Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Baseball: Sussex County preview capsules

High Point Wildcats

Coach: Ryan Ellis (first season).

2014 record: 7-12-1, 5-8-1 NJAC American Division (fifth).

Key returnees: Sr. Riley Keenan (.400 avg., .500 OBP) C; Sr. Tyler Schulok P-2B; Jr. Billy Kerwien (.355) SS-P; Sr. Trevor Risdon Utility-P; Jr. Ben Costello 1B-P; Jr. Ben Armstrong OF-2B.

Key losses: Kyle Adams (.415, 20 SBs, 4-2) 2B-P; Matt Musilli (.426, 26 hits) OF; Jon Stone P-1B; Brandon Carr SS; Mark Smolen OF.

Promising newcomers: Sr. Matt Magura Utility-P; Sr. Tyler Saczawa 3B-P; Jr. Kyle O'Connell OF; Sr. Brian Lange OF-P; So. Howard Ayers P-2B; So. Matt Douma 2B; So. Bryan Franko P-Utility; So. Andrew Martinez 3B-P; Jr. Tim Space 1B; So. Braedon Steinman P.

Coach's comment: "With a strong nucleus of talented players returning, mixed with a healthy balance of underclassmen ready to make the transition, we are looking to surprise a few teams this year. Our lineup will be balanced from both sides of the plate, and we will work on manufacturing runs."

Outlook: Wildcats have a new coach for the first time in almost two decades, as Mickey Thomas (251-143-1) retired from teaching after 17 seasons over three stints at the Wantage school. Ellis, played for Thomas, who will remain with the team as a volunteer in the mid-1990s. Ellis inherits a program that returns some solid talent, particularly Keenan, who is one of the tri-county area's top backstops. As has been the case in recent seasons, scoring runs and finding consistent pitching will be the main issue for this group, though this team features eight arms who could provide some depth on the mound. Offense will be key. The 'Cats scored just 29 runs in their final eight games last year and totaled three or fewer in 11 of 20 games overall.

Hopatcong Chiefs

Coach: Jason Mulvihill (first season).

2014 record: 3-20, 1-13 NJAC Freedom Division (eighth).

Key returnees: Jr. Christian Ammiano (.363 avg., 19 RBIs) 1B-P; Sr. Shea Bongiovanni (.407, 5 HRs, 19 RBIs) P-OF; Jr. P.J. Rodick C; Jr. Brandon Vanderhoof 3B; Jr. Dalton Delrosso P-SS; Sr. Jason Twaits OF.

Key losses: Pat Stanton OF-P; Kevin Mulharin (.373, 17 SBs) OF.

Promising newcomers: Jr. Eli Perez 1B-OF; Jr. Chris Stundon P-1B; So. Anthony Melillo 2B-C.

Coach's comment: "Coming off a tough season with a young squad that struggled at times to land in the win column, this year's [team is] looking to take the next step."

Outlook: Chiefs are going on three years since capturing the program's first conference title since 1998 -- winning the Freedom Division in 2012. It's been a rough going since, as Mulvihill takes over  a program that went 71-118 the past eight years (5-43 the last two seasons) under Chris Buglovsky, who is now the school's AD. Getting off to slow starts has been an issue (0-10 in 2013, 1-12 in '14), but there is a pretty good nucleus coming back, including Ammiano, who should be one of the top players in the area. Approaching .500 seems like a reasonable goal this season.

Kittatinny Cougars

Coach: TJ Orlando (5-17, second season).

2014 record: 5-17, 4-9 NJAC Freedom Division (seventh).

Key returnees: Sr. Cowan Sikora SS-P; Jr. Dom Maio 2B-OF; Jr. Dan Tuohy OF-P.

Key losses: David Moyer (.410) P-1B; Joe Repasy P-SS-3B; Mike Dispoto OF-P; Adam Goriscak (.340) OF-P; John LaFiura (.260) C.

Promising newcomers: Jr. Connor Foran OF; Jr. Andrew Michelman OF; Jr. Cort Rohsler 3B-OF-C; Jr. Michael Stenderowicz P-1B; Jr. Griffin Waldron P-1B; Jr. Brendan Wood OF; So. Nick Geimer OF; So. Mike Montella 1B-P-OF; So. Bobby Rogers C-OF; So. Dillon Rossi OF-SS; So. Tyler Vough P; Fr. Ryan Callahan P-3B; Fr. Chris Litterio P-3B-1B.

Coach's comment: "As we lost all of our starting pitchers to graduation, we will look to untested underclassmen to handle the mound. This year will be a growing and learning process for the team as they learn to compete against higher-level competition."

Outlook: Cougars, who dropped a 1-0 decision in 12 innings to Group 2 semifinalist Ramsey in last year's North 1, Group 2 playoffs, have gone 23-32-1 over the previous three seasons. It appears as if this will be another rebuilding campaign with young and inexperienced players, especially on the mound. Sikora, a three-year starter at shortstop, is the only returning senior. Orlando figures he may have as many as five freshmen or sophomores in the lineup, so this team will need to mature quickly to give it a chance to be successful.

Lenape Valley Patriots

Coach: Bob Klinck (91-81, eighth season).

2014 record: 18-6, 12-2 NJAC Freedom Division (first).

Key returnees: Sr. Jim Fluke (.360 avg., 10-1, 1.13 ERA, 88 K's) SS-P; Sr. Pat Togno (.342, 20 RBIs) OF-1B; Sr. Rob Sparacino C; Sr. Cole Swanson (3-1, 1.30) P-1B; Jr. Tom Armstrong P-OF; Jr. Mark Lisi P-3B-1B; So. Matt Helfrich (2.72 ERA).

Key losses: David DelSontro (.373, 20 RBIs) C-3B; Tyler Rogers (.329, 16 RBIs) OF; Dan Rafferty (4-2, 1.93) P-SS; Nick Sabatini (.278, 13 RBIs) OF; Ryan Lindner (.361, 25 RBIs) 3B; Adam Varian, 2B.

Promising newcomers: Sr. Christian Basciano 1B; Sr. Zachary O'Brien P; Sr. Carl Rosequist SS; Sr. Jeff Beck P; Jr. Dan Willoughby OF; Jr. Tyler Robertson OF; Jr. C.J. Robertson C-INF (transfer from Hopatcong); Jr. John Stanley OF; So. Kyle Piekarz OF; So. Tyler Tarnowski OF; Fr. Dan Titus OF; Fr. Anthony Esposito INF.

Coach's comment: "We return a strong pitching staff and have great senior leadership. We expect to contend for a [division] and [sectional] title." 

Outlook: Patriots are coming off one of their best seasons in many years, dropping a 7-1 decision to Ramsey in the North 1, Group 2 final after capturing the program's first NJAC Freedom Division title. Fluke was one of the tri-county area's top players last season (3-0 in playoff starts) and returns as the staff ace. Togno is the top returning bat, while Swanson did a nice job as the No. 3 starter. Expect this club to challenge for a second straight division title.

Newton Braves

Coach: John Selitto (80-127, 10th season).

