Baseball – TR South, North Square Off in OCT Final
Ocean County Tournament
At Toms River East High School, 7 p.m.
No. 3 Toms River South (18-7, 10-4 in Class A South)
No. 4 Toms River North (15-6, 9-5 in A South)
Two Toms River rivals square off Thursday night at a neutral site in Toms River with the Ocean County Tournament championship on the line. Toms River South and coach Ken Frank will seek their 13th overall OCT title and first since 2010. Toms River North, meanwhile, last won the OCT in 2013, which ended an 11-year title drought at the time.
The Mariners are hoping to extend Toms River South's drought by beating the Indians for a second straight time. The two teams split the regular-season series, with Toms River North winning the more recent of the meetings, 3-2, at FirstEnergy Park in Lakewood.
At 7.76 runs per game, the Mariners are the second-highest scoring team in the Shore Conference behind only St. Rose, but have scored just three runs in two games against Toms River South. Senior third baseman and Oklahoma State recruit Joey Rose has led the offense all year and currently leads the Shore Conference with 10 home runs and 35 RBI, while both he and shortstop Mike Nyisztor are hitting well over .400, with Nyisztor hovering around the .500 mark.
While most pitchers have been unable to contain Toms River North - including Monroe right-hander and North Carolina recruit Robbie Peto as well as Barnegat left-hander and likely top-10 MLB Draft pick Jason Groome - Toms River South right-hander Trevor Wagner has been the exception. Wagner no-hit the Mariners in early April and threw two more hitless innings against them in the 3-2 loss. In total, Wagner has pitched nine scoreless innings against Toms River North without allowing a hit. In those nine innings, he has struck out 11 and walked five.
Both Wagner and left-hander Justin Fall will be available for Toms River South, with Fall having just pitched 1 1/3 innings to close out Toms River South's Shore Conference Tournament win over Keyport on Wednesday. Wagner last pitched Saturday, when he fired a two-hit shutout in the OCT semifinals in a 1-0 win over Brick.
Toms River North will have top arms sophomore Jared Bellissimo and junior Brendan Mullins available. Bellissimo allowed only two runs to Toms River South in the no-hitter by Wagner, while Mullins pitched 2 1/3 innings of scoreless relief against Toms River South to earn the save on April 27. Bellissimo also has a no-hitter to his credit this season.
Thursday's game could turn out to be the third of four meetings between the teams. If both Toms River North and Toms River South win their respective Shore Conference Tournament round-of-16 games - and the seeds suggest both should - they would meet for a fourth time next Wednesday.