Baseball – 2023 Shore Sports Network All-Shore First Team
Shore Sports Network All-Shore teams are selected by Baseball Editor Matt Manley based on statistics, first-hand accounts, coaches input and team success. Check out the coaches' all-division selections here.
Shore Sports Network 2023 All-Shore First Team
Shane Andrus, Sr., Red Bank Catholic
Andrus is a First-Teamer for the second straight season and this time around, it was a furious finish that landed him as the Shore’s top catcher – a slightly different route than last season’s hot start. Andrus hit two of his five home runs during tournament play, one of which came in an 8-1 win over St. Augustine that officially snapped the Hermits’ six-season run as South Jersey Non-Public A sectional champions. Another of Andrus’s homers came off Donovan Catholic’s hard-throwing left-hander Jake Marciano in a 7-2 Caseys win during the regular season.
Among players who made the majority of their starts at catcher, Andrus finished second in the Shore Conference in homers, batting average and slugging percentage and was third in doubles, RBI and on-base percentage. On its face, that statistical profile warrants First-Team consideration and when factoring in RBC’s difficult schedule – which included going 4-for-7 in two tournament games vs. Ranney with a game-tying RBI double in the final inning of the Monmouth County Tournament final – he is a slam dunk choice. Headed to Drew University in the fall, Andrus also played stellar defense behind the plate once again, even while battling a foot injury for the latter part of the season.
Jake Howlett, Jr., Wall
Video Credit: Jake Howlet | Twitter: @JakeHowlett6
Andrus did not finish atop any statistical categories among Shore Conference catchers because Howlett stole his thunder almost across the board. Wall’s junior backstop led all Shore Conference catchers in batting average, hits, home runs, extra-base hits (17) and slugging percentage and finished second in RBI and third in doubles. The 17 extra-base hits and eight home runs were each tied for the third-highest total in the entire conference and Howlett was one of six players at the Shore with a slugging percentage of .800 or better.
Wall played in only four tournament games this season, but Howlett dominated both of his team’s postseason wins. He blasted a game-winning, walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth of a round-of-16 Monmouth County Tournament victory over Freehold Township and in the first round of the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group III Playoffs, Howlett went 3-for-4 with a double and a solo home run in a 5-4 win for the Crimson Knights at Arthur L. Johnson. Howlett’s big-time bat and leadership behind the plate make him one of the Shore’s top returning players looking ahead to 2024.
Alex D’Ambrosio, Sr., First Base/RHP, Marlboro
Video Credit: Twitter: @marlborosheik
As a junior in 2022, D’Ambrosio did his best work at the plate during postseason play and against some of the Shore’s top pitchers, which was grounds for a Third-Team selection. As a senior, D’Ambrosio continued to deliver in big moments for Marlboro and also put up First-Team-caliber numbers – both at the plate and on the mound. His .483 batting average ranked third in the Shore Conference and his 1.246 OPS was good for 11th at the Shore and first among hitters in the Class A North division. On the pitching side, D’Ambrosio more than doubled his innings-pitched total from a year ago, jumping from 24 1/3 innings to 49 2/3. His innings total was tied for eighth in the conference, his 68 strikeouts ranked ninth and he was one of 11 Shore Conference pitchers to log at least 30 innings with a WHIP of under 1.00.
D’Ambrosio continued to deliver in big games for Marlboro as a senior. He twice went 4-for-4 in a game – once in a win over Class A North public division champion Middletown North and again vs. Point Boro in the first round of the Shore Conference Tournament. D’Ambrosio also earned the win over Point Boro on the mound and in the following round of the SCT, he hit the game-winning RBI single in the bottom of the 11th inning to give Marlboro a 2-1 win over Brick Memorial. During one stretch of the season, the Mustangs right-hander pitched back-to-back shutouts against Freehold Township (13 strikeouts) and Howell (seven), then fired a complete-game two-hitter with nine strikeouts to beat CBA. D’Ambrosio will ride on to Seton Hall in the fall to continue his baseball career in South Orange.
