Baseball – All-Shore Second and Third Teams
All-Shore teams are selected by Senior Staff Writer Matt Manley based on stats, first-hand accounts and input from the coaches. Contact @Matt_Manley on Twitter.
All-Shore Second Team
David Melfi, So., Jackson Liberty
Only a sophomore, Melfi has already emerged as a leading candidate as the Shore’s top all-around backstop. In his second high school season, Melfi led the Shore Conference in doubles and finished in the top 10 in RBI. He led the Lions to the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group III semifinals and to within inches of reaching the sectional final. In seven tournament games this year, Melfi hit .522 (12-for-23) with four doubles, a home run and 10 RBI.
Nolan Watson, Sr., Southern
Not only did Watson put up some of the best offensive numbers of any backstop in the Shore Conference, but he was also as good a catch-and-throw catcher as there was in the Shore Conference. When it came to offense, Watson delivered in big games, going 19-for-38 (.500) with two doubles, a triple, a home run and 11 RBI in Southern’s 11 tournament games and hit safely in all 11. During the Rams’ run to their first sectional title in 50 years, Watson was 9-for-18 with two RBI and earlier had 3-for-3 game with a homer and five RBI in an OCT win over Jackson Liberty.
Steven Bullen, Sr., Manalapan
No hitter in the Shore Conference started the season hotter than Bullen, one of the few senior starters for Manalapan. During the first month of the season, Bullen hit .488 with six doubles, six homers and 19 RBI, including a nine-day stretch in which he went 10-for-11 with three doubles, a triple and three home runs over the final four games of Manalapan’s season-long 11-game winning streak.
Mark Costanzo, Jr., Second Base, Freehold Boro
Freehold Boro entered the season wondering how the juniors and sophomores on the roster would fill in around a nucleus of seniors Tom Holdorf, Dan Chiusano and Chris Cassandra. Constanzo was one of several Colonials to answer the call and in doing so, became, arguably, the team’s best hitter. The junior second baseman had five games with multiple RBI, including a five-RBI game in a wild 10-9 loss to Manalapan. He hit his other home run a day later against Howell.
Pat Barrett, Sr., SS/RHP, Southern
Southern’s 2017 season will be remembered for the program’s first NJSIAA sectional championship in 50 years, but the Rams needed a boost to initiate their postseason magic. That’s where Barrett came in, as the senior shortstop cracked a clutch, go-ahead three-run home run in the fifth inning against Brick Memorial in the first round of the OCT. That home run was part of an seven-day stretch in which Barrett went 9-for-17 with three home runs and an RBI double in a 1-0 win over Brick in which he pitched a one-hit shutout.
Ben Porpora, Sr., 1B/3B, Middletown South
Porpora capped an accomplished three-year varsity career with the Eagles by putting up his most efficient offensive season while hitting in the No. 3 spot for most of the year. The lone home run of his senior year was a big one: a solo shot in the bottom of the sixth inning that broke a 2-2 tie and gave Middletown South the first of its two regular-season wins over Wall.
Justin Scotto, Jr., Monmouth
Scotto was the spark plug at the top of the lineup and a standout defender in center field for the Class B North division champion Falcons. Scotto rolled up a .619 on-base percentage and sacrificed his body in the process. During the season, he was hit by a pitch 20 times, which was 11 more than the player with the next-highest total (Red Bank Catholic catcher Brian Sheehy). Scotto’s 29 runs scored were the sixth highest total in the Shore Conference and the second-highest total among all players not on St. Rose.
Ryan Ruziecki, Sr., Middletown South
In his first season at Middletown South in 2016, Ruziecki served the role of super-utility player, playing second base, shortstop, third base and left field for a 23-win Eagles team. This year, he settled in as the team’s center fielder and came out of the gates firing with a barrage of extra-base hits. Nine of Ruziecki’s 14 extra-base hits this season came by April 18, including both of his home runs. On top of the early slugging, Ruziecki went a combined 5-for-10 against two of the better arms in the state – Manasquan’s Tommy Sheehan (2-for-3) and Middletown North’s Tyler Ras (3-for-7 with a double).
Anthony Galason, Jr., Colts Neck
After going 4-for-8 in Colts Neck’s first two games, Galason fell into a 2-for-17 spell before catching fire over the last five weeks of the season. Starting with a Monmouth County Tournament win over St. John Vianney, Galason hit .420 (21-for-50) over Colts Neck’s final 17 games with seven of his eight extra-base hits on the year. Even during his slump, his two hits came off All-A-North pitchers Mike Pirrotta of Freehold Township and Dan Della Valle of Freehold Boro. He also hit his home run off All-A-North left-hander Justin Tucker of Neptune and his second triple came off Freehold Boro All-Division left-hander Dan Chiusano.
