Baseball – Jersey Mike’s Team of the Week: CBA
The Christian Brothers Academy baseball program is no stranger to Monmouth County Tournament championships, having won eight of them prior to this season.
It was only three years ago the Colts last claimed the title, but with no more links to that team on the current roster and a rocky start to the 2019 season, the championship days at CBA seemed distant as recently as three weeks ago.
Over the last two weeks, however, this CBA group showed they still play in a program that remains a force to be reckoned with come tournament time.
On Tuesday night at FirstEnery Park in Lakewood, CBA defeated Ocean, 8-1, to win its ninth Monmouth County Tournament title in program history and fourth in the last six years. That feat also earned CBA the latest Jersey Mike's Team of the Week honor.
CBA opened the season as the No. 5 team in the Shore Sports Network Top 10 but stumbled to a 2-3 start with a loss at Howell and back-to-back losses to Middletown South.
In the process, however, the Colts found a new ace. Junior Pat Reilly struck out 16 in a two-hit shutout in his first varsity start - a 4-0 win over Allentown - and has proved since then that the dominant outing was no fluke. He pitched six shutout innings with 12 strikeouts to beat top-seeded Wall and reining Shore Sports Network Pitcher of the Year Trey Dombroski, 1-0, in the MCT quarterfinals, then overcame some messy mound conditions to strikeout four in seven innings in a 5-2 win over Manasquan on Saturday.
In that win over Manasquan, Reilly also launched the go-ahead two-run home run in the fifth inning to break a 1-1 tie.
On top of Reilly's emergence, senior Joe Escandon and junior Braedin Hunt have rounded into form alongside him. Hunt closed out the win over Manasquan with three strong innings and Escandon took a perfect game into the sixth inning in a complete-game effort vs. Ocean in the final. The senior left-hander also turned in a huge start in a 3-1 win over Manalapan on May 2 - one day after CBA dropped a 15-inning marathon against the Braves.
The depth in the pitching staff has looked more imposing by the week as well. Junior Declan Hoverter pitched a perfect game against Long Branch on April 29, senior Evan Mahns threw six scoreless innings in the 15-inning loss to Manalapan, and senior Anthony Pillari was sharp at the end of that game despite being charged with the winning run.
The senior double-play combination of shortstop Tommy DiTullio and Anthony Celestre has also played well during this stretch, with Celestre delivering a key double in each of CBA's wins over Manasquan and Ocean. DiTullio drove in one run in every game last week, plus two more in the MCT championship on a two-run single in the third that made the score 3-0.
Juniors Mason Wolf, Sean Arnott and Hunt all had big moments during the week as well, giving CBA plenty of hope that this could be first of a promising two-year run.
2019 Team of the Week Winners