against Gloucester Catholic – the last of his four home runs in Ranney’s seven tournament games.
Nick Lovarco, Sr., Wall
Wall opened its season facing a wave of nasty pitching: Colts Neck’s Anthony Gubitosi, Manasquan’s Cullen Condon, Matawan’s Brandon Falco and St. John Vianney’s Aiden Cody. That contributed to Lovarco’s slow start, but in the last week of April, the light went off and Lovarco was hard to contain the rest of the way. From April 26 through the end of the season, Lovarco hit .478 with all but one of his extra-base hits, which helped guide Wall to the championship game of both the Monmouth County and Central Group II Tournaments. He also figured out how to handle top pitching, hitting a double off Schild in the MCT final and a homer off Rumson ace Charlie Jones in the Central Group III final – both to the opposite field.
Christian Zito, Sr., Monmouth
Monmouth spent a brief period in the Shore Conference Top 10 and the success the Falcons had in 2022 was, in large part, thanks to Zito. The senior was both the top hitter and the top pitcher on the team by the numbers, with an on-base percentage that ranked ninth in the conference and a batting average that made him one of 32 players in the conference to hit .400. Zito was also steady on the mound while facing the likes of Red Bank Catholic and Wall, with his 1.37 ERA tied for 14th in the conference and top-20 ranks in both innings (tied 14th) and ERA (tied 17th).
Evan Wood, Sr., Third Base, Middletown South
The many headlines about Middletown South over the last two years have gone mostly to Ben Schild and newly-crowned Shore Conference home-run record-holder Joe Stanzione, but Wood has been a crucial part of the Eagles’ success over the past two years. He has turned himself into a standout defender at third base and an all-around hitter who can both handle the bat and drive the ball. Wood was again a huge lift in postseason games, hitting .333 (7-for-21) with a double, homer and seven RBI in seven tournament games. He also mixed in 12 stolen bases and was a go-to closer who closed out a number of big games over the past two seasons.
Ryan Cole, Sr., Shortstop/Pitcher, Neptune
Like Zito did for Monmouth, Cole was the best position player and the best pitcher for Neptune and his season on the mound was especially impressive. Cole finished fifth in the conference in strikeouts and turned in six starts in which he struck out at least 10 batters. That figure trailed only Zach Crotchfelt (eight), Colin Dowlen, Ben Schild and Tyler Kane (seven each) among Shore Conference pitchers and matched Anthony Gubitosi. Speaking of matching Gubitosi, Cole pitched eight strong innings in a head-to-head matchup against the Colts Neck ace in a game that ended in a tie after 12 innings due to darkness. Cole also put a scare into Wall, going 3-for-6 with a grand slam in two games vs. the Crimson Knights and holding them to one earned run in six innings in the game he pitched – albeit in a 2-1 loss.
Dan Furlong, Sr., RHP, Howell
Furlong’s senior season was nothing if not eventful, but at the end of it all, he can look back and marvel at how special it was. The senior tied for the Shore lead in wins, which included wins over Group III champion Middletown North and ace Colin Dowlen, Ocean County Tournament champion Jackson Memorial, CBA and two against Manalapan ace Tyler Kane. Furlong was cruising through the first month of the season when a finger injury forced him to skip a start and it took him a few turns to rediscover his rhythm. He found it again in time for the NJSIAA Tournament and pitched the Rebels to wins over Manalapan and Jackson Memorial before a line drive to the face ended his start vs. Cherokee one batter into the game. Furlong returned from surgery to repair a broken jaw to provide his team with needed moral support from the dugout as Howell beat Hunterdon Central to win its first ever Group IV title.
John Goodes, Jr., RHP, Rumson-Fair Haven
Rumson boasted, perhaps, the Shore’s best one-two punch on the mound with Wake-Forest-bound senior Charlie Jones and Goodes, who is committed to pitch at Rutgers once he finishes at Rumson in the spring of 2023. While Jones was the senior leader of the pitching staff and the one coach Owen Stewart typically chose to deploy as the No. 1 starter for the Bulldogs, Goodes might have been as valuable as any pitcher in the Shore Conference thanks to his versatility in pitching out of the bullpen. His shutdown relief work earned him wins over Monmouth, Red Bank Catholic, Voorhees and Wall – the latter two of which came in back-to-back rounds of the NJSIAA Central Group II Tournament.
Tyler Kane, Sr., RHP, Manalapan
While Kane’s 3-5 record is not in line with one usually expects from an All-Shore performer on the mound, everything else the 5-foot-10 right-hander did was. Kane finished third in the conference in strikeouts, second in WHIP behind Schild and second in hits-per-seven-innings (2.545) behind Gubitosi (2.536) by mere percentage points. Among Kane’s five losses were a 1-0 loss at Hamilton West in which he struck out 16 in six innings, a 1-0 loss to Colin Dowlen and Middletown North in which Dowlen singled home the winning run in the bottom of the seventh, and a two-hitter with 11 strikeouts vs. Howell in the first round of the state tournament. The Hamilton loss was one of two 16-strikeout games for Kane, who will play his college ball at George Mason.
Aiden Cody, Jr., RHP, St. John Vianney
Cody has the highest ERA of any pitcher on the three All-Shore teams this season with the exception of Ranney’s A.J. Gracia, who is on the All-Shore First Team for his work at the plate more than for his pitching. That 2.84 is somewhat deceiving for Cody, who labored in his final two starts of the season after pitching on two-days rest for the first time. To add insult to injury, Cody’s stellar effort against Rumson on three days after beating Colts Neck did not count because rain stopped the game in the bottom of the fifth inning with the score, 0-0. While Cody did not get official credit for shutting down Rumson, he did for beating Manasquan, 1-0, with a one-hit shutout and 14 strikeouts and also beating Wall with a four-hitter and 11 punchouts. Cody announced his non-binding verbal commitment to West Virginia at the conclusion of the 2022 high-school season.
Declan Leary, So., RHP, Red Bank Catholic
In his first two seasons as a high-school pitcher, Leary has proved to be a command specialist who has the arsenal to quiet a dangerous lineup. This year, it was Rumson that could not solve Leary, as the sophomore right-hander pitched 13 shutout innings against the Bulldogs with only eight hits allowed in the two wins. On the whole, Leary’s control manifested itself in the No. 3 walks-per-seven-inning rate (1.29) in the conference among pitchers with at least 30 innings, while his ERA was the eighth-best in the Shore Conference.