Alex Iadisernia, So., Jackson Memorial
On a team that battled its share of inconsistency, Iadisernia was a constant producer at the plate. He homered in wins over Southern and East Brunswick, including a grand slam in a 7-5 win over the Bears at the Autism Awareness showcase in East Brunswick. Iadisernia also hit good pitching: he went 3-for-3 with a triple against Toms River North right-hander Craig Larsen and also picked up hits against Southern’s Zach Fillmore (1-for-1 with a double), Central’s A.J. Smith (1-for-2), Brick’s Mike Soldo (1-for-3, RBI) and Toms River South’s Justin Fall (1-for-3).
Paul Birzin, Sr., First Base, Monmouth
Birzin put up offensive stats worthy of All-Shore recognition, but his most memorable moment of the season came on the mound. In a non-divisional game against a productive Holmdel lineup, Birzin fired a five-inning perfect game with eight strikeouts in a 13-0 win, the only perfect game in the Shore Conference this season. He also enjoyed hitting against Monmouth County Tournament champion Red Bank Catholic, against whom he went 6-for-8 with a double and four RBI.
Don Zellman, Sr., 2B/RHP, Lacey
As the other half of Lacey’s one-two punch at the top of its rotation, Zellman provided a steady right hand for the Lions and finished seventh in the conference in ERA. He pitched a one-hitter with eight strikeouts against Point Boro in his first start of the season, picked up key regular-season wins over Pinelands, Jackson Liberty and Manchester to give Lacey separation in the Class B South race, and beat Southern (SCT) and Mainland (South Jersey III) in tournament games. Zellman also helped his cause at the plate when he pitched, tallying his home run and one of his two triples in games in games he pitched.
Trey Dombroski, So., LHP, Wall
While Dombroski was a key piece of Wall’s future coming into the season, few with the Crimson Knights expected him to be such a big part of the team’s 2017 year. The sophomore left-hander led the Shore in ERA, beat the likes of Freehold Boro, Jackson Liberty, Manalapan and CBA, and finished the year on a run of 26 consecutive scoreless innings. His win over CBA was an eight-inning, five-hit shutout in which he outdueled CBA junior left-hander Blaise Venancio to a 1-0 victory.
Matt Pickus, Jr., RHP, Jackson Liberty
Pickus’s season got off to a forgettable 1-3 start, but once May rolled around, Pickus found the winning edge again. The junior right-hander finished his season by winning five straight appearances, followed by two scoreless relief outings in the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group III Playoffs. All three of Pickus’ NJSIAA Tournament appearances came in relief and in his 9 1/3 state tournament innings, he allowed one run on seven hits and no walks while striking out seven. He also pitched a complete game in a regular-season win over Toms River South, defeated Raritan ace Matt Birdsall in the Shore Conference Tournament, and retired all five batters he faced in picking up a save in the CJ III quarterfinals against Steinert.
Tom Holdorf, Sr., LHP, Freehold Boro
Seton Hall landed Holdorf with visions of him swinging a big left-handed stick as a college hitter and the Colonials senior did do some of that this season in hitting 10 doubles and driving in 17 runs. It was Holdorf’s pitching, however, that landed him an All-Shore spot, particularly his two performances during Freehold’s run to the Central Jersey Group IV final. He tossed a three-hitter to lead Freehold past Hightstown in the first round and turned in a career performance in the form of a one-hit shutout with eight strikeouts in a 1-0 win over top-seeded Montgomery in the sectional semifinals.
Blaise Venancio, Jr., LHP, Christian Brothers Academy
CBA may not have had Luca Dalatri to hand the ball to in big games this season, but the Colts got plenty of good pitching. Venancio was the most consistent member of the starting pitching corps and his record might have more accurately reflected it if it were not for back-to-back 1-0 losses to Freehold Township and Colts Neck, followed by a no-decision against Colts Neck after he left the game with a 2-0 lead following six shutout innings. The junior left-hander did beat Freehold Township ace Mike Pirrotta in a rematch, tossing a complete-game six-hitter in a 2-1 Colts win. Venancio also pitched 6 1/3 scoreless innings in a 1-0 loss to Wall in the SCT quarterfinals that ended in the bottom of the eighth inning.
Garrett French, Jr., RHP, Middletown North
Middletown North’s 2017 starting rotation was so good, there’s a case to be made that Alabama recruit Tyler Ras was the third-best of the three starters. Between Ras, French and junior Chris Price, French put up the best overall numbers: he led the Lions in wins, innings, ERA, strikeouts and hits per seven innings (3.85). French was actually knocked around by Manasquan in his first start (five runs in 4 1/3 innings) but dominated the rest of the way. His two standout starts were a 12-strikeout, two-hit shutout against Long Branch and a four-hitter with eight strikeouts in a win over Wall.