Dom Masino, Sr., Shortstop, Central
After a record-setting junior season, Masino followed up his All-Shore campaign in 2022 by making a case for himself as the Shore Conference’s best hitter in 2023. He ran away with the Shore’s batting title, beating out runner up Tommy Conroy from Point Beach by 57 points in batting average with a .557 mark that set a new school record and is the best the Shore Conference has seen since 2014 by a player with 60 or more at-bats. Masino tied for the Shore Conference lead in total hits, was second in on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and OPS (1.658), tied for third in extra-base hits (17) and fifth in home runs.
Masino notched at least one hit in all but one of Central’s 23 games and reached base safely in all but one. His seven homers came in two separate bunches, including a pair of two-homer games – both in Central losses. The first two-homer game was window-dressing on a 24-6 loss to Ocean, but the second came at Donovan Catholic in the Ocean County Tournament quarterfinals in a game the Griffins won with a walk-off homer in the bottom of the seventh. Masino ends his career with several single-season Central records on top of batting average, including on-base percentage, slugging percentage and OPS to go with the single-season runs scored record he broke as a junior. Masino was also a top-notch defender at shortstop with excellent speed – attributes he will take with him to Kean University next school year.
Charlie Meglio, Sr., Third Base, Jackson Memorial
Now Jackson Memorial’s all-time career leader with 109 RBI, Meglio was a consistent run-producer for the Jaguars during his three varsity seasons and might have run away with the record if he had a chance to play as a freshman in 2020, when the entire spring season was canceled due to COVID. The Jaguars third baseman signee drove in 35 as a sophomore, 39 a year ago and 38 this season, with this year’s total leading the Shore Conference. His .838 slugging percentage ranked fifth in the conference and his nine homers placed him second behind only Ranney’s A.J. Gracia.
If nine home runs is not impressive enough in an of itself, Meglio had a knack for hitting them when his team needed them. Four of the nine longballs either tied the game or gave Jackson Memorial the lead – including a pair of late-game dingers in memorable games against St. Joseph of Metuchen and Southern. Meglio cracked a grand slam in the sixth inning to break a 6-6 tie against St. Joe’s and he hit a game-tying, opposite-field, two-run homer in the fifth inning of an extra-inning loss to Southern in the SCT round of 16. After wrapping up a decorated high-school career that includes three SSN All-Shore selections – including two First Team – three Class A South division championships and an Ocean County Tournament title in 2022, Meglio will continue his baseball journey at Campbell University next season.
Gabe Cavazzoni, Sr., Shortstop, Wall
Video Credit: Brad Sakele | Twitter: @bsak1842
Cavazzoni returns to the All-Shore ranks after making the SSN All-Shore Second Team as a sophomore and he did so by relentlessly collecting hits while playing a standout shortstop for Wall throughout the 2023 campaign. His 39 knocks tied for the top mark in the conference along with Central’s Masino, Donovan Catholic’s Gavin Degnan and Ranney’s Jack Tallent and his 15 extra-base hits ranked 10th in the conference. Cavazzoi was one of 11 players to record at least 10 doubles and among that group, he led the way with 19 stolen bases. Among qualified hitters (at least 50 plate appearances) he finished 20th at the Shore and second among shortstops in slugging percentage.
While his teammate, Howlett, was especially good in Wall’s postseason wins, Cavazzoni shined against some quality pitching. One of his two home runs came off Rutgers commit and 2022 All-Shore right-hander John Goodes in a Wall loss to Rumson and he picked up doubles against Monmouth ace Aiden Denton, Manasquan ace Cullen Condon, and went a combined 3-for-3 with a triple against Robbinsville’s standout duo of Luke Billings and Brody Patterson. After closing out his exceptional three-year career at Wall with a First-Team selection, Cavazzoni will attend Seton Hall next year as one of the Pirates’ top incoming freshmen.
A.J. Gracia, Sr., Centerfield/LHP, Ranney
Fresh off completing one of the more impressive two-year runs you will find throughout the recent history of the Shore Conference, Gracia is the 2023 Shore Sports Network Player of the Year and will set out over the next several months to prepare for what could be a special college career at Duke – assuming a Major League Baseball organization does not swoop in and offer him a signing bonus too rich to turn down. For the second straight year, Gracia led the Shore Conference in extra-base hits (20), slugging percentage, OPS (1.680) and runs scored. He also led the conference in home runs and walks after placing second in both categories a season ago.
