NEPTUNE -- Matawan senior right-handed pitcher Chris Gendi was not at his sharpest Thursday's in his team's season-opener. The temperature was barely above 40 degrees with a light wind and overcast skies to go with a muddy pitchers mound that played with Gendi's footing throughout his three innings of work.

The substandard playing conditions were secondary to the fact that the season was finally underway and for Gendi and his Huskies squad, it is a much-anticipated season. Matawan returns all but one starter from a team that looked ready to break out at the end of 2023.

Matawan senior Andrew Gendi. (Photo: Tom Smith |
Matawan senior Andrew Gendi. (Photo: Tom Smith |

So, when Gendi wasn't at this best and the conditions weren't at their best Thursday, it did not matter. Matawan still found a way to dominate.

Junior Bryan McCartin drove in a run in each of his first three at-bats while Gendi and fellow senior Brandon Falco each added a two-run extra-base hit as the Huskies broke open the game in the third inning and topped the Scarlet Fliers,14-2, in five innings.

McCartin opened the scoring with an RBI single in the top of the first on a first-pitch hit-and-run, then did the same in the top of the third to break a 2-2 tie. Neptune had tied the game on an RBI double into the rightfield corner by sophomore Hunter Morgan in the bottom of the second, but Matawan cut down the go-ahead run at the plate with a relay.

Gendi -- who pitched three innings to earn the win -- smoked a two-run triple that one-hopped the fence in right-centerfield to make it 6-2 in the top of the third. Senior Jack Sassa made it 7-2 with an RBI single in the fifth and McCartin followed with a sacrifice fly to left to push the lead to 8-2.

Falco tacked on two more with a two-run homer over the leftfield fence to extend the Matawan lead to 10-2.

Junior Colin McGeehan delivered a two-out, two-run single in the top of the fifth to make it 13-2, bringing the 10-run rule into play.

Matawan junior Bryan McCartin. (Photo: Tom Smith |
Matawan junior Bryan McCartin. (Photo: Tom Smith |

Extra-base hits were in relatively short supply for Matawan in 2023, so the two well-struck balls by Gendi and Falco Thursday were a welcome site. The Huskies hit a combined 39 extra-base hits in 27 games in 2023, so the early pace of two in five innings with a lineup of hitters who come back a year older and stronger is an encouraging start.

There are no such questions about Matawan's pitching, which is led by four pitchers -- Falco, Gendi, senior Mark Kovach and junior Jayce Thoroughman -- who combined for 168 innings and a cumulative ERA of 2.33 in 2023. According to Huskies coach Bobby Carnovsky, all four were available heading into Thursday's game and all but Falco took the ball on Thursday.

Kovach recorded four outs on 25 pitches in order to maintain his eligibility for Friday in a scheduled game at Ocean, while Thoroughman needed only 13 to finish off the final two hitters Thursday with a pair of strikeouts.

Gendi struggled with his footing due to mud caking in his spikes and issued four walks while hitting also hitting a batter. He countered that with five strikeouts and by the end of his 58-pitch outing, the senior right-hander had allowed just one earned run.

Matawan finished off Thursday's win while saving Falco, who is the returning ace of the staff following a selection to the 2023 Shore Sports Network All-Shore Second Team as a junior. The NJIT-bound right-hander is set to start at Ocean, where he will look to build on a 2023 campaign in which he led the Shore Conference in innings and was second in the conference in strikeouts.

Matawan senior Brandon Falco. (Photo: Tom Smith |
Matawan senior Brandon Falco. (Photo: Tom Smith |
Matawan (1-0, 1-0)20444XX14111
Neptune (0-1, 0-1)11000XX241


Andrew Gendi (W, 1-0)33214558
Mark Kovach1.11000125
Jayce Thoroughman0.20000213
Aedan Martin (L, 0-1)35771469
Trevor Rummel0.23332130
Alex Soto1.13401141

Top Hitters

MatawanGame Stats
Bryan McCartin2-3, 2 R, 3 RBI, 3 SB
Jack Sassa1-1, 2 BB, HBP, 3 R, RBI, 2 SB
Mark Kovach2-3, HBP, 3 R
Brandon Falco2-4, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI
Andrew Gendi1-2, 3B, 2 RBI
Colin McGeehan1-1, 2 RBI
Chris Galasso1-3, R, 2 SB
NeptuneGame Stats
Hunter Morgan1-2, 2B, BB, RBI
Carl Christie1-2, HBP, R, 2 SB
Jack Gamba-Ellis1-2, BB


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