2014 record: 14-9, 9-5 NJAC Freedom Division (tied for second).

Key returnees: Sr. Nick Grant (.382 avg., 6-1, 1.12 ERA, 41 K's, .386 avg. 16 RBIs) P-1B-OF; Sr. Jon Bernotas (.244, 11 RBIs) SS; Sr. Nate Kolzow (0-1, 4.66) P; Sr. Joey Defeo (.350, 1-2, 4.44) 3B-P; Jr. Cole Van Luvender (.333, 5-2, 2.04) P-1B-3B; Jr. Bobby Fehr C; So. Scott Price OF-P.

Key losses: Ben Cramer (.373, 15 RBIs, 31 hits) OF; Casey Thomas (2-2, 3.78) OF-P; Joey Maker (.294, 15 SBs) 3B; Charlie Grotyohann (.295, 15 RBIs) C; Justin Smith (.295, 15 SBs) OF; Anthony Brown 2B; Steve Kelly (2-1, 3.67) P-1B.

Promising newcomers: So. Aldo Vallorosi 2B; So. Michael Luzzi OF; Fr. Chase Cramer OF; So. Alex Blaner P-3B-C; Fr. Luke Young P-OF-1B; Fr. Billy Carson P-INF; Fr. Jake Tarabokija INF-P; Fr. John Nitting P-3B; Fr. Gianni Periera P-OF-1B; Jr. Tommy Giordano OF; Jr. Tim Baty OF; So. Jason Leonardo P-OF.

Coach's comment"We have the potential to have a successful season if the young players continue to progress. Pitching and defense will be a strength, and a solid core of returning players will be counted on to lead the offense and ease the transition to varsity baseball for the younger ones."

Outlook: Braves are two years removed from capturing their first conference title and winning season since 2001. That being said, last year was a bit disappointing considering most of the players from that 2013 club were back in the fold. Despite heavy offensive losses, including Ben Cramer who has been one of the area's top hitters the past few seasons, this club should be a contender with ace Grant back to lead the staff. The senior lefty has gone 11-2 with 72 strikeouts the last two years. Van Luvender emerged as a solid starter in 2014, while Kolzow and Defeo also should contribute on the mound. This team will be a tough out provided it can score runs and play sound defense.

Pope John Lions

Coach: Vin Bello (246-159-1, 16th season).

2014 record: 16-11, 8-6 NJAC American Division (fourth).

Key returnees: Sr. Jay Sanford (.289 avg. 22 hits) SS; Sr. Ethan Collins (4-3, 2.63 ERA) P-1B; Sr. Matt Piwko 1B; Sr. Zack Leach (3 HRs, 15 RBIs) C; Jr. Kyle Malejko OF; Sr. Cyrus Ahmadi OF-P; Sr. Jack Nelson (3-1, 61 K's, 5 saves) P; Sr. Conner Van Kampen 3B; So. Trevor Backman P-OF; So. Sean Miller P; Sr. Ty Dalzell C.

Key losses: Dan Cunico (4-4, 3.40, 53 K's) P-3B; Mike Young (.380) OF; Axel D'Addario (.345, 20 RBIs) P-2B.

Promising newcomers: So. Davian Sanchez INF; So. Justin Provost INF; So. George Summers 2B; So. Ryan Casey OF; Sr. Pat Fitzgerald P; Sr. Hunter Silvernail C-OF; So. Sean Roberts P.

Coach's comment: "We have a senior-laden team with some young talent, and we hope it all comes together."

Outlook: Lions should be a major contender for division and county titles this season behind a solid pitching staff that features ace lefty Collins, who along with batterymate Leach, will attend Rowan University next fall. Sanford, who is heading to Division I Towson, is one of the top infielders in the area and will be counted on to lead the offense.

Sparta Spartans

Coach: Sam Slobodzian (286-178-3, 19th season).

2014 record: 18-7, 12-2 NJAC American Division (first).

Key returnees: Sr. Dillon Mendel (4-1, 1.40 ERA, .429 avg., 17 RBIs) 3B-P; Jr. Connor Coyle (3-0, 1.15 ERA) OF-P; Sr. Nick Makowitz (.346, 15 RBIs) 1B-P; Sr. Tim Gondek P-OF.

Key losses: Thomas Ruddy (.448, 17 SBs) OF; Austin Unglaub (.443, 18 RBIs) 2B; Kevin Foulds (7-2. 0.59, .353, 12 RBIs) P-1B; T.J. Estanislau SS; Matt Chemis OF; Drew Garger C-P; Michael Meisel C-DH; Matt Pampin P; Alec Bowie OF; Gordy Bonker P; Matt Seville 3B.

Promising newcomers: Sr. Alex Herbert P; Sr. Steve Viola P-OF; Sr. Grant Cummings OF; So. Jack Simon INF-P; Jr. Paul DeAquino INF; Jr. Jarret DiBlasio P; Jr. Jared Kish P; Jr. Ethan Guerra C; Jr. Louis Ferrara OF; Jr. Cameron Estanislau INF; So. Jack Kulik OF; So. Nick Lucas P-3B; So. Mike Vocaturo C.

Coach's comment: "We are very eager to get started. I'm excited about this new talented group of ballplayers. I really feel they can play defense with the best of them. The obvious key with most young teams is how fast we can adjust to varsity pitching."

Outlook: Despite heavy graduation losses, including Ruddy (school record 130 hits) and Unglaub on offense, along with ace Foulds (2-0, 19 K's in playoffs), the Spartans return several key players, including No. 2 pitcher Mendel, from a team that lost in the North 1, Group 3 semifinals. This is a young group that will need to mature quickly with an ambitious schedule and a tough division. If that happens, there's no reason this team can't challenge for another division title after claiming the program's first last season.

Sussex Tech Mustangs

Coach: Brad Szatkiewicz (14-38, third season).

2014 record: 5-20, 0-12 NJAC Independence Division.

Key returnees: Sr. Paul Caron SS-P; Sr. Austen Campbell 3B-P; Sr. Brian Keith OF; Sr. Eric Wistermayer C; Sr. Tom Slate 2B-P; So. Brandon Bendes OF-P; Sr. Justin Brauchle OF-P; Sr. Corey Small 1B-P.

Key losses: Matt Beck 3B-P; Dan Louis OF-P.

Promising newcomers: Sr. Matt Colvin C; Jr. Kodiak Sturges OF-P; Ralph Angolemmo Utility-P; Fr. Tyler Crum 1B-P; Zach Clawson P.

Coach's comment: "We are looking for our experience and leadership to make us competitive in the Freedom Division. If we stay healthy, the amount of seniors and a good mix of a few younger players, we can hopefully make it into the [sectional] tournament and make a run in the NJTAC tournament."

Outlook: Mustangs struggled in their inaugural season in the NJAC and they move up into a tougher five-team Freedom Division this season. However, this club has quite a few experienced players back in the fold, including Caron and Campbell, who were among the offensive stars last season. But it remains to be seen if this group can compete in division games.