Of Gracia’s 12 homers, three came off of pitchers who figure to be All-State locks. He homered twice off Bishop Eustace ace Jack Kirchner – who struck out 100 batters this season – and also belted an inside-the-park homer off Gloucester Catholic left-hander Tanner Nolan. Gracia also cracked two homers off fellow Duke commit and Delbarton freshman A.J. Saccento and homered against Rumson-Fair Haven in each of Ranney’s tournament wins over the Bulldogs – one in the MCT and another in the SCT.
Gracia finished his career with 29 home runs, one shy of the all-time Shore Conference record, and was Ranney’s big-game starter on the mound as a junior before settling into more of a closer role this season. He also had the most prominent role in putting Ranney on the map in New Jersey High School baseball after enrolling at the Tinton Falls School before the program ever accomplished anything beyond qualifying for the Shore Conference Tournament. To learn more about Gracia’s season, read his Shore Sports Network Player of the Year profile.
Gavin Degnan, Sr., Centerfield, Donovan Catholic
A breakout junior season landed Degnan on the SSN All-Shore First Team in 2022 and the senior’s encore this past spring was even better. Degnan was all over the offensive leaderboard in the Shore Conference, finishing in the top 10 in hits (tied first), batting average (fourth), on-base percentage (sixth), slugging percentage (third), OPS (third), home runs (tied third), extra-base hits (tied third), runs scored (third) and stolen bases (first). The combination of power and game-breaking speed was rivaled only by the third member of the All-Shore outfield, who you can find below and in Degnan’s case, it helped Donovan Catholic reach new heights.
Degnan’s wide range of ability was on display during Donovan Catholic’s run to the Ocean County Tournament championship. In the OCT semifinals, he blasted a game-winning, two-run, walk-off home run in the bottom of the seventh to beat Central and in the championship game against Southern, he went 3-for-3 with with three stolen bases and two runs scored, including a steal of third that led to him scoring the tying run in the fourth inning. Degnan also belted two homers – including another walk-off – in an extra-inning win over Manasquan in the Shore Conference Tournament round of 16. Degnan remains unsigned for next year, but has seen his recruitment by Division I programs pick up as a result of his play during his senior season.
Brett Patten, Sr., Centerfield, Manasquan
Video Credit: NFHS Network
Only nine players in the Shore Conference managed to swipe 20 or more bases this season and of those nine only four hit a home run during the season and only two hit more than two home runs. Patten joined Degnan as the only players with more than two homers and 20 steals and in each case, both players went way beyond those two thresholds. While Patten did not quite keep pace with Degnan’s eight homers and 35 steals, he came pretty close with six and 28. The Manasquan centerfielder and leadoff hitter was undeniably one of the best athletes in the Shore Conference, as well as one of its best hitters.
On top of finishing eighth in the conference in OPS (1.311) during a sparkling statistical season, Patten stepped up his game against quality pitchers. Of his six home runs, three game off of pitchers who made either the First or Second All-Shore team this year: Ranney’s Nick Coniglio, Ocean’s Matt King and Rumson-Fair Haven’s Jackson Hinchliffe. Another came off of a 2022 All-Shore pitcher in Wall’s Matt Johnson and one of the other two came vs. Freehold Boro as part of the only cycle of the year achieved by a Shore Conference hitter. Patten will head to St. John’s University in the fall as a two-time All-Shore selection.
Cristian Bernardini, Sr., Centerfield, Manalapan
Video Credit: Provided by Cristian Bernardini
The coaches’ choice as the Class A North Hitter of the Year, Bernardini built on an impressive junior season at the plate with an even more refined approach to hitting that led to a First-Team selection – the first overall All-Shore selection of his high school career. Bernardini placed in the Shore Top 10 in batting average (18th), hits (tied 10th), on-base percentage (15th), OPS (19th) and doubles (tied 12th) while playing his 14 division games in the unforgiving Class A North division.
Manalapan struggled to a 9-16-1 record as a team, but Bernardini made an impact in limited tournament games, going 5-for-14 (.357) with two doubles, a home run and three RBI in four postseason games, with at least one hit in each of them. Against fellow First-Teamer Alex D’Ambrosio of Marlboro, Bernardini went 2-for-5 with a pair of doubles and he also went 3-for-3 with a triple and three RBI against Robbinsville right-hander and Wake Forest commit Luke Billings. Bernardini is signed on to join Patten in playing baseball at St. John’s.
