The Manasquan Board of Education has approved Dennis Van Pelt as the new head baseball coach to replace Art Gordon, who stepped down for personal reasons this spring after 10 seasons at the helm.
Van Pelt was an assistant at Long Branch last year and was a former star for the Green Wave in the early 1990s. Van Pelt went on to play at Radford and was a 25th-round pick of the Anaheim Angels in 1994.
A host of team members and parents came to the Board of Education meeting on Aug. 26 to show their support for two other main candidates for the job, Brian Lee and Rob Maida, who were assistants under Gordon, but were ultimately disappointed as Van Pelt was approved. Lee, a Manasquan graduate, had been an assistant for the past few seasons while Maida came aboard before the 2008 season and helped the Warriors win a share of the Class A Central public title this spring. It sounds like the parents and players were more pro-Lee/Maida than anti-Van Pelt, so we’ll see if that has any effect team chemistry-wise or anything like that.
Another high-profile opening that has yet to be filled is at Raritan, where head coach Bobby Devlin has stepped down after two seasons. He is currently a football assistant at Keansburg. The strongest candidate mentioned has been former Rockets coach T.J. O’Donnell returning for another stint after helping lead Raritan to a Group II title and regular playoff appearances during his tenure, but no one has been approved for the position as of now. O’Donnell was the head coach before stepping down to spend time with his family after the 2007 season.
Now, as for some football stuff, there are some good places to read up on teams that the Shore Conference may be running into come playoff time.
The Trenton Times has previews on the Mercer County teams that usually mainly make up part of the brackets in Central Jersey Group III and IV. The last Mercer County public team to win a state title was Ewing in 1985, with a resounding 3-0 win over Colonia in CJ III.
Finally, some quick links on some Shore alumni.
Tight end Garrett Graham (Brick Memorial) has been named an offensive captain for Wisconsin this season.
Outfielder Ryan Kalish (Red Bank Catholic) has been selected to play in the Arizona Fall League with some of the Red Sox’ other top prospects after having a solid season for the Class AA Portland Sea Dogs.
Nationals’ pitcher Jason Bergmann (Manalapan) joined a not-so-exclusive group when he was victimized by Albert Pujols for a game-winning homer last night.