Vernon Vikings

Coach: Scott Berge (48-84, seventh season).

2014 record: 9-14, 2-11 NJAC American Division (seventh).

Key returnees: Sr. Ed Battista 2B; Sr. Louis Caiafa P-OF; Sr. Matt Emerson P-3B; Sr. Christian Quaranta SS; Jr. Christian Capuano (2-0, 2.16 ERA) P-3B; Jr. Connor Fitzsimmons (.311 avg.) C.

Key losses: Dave Baxter (.303 avg., 14 RBIs) 1B; Anthony Germinario (.342, 18 RBIs, 6-2, 2.23, 49 K's P-2B; Mike Harboy (.351, 25 RBIs) INF-P; Chris Pontus (.325) OF; Kevin Moran 3B-P; Joe Roccasanta OF; Josh Rodriguez (.389) OF.

Promising newcomers: Sr. Bryan Brinster 1B; Sr. Sultan Destani P-Utility; Jr. Ryan McNeil P-1B; So. Nick Grifone C; So. Brandon Lavorini P-OF; So. Ryan Janus INF; So. Mike Suppa OF.

Coach's comment: "We are looking to improve on last year's record, get above .500 and qualify for [sectionals]."

Outlook: Vikings took a step back last season after a surprising 2013 season in which they overcame a 2-6 to make a stunning run to the Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex final. The losses of Baxter, Harboy and Germinario will be felt. Replacing Germinario atop the rotation will be the key to success this season, but with few experienced arms, the pitching department may be a big obstacle in achieving that goal of getting above .500.

Wallkill Valley Rangers

Coach: Kevin Lukich (64-82, seventh season).

2014 record: 9-12, 7-7 NJAC Freedom Division (tied for fourth).

Key returnees: Sr. Travis Hill C; Sr. Kyle Rosencranz 2B; Sr. Michael Armstrong (.389 avg., 17 RBIs) SS; Jr. Rich Stecher (.316, 12 RBIs) OF; Jr. Wes Walton (3-2, 3.21 ERA, 27 K's) OF; Sr. Joe Colosimo (2-2, 2.42, 42 K's) P-1B; Sr. Sean Endres (.359, 18 RBIs) 3B; Sr. Brad Lodema 2B; Sr. Cameron Blake 3B; Jr. Jordan Florio SS-P; Sr. Joe Tizzano OF.

Key losses: Brandon Grabkowski (.382, 20 RBIs, 3-4, 2.96) OF-P; Nick McWilliams C; Brett Hill 1B-P.

Promising newcomers: Fr. Dylan Harlos OF; Sr. Jimmy Moffitt OF.

Coach's comment: "We have nine seniors and eight returning starters. As long as we stay healthy, we should be a dangerous team with all of our experience."

Outlook: Rangers finished under .500 the last two seasons since a 14-win campaign and a trip to the North 1, Group 2 playoffs in 2012. This may be the year the tide turns. The loss of ace Grabkowski to graduation will be felt, but Colosimo, a deceptive lefty, and Walton showed they can be reliable arms a year ago. Armstrong (who takes over at short) and Endres figure to be the offensive leaders. If this team can play sound defense, something it did not do consistently last year, expect it to be one of the most improved clubs in the area.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Baseball: Hunterdon-Warren preview capsules

Belvidere County Seaters

Coach: Aaron Feldman (64-81, seventh season).

2014 record: 11-11, 8-6 Skyland Conference Valley Division (fourth).

Key returnees: Sr. Henry Myerchin (.365 avg., 15 RBIs, 3-1, 4.90 ERA, 43 K's) SS-P; Sr. Bobby Merle (.393, 12 RBIs) OF; Sr. Owen Kaiser (3-2, 2.68, 21 K's) 1B-3B-P; Sr. Kevin Merle P-OF; Jr. Thomas Madeo OF; Jr. David Woodworth (.304, 11 RBIs) P-1B; So. Jake Thornton (.283, 10 RBIs) 3B-SS; Jr. Brad Duckworth OF-P; Jr. Matt Duckworth 2B.

Key losses: Logan Welles (.493, 3 HRs, 24 RBIs) 1B-P; Jake Carlson (.304, 14 RBIs) C.

Promising newcomers: So. Terrell Tutka P; So. Zach DeLuca OF; Jr. Ben Healy INF-OF; So. Alex Nelson C; Fr. Ryan Kokawski C.

Coach's comment: "Bernards was moved to [the Raritan Division] and we beat everyone else in our division at least once last year so we're optimistic that we will be competitive in the [Valley] division -- and beyond -- this season.."

Outlook: County Seaters have steadily improved the last four seasons -- going from five wins in 2011, to eight wins in '12, to 10 wins in '13 and 11 last year -- since winning 17 games in '10. There is enough talent returning to believe this team will make a major move forward this spring. Myerchin, a four-year starter, is the leader of this group, and he's coming off a solid junior season. He, along with Kaiser, will anchor the pitching staff.

Delaware Valley Terriers

Coach: Marty White (106-124, 12th season).

2014 record: 9-11, 4-6 Skyland Conference Raritan Division (fourth).

Key returnees: Sr. Logan Brown (3-4, 1.65 ERA, 53 K's) P; Jr. Chris Schaible (3-2, 3.45, 27 K's) P-OF-1B; Sr. Frank McHugh OF-P; Sr. Mike Pilone C; Sr. Travis Scharffenberger 1B; Jr. Jake Brogan OF; Sr. Devin Merritt SS-2B; Sr. Kurt Heeren OF.

Key losses: Joe Chiarino 3B; Chris Fiaschetti SS-P; Adam Novotny 1B-OF; Nick Perna 2B.

Promising newcomers: Jr. Kevin Delatte 2B; So. Sean Hanczaryk C-DH-P; Fr. Christian Hlinka SS; Fr. Ian Kulik SS-P; Jr. Lake Cole 3B-P; So. Scott Becker OF-1B; So. Brian Godown P; Jr. Kyle Refalvy P.

Coach's comment: "I like our young kids, but there's going to be a learning curve of competing at the varsity level. We could beat anybody and anybody could beat us. There's potential, but we're unproven."

Outlook: Brown was one of the area's top pitchers last season, but he's sidelined with an injury to start the season. There's no timetable for his return, but getting him healthy is the top priority and a big key to the season with pitching depth already an issue. Schaible and McHugh will be the 1-2 atop the rotation for now. Terriers look to have "five or six good hitters who will hit the ball," according to White, so playing sound defense will be crucial to any success.

Hackettstown Tigers

Coach: Gary Poyer (163-128, 14th season).

2014 record: 10-11, 7-7 NJAC Freedom Division (tied for fourth).

Key returnees: Sr. Matt Engels OF-P; Sr. Jonathan Pezzato C; Jr. John Franco 3B-P; Jr. Anthony Carida 2B-P; Sr. Nick Pixley 1B-P; Sr. Thomas Bordi 3B; Sr. Tyler Profilias SS-P; Sr. Joe Lake OF-P; Sr. Eric Kendra OF.