Brady Lesiak, Jr., RHP/Third Base, Southern
Video Credit: Provided by Brady Lesiak | Twitter: @brady_lesiak
For the first time in 37 years, Southern won a piece of the Shore Conference Class A South championship and while the Rams boasted the best collection of arms and, arguably, the deepest lineup of any team in the division, Lesiak made it clear he was the MVP of the Rams this season. The junior third baseman, ace and Binghamton commit delivered big hit and workmanlike starts on the mound to help Southern capture a share of the A South title, reach the Ocean County Tournament final and finish No. 7 in the Shore Sports Network Top 10. He had two 4-for-4 games this season and all three of his homers came in those two games, including 4-for-4 with two homers, four RBI and a win on the mound in a 5-2 win at second-seeded Vineland in the NJSIAA South Jersey Group IV quarterfinals.
On the mound, meanwhile, Lesiak finished sixth in the Shore Conference with 50 2/3 innings and tied with Red Bank Catholic junior Declan Leary for the most wins in the Shore Conference without suffering a loss. Lesiak pitched one complete game, turned in two eight-inning outings, and neither of them were the complete game. Lesiak started three of the four divisional match-ups against fellow A South co-champions Jackson Memorial and Brick Memorial and went at least seven innings in all three of those games. His 11-strikeout complete game in a 4-3 win over Jackson Memorial clinched the Rams no worse than a share of the division title He also pitched eight innings in extra-inning games against each of the teams – one a win over Brick Memorial and another an 11-inning loss at Jackson Memorial. Lesiak and the Rams will be back in 2024 with designs on an even better season.
Alex Stanyek, Sr., Rightfield/RHP, Red Bank Catholic
Stanyek could hardly be described as a workhorse considering he made only five starts on the mound this year, but he showed toughness in making and thriving in those five starts. When he was on the mound, the RBC right-hander was unquestionably the most impressive pitcher in the conference, as he pitched all five of his games against teams ranked within the top 15 of the state and still dominated. Among Shore Conference pitchers with at least 20 innings pitched, he finished sixth in ERA and first in WHIP while posting the 16th-best strikeout-to-walk ratio (4.6) among all pitchers in the conference.
Among the many reasons for Stanyek’s infrequent use on the mound – which you can read in more detail in his Shore Sports Network Pitcher of the Year profile – was to allow him to function at closer to 100 percent as a hitter, which is what he will be doing at George Washington University next season. This season, Stanyek again was one of the top producers for an RBC team that finished No. 1 in the Shore Conference. His 11 doubles ranked tied for fourth in the Shore Conference and his 15 extra-base hits were tied for eighth. With a 3-0 record and just four earned runs allowed against the likes of Ranney (twice), Rumson-Fair Haven, Gloucester Catholic and St. Joseph of Metuchen while also swinging a lethal bat, Stanyek made his case as the Shore’s most complete player.
Chris Levonas, Jr., RHP, Christian Brothers Academy
Following an injury-riddled sophomore season in which he was limited to him to five innings, Levonas spent the duration of the 2023 season showing the Shore what CBA was missing. Already committed to Wake Forest heading into his junior campaign, Levonas was as impressive as any pitcher in the conference this year, mixing a dominant fastball-curveball combination with steady command and feel for pitching. His 1.15 ERA was fifth among pitchers with at least 40 innings, his 73 strikeouts were the fifth most among all pitchers and his 0.75 WHIP was better than every pitcher in the Shore Conference with more than 20 with the exception of Stanyek.
Levonas started his year in perfect fashion, at least for six innings. He fired six perfect frames vs. Colts Neck on opening day before his day ended at 67 pitches – one inning shy of the first seven-inning perfect game in the Shore Conference since 2016. The 10-strikeout opener was first of four 10-plus-strikeout performances in Levonas’s first five starts and five for the season. The last five of Levonas’s eight starts were tournament games, which included 10 strikeouts and no earned runs in a road win over Donovan Catholic in the Shore Conference Tournament quarterfinals. No. 1 Red Bank Catholic was the only team to beat Levonas, who also left with the lead in CBA’s 5-4, extra-inning loss at St. Augustine in the South Non-Public A quarterfinals. With Levonas set to return, CBA will have a major weapon in place to help the Colts take another shot at a deep postseason run.
