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RED BANK - Shane Panzini had already pitched in and won a Shore Conference Tournament championship game prior to Monday's showdown between his Red Bank Catholic baseball team and Middletown South in the SCT title game.

Panzini, however, was not thinking about his experience pitching in a championship win two years ago, but rather an April loss in which he did not pitch.

"They beat us and I didn't pitch in that game and I really wanted to," Panzini said, referencing a 12-10 win by the Eagles on April 22 in one of Red Bank Catholic's three losses this season. "I knew we would see them again and I'm glad we did and I was able to get the start."

With revenge on the mind of Red Bank Catholic and its ace, the Caseys - the No. 3 seed in the tournament - rode another dominant outing by Panzini and a late wave of offense to a 7-0 win over No. 5 Middletown South for their second consecutive Shore Conference Tournament championship.

Red Bank Catholic won the 2019 tournament with Panzini pitching a one-hitter in the championship game against Manalapan. The tournament was not contested in 2020 after the spring sports season in New Jersey was canceled due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

PHOTO GALLERY: Red Bank Catholic vs. Middletown South by Paula Lopez

Red Bank Catholic senior Shane Panzini. (Photo by Paula Lopez)

"This is the first time we have ever done it," Panzini said, eluding to the fact that no single class in RBC baseball history has won two SCT championships during a four-year stretch. "It feels good."

As a sophomore two years ago, Panzini pitched all seven innings and struck out four while walking two in his shutout performance at Lakewood's FirstEnergy Park. On Monday, pitching on his home mound at Count Basie Park, Panzini was every bit as good and, by some measures, even better. Pazini worked six innings, allowed three hits, walked none, hit one batter and struck out 12.

Two of the hits allowed by Panzini were infield singles and the outing marked the first time this season the Caseys right hander issued fewer than two walks in an outing.

"He was efficient," Red Bank Catholic coach Buddy Hausmann said. "He was focused, he looked like he had his velocity and he was really good."

"It's nice to get into a rhythm, especially when people don't want you to get into a rhythm and you still get into a rhythm," Panzini said. "I got into a few 3-2 counts and it seemed like a few guys were looking to walk taking fastballs right down the middle so I just threw them there."

Middletown South mounted its best threat against Panzini in the top of the fourth inning. Sophomore Ben Schild ripped a line-drive single to left, stole second and advanced to third on a throwing error - all with two out. Panzini, however, punched out the next batter on a 3-2 fastball, denying Middletown South a run in the Eagles' only chance with a runner reaching beyond first base.

Panzini had an effective slider Sunday, with six of his 12 strikeouts ending with a slider.

"I noticed in the first inning, they (Middletown South) were choking up and trying to jump on the fastball," Panzini said. "So I knew I had to work backwards in order to put them away."

Middletown South senior starter Matt Pontari matched zeroes with Panzini for the first three innings and even put up an extra zero in the hit column during that stretch. Pontari pitched a no-hitter his last time out on May 23 in a round-of-16 win over Colts Neck and made his return to the mound picking up where he left off early in Monday's game. He struck out the side around a walk in the first inning, stranded the bases loaded in the second and posted a one-two-three third to open up his outing.

PHOTO GALLERY: Red Bank Catholic vs. Middletown South by Paula Lopez

Middletown South senior Matt Pontari. (Photo by Paula Lopez)

"I got on them (the team) a little bit because we didn't have a ground out," Hausmann said. "It was all fly outs and strikeouts and we weren't putting any pressure on them to make plays."

In the bottom of the fourth, Red Bank Catholic finally got something going. Freshman left fielder Sean Griggs dropped down a bunt and beat it out before Pontari could get a handle on it after pouncing off the mound.

After a walk by junior second baseman Nico Gonzalez, RBC sophomore catcher Shane Andrus hit a ground ball to third. Middletown South junior Evan Wood tagged third for the second out but his throw to first got away and Gonzalez scored from first with the game's first run. Senior shortstop Sean Ettore then followed with an RBI single to extend the Caseys lead to 2-0.

Sophomore first baseman Frank Scrivanic pushed the lead to 3-0 in the bottom of the fifth with an RBI triple to the left-centerfield gap, chasing home pinch-runner Dan DeFlores. Pontari, though, avoided further damage with three strikeouts in the inning.

PHOTO GALLERY: Red Bank Catholic vs. Middletown South by Paula Lopez

Red Bank Catholic sophomore Frank Scrivanic. Photo by (Paula Lopez)

DeFlores entered the game after a strange sequence involving RBC senior starting centerfielder and leadoff hitter Anthony Borriello. On a 3-1 pitch in the fifth, Borriello swung and missed and dropped to one knee in visible discomfort. He gathered himself, returned to the box, fouled off the next pitch and again showed significant discomfort while favoring his left shoulder.

Once again, Borriello - a football standout heading to Wake Forest as a preferred walk-on on the gridiron - got back into the box and this time, he took a pitch inside for ball four. Excited to gut out the pain and earn a walk, he attempted to fling his bat at the dugout fence to fire up his team but instead flung it over the dugout and into the crowd.