Key losses: Justin Nicholls OF-P; Kenny Stelmack C; Vin Putignano 2B.

Promising newcomers: So. Jake Hall SS: So. Matt Arcona OF; So. Peyton Stewart 2B; Jr. Matt Buchanon P; Sr. Frank Iannone INF.

Coach's comment: "This is a promising group with strong pitching and defensive prowess. Hitting will determine how far this team will go."

Outlook: Tigers appear to be back on track after going 1-1 in the North 2, Group 2 playoffs the past two seasons since a four-win campaign in 2012. The loss of Nicholls and Stelmack (the battery) will be felt, but Engels was a catalyst in last year's lineup. Pitching was a question heading into last season, but it's now a strength. With the new five-team division alignment, there's no reason this group can't challenge for the title after a predicted middle-of-the-pack finish in 2014.

Hunterdon Central Red Devils

Coach: Mike Raymond (289-102, 15th season).

2014 record: 21-4, 11-3 Skyland Conference Delaware Division (first).

Key returnees: Sr. Brett McManus (.421 avg., 32 hits, 6 HRs, 19 RBIs) 2B; Jr. Matt Toke (.442, 15 RBIs, 2-0, 2 saves) 1B-P; Sr. Henry Hawkins (.358, 18 RBIs) OF; Sr. Mike Novello (1-0, 1.75 ERA) P; Sr. Pat Clare (7-1, 2.20) P; Sr. Sam DiGiovanni P; Sr. Mike Perone (.412) SS; Sr. John Korn OF.

Key losses: Mike Pfenninger 3B; Matt Stalter SS; Ryan Horzepa P; Zak Vacca C; Sean Hanigan DH; Christian Carey OF.

Promising newcomers: Jr. Alex Horzepa 1B; Sr. Nick Luciano 3B; Sr. Ryan Carmen 3B; Sr. Anthony Cillo 2B; Sr. Ryan Pasko SS; Sr. Brent Lincoln C; Sr. Cale Pfauth C; Jr. Scott Rasile OF; Sr. Mike Kendzulak OF; Sr. Andrew Tackett OF; So. Matt Padre C.

Coach's comment: "I believe this year's team has the talent and potential to be successful again this season. We are getting great leadership from our seniors who understand what it takes to win and the sacrifices it takes to be successful."

Outlook: Red Devils are once again looking like the class of the tri-county area with potent bats and solid arms in the fold. McManus (Rhode Island commit) is unquestionably the top offensive player in the area and a tremendous leadoff hitter, while Toke (Seton Hall) and Hawkins add to a strong lineup. The strength of this team is pitching as four pitchers who combined for 14 wins in 2014 are back, led by Clare (7-1). Expect this club to challenge for championships across the board.

North Hunterdon Lions

Coach: Mike Kane (49-38, fourth season).

2014 record: 20-10, 10-4 Skyland Conference Delaware Division (second).

Key returnees: Sr. Andrew Meiners C; Sr. Tom Schumacher 3B; Sr. Shayne Fontana P-OF; Jr. John Wilson P-OF; Sr. Austin Arndt SS-P; Sr. Tim Heard 2B; Sr. Jeff Gernon P-1B; Sr. Tucker Brown P; Sr. Rikki Goodman 2B-OF; Sr. Josh Grunden P; Sr. Randy Grzankowski P; Jr. Kyle Busher OF.

Key losses: Marc Monks OF; Zach Kaminsky OF; Quentin Klein P-3B-DH; Kurt Thompson P; Griffin Hatton P; Jon Scott 1B-DH; Shane Cassidy 2B.

Promising newcomers: Jr. Jeff Guile SS-OF-C; Jr. Ian Kirk OF; Jr. Jack Peterson 1B-P; So. Billy Russo SS-2B; So. Jack Kennedy 1B-P.

Coach's comment: "We are looking forward to another exciting and successful season with five senior starters returning. With the depth we have at all positions, there will be some great competition throughout the season."

Outlook: Lions are coming off their first 20-win season since 2010, just the ninth in program history. After coming up one game short in their quest for division and Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex titles (winning eight in a row before a 6-3 loss to Hunterdon Central in the county final), expect this group to be hungry for championships this spring. A strong group of seniors will lead the way, including Kean University-bound Fontana (team-high 21 K's in '14) and Lehigh recruit Schumacher, the club's top hitter last season with 13 hits and 10 RBIs. Wilson, a big-game pitcher last season, joins Fontana atop the rotation.

North Warren Patriots

Coach: Jim Haupt (228-152, 17th season).

2014 record: 11-9, 6-7 NJAC Freedom Division (sixth).

Key returnees: Sr. Lance Kernoschak (3-2, 3.92 ERA) 3B-P; Sr. Matt Nicholoff (.288, 9 RBIs) 2B; Sr. John Vuz (.324) OF; Jr. Sean Thornton (2-2, 3.09) P-1B; Sr. Vince Lubertazzo (1-2, 4.73) P; So. Jared Vuz (.269) SS; Jr. Alex Predenkoski 3B-P.

Key losses: Cam Esposito OF-P; David Wilbur C; Alex Hladik SS-P; Brian Turner 2B-P; Nick Meyer 1B; Nick Nicholoff OF.

Promising newcomers: Sr. Gino Fluri C; Sr. Eric Hill C-OF; So. Ron Lubertazzo 2B-OF; So. Hunter DePrimo P-C; So. Geo Kumetz OF.

Coach's comment: "We lost a talented group of seniors, but we are looking to reload with some younger players at key positions. Injuries were severe a year ago, so health will be a big key as depth is again an issue. However, this team has great chemistry, experience at the pitching position and great senior leadership."

Outlook: Patriots, who are now in the five-team Colonial Division, didn't quite have the season they expected a year ago -- largely due to injuries. The loss of ace Hladik is huge, but there are several experienced arms returning, including Thornton, who figures to be the No. 1. Offense may struggle a bit, at least early on, so this club will rely on pitching and defense in looking to play close, low-scoring games.

Phillipsburg Stateliners

Coach: Mike Rossetti (first season).

2014 record: 5-22, 1-13 Skyland Conference Delaware Division (eighth).

Key returnees: Sr. Jake Knoble (.250 avg., 1 HR, 13 RBIs) C; Sr. Jake Clifford (.298, 10 RBIs) OF; Sr. Billy McAuliffe (2-5, 6.22 ERA) P; Sr. Ashish George (1-2, 4.45) P; Sr. John Gurski (0-6, 4.71) P; Sr. Mark McGuire P-OF; Sr. Pete Schmidt SS; Jr. Matt Yanes 1B-P.

Key losses: David Wodzisz (.402, 35 hits, 19 RBIs) SS; Chris Trent (.338) OF; Matt McAnally (.333, 13 RBIs) 3B; Andy Ferrara (.339, 12 RBIs) C; Tyler Plesnarski DH-P.

Promising newcomers: Jr. Colton Langworthy P-SS; Jr. Tyler Weiss 1B; Jr. Damian Dudek 2B; Sr. Ryan Flannagan C.

