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A whopping five baseball teams wrapped up division championships, Freehold Township won the biggest lacrosse game in its history in heart-stopping fashion, three other teams punched their tickets to the Shore Conference Boys Lacrosse Tournament semifinals, and a Matawan football star got his first FBS offer as a freshman.

Other than that, not much else happened on Thursday.

Let's get to all the great performances and then break down the action after that.

Thursday's Top 10 performers: 

Billy Sasso, Sr., M, Freehold Township

Sasso played the game of his life when the Patriots needed it most, scoring a game-high five goals, including the game-winning goal with 16.5 seconds left in overtime in a 9-8 upset of third-seeded CBA that put Freehold Township into the Shore Conference Tournament semifinals for the first time in history. Sasso added an assist and also had 13 groundballs and went 11-for-19 on face-offs to help the Patriots beat CBA for just the second time in history.

Brandon Martorano, Jr., C, Christian Brothers Academy

(Photo by Bill Normile)

The North Carolina recruit helped the Colts bring home a share of the Class A North title by going 3-for-3, including a three-run homer, to back up ace Luca Dalatri in a 5-1 win over Manalapan that also ended a seven-game winning streak by the Braves.

Dylan Jinks, Sr., A, Southern

(Photo by Cliff Lavelle).

The Rams' star hit a mind-boggling career milestone when he registered six goals and an assist in a 15-4 win over Ocean in the SCT quarterfinals to reach 400 career points and put unbeaten Southern into the SCT semifinals for the third straight season.

Jon Martin, So., P, Middletown South

The Eagles' sophomore stepped up in a huge spot, throwing a complete-game four-hitter, striking out two and walking two, while not allowing a run after the first inning in a 5-1 win over Howell that clinched a share of the Class A North overall title. It also marked Middletown South's 14th straight win and its 16th win in its last 17 games.

Nic Chirichello, Jr., P, Brick

Chirichello did not allow an earned run in six-plus innings, allowing only two hits while striking out five and walking two, to help the Green Dragons upset Toms River South, 4-3, to qualify for the SCT.

Doug Molnar, Sr., P, Toms River North

Molnar struck out 10 in a complete-game win as the Mariners topped Lacey 10-5 to clinch the outright Class A South title, their first since 2008.

John Corbett, Sr., P, Barnegat

John Corbett had his over-the-top curveball working on Thursday. (Photo by Matt Manley)

Corbett's strong all-around game helped the Bengals win their first outright division title in program history with an 8-5 victory over Jackson Liberty. Corbett allowed three earned runs on seven hits while walking two and striking out nine to help the Bengals capture the Class B South crown. He also went 2-for-2 with a run scored at the plate.

Griffin Schultz, Jr., A, Rumson-FH

Schultz helped the four-time defending SCT champs roll back into the semifinals with three goals and two assists in an 18-4 win over Barnegat in the quarterfinals.

Kyle LeBlanc, So., D, Manasquan

LeBlanc forced seven turnovers to lead a strong defensive effort against a Jackson Liberty team that had just scored 15 goals in an upset of Howell in the SCT. The Warriors stifled the Lions with a 7-3 win to advance to Saturday's SCT semifinals.


Clearly, Freehold Township was the headliner of the SCT quarterfinals with its 9-8 overtime thriller against CBA in which Billy Sasso put home the game-winner with 16 seconds left in the extra period.

Freehold Township-CBA photo gallery by Ray Richardson

It was interesting reading Bob Badders' game story that Sasso's winning goal wasn't any kind of set play. It was basically the Michael Jordan "give him the ball and get out of the way" with Freehold Township putting the fate of the game into its best player's hands, and he delivered the biggest win in program history.

Billy Sasso's game-winning goal in overtime touched off a wild celebration of the biggest win in Freehold Township boys lacrosse history. (Photo by Ray Richardson)

He was far from the only hero for the Patriots, as Bob details in his story. Also coming up clutch in the fourth quarter and overtime was goalie Matt Schroepfer, who was sensational with 18 saves overall. The question now is whether Freehold Township can take that momentum to slay Goliath, four-time defending SCT champion Rumson-Fair Haven, in Saturday's semifinals at Toms River East.

The Bulldogs rolled 18-4 over a Barnegat team coming off an upset of RBC. Rumson is on its own mission, as it tries to make history with a fifth straight SCT title and avenge a regular-season loss to top-seeded Southern. The Rams dispatched of an Ocean team in the midst of its best season ever with a 15-4 win in which senior Dylan Jinks reached the rare 400-point milestone for his career. Southern is on a quest to become the first Ocean County team to ever win the SCT.

Also, a sophomore-laden Manasquan team will take its shot at Southern a 7-3 win over Jackson Liberty for the Warriors' second win over the Lions this season. Manasquan is definitely a team of the future along with a young CBA squad, so the Warriors will get to test themselves against a senior-laden Southern team that enters as the clear favorite.

Finally, while it wasn't an SCT game, St. John Vianney made a piece of program history yesterday by beating RBC for the first time, 6-5, on a goal by Connor Zielaznicki.


