It looks like Thursday’s game between Toms River South and Toms River East in which Indians head coach Ken Frank would be going for his 700th (!) career win has been postponed, according to highschoolsports.net. That means that a little extra spice has been added to Friday night’s Ocean County Tournament final against Toms River North at 7 p.m. at Toms River East, as that will now be Frank’s chance to get an incredible milestone. Nothing like a little extra motivation for the defending OCT champs.
Toms River East also happens to be coached by Frank’s younger brother, Bill, so maybe he didn’t want to get 700 at Bill’s expense. East also has a regular-season, nondivisional night game scheduled for 7:30 tonight against Middletown South for a Senior Night celebration, one day after losing to the Eagles in the Shore Conference Tournament, so it would’ve been the first of two games on the day had they played the Indians.
I’m glad the game today was postponed because I wouldn’t have been able to go because I actually am about to run over to the Philadelphia area because my younger brother’s wife is hours away from giving birth to their first child and the first Stump grandchild, so another Stump is about to be unleashed on the world. God help us all.
The NJSIAA brackets for the playoffs will be posted tonight, so you can check those out here.
This apparently is milestone week in the coaching ranks as Wall’s Todd Schmitt got his 200th victory on Monday and Monmouth’s Ted Jarmusz got his 400th win on Wednesday in a Shore Conference Tournament win over Barnegat and now Frank will be going for 700. Congrats to Jarmusz, who has built that Monmouth program into the most successful program, year-in and year-out, in the school, and a perennial winner in the Shore Conference. I’ve come to appreciate his work now that I am on the other side of it, as when I played at Red Bank Catholic in the early 1990s, Monmouth was our mortal enemy in the fight for the Class B North title. Just like they are now, the Falcons were scrappy and never stopped coming at you, so when you beat them in a big game, you know you earned it. Congrats again to coach Jarmusz, who has been tireless in his support of Shore Conference baseball.
Also, congrats to Schmitt, another tireless supporter of Shore baseball and a talented coach who has had Wall among the top in the Shore during his tenure. I know this season was tough with a sub-.500 record, but that can happen when your entire starting lineup except for one or two guys graduates. I’m sure the Crimson Knights will be back in a big way next year. Also, I think senior shortstop Frank DeSarno shouldn’t be overlooked this season. He has quietly put together a great year, and if Wall was in their customary spot among the top 10, you would be hearing about him more.
As for the SCT, a few quick things from Wednesday and a look ahead to Saturday:
- I took in Middletown South’s 5-4, eight-inning win over Middletown South as the Eagles’ program took a symbolic step back in a winning direction with the victory. I got a look at freshman lefty Howie Brey, who opened some eyes immediately when he shut out Christian Brothers Academy in his first varsity start. Brey still has a lot of growing to do physically, but mentally he is already much more advanced than other pitchers his age. He showed a ton of composure in tough spots and the ability to bear down after giving up a big RBI hit, which is hard to teach without experience. He also throws four pitches – fastball, curveball, changeup and splitter. His fastball is not overpowering, but he changes speeds so well and has a deep arsenal to keep hitters off balance. He also is not afraid of pitching to contact, which a lot of young pitchers hesitate to do, especially when facing aluminum bats. I also liked what I saw from hard-throwing righty Will Siegfried, who is only a sophomore. He could be forming a strong 1-2 punch with Brey for the next two years.
- Senior righty Brandon McCloskey continues to be outstading for Middletown North as he shut out Manasquan. He is 4-2 but could easily be 6-0 considering both of his losses were in 2-1 games. If you haven’t checked it out yet, I had a story on him in the latest edition of our free newspaper, the All Shore Media Sports Review, which you can also read online but just clicking on the image (with CJ Pratt on the cover) on our homepage.
- Never underestimate a team that only has one tournament left to play for, as 22nd-seeded Brick Memorial upset No. 11 Red Bank Catholic, 9-8, to move on. The Mustangs have not qualified for the state tournament, so this is it for them. You really wonder how their season might have gone had the anchor of their lineup, senior first baseman Jose Ramos, not missed 11 games with a dislocated elbow. Ramos came back two games ago and had three hits in the win over RBC.
- We have an old-school Class B Central match-up in the Round of 16 between fourth-seeded St. Rose and 12th-seeded Shore as the Blue Devils edged Colts Neck, 5-4, behind Rob Corsi and a monster day from Mark Britton, who had two homers and all five of the team’s RBIs. Shore was St. Rose’s main competition in B Central before moving up to Class A Central this year, and the Purple Roses have run their divisional winning streak to 66 games by going unbeaten this year in B Central. “Does this mean we end the streak if we beat them?” Shore coach Jeff Karpell said jokingly.
- How about Monsignor Donovan’s Russ Gilliam? He now has 16 straight scoreless innings and shut out St. John Vianney for a 1-0 win that was the biggest upset of the first round. Big players step up when their teams need them most, and Gilliam has done that, as he also one-hit Brick Memorial in five innings in the Ocean County Tournament on Saturday.
- Rough day for Class A Central – Manasquan, Red Bank Catholic and St. John Vianney were all higher-seeded teams, and all of them went down in the first round. Shore was the only one to escape.
- As for the Round of 16 match-ups, here is a quick look at the eight games:
—An angry Jackson Memorial team that got knocked out of the OCT in the semifinals will face a Middletown North team that is playing its best ball of the season.
—Freehold Township at Red Bank is the 8-9 game and could be a match-up of the Patriots’ Matt Cadigan vs. Red Bank’s Jake Kalish on the mound, so that is one to watch.
—Central got a tough draw with Monmouth in the 5-12 game, as Monmouth is surging, having won 9 of 10. Meanwhile, Central is trying to regroup after an early exit in the OCT. The Golden Eagles will be out to prove themselves worthy of the No. 5 seed, so this should be an intense game.
—As I said before, Shore at St. Rose is almost always a nail-biter between two fierce rivals.
—Ocean is a heavy underdog against Toms River North, but maybe it can catch the Mariners in a hangover from Friday night’s OCT final.
—Manalapan drew a Brick Memorial team that has nothing else to play for other than continuing its SCT run, but if the Braves roll out Ryan Harvey on Saturday, that’s a tall order for any team.
—Well, Monsignor Donovan won’t have to travel far to face Toms River South, as the schools are right down the street from one another. Mon Don is the Cinderella squad, while Toms River South has a big, emotional game in the OCT final against TR North on Friday night that could be Ken Frank’s 700th win and then has to come back at noon on Saturday and face the Griffins.
—Finally, Middletown South heads to CBA, where Eagles head coach Ryan Spillane was an assistant before coming to South. These teams split during the regular season for one of only two losses this year for CBA, so the Eagles know they can beat them. However, they may see ace Pat Light, who has never lost a varsity game, so they will have to defy a lot of prior history to win this one.
A game to keep an eye on for tonight if it happens (thunderstorms are lurking) is Rumson at Red Bank Catholic at 7 p.m. The Caseys need to get this game to stay in first place in the race for the Class A Central title, while Rumson is throwing ace Austin McAuliffe, an NJIT recruit who almost beat the state’s No. 1 team, Don Bosco Prep, last week.