Baseball – Top-of-the-Order Trio Leads the Way in Senior All-Star Victory
LAKEWOOD - An all-star game hero can show himself at any point of the game and it just so happened that in the Shore Baseball Coaches Association Senior All-Star Game Monday night at FirstEnergy Park in Lakewood, the game's impact players stepped up to the plate right away.
The American All-Stars beat the National squad, 15-9, Tuesday behind a perfect 6-for-6 combined day at the plate by the top three hitters in its starting lineup - Central catcher Tom Ruscitti, Ocean center fielder Jack D'Auria and Monmouth Regional first baseman Ricky Voss.
All three hitters went 2-for-2 with a walk, with Ruscitti and Voss each crushing an opposite-field double and Ruscitti and D'Auria also scoring three runs and stealing two bags apiece. Voss, meanwhile, drove in two runs with a double in the four-run second inning and D'Auria plated the game's first run after Ruscitti walked and stole third to jumpstart the American's three-run first.
Ruscitti led off each of the first three innings and started a two-run third by blasted a double that one-hopped the wall in left field. The American team batting once through the order in each of the first two innings, aided by the fact that its lineup batted only eight players to accommodate playing time in the laid-back showcase.
Ruscitti and Voss were two of the top offensive producers in the Shore Conference this season, with Ruscitti leading the Shore in home runs with 10 and Voss finishing second in RBI with 38. D'Auria also had a standout season for the Spartans, reaching base at a .510 clip while stealing 15 bases.
Manasquan outfielder Tommy Antonucci also went 2-for-3 with an RBI out of the starting No. 5 spot in the order and cleanup hitter Jon Michael Rotondo of Red Bank Catholic scored a run and drove one in with a sacrifice fly.
The American team later added two unearned runs in the top of the fourth inning to extend its lead to 11-3. The scoring outburst came against two all-division pitchers and a starter from arguably the Shore's top pitching staff. Toms River East ace and Shore Sports Network Second Team All-Shore right-hander Nick DeGennaro surrendered three runs in the first, Toms River North right-hander Mike Centeno gave up four runs - three earned - in the second, and Manalapan's all-A-North right-hander E.J. Melendez gave up four runs in two innings, including the two unearned in the fourth.
In the final four innings, it was a collection of players from the Shore's small-school division - Class B Central - who helped nail down the win. Keansburg shortstop Justin Alessi went 2-for-2 with a two-run single, Keyport outfielder Colin Fernandez was 1-for-2 with an RBI single and Point Beach right-hander Chris Russo struck out two in a hitless sixth inning after allowing an unearned run on a three-base error leading off the frame.
Alessi and Fernandez recorded back-to-back singles in the ninth off Jackson Memorial closer and All-Shore Third-Teamer Mike Dimino, with Fernandez's single to right plating a run. Ranney outfielder Kiran Shah, who singled in his first at-bat, followed with a lineout to shortstop in a bid to make it three straight B Central hits off Dimino.
Raritan right-hander and SSN First-Team All-Shore selection Zack Johnston earned the win with a scoreless second inning that included two strikeouts and just one baserunner, which reached on an error. Red Bank Catholic right-hander and All-Shore Third-Teamer Blaise Panzini got the start and allowed an unearned run after being spotted a three-run lead.
Johnston and Russo were two of four American pitchers two pitch one hitless inning with two strikeouts. Long Branch right-hander Matt Mincieli was the only one to record a perfect inning and Middletown South right-hander Joe Sprake was the only one of the four to issue a walk.
Howell right-hander Mike Wynne also struck out two in the third inning and Raritan right-hander Dan VanMeerbeke pitched a perfect fourth for the American side.
Eight of the 24 runs scored on Monday were unearned thanks to 10 combined errors and two passed balls by the two teams.
The National team trailed by as many as 14-4 but cut the deficit to 14-9 with five runs in the bottom of the eighth inning. The rally included only one run-scoring hit - an RBI infield single by Brick outfielder John Coppola.
Marlboro shortstop and SSN All-Shore Third Team member Justin Levito highlighted a two-run third with an RBI double while Rumson-Fair Haven catcher and All-Shore Second-Teamer Robby Smith accounted for the other National extra-base hit - a long, one-out double to left in the top of the fifth that fell by the wayside when Manchester right-hander Jagger Karaska pitched around the trouble.
Toms River North teammates Alex Klalo and Justin Schaff each went 1-for-1 with a walk and a run scored, with Klalo also chipping in an RBI on a sacrifice fly. Toms River South outfielder T.J. Scuderi was also 1-for-1 with a hit-by-pitch and two runs scored.
Toms River South right-hander Nico Gonnella was the only National pitcher to record a perfect outing, striking out two while retiring the side in order in the fifth. Wall right-hander Jason Horowitz did the same in the top of the sixth before surrendering three runs in the seventh, two of which were earned. Brick Memorial senior Nick Stephan pitched a scoreless eighth inning with one hit allowed and one strikeout.
American 15, National 9
|Zack Johnston (W)||1||0||0||0||0||2||15|
|Nick DeGennaro (L)||1||2||3||3||2||0||41|
|Tom Ruscitti||2-2, 2B, 3 R, 2 SB|
|Ricky Voss||2-2, 2B, 2 R, 2 RBI|
|Jack D’Auria||2-2, 3 R, RBI, 2 SB|
|Tommy Antonucci||2-3, RBI|
|Brendan Doherty||1-1, RBI|
|Colin Fernandez||1-2, RBI|
|Justin Alessi||2-2, 2 RBI|
|T.J. Brewer||1-3, 2B, R|
|Alex DiBona||1-2, R|
|T.J. Scuderi||1-1, 2 R, SB|
|Justin Schaff||1-1, R|
|Justin Levito||1-2, 2B, RBI|
|Alex Klalo||1-1, R, RBI, SB|
|Robby Smith||1-1, 2B|
|John Coppola||1-2, R, SB|