Barnegat (B South), Toms River North (A South) and Mater Dei Prep (B Central) all wrapped up outright division titles on Thursday, while CBA and Middletown South each won to tie for the overall Class A North title.

None of them were any type of total shock, as all were predicted in the top three in the division in the preseason by our own Matt Manley. Barnegat may have lost future MLB draft pick Jason Groome to IMG Academy in Florida, but the expectations were still high for the Bengals, who delivered by beating Jackson Liberty twice this week to claim their first outright division title.

Barnegat players mob John Corbett on the mound after the senior completed an 8-5 win over Jackson Liberty to win the Class B South title Thursday. (Photo by Matt Manley)

Their offense stepped up in the biggest part of the season to back up standout starters John Corbett and Seamus Brazill, who delivered strong performances of their own under pressure. The Bengals are still alive in the Ocean County Tournament and will host a semifinal game tomorrow against Brick Memorial, so they have a chance to have a huge season. Head coach Dan McCoy has taken the baton from Tom Sutaris and made this program a perennial winner. McCoy, whose son Mark is a former Bengals star who pitches for Rutgers, is known as a coach whose specialty is developing pitchers, but Barnegat has also improved its offense this year behind standouts like catcher Nik Fraim and Rutgers recruit Aaron McLaughlin.

CBA was the heavy favorite to win Class A North and lived up to it, although Middletown South did a great job in forcing a co-championship. The Eagles are the hottest team in the Shore with 14 straight wins. Once their offense caught up to their quality pitching, they have been unbeatable. Toms River North is another loaded team expected to do big things, and the Mariners delivered by winning a division that is perennially one of the Shore's best.

Mater Dei Prep already had its big win on Tuesday with its thriller over St. Rose, so Thursday was more a formality in a 10-0 win over Ranney that made sure the Seraphs would claim the championship all for themselves. Now the main challenge will be making a run in Non-Public South B, where St. Rose looks to be the No. 1 seed, so it could be those two once again slugging it out for a title.

In one individual note, Freehold Township's John Carroll set the single-season school record with his 11th double in a win over Chatham yesterday. The Patriots can qualify for the SCT with a win over Lacey today.

Finally, in one other baseball note, I caught up with former Toms River South star pitcher Connor Kaden, who is now with the Augusta BlueJackets, an affiliate of the San Francisco Giants that is playing at FirstEnergy Park tonight against the BlueClaws. Check out the story here. 


After engineering the best season by a freshman quarterback in Shore Conference history and helping lead Matawan to the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group III title, Huskies' freshman George Pearson got his first FBS offer on Thursday from Temple.

(Photo by B51 Photography)

The Owls' strategy has been to get in at the ground floor before the power conference schools come calling. It's clearly a sign that they think Pearson will eventually blow up and be on the radar of plenty of big programs, so they want to be in first. It's the same thing Temple did with current Ocean junior running back Tyler Thompson, as they also offered him as a freshman. He now has seven FBS offers.

Also, Pearson's teammate, senior wide receiver/defensive back Justin Ferrara, a SSN second-team All-Shore pick, will continue his career at Kean University.

More on Friday: 

  • The latest NJSIAA baseball power points going into today's cut-off.
  • Todd Frazier (Toms River South/Rutgers) belted his National League-leading 10th home run for the Reds in a loss yesterday in a game that was started by Colts Neck grad Anthony DeSclafani, who allowed three runs in five innings. The Pirates blew the game open against Reds reliever Kevin Gregg, who has been so bad that fans started an online petition to have him demoted to Triple A.
  • The tragic death of a runner at the University of Pennsylvania shows that the perfect life that everyone tries to portray on social media is often far from reality.
  • A Dallas cop drove 11 hours to Illinois and dressed as Superman to cheer up a 7-year-old boy with cancer.
  • Quick book recommendation: The River of Doubt by Candice Millard. After Teddy Roosevelt lost a presidential election in 1912, he did what any of us would have done: Journeyed to the uncharted Amazon River full of deathly diseases, deadly rapids, murderous Indians and a million species of insects and animals that can kill you. Shockingly, it doesn't go as well as he'd hoped, but it's gripping to read about. Plus there's the part about him giving a speech with a bullet still lodged in his chest from an assassination attempt. They just don't make 'em like they used to.

On tap for today: Today is all about the race for the Class A Central title in baseball. If Manasquan beats Monmouth and St. John Vianney beats Shore, they share the overall title. If one loses and the other wins, they claim it outright. If they both lose, it could get absolutely crazy. If that happens, there will be a five-way (!) tie for the title between St. John Vianney, Manasquan, Shore, Monmouth, and the winner of today's Raritan-Rumson-Fair Haven game. Pretty sure I've never seen a division quin-championship.

I'll end with Barnegat's celebratory pile-on of pitcher John Corbett after winning the B South title, and Mets mega-pitching prospect Noah Syndergaard showing he can also hit 400-foot bombs.