Nick Coniglio, Fifth-Year Sr., RHP, Ranney
Levonas is not the only Shore Conference pitcher to get off to a perfect start in 2023. In Ranney’s season-opener at Red Bank, Coniglio spun five perfect innings with 12 strikeouts and the Ranney offense made sure that was enough for a perfect game for its fifth-year senior. Coniglio went on to strike out more batters than all but two Shore Conference hurlers – Matawan’s Brandon Falco (83) and Jackson Liberty’s Ethan Bloomfield (92) – and Coniglio did it in fewer innings than Falco and against a tougher schedule than Bloomfield faced. Coniglio was also one of five pitchers with at least seven wins and finished fourth in ERA among pitchers at the Shore with at least 40 innings.
Coniglio was at his most dominant when his four-pitch mix was turned all the way up. His fastball crept into the low 90’s, he used two breaking balls that helped him deal with both right-handers and left-handers alike and his splitter was his best out pitch. It was especially filthy in six innings of shutout relief in a win over Bishop Eustace during the regular season and four one-hit innings with 11 strikeouts vs. Rumson-Fair Haven in the Shore Conference Tournament semifinals. After helping Ranney win 52 games over the past two seasons, Coniglio will head north to attend Northeastern University in the fall.
Marcello Mastroianni, Sr., LHP, Ranney
Two days after his teammate, Coniglio, pitched a five-inning perfect game in Ranney’s season-opener, Mastroianni followed with a five-inning no-hitter with 10 strikeouts to complete a sweep by the Panthers against Red Bank. From there, Mastroianni and Coniglio continued to complement one another, with Gracia filling in a bulk of relief innings in Ranney’s biggest games. Mastroianni finished second in the conference with eight wins, was one of 12 pitchers to throw at least 40 innings with a ERA under 2.00, and finished sixth among pitchers with at least 30 innings with a 0.91 WHIP.
Of all Mastroianni’s accomplishments this season, his two performances against Red Bank Catholic stand out. The southpaw started the championship game in both the Monmouth County Tournament and the Shore Conference Tournament – both against the Caseys. He allowed one run over five innings with five strikeouts and left with the lead in the MCT final at Brookdale and in the SCT final at ShoreTown Ballpark, he pitched four shutout innings with four hits, one walk and four strikeouts in taking the no-decision. His first loss did not come until the final game of the season at Gloucester Catholic – the last of the big games Mastroianni pitched for Ranney during its winningest season ever. Mastroianni will head to Georgetown with his Ranney teammate Brett Wehringer, where both will continue their baseball careers.
Jackson Hinchcliffe, Sr., RHP, Rumson-Fair Haven
Before he was scheduled to make his third start of the season in mid-April, Hinchcliffe told his coach, Owen Stewart, that he was having trouble getting his forearm loose. With a loss to Red Bank Catholic and a 12-strikeout win over Holmdel in already in the books, Hinchcliffe did not pitch again until an April 30 relief appearance and his next start until a Monmouth County Tournament quarterfinal game vs. Manasquan. When the NJSIAA tournament started, Hinchcliffe was 2-1 with just one start in which he pitched into the sixth inning, but upon the conclusion of the state tournament, he had six wins and pitched Rumson to its first ever Group II championship game. Hincliffe was a master of control, issuing just 1.28 walks per seven innings – the fourth-best mark in the Shore Conference among pitchers who threw at least 10 innings. Three of the walks came vs. Red Bank Catholic in his first start of the season and after that, he walked just six in 45 2/3 innings.
When the NJSIAA Tournament began, Hinchcliffe flipped the switch, pitching a no-hitter with 10 strikeouts in a 1-0 Bulldogs win over Nottingham to kick off their run to a second straight sectional championship. Hinchcliffe outdueled Ocean’s Matt King in his second state-tournament start, then retired five batters in the middle innings to earn the win over Spotswood in the sectional final. After five shutout innings and seven strikeouts in the Group II semifinal vs. Seneca, Hinchcliffe suffered a 1-0 loss to Pascack Hills in the Group II final, with the winning run scoring on a bloop single in the bottom of the sixth inning. Following the dominant end to his three-year varsity career at Rumson, Hinchcliffe will head to pitch at the University of Richmond.
Continue Reading: 2023 All-Shore Second Team