Baseball – Jersey Mike’s Week 1 Team of the Week: Middletown South
Middletown South was one of the Shore Conference's best offensive teams in 2018 but the Eagles finished 11-13 because of a pitching staff that had trouble recording outs.
In the early part of 2019, the offense is still clicking despite some injury issues and now, the pitching has held up its end. The result was five straight wins to open the season and the first Jersey Mike's Team of the Week Award in 2019.
The Eagles opened the year with a pair of high-scoring wins over Marlboro by a combined total of 22-9. Two sophomores came through with wins on the mound - Jack Shea winning the opener in relief and Mike Keenan picking up the win in game two - a 9-6 win over the Mustangs.
Middletown South's improved pitching staff really opened eyes over the next two games by helping the Eagles win three games against two teams ranked in the top 20 in the state by NJ.com to open the season.
First, seniors Jack Roesch and Jack Lisowski helped pitch Middletown South past Red Bank Catholic - currently No. 3 in the Shore Sports Network Top 10 - by a 5-3 margin on the Caseys' home field.
The Eagles then opened the next week with back-to-back wins over No. 9 CBA, which opened the season at No. 5 in the Shore Sports Network Top 10 before running into Middletown South. Shea and Keenan again came through on the mound, with Shea earning the win in the 7-5 win at Middletown South and Keenan pitching six strong frames in an 8-2 win at the Academy.
While Middletown South's pitching has been the improved part of its team, the lineup has led the way at the plate and in the field. What makes Middletown South's start even more impressive is it beat Red Bank Catholic and CBA without senior catcher Trevor Brey and is playing without All-Shore shortstop Aurelio Licata indefinitely due to a shoulder injury.
Brey returned for the second CBA game and launched a two-run home run off Rutgers commit Braedin Hunt to give the Eagles a 4-0 lead and send them on their way to a series sweep.
Juniors Chris O'Connor, Anthony Esposito, Jack Sheridan, Danny Minze and Chris Lotito have all had big moments during the start to the season, as have seniors Rob Zega and Jack Kinsella.
The Eagles got a wake-up call to end last week when Freehold Township took advantage of 14 walks in a 6-3 win - Middletown South's first of the season. They will look to get back to their winning ways this week in the second game vs. Freehold Township, followed by a showdown against No. 6 Manalapan.