Phil Marcantonio, Jr., Freehold Boro
Only two players in the Shore Conference – Riley Maypother and David Melfi – slugged more extra-base-hits than Marcantonio did this season. Furthermore, Marcantonio went 9-for-25 against pitchers who were voted to an All-Division team by the Shore Conference coaches, including four doubles, a home run and six RBI.
Brody Maypother, Jr., St. Rose
Like his brother, Riley, Brody Maypother proved himself to be an All-Shore hitter when St. Rose played outside of Class B Central. The Purple Roses backstop went a combined 4-for-10 with three doubles and one hit each against Freehold Boro’s Dan Chiusano, Keyport’s Christian Smith, Red Bank’s Jack Povey and Pinelands’ Noah Dean – all of whom were named All-Division pitchers. He also went 1-for-2 with an RBI against Pope John and 2-for-2 with a double and an RBI in a state tournament win over Rutgers Prep.
Sal Monticciolo, Jr., Holmdel
Outside of Riley Maypother and Asbury Park’s Devin Nash-McGhee (.634 batting average), no hitter in the Shore Conference put up more eye-popping rate stats than Monticciolo, who ranked third in the Shore Conference in average and slugging percentage and sixth in on-base percentage. While Holmdel did not face a whole lot of high-profile pitchers this year, Monticciolo went 7-for-12 with a double, two homers and six RBI against the three All-Division pitchers he faced within A Central, including a grand slam off Raritan All-Shore right-hander Matt Birdsall.
Aidan Supp, Sr., Second Base, Red Bank Catholic
Supp hit two homers during his senior campaign and they were both big ones. He hit the go-ahead two-run home run in RBC’s 8-7 win over a Delbarton team that went on to win the NJSIAA Non-Public A title in June. Supp also went deep at FirstEnergy Park in Lakewood, a solo blast that the Caseys second baseman hit off All-Shore second-teamer Tom Holdorf of Freehold Boro in the Monmouth County Tournament championship game.
Will Trochiano, Sr., Shortstop, Marlboro
Trochiano began his varsity career with a glove at shortstop as good as any in the conference and this year, he developed a bat to match. The senior missed time at the beginning of the season due to a hamstring injury, but returned to lead all Class A North shortstops in average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage and doubles. His on-base was also third among regular shortstops outside of Class B Central, while his slugging percentage ranked fifth among the same class of players.
Aurellio Licata, So., Shortstop, Middletown South
Middletown South went from arguably the best all-around team in the Shore Conference last year to part of the B North rat race because of an inconsistent pitching staff. Offensively, however, the Eagles were once again formidable thanks the emergence of young players like Licata. Only Pat Barrett, Aaron Ahn and Mike Nyisztor posted higher slugging percentages among shortstops and only Barrett matched Licata’s three home runs – two of which came in an 8-7 win over Wall.
Tommy DiTullio, So., Shortstop, Christian Brothers Academy
CBA played in plenty of games that went down to the wire this year and DiTullio ended two of them. He drove in the winning run with a single up the middle to lift CBA to a 10-9 win over Neptune in nine innings and less than a week later, he singled home the winning run off Mike Pirrotta in the bottom of the seventh to give the Colts a 2-1 win over Freehold Township and its right-handed ace. On top of the solid sophomore numbers, DiTullio established a reputation as a sterling defender at shortstop in his first varsity season.
Brendan Hueth, Sr., St. Rose
Hueth led the Shore Conference with six triples, one of which came during a 3-for-4, four-RBI performance in a regular-season win over CBA. That St. Rose win was one of several standout games for Hueth against a quality opponent outside B Central. The lefty-swinging center fielder also went 2-for-3 with a two-run double off Gloucester Catholic southpaw Brendan Bean and went 2-for-4 against Pinelands left-hander and All-B-South hurler Noah Dean.
Justin Thompson, Jr., Lacey
Thompson went from a junior without a guaranteed spot in the starting lineup to one of the Shore’s best clutch hitters. Thompson’s season included a walkoff single off Point Boro ace Tom Paul in a 1-0 Lacey win as well as a grand slam and six RBI in a Shore Conference Tournament win over Southern. Thompson was also 5-for-12 with two doubles against Shore Conference All-Division pitchers and 3-for-6 against the three All-Shore pitchers he faced – Jackson Liberty’s Matt Pickus (1-for-3), Pinelands’ Joey Ventresca (1-for-1) and Red Bank Catholic’s Austin Nappi (1-for-2 with a double).
Tyler Bruno, So., Raritan
One of four sophomores on the third team, Bruno enjoyed a breakout season for a Raritan team that won its first outright division title in more than a decade. After a solid regular season as the Rockets’ leadoff-hitting center fielder, Bruno finished the year with two excellent games in the Central Jersey Group III Tournament. He went 1-for-2 with a pair of walks in a win over Arthur L. Johnson and was 3-for-3 with two doubles in a loss to No. 1 seed and eventual sectional champion Governor Livingston.