The home plate umpire removed him from the game, but did not clarify whether or not Borriello was ejected or restricted to the bench, with the distinction an ejection comes with a two-game suspension. After the game, Hausman expressed concern whether or not Borriello would be physically able to play during the remainder of the week and beyond anyway because of the shoulder injury.

RBC broke the game open with four runs in the sixth, highlighted by RBI hits by Scrivanic and sophomore Alex Stanyek. After DeFlores plated a run with a sacrifice fly, Scrivanic singled home another for a 5-0 RBC lead. Stanyek capped the scoring with a two-out, two-run triple to the fence in right-center.

Scrivanic finished 2-for-3 with two RBI, Stanyek drove in two more with the triple and Griggs was a catalyst with the bunt single and also drew two walks. Throw in sophomore catcher Shane Andrus going 1-for-3 with a fielder's choice groundout that led to a run and RBC's four underclass starters were 5-for-12 with three walks, two triples and four RBI.

Stanyek also represented the underclassmen on the mound by pitching the seventh inning and mowing down the Eagles on 10 pitches with two strikeouts to set off the celebration.

PHOTO GALLERY: Red Bank Catholic vs. Middletown South by Paula Lopez

Red Bank Catholic sophomore Alex Stanyek. (Photo by Paula Lopez)

Led by Panzini, the senior class also won the day for RBC. Ettore delivered a clutch, two-out RBI single in the fourth, Borriello gritted through his injury to draw a key walk and DeFlores scored a run and drove one in with a sacrifice fly after replacing him.

"As a senior, you want to leave your mark, you want to do something special and that was something we talked about going into this year," Ettore said. "Winning a championship two years ago was a great way for the seniors to go out and we were just happy to be a part of it as sophomores. Now that we are seniors, we wanted to win another one to add to our legacy and now, we want to keep it going."

PHOTO GALLERY: Red Bank Catholic vs. Middletown South by Paula Lopez

Red Bank Catholic seniors Shane Panzini (left) and Sean Ettore (right). (Photo by Paula Lopez)

With Panzini throwing 85 pitches through six innings, Red Bank Catholic coach Buddy Hausmann opted to close the game with Stanyek on the mound to open up the possibility of Panzini pitching again on Friday in the Caseys' NJSIAA Tournament opener against St. Joseph of Metuchen.

"(Hausmann) came up to me after the sixth and said, 'I'm going to give the seventh to Stanyek,'" Panzini said. "Part of me was like, 'Oh, come on.' The other part thought, 'I did my job, I gave my team a chance to win, and let's go from there.'"

"We know how lucky we are to be able to play behind Shane," Ettore said. "It's a big-game atmosphere every time he pitches and it's fun to be a part of that. If we have a chance to get to a big game with him on the mound, we like our chances. We like our chances with all of our pitchers, but especially when Shane is on the mound."

By staying under 91 pitches, Panzini will be eligible to pitch with three days of rest and will be permitted to throw up to 65 pitches in the game. NJSIAA Pitch County rules state pitchers are allowed a maximum of 150 pitches over five calendar days and 110 within an individual game.

"At 3-0, I wasn't going to do it," Hausmann said. "Once we tacked on, I felt good about it. I had Alex throwing just in case. Shane wanted to come back out, and yes, you are supposed look at today and not worry about tomorrow, but it was in the back of my head and we might need him."

Red Bank Catholic is now the only team in the Shore Conference with the chance to win every championship possible in a season. The Caseys can clinch a share of the Class A Central championship by defeating Raritan on Tuesday, then will begin their pursuit of the Monmouth County Tournament championship on Thursday against Raritan again and the NJSIAA Non-Public championship Friday against St. Joseph.

Only two Shore Conference teams have ever won every championship: the 2004 Wall team and Christian Brothers Academy's 2015 squad that finished No. 1 in the state.

"We talked about it at practice yesterday for the first time. It was Teddy's thing" Hausmann said, attributing the pep talk to assistant coach and longtime Monmouth Regional skipper Ted Jarmusz. "He kind of laid it out and told them at this point, you have a chance for five (championships). It clicked for me for the first time yesterday too because we're always just trying to go day-by-day."

"This was the first step toward getting five (championships)," Panzini said. "We won today, tomorrow we go for the division. If we win get get two and hopefully we can get five."

PHOTO GALLERY: Red Bank Catholic vs. Middletown South by Paula Lopez

Photo by Paula Lopez

 

Box Score

Red Bank Catholic 7, Middletown South 0

1234567RHE
Midd South (15-7)0000000032
RBC (18-3)000214X760

Pitching

Middletown SouthIPHRERBBSOPC
Matt Pontari (L, 1-2)544367111
Evan Wood12300020
Red Bank CatholicIPHRERBBSOPC
Shane Panzini (W, 7-0)630001285
Alex Stanyek10000210

Top Hitters

Middletown SouthGame Stats
Ben Schild1-3, SB
Matt Pontari1-3
Tom DeMarco1-3
Red Bank CatholicGame Stats
Frank Scrivanic2-3, 3B, R, 2 RBI
Alex Stanyek1-4, 3B, 2 RBI
Sean Ettore1-1, R, RBI, SB
Sean Griggs1-2, 2 BB
Shane Andrus1-3