Outlook: The 'Liners have a new coach in Rossetti, who is best known for his wrestling success but has served as an assistant coach here in previous years. He inherits a program that went 52-80 the last four seasons under Dave Hinkle. Playing in one of the state's toughest divisions has been an issue record-wise -- getting outscored 111-52 in 14 games in 2013 and 47-127 in '14. Pitching has been a big reason for the lack of success in division contests ('Liners gave up six or more runs 11 times last season). Gurski returned to the mound last season after missing all of 2013 with an injury.

South Hunterdon Eagles

Coach: Cory Weingart (6-15, second season).

2014 record: 6-15, 6-8 Skyland Conference Valley Division (sixth).

Key returnees: Sr. Jimmy Smiegocki 1B-P; Sr. Josh Phillips SS; Sr. Richard Roy 3B-P; Jr. Jonathan Eick C; Jr. Lukas Robinson 3B-P; Jr. Nick Scamuffa 1B-P; Jr. Mike Gambino 2B.

Key losses: Jared Bogdan OF; Toby Coleman 3B; Jimmy Eick OF; Ryan Godown OF-P; Jayck Lopez 2B-P.

Promising newcomers: Jr. Darrell Krieder OF; Fr. Leo Andreoli OF-C; Fr. John Hunt OF-3B-P; Fr. Robbie Rose 3B-P; Fr. Cameron Paventi OF; Fr. Joey Bacon 2B.

Outlook: Eagles have gone 38-104 over the the last eight seasons, but with seven returning starters to build around, this program may be ready to take a step forward. Weingart is now in his second season of trying to turn things around. Smiegocki returns as the ace in the rotation. Offense is once again a question mark, but if this team can hit, it has a chance to approach the .500 mark. Last year's club dropped five games by three runs or fewer.

Voorhees Vikings

Coach: Cory Kent (0-19, second season).

2014 record: 0-19, 0-10 Skyland Conference Raritan Division (sixth).

Key returnees: Sr. Kyle Pierson P-1B; Sr. Johnny Wernicki SS-2B; Jr. Tyler Kroll SS; Jr. David Wernicki 3B-P; Jr. Jake Twill C; Sr. James Cahill OF; Sr. Phil D'Armiento OF; So. Ryan Cahill OF-P; Sr. Toby Cozzolino OF.

Key losses: Matt Furka P; Will Palmer 1B-P; Evan Vaccarella C; Jendry Seijas 1B; Grant Palmer 2B;

Promising newcomers: Jr. Michael White 3B-C; Jr. Sean Morris P; Jr. Luke Twill P; Jr. Andrew Gonzalez OF; Jr. Matt Diacik P-2B-1B.

Coach's comment: "I am really looking forward to the new year. We have a strong group of athletes who are hungry and looking to prove themselves after last year."

Outlook: Things can only go up for the Vikings, who struggled mightily in their first season under Kent, a former standout player at Wilson (Pa.) in the Lehigh Valley. Unlike last spring, this group has a little more varsity experience to build around. There are seven to eight arms on the staff, and Kent expects as many as five to be starters. That leaves offense as a major question since the Vikes scored only a total of 80 runs in 21 games a year ago.

Warren Hills Blue Streaks

Coach: Mike Quinto (134-146, 11th season).

2014 record: 12-12, 6-4 Skyland Conference Raritan Division (third).

Key returnees: Sr. Christian Stagaard (.400 avg., 14 RBIs, 7 SBs) C-P; Sr. Craig Lawson (.434, 10 SBs) SS; Sr. Jake Larsen (.395, 12 RBIs, 4-2, 1.81) 1B-P; Jr. Anthony Veneziano (2 HRs, 8 RBIs, 3-5, 3.90, 47 K's) 1B-OF-P; Jr. Tim Woolf 2B; Jr. Matt Cummings (9 RBIs) OF-P; Sr. Nick Gagliano C-OF-3B; Jr. Evan Murray P-OF; Jr. Jon Fleck OF-P; Sr. Kyle Balaney OF-P.

Key losses: Alex Julian (.286, 11 RBIs) 3B; Nathaniel Capone (3-3, 1.52, 27 K's) P.

Promising newcomers: Jr. TJ Crowley OF; Jr. Jack Fenner INF; Jr. James Rother OF; Jr. Justin Wulff 3B-P; Jr. Kyle Barnes P; Fr. Thomas Moore 3B-P.

Coach's comment: "We return a number of varsity starters with more than one year of experience. Our strengths include the defense, especially up the middle, and our pitching staff. We also have good depth at all positions."

Outlook: Blue Streaks are one of the most experienced teams in the area when it comes to returning players, as seven have at least three seasons of varsity baseball under their belts. That should bode well for a program that is looking to get past the first round of the sectional playoffs after early exits in 2009, '10, '11, '12 and '14. Larsen, Stagaard and Veneziano are solid atop the rotation, while Lawson is one of the team's best defensive players. The main question will be if this team can produce enough runs.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Baseball: NJAC and Skyland divisional alignments

Here are the 2015-16 division alignments for both the Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference and the Skyland Conference.

(Note: There are crossovers between the Delaware and Raritan divisions).

Skyland baseball
Delaware Valley
Bound Brook
Hunterdon Central
North Hunterdon
Rutgers Prep
Gill St. Bernard's
Watchung Hills
North Plainfield
Warren Hills
South Hunterdon
NJAC baseball

Pope John
High Point

Lenape Valley


Mount Olive
Sussex Tech
Wallkill Valley

Morris Hills
North Warren

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Baseball: Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex schedule

Wednesday, April 1

(All games 4 p.m., unless noted)

Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference

Wallkill Valley at Hackettstown, ppd. TBA
Kittatinny at High Point, ppd. TBA
North Warren at Lenape Valley, ppd. TBA
Parsippany Hills at Pope John
Sparta at Roxbury, ppd. TBA

Skyland Conference

Pingry at Delaware Valley, 3:45 p.m.
Bridgewater-Raritan vs. Hunterdon Central at Diamond Nation, 3:45 p.m.
Phillipsburg at North Hunterdon, 3:45 p.m.
South Hunterdon at Bound Brook
Somerville at Voorhees, 3:45 p.m.
Warren Hills at Rutgers Prep, 3:45 p.m.
Gill St. Bernard’s at Belvidere, 3:45 p.m.

Thursday, April 2

(All games 4 p.m., unless noted)

Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference

Kittatinny at Sussex Tech, 3:45 p.m.
Wallkill Valley at Lenape Valley
Vernon at Butler
Hopatcong at West Morris


Hackettstown at Warren Hills, 3:45 p.m.
Phillipsburg at North Warren, 3:45 p.m.
Pope John at North Hunterdon, 4:15 p.m.
South Hunterdon at Pennington

Skyland Conference

Bernards at Delaware Valley, 4:15 p.m.

Friday, April 3


Newark Tech at Sussex Tech, 10 a.m.

