Baseball – 2023 Shore Sports Network Pitcher of the Year: Alex Stanyek, Red Bank Catholic
A simple definition of a staff ace in baseball is a pitcher who makes his scheduled starts, pitches deep into those games and keeps runs off the board when the opponent is hitting. Among those pitchers, the best of the best do it in dominant fashion and against top competition.
There were a lot of Shore Conference pitchers who took the ball more often than Red Bank Catholic right-hander Alex Stanyek. The Caseys senior started only five games on the mound in 2023 and his 30 innings were tied for 83rd in the conference during the 2023 season.
In those 30 innings, however, Stanyek not only made it clear that he was the Shore’s most dominant pitcher this past spring, but also managed to finish off two RBC championships and elevate the Caseys to elite status within the state. It was a short supply of innings, but the results were sweet enough for Stanyek to secure the 2023 Shore Sports Network Pitcher of the Year Award.
The only thing more impressive than the collective résumé of the teams that Stanyek faced was the way Stanyek handled those four teams in five games. The four teams – No. 3 Gloucester Catholic, No. 4 Ranney, No. 14 Rumson-Fair Haven and No. 15 St. Joseph of Metuchen – all finished ranked in the top 15 of the NJ Advance Media state rankings, each won at least 21 games and each made it to at least the sectional final round of the NJSIAA Tournament.
Alex Stanyek 2023 Start-By-Start
|at Rumson-Fair Haven||6||1||0||0||0||13||ND|
|vs. Gloucester Catholic||5||3||1||1||1||8||W|
|vs. St. Joe's Metuchen||6.1||3||1||1||2||9||W|
The team he faced twice was Ranney – the team that opened the season ranked ahead of RBC as the No. 1 team in the Shore Sports Network Top 10 – and the two outings were both championship games. The second of those two was his signature performance of the season: 6 2/3 shutout innings with two hits allowed, 11 strikeouts and five walks.
After senior Ethan Marzo recorded the final out with Stanyek at the 110-pitch limit, Red Bank Catholic ended Ranney’s 20-game winning streak, its hopes of running the championship table and gave the Caseys an unprecedented fourth straight Shore Conference Tournament championship.
While Stanyek finished the season with a 3-0 record, he left every single one of his starts with RBC in the lead. His first start vs. Ranney – a 6-5 loss to the Panthers in the Monmouth County Tournament championship game – started off in rough fashion, with each defense coming out sloppy in the first inning and Stanyek surrendering a two-run triple in the second to fall behind, 4-2. From there, however, he locked in a shut down Ranney over the next four innings and passed the ball to the bullpen with RBC leading 5-4.
On opening day, Stayek was at this best. Facing Group II runner-up Rumson-Fair Haven, he allowed one hit and one hit batter as the lone two base-runners while striking out 13 over six innings. At 100 pitches on opening day, Stanyek gave way to the bullpen with a 2-0 lead and Rumson rallied to win, 3-2.
Stanyek did not pitch again until April 20 against Non-Public B champion Gloucester Catholic. After giving up a first-inning run, Stanyek carved through the Rams over the next four to complete five three-hit innings with eight strikeouts and one walk. RBC closed out the 5-2 win with Declan Leary on the mound.
It may not have been Stanyek’s most dominant outing of the season, but his final start was the most significant for himself and his fellow three-year starters. Facing St. Joseph of Metuchen in the South Jersey Non-Public A final, Stanyek again fell behind, 1-0, but shut down the opposition the rest of the way. The Caseys cooked up some late offense and pulled out a 4-1 win over the Falcons to capture their first sectional title since 1997.
In RBC’s drought-ending victory, Stanyek allowed one run on three hits and two walks while punching out nine over 6 1/3 innings.
Alex Stanyek Career Pitching Stats
None of Stanyek’s five starts were complete games, but consider some context: he was the only starter to throw a pitch in the seventh inning vs. Ranney this season and the only Shore Conference pitcher to complete six innings vs. the Panthers. As for Rumson-Fair Haven, three pitchers pitched past the sixth inning against the Bulldogs: two of them allowed five-plus earned runs in losses and the other was Pascack Hills left-hander Joey Giordano in the Group II championship game.
With five days between the win over St. Joe’s and the Non-Public A final vs. Don Bosco Prep, Stanyek was eligible to pitch, but had not pitched with fewer than 10 days of rest between outings all year. Stanyek made himself available to close out a championship or enter in a close game in the late innings, but the Caseys went down early and Stanyek did not take the mound in the final game of the season.
There was a confluence of circumstances that led to Stanyek’s light use on the mound. It starts with managing his back, which has been through two surgeries during this high-school career, making coach Buddy Hausmann careful about how much he uses his most dominant weapon on the mound. With a chance to rest and recover for each start, Stanyek could make good use of a fastball that touched 93 miles-per-hour, a nasty changeup and a sharp curveball. On top of the tough-to-touch arsenal, Stanyek pitched with improved control as a senior, lowering his walk-rate to 2.33 per seven innings – an drastic upgrade from the 3.94 rate he posted over the course of his first two seasons.
Another reason for the infrequent use of Stanyek on the mound is because of the RBC pitching staff. Leary was an All-Shore pitcher as a sophomore and voted as the Class A Central Pitcher of the Year by the coaches this season. Fellow junior Steve Svenson is a Seton Hall commit and another all-division selection by the coaches. Sophomore Ryan Prior is committed to the University of Virginia, senior Dom Mallamaci returned fully healthy after breaking out as a sophomore in 2021 and Marzo was a dominant relief option who transferred in from St. Joseph by the Sea on Staten Island.
While Stanyek was undoubtedly the best of RBC’s many options, the wealth of Caseys pitching gave Hausmann the opportunity to give his ace ample time to prepare for RBC’s biggest games.
The final reason for Stanyek’s rare use as a pitcher is because it’s not his primary position. Stanyek is headed to George Washington University as a projected outfielder and in order to keep his rightfielder and leadoff hitter as close to 100 percent as possible throughout the season, Hausmann picked his spots to pitch Stanyek.
For the season, Stanyek hit .311 with 11 doubles, four home runs, 32 runs scored and 16 RBI. Stanyek was locked in up until the Shore Conference Tournament final and after he threw the 110 pitches in the 6 2/3 innings vs. Ranney, he did not pick up a hit during the NJSIAA Tournament. It is possible Stanyek’s commitment to pitching in those big games took its toll late in the season, but every one of those starts were crucial in helping RBC finish No. 1 at the Shore and No. 2 in New Jersey for the 2023 season.
Matt Manley’s Shore Conference Pitcher of the Year Ballot
1. Alex Stanyek, Sr., RHP, Red Bank Catholic
2. Chris Levonas, Jr., RHP, Christian Brothers Academy
3. Marcello Mastroianni, Sr., LHP, Ranney
4. Nick Coniglio, Fifth-Year Sr., RHP, Ranney
5. Jackson Hinchcliffe, Sr., RHP, Rumson-Fair Haven