Adam Schreck, Sr., Catcher, Manasquan
Schreck tied Manalapan’s Steven Bullen for the Shore Conference lead in home runs, half of which came in the senior catcher’s three-homer game against Holmdel in the opening round of the Monmouth County Tournament. Schreck also took Alabama commit Tyler Ras deep during Manasquan’s classic 7-3 win over Middletown North in 12 innings.
Joey Ventresca, Pinelands
Ventresca went 1-3 over his final four starts, but those came against four high-quality opponents in Lacey, Jackson Liberty, Manasquan and Toms River South. He pitched about as well as one could hope to in the last two of those – against Manasquan in the SCT opening round and against Toms River South in the quarterfinals. He pitched a two-hit shutout with nine strikeouts to beat Manasquan, 1-0, then lost 1-0 to the Indians while tossing a five-hitter.
Dylan Taliaferro, Sr., OF/1B/LHP, Neptune
There were many heroes during Neptune’s unlikely run to the Central Jersey Group III final as a No. 11 seed and it’s hard to argue anyone contributed more often and in more ways than Taliaferro did. He pitched four innings to pick up a quarterfinal win at Northern Burlington and later tossed 7 1/3 innings of three-run ball against Allentown in the final – all while going 7-for-14 with three doubles and five runs scored during the four-game run. Taliaferro also reached double-digit strikeouts in a game three times – 11 apiece against CBA and Brick Memorial and 12 against Freehold Township. Oddly enough, all three were Neptune losses despite the fact that Taliaferro’s ERA in the three games was 1.50.
Dan Chiusano, Sr., LHP, Freehold Boro
Although Chiusano did not match the pristine numbers he put up as a junior in 2016, he was still the workhorse for the A North champs and turned in plenty of quality performances. Chiusano won tournament starts against St. Rose, CBA and Freehold Township and pitched well enough to win in the Central Jersey Group IV final against Hunterdon Central. Even factoring in an MCT loss to CBA in which he allowed five runs in four innings, Chiusano pitched to a 2.03 ERA over 31 tournament innings while striking out 32 and walking 10.
Matt Birdsall, Sr., RHP, Raritan
While he was not a one-man band in the Raritan pitching staff, Birdsall had as much to do with the Rockets’ resurgence as any member of the team. He was a rock at the top of the rotation, finishing in the top 15 in the Shore Conference in ERA and third in WHIP. His strikeout-to-walk ration was not quite as eye-popping as the 53-to-1 mark he posted as a junior last year, but Birdsall still put up a 61-to-8 ratio that ranked second in the Shore Conference while also cutting his 2016 ERA (2.78) by more than half.
Chris Price, Jr., RHP, Middletown North
Other pitchers have better strikeout totals and numbers that suggest they were harder to hit, but Price is on the All-Shore team this thanks to his strength of schedule. Two of Price’s four wins came against Red Bank Catholic, against whom the knuckleballer allowed zero runs in 13 1/3 innings. Price also pitched 6 2/3 shutout innings with two hits allowed against CBA, allowed one earned run on four hits over six innings in a no-decision against Wall, and gave up two earned runs in six innings in an SCT loss to No. 1 Toms River North.
Nick DeGennaro, Jr., RHP, Toms River East
Anyone dismissing DeGennaro’s year because he played on a 3-17 team would be overlooking one of the Shore’s hidden gems as far as pitching seasons go. While his ERA was more respectable than spectacular at 2.15, DeGennaro walked just four batters all year while striking out 54 in 39 innings. His worst two outings by earned runs allowed were his first two of the season – one of which was a 4-1 loss to Brick in which he had 10 strikeouts through five shutout innings and the other was against a hot Toms River South lineup. DeGennaro later authored a 13-strikeout performance against Toms River North and left the game due to a 114 pitch count with a 1-0 lead and the tying run on second base with two out in the top of the eighth. The Raiders bullpen walked in the run and the Mariners eventually won, 2-1. DeGennaro’s three wins came against Jackson Memorial, Brick Memorial and Jackson Liberty.
Mike Pirrotta, Sr., RHP, Freehold Twp.
Pirrotta appeared primed for a run at a First-Team All-Shore spot and perhaps even for SSN Pitcher of the Year after his first 35 innings, but a back injury severely restricted him over the final two weeks of the season. After allowing five runs over his first 35 innings, Pirrotta could not make it out of the third inning in either of his Shore Conference Tournament starts against Middletown South and Toms River North. Prior to the injury, Pirrotta scored wins over CBA, Manalapan, Marlboro and Colts Neck while posting an ERA of exactly 1.00 through 35 frames.