Baseball – Group IV Championship Preview: Middletown South, Montclair Battle for Title
NJSIAA Group IV Championship Game
Saturday, June 19, 2021
At Veterans Park, Hamilton, 10 a.m.
Middletown South vs. Montclair
Middletown South (21-9)
Top Pitchers Available
Ben Schild, So., RHP (7-0, 1 Save, 0.70 ERA, 49.2 IP, 29 H, 16 BB, 76 SO)
Matt Pontari, Sr., RHP (3-2, 2.40 ERA, 35 IP, 26 H, 21 BB, 40 SO)
Evan Wood, Jr., RHP (4-1, 5 Saves, 1.84 ERA, 38.2 IP, 38 H, 6 BB, 32 SO)
Patrick Eagone, Sr., LF (.400/.534/.533, 7 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 29 R, 17 RBI, 14 SB)
Joe Stanzione, Sr., 1B (.330/.427/.627, 8 2B, 6 HR, 23 R, 29 RBI)
Matt Pontari, Sr., RF/RHP (.341/.432/.545, 8 2B, 2 3B, 2 HR, 20 R, 21 RBI, 4 SB)
Evan Wood, Jr., 3B/RHP (.345/.387/.465, 7 2B, 15 R, 16 RBI)
Greg Trezza, Sr., C (.322/.384/.425, 4 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 20 R, 16 RBI, 7 SB)
Ben Schild, So., RHP/RF (.267/.316/.378, 7 2B, 1 HR, 12 R, 16 RBI)
Road to the Final
CJ IV First Round: No. 3 Middletown South 3, No. 14 Montgomery 0
Sophomore Ben Schild pitched a one-hit shutout with 10 strikeouts and three walks to outduel Rutgers commit Cole Hansen. Sophomore DH Will Christopher was 2-for-3 with an RBI while senior first baseman Joe Stanzione and junior Ryan St. Clair each drove in a run for the Eagles.
CJ IV Quarterfinals: No. 3 Middletown South 5, No. 6 Freehold Township 3
Senior Matt Pontari overcame a three-run first inning to pitch six strong innings and gave himself the lead with a tiebreaking solo home run in the bottom of the fourth inning to give Middletown South a 4-3 lead. Pontari and senior centerfielder Tom DeMarco each finished 3-for-3, with Ponatari also adding a double.
After Freehold Township scored three runs off Pontari in the top of the first, the Eagles came right back with three in the bottom of the inning. Junior Evan Wood had an RBI single in the three-run first inning and pitched a scoreless seventh to earn the save.
CJ IV Semifinals: No. 3 Middletown South 12, No. 2 Hunterdon Central 7
Schild threw four scoreless innings with six strikeouts over two days and the Eagles bats backed him up to pick up a weather-impacted road win over the Red Devils. The game was suspended after the bottom of the first inning due to rain and lightning on June 8, then delayed for more than an hour at the end of the fourth inning the next day.
Senior Patrick Eagone came through with a big two-run double to give Middletown South a 4-0 lead in the top of the fourth and Schild later blasted his first career home run as part of a five-run seventh inning that stretched Middletown South’s lead to 12-3.
CJ IV Championship: No. 3 Middletown South 2, No. 9 Marlboro 0
Pontari picked up where he left off in his sectional quarterfinal start, throwing a six-hit shutout with nine strikeouts and a season-low one walk to pitch the Eagles past Marlboro and ace Mark Capell for the program’s first NJSIAA sectional championship since 2011. DeMarco drove in the first run of the game on a single and the second run scored on a throwing error on a steal of third base.
Group IV Semifinals: Middletown South 4, Clearview 3
Trailing 3-1 in the bottom of the sixth, Middletown South tied the game with one big swing and some small ball. Stanzione blasted his second opposite-field solo home run of the game to chop the deficit to 3-2 and Schild scored on a two-out, 0-2 suicide squeeze attempt that ended with a ball in the dirt and Schild making it to the plate with the tying run.
Middletown South then got out of the top of the seventh inning by throwing three runners out at the plate to account for the three outs in the inning, which set up a dramatic finish in the bottom of the inning. The Eagles loaded the bases with none out and after a strikeout by Clearview ace Julian Costa, Stanzione laced a line drive into the right-centerfield gap to scoring the winning run and send the Eagles to the group final round for the first time since 1999.
Final Appearances: 1979, 1996, 1999 (Group III)
Group Championships: 1996
Top Pitchers Available
Anthony Anzaldi, So., LHP (8-0, 2.14 ERA, 49 IP, 43 H, 11 BB, 56 SO)
Jeremy Sacks, Sr., LHP (3-2, 1.78 ERA, 39.1 IP, 36 H, 10 BB, 41 SO)
Sean Brown, Sr., RHP (6-0, 1 Save, 1.75 ERA, 28 IP, 20 H, 9 BB, 29 SO)
Sean Brown, Sr., SS
Jeremy Sacks, Sr., 1B/OF
Amar Francis, Sr., OF
Nick Levine, Jr., 2B/SS
Road to the Final
North 1 Group IV First Round: No. 1 Montclair 10, No. 16 Kearny 0
Sophomore Anthony Anzaldi pitched a five-inning two-hitter with 11 strikeouts to spark the Mounties to a 10-run win.
North 1 Group IV Quarterfinals: No. 1 Montclair 7, No. 8 West Orange 0
Senior Jeremy Sacks followed up Anzaldi’s performance with six innings of shutout ball in which the right-hander allowed three hits and a walk with five strikeouts.
North 1 Group IV Quarterfinals: No. 1 Montclair 6, No. 5 Passaic Tech 5
Sacks went 2-for-3 with a double and two RBI as Montclair scored three runs in both the fifth and sixth innings to pull out a win over Passaic Tech. Anzaldi pitched six innings to improve to 8-0, allowing three runs on five hits and a walk with seven strikeouts.
North 1 Group IV Quarterfinals: No. 1 Montclair 11, No. 10 Livingston 1
Senior Sean Brown belted a home run in a 10-run third inning and junior Nick Levine cranked one to end the game in the bottom of the sixth clinch a win over Livingston and secure Montclair its first sectional championship since 1964. Sacks allowed one unearned run over six innings, allowing three hits and a walk while striking out six.
Group IV Semifinals: Montclair 3, Ridge 2
Ethan Daddabbo hit a game-winning RBI single with two out in the bottom of the seventh to send the Mounties past tournament Cinderella Ridge and into the Group IV championship game. Sacks crushed a two-run home run to establish a 2-0 lead for Montclair before Ridge – which won the North Jersey Section 2, Group IV championship as a No. 10 seed – chipped away and tied the game.
Group Final Appearances: None
Championships: 1959, 1961, 1963, 1964 (North 1 Group IV champions; group finals were not contested)