Saturday, April 4

(All games 11 a.m., unless noted)


Kittatinny at Belvidere, 10 a.m.
Bernards at Lenape Valley
Notre Dame at Sussex Tech
South River at Delaware Valley
Hunterdon Central at Westfield

Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference

Newton at Sparta
Wallkill Valley at Pequannock, 10 a.m.

Skyland Conference

Voorhees at Phillipsburg, 10 a.m.
South Hunterdon at Franklin, 10 a.m.
Somerville at North Hunterdon, noon

Monday, April 6

(All games 4 p.m., unless noted)


High Point at Blair Academy, 4:15 p.m.
Morris Tech at Sussex Tech, 10 a.m.
Academy Charter at Hopatcong

Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference

Newton at Dover
Vernon at Jefferson, 11 a.m.
Morris Hills at Wallkill Valley, 2 p.m.

Tuesday, April 7

(All games 4 p.m., unless noted)

Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference

Jefferson at Hackettstown
High Point at Lenape Valley
Kittatinny at North Warren, 10 a.m.
Newton at Wallkill Valley
Pope John at Delbarton, 7 p.m.
Sparta at Chatham

Skyland Conference

Delaware Valley at Warren Hills, 3:45 p.m.
Ridge at Hunterdon Central
Phillipsburg at Watchung Hills, 3:45 p.m.
North Plainfield at South Hunterdon
Bernards at Voorhees, 3:45 p.m.
Belvidere at Pingry, 3:45 p.m.
North Hunterdon at Hillsborough, 3:45 p.m.


Sussex Tech at Somerset Tech

Wednesday, April 8

(All games 4 p.m., unless noted)

Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference

Morristown-Beard at Lenape Valley

Newton at Jefferson
Hopatcong at Sparta, 11 a.m.

Skyland Conference

Hunterdon Central at Watchung Hills, 3:45 p.m.
Ridge at Phillipsburg, 3:45 p.m.
Franklin at North Hunterdon, 11 a.m.

Thursday, April 9

(All games 4 p.m., unless noted)

Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference

Jefferson at High Point
Newton at Kittatinny
Lenape Valley at Sussex Tech
Hopatcong at North Warren, 3:45 p.m.
Pope John at Mount Olive
Vernon at Morris Hills

Skyland Conference

Somerville at Delaware Valley, 3:45 p.m.
Voorhees at Rutgers Prep, 3:45 p.m.
Warren Hills at Bernards
Belvidere at Bound Brook, 3:45 p.m.

Friday, April 10

(All games 4 p.m., unless noted)

Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference

Mountain Lakes at Hackettstown
High Point at Sparta
Vernon at Chatham

Skyland Conference

Hunterdon Central at Montgomery, 3:45 p.m.
Bridgewater-Raritan at North Hunterdon


Manville at Sussex Tech

Saturday, April 11

(All games 11 a.m., unless noted)

Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference

North Warren at Hackettstown
Morris Hills at Kittatinny
Lenape Valley at Butler


Warren Hills at High Point
Pope John at Demarest
Delaware Valley at Hopatcong, 10 a.m.
Randolph at Hunterdon Central
Mount Olive at Phillipsburg, noon
Burlington City at South Hunterdon
Voorhees at Princeton, noon
Belvidere at Hopatcong, 10 a.m.
Piscataway at North Hunterdon, 1 p.m.

Monday, April 13

(All games 4 p.m., unless noted)

Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference

Hackettstown at Newton
High Point at Hopatcong
Jefferson at Kitttatinny
Lenape Valley at Wallkill Valley
Sussex Tech at North Warren, 3:45 p.m.
Vernon at Pope John
Sparta at Mount Olive

Skyland Conference

Phillipsburg at Franklin, 3:45 p.m.
North Hunterdon at Montgomery


Delaware Valley at New Providence, 3:45 p.m.
Hamilton West at Hunterdon Central

Tuesday, April 14

(All games 3:45 p.m., unless noted)

Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference

Vernon at High Point, 4 p.m.

Skyland Conference

Delaware Valley at Rutgers Prep
Belvidere at South Hunterdon
Warren Hills at Voorhees

Wednesday, April 15

(All games 4 p.m., unless noted)

Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference

Lenape Valley at Hackettstown
Sussex Tech at High Point
Hopatcong at Kittatinny
Newton at Vernon
North Warren at Wallkill Valley
Sparta at Pope John

Skyland Conference

North Hunterdon at Hunterdon Central, 3:45 p.m.
Phillipsburg at Bridgewater-Raritan, 3:45 p.m.

Thursday, April 16

(All games 4 p.m., unless noted)

Skyland Conference

South Hunterdon at Manville, 7 p.m.
Warren Hills at Somerville, 3:45 p.m.


Notre Dame-East Stroudsburg (Pa.) at Belvidere
North Hunterdon at South Plainfield

Friday, April 17

(All games 4 p.m., unless noted)

Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference

Hackettstown at High Point
Wallkill Valley at Kittatinny
Newton at Hopatcong
Randolph at Pope John
Parsippany Hills at Sparta
Jefferson at Sussex Tech

Skyland Conference

Voorhees vs. Delaware Valley at Riegel Ridge, 7 p.m.
Hunterdon Central at Immaculata, 3:45 p.m.
Montgomery at Phillipsburg, 3:45 p.m.


Warwick Valley (N.Y.) at Vernon
North Warren at Pius X (Pa.)

Saturday, April 18

(All games 11 a.m., unless noted)

Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference

High Point at Wallkill Valley, 10:30 a.m.
Lenape Valley at Sparta
Jefferson at North Warren, 7 p.m.
Sussex Tech at Dover


Delaware Valley at Newton
Don Bosco Prep at Pope John, 10 a.m.
Vernon at Blair Academy, 2 p.m.
Rancocas Valley, South Brunswick, Robbinsville at Hunterdon Central Tournament, 10 a.m.
Pius X (Pa.) at Phillipsburg, 10 a.m.
Princeton at South Hunterdon
Warren Hills vs. Pascack Hills at Watchung Hills, noon

Skyland Conference

Voorhees at North Hunterdon, 11 a.m.
Warren Hills at Watchung Hills, 9 a.m.

Monday, April 20

(All games 4 p.m., unless noted)

Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference

Kittatinny at Hackettstown
North Warren at High Point
Newton at Lenape Valley
Hopatcong at Jefferson
Pope John at Morristown
Sparta at Delbarton
Wallkill Valley at Sussex Tech

Skyland Conference

Hunterdon Central at Phillipsburg, 3:45 p.m.
Manville at Belvidere, 3:45 p.m.

Tuesday, April 21

(All games 3:45 p.m., unless noted)

Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference

Sparta at Jefferson, 4 p.m.
Chatham at Vernon, 4 p.m.

Skyland Conference

Delaware Valley at Bernards, 4:15 p.m.
Gill St. Bernard’s at South Hunterdon
Voorhees at Somerville
Rutgers Prep at Warren Hills
North Plainfield at Belvidere


Steinert vs. North Hunterdon at Diamond Nation, 6 p.m.
North Warren at Notre Dame-East Stroudsburg (Pa.), 11 a.m.

Wednesday, April 22

(All games 4 p.m., unless noted)

Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex Tournament

Preliminary round

Belvidere at High Point
Kittatinny at Phillipsburg
South Hunterdon at Sussex Tech
Sparta at Warren Hills

Skyland Conference

Hillsborough at Hunterdon Central, 3:45 p.m.
North Hunterdon at Ridge

Thursday, April 23

(All games 4 p.m., unless noted)

Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference

Hackettstown at Sussex Tech
High Point at Mountain Lakes
Lenape Valley at Jefferson
North Warren at Newton
Morris Hills at Pope John
Vernon at Sparta
Wallkill Valley at Hopatcong

Skyland Conference

Warren Hills at Delaware Valley, 3:45 p.m.
Franklin at Hunterdon Central, 3:45 p.m.
Voorhees at Bernards, 3:45 p.m.

Friday, April 24

(All games 4 p.m., unless noted)


Minisink Valley (N.Y.) at Sparta, 4:15 p.m.
Boonton at Sussex Tech
Stroudsburg (Pa.) at Phillipsburg

Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference

High Point at Vernon

Skyland Conference

North Hunterdon at Immaculata, 3:45 p.m.

Saturday, April 25

Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex Tournament

First round, TBA


Memorial (N.Y.) vs. North Hunterdon at Bundt Park, 3 p.m.

Sunday, April 26


North Hunterdon at Edison, TBA

Monday, April 27

(All games 4 p.m., unless noted)

Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference

Sparta at High Point
Roxbury at Pope John
Wallkill Valley at Vernon


Hopatcong at Delaware Valley, 3:45 p.m.
North Warren at Blair Academy, 4:15 p.m.
Sussex Tech at Belvidere

Skyland Conference

Warren Hills at Montgomery, 3:45 p.m.

Tuesday, April 28

(All games 3:45 p.m., unless noted)

Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference

Hackettstown at Jefferson, 4 p.m.
Lenape Valley at High Point, 4 p.m.
North Warren at Kittatinny
Wallkill Valley at Newton, 4 p.m.
Morris Hills at Sparta, 4 p.m.
Mount Olive at Vernon, 4 p.m.
Hopatcong at Butler, 4 p.m.

Skyland Conference

Delaware Valley at Somerville
Hunterdon Central at Bridgewater-Raritan
North Hunterdon at Phillipsburg
Bound Brook at South Hunterdon
Rutgers Prep at Voorhees
Bernards at Warren Hills, 4:15 p.m.
Belvidere at Gill St. Bernard’s


St. Joseph at Pope John
Sussex Tech at Morris Tech

Wednesday, April 29

(All games 3:45 p.m.)

Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference

Hackettstown at Sussex Tech


Blair Academy at Newton
Hunterdon Central at Edison

Thursday, April 30

(All games 4 p.m., unless noted)

Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference

Hackettstown at Hopatcong
High Point at Wallkill Valley
Lenape Valley at Kittatinny
Sussex Tech at Newton
Mount Olive at Pope John
Morris Hills at Vernon

Skyland Conference

Rutgers Prep at Delaware Valley, 4:30 p.m.
Immaculata at Phillipsburg, 3:45 p.m.
Voorhees at Warren Hills, 3:45 p.m.
Pingry at Belvidere, 3:45 p.m.
Watchung Hills at North Hunterdon


New Hope-Solebury (Pa.) at South Hunterdon, 4:15 p.m.

Friday, May 1

(All games 4 p.m., unless noted)

Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference

Kittatinny at Pequannock
Morris Catholic at Vernon, 4:30 p.m.


Immaculata at Pope John
East Brunswick at Hunterdon Central
Minisink Valley (N.Y.) at Sparta

Skyland Conference

Delaware Valley at Franklin

Saturday, May 2

Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex Tournament

Quarterfinals, TBD


Phillipsburg vs. Easton (Pa.) at Hackett Park, 6:30 p.m.

Sunday, May 3

Skyland Conference

Warren Hills vs. Ridge at TD Bank Ballpark in Somerset, 7:05 p.m.

Monday, May 4

(All games 4 p.m., unless noted)

Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference

High Point at Jefferson
Kittatinny at Newton
Sussex Tech at Lenape Valley
North Warren at Hopatcong
Morris Knolls at Pope John
Randolph at Sparta
Vernon at Wallkill Valley

Skyland Conference

Pingry at Delaware Valley, 3:45 p.m.
North Hunterdon at Warren Hills, 3:45 p.m.


Belvidere at Hackettstown

Tuesday, May 5

(All games 3:45 p.m., unless noted)

Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference

Vernon at Newton, 4 p.m.
Pope John at Morristown, 4 p.m.

Skyland Conference

Delaware Valley at Voorhees
Watchung Hills at Hunterdon Central
Phillipsburg at Ridge
Somerville at Warren Hills
Bound Brook at Belvidere
North Hunterdon at Franklin

Wednesday, May 6

(All games 4 p.m., unless noted)

Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference

Hackettstown at Lenape Valley
High Point at Sussex Tech
Kittatinny at Hopatcong
Wallkill Valley at North Warren
Pope John at Montville
Sparta at Morristown
Vernon at Whippany Park


Mendham at Hunterdon Central, 4:15 p.m.

Thursday, May 7

(All games 4 p.m., unless noted)

Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference

Kinnelon at Sparta
Kittatinny at Hackettstown
North Warren at High Point

Skyland Conference

Delaware Valley at North Plainfield
Hunterdon Central at Voorhees, 3:45 p.m.
Franklin at Phillipsburg, 3:45 p.m.
South Hunterdon vs. Belvidere at Diamond Nation, 7 p.m.
Montgomery at North Hunterdon

Friday, May 8

(State cutoff, all games 4 p.m., unless noted)

Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference

Newton at High Point
Sussex Tech at Kittatinny, 3:45 p.m.
Hopatcong at Lenape Valley
Pope John at Vernon
Mount Olive at Sparta
Wallkill Valley at Jefferson

Skyland Conference

Phillipsburg at Warren Hills, 3:45 p.m.
Manville at South Hunterdon, 3:45 p.m.
Voorhees at Bridgewater-Raritan, 3:45 p.m.


Belvidere at Notre Dame-East Stroudsburg (Pa.)

Saturday, May 9

(All games 11 a.m., unless noted)

Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex Tournament

Semifinals, TBD

Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference

Montville at Lenape Valley
West Orange at Newton
Parsippany at Kittatinny


Sussex Tech at Glen Ridge
Delaware Valley vs. Delran at Trenton, 10 a.m.
Summit at Warren Hills

Monday, May 11

(All games 4 p.m., unless noted)

Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference

High Point at Hackettstown
Kittatinny at Wallkill Valley
Hopatcong at Newton
Pope John at Sparta
Sussex Tech at Jefferson


Voorhees at North Warren
Delaware Valley (Pa.) at Vernon
New Providence at Delaware Valley, 3:45 p.m.

Skyland Conference

Hunterdon Central at Warren Hills, 3:45 p.m.

Tuesday, May 12

(All games 4 p.m., unless noted)

Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference

Mount Olive at Lenape Valley

Skyland Conference

Immaculata at Hunterdon Central, 3:45 p.m.
Phillipsburg at Montgomery, 3:45 p.m.


North Hunterdon at West Morris
Belvidere at Kittatinny

Wednesday, May 13

(All games 4 p.m., unless noted)

Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference

High Point at Kittatinny, 3:45 p.m.
Jefferson at Lenape Valley
Newton at North Warren, 3:45 p.m.
Pope John at Morris Hills
Sparta at Vernon
Sussex Tech at Hackettstown
Hopatcong at Wallkill Valley

Skyland Conference

South Hunterdon at Delaware Valley, 3:45 p.m.
Hillsborough at Phillipsburg, 3:45 p.m.


Voorhees at West Morris

Thursday, May 14

(All games 4 p.m., unless noted)

Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference

Vernon at Mount Olive


Watchung Hills at High Point
North Warren at Warren Hills, 3:45 p.m.
Pope John at Bergen Catholic
Millburn at Sparta
Sussex Tech at Notre Dame

Skyland Conference

Hunterdon Central at Hillsborough, 3:45 p.m.
Belvidere at North Plainfield, 3:45 p.m.
Ridge at North Hunterdon

Friday, May 15

(All games at 4 p.m., unless noted)

Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference

Morris Catholic at Lenape Valley
Sparta at Morris Hills
Butler at Wallkill Valley

Skyland Conference

Phillipsburg at Delaware Valley at Riegel Ridge, 7 p.m.

Saturday, May 16

(All games 10 a.m., unless noted)

Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex Tournament

Championship at Diamond Nation, 7:30 p.m.

Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference

Vernon at Kittatinny

Skyland Conference

Belvidere at Warren Hills


Livingston at Lenape Valley, 2 p.m.
Pope John vs. Malvern Prep at Delbarton

Monday, May 18

(All games 4 p.m.)

NJSIAA playoffs

First round, TBD

Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference

Kinnelon at Newton


Pope John at St. Joseph’s-Metuchen

Skyland Conference

South Hunterdon at Gill St. Bernard’s, 3:45 p.m.

Tuesday, May 19

(All games 4 p.m., unless noted)

Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference

West Morris at Pope John
Wallkill Valley at Sparta

Skyland Conference

Pingry at South Hunterdon, 3:45 p.m.
Gill St. Bernard’s at Voorhees, 3:45 p.m.
Belvidere at Manville, 3:45 p.m.


Kittatinny vs. Wayne Valley at William Paterson University, 4:30 p.m.
North Hunterdon at Don Bosco Prep, 6 p.m.

Wednesday, May 20

(All games 4 p.m., unless noted)

Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference

Kittatinny at Morris Catholic
Vernon at Sparta

Skyland Conference

Warren Hills at Delaware Valley, 3:45 p.m.


Mount Olive at Voorhees

Thursday, May 21

NJSIAA playoffs

Second round, TBA


Hopatcong at Belvidere, 4 p.m.

Friday, May 22


Belvidere at North Warren, 3:45 p.m.

Tuesday, May 26

NJSIAA playoffs

Sectional semifinals, TBA

Friday, May 29

NJSIAA playoffs

Sectional finals, TBA

Tuesday, June 2

NJSIAA playoffs

State semifinals, TBA

Saturday, June 6

NJSIAA playoffs

State finals, TBA

Monday, March 16, 2015

Wrestling: Friedman, Pacheco winners for NJ stars

Steve Friedman of Phillipsburg and Andrew Pacheco of Warren Hills were among five winners for the New Jersey squad in a 28-18 loss to Pennsylvania in the 35th annual Easton Lions Club All-Star Wrestling Classic on Monday night at Easton Area High School's 25th Street Gymnasium.

New Jersey, which has now lost the last three events, had won three straight and four of the five classics prior to a 32-15 setback in 2013. Pennsylvania, which won, 36-6, in 2014, leads the overall series, 20-15, dating to 1981.

Friedman, a District 1 champion and Region 1 runner-up, earned a 5-3 decision over Freedom's Adam Evans at 145 pounds, while Phillipsburg teammate and state qualifier Max Elling closed out the match with a 10-0 major of Bangor's Charlie Sell.

Pacheco, a three-time district and two-time region champion for the Blue Streaks, decked Liberty's Kyle Gildner in 1:09. Max Nauta of Warren Hills dropped a 2-0 decision to Northampton's Todd Hetrick at 132.

North Hunterdon's Lucas Approvato (120) and Hunterdon Central's Nestor Crespo (190) both won by decisions for the New Jersey stars.

In the featured bout at 195, Parkland's Omar Haddad, who placed third in the PIAA Class AAA Tournament, scored a 2-1 win over New Jersey state champ Tyree Sutton of Keansburg.

Pius X's Mike Comunale earned the Outstanding Wrestler Award with a 5-2 win over New Jersey state placewinner William Povalac of Edison at 152.

120 -- Lucas Approvato (North Hunterdon), NJ, d. Anthony Roche (Easton), 5-2.
132 -- Todd Hetrick (Northampton), Pa., d. Max Nauta (Warren Hills), 2-0.
285 -- Andrew Pacheco (Warren Hills), NJ, p. Kyle Gildner (Liberty), 1:09.
220 -- Jason Kocher (Northampton), Pa., d. Gavin Lally (Sparta), 8-5.
170 -- Jake Young (Freedom), Pa., p. Kevin Merle (Belvidere), 2:47.
126 -- Travis Smith (Nazareth), Pa., md. Ryan Erwin (Delaware Valley), 14-2.
152 -- Mike Comunale (Pius X), Pa., d. William Povalac (Edison), 5-2.
182 -- John Callahan (Freedom), Pa., d. Nick Suk (Hunterdon Central), 3-1.
190 -- Nestor Crespo (Hunterdon Central), NJ, d. Alex Russo (Northwestern), 3-2.
145 -- Steve Friedman (Phillipsburg), NJ, d. Adam Evans (Freedom), 5-3.
165 -- Dallas LaBar (Bangor), Pa., d. Michael Sicola (North Hunterdon), 3-1.
195 -- Omar Haddad (Parkland), Pa., d. Tyree Sutton (Keansburg), 2-1.
160 -- Max Elling (Phillipsburg), NJ, md. Charlie Sell (Bangor), 10-0.
Outstanding Wrestler Award -- Mike Comunale, Pius X.

(Youth match)


55 -- Jason Trimmer, Easton Saints, d. Patrick Horvath, Belvidere, 2-1.
60 -- Cael McIntyre, Forks, md. Nico Calello, Edison, 9-1.
65 -- Braxton Appello, Palmer, d. Gavin Hawk, Pohatcong, 7-0.
70 -- Jake Jones, Saucon Valley, md. Hunter Lensi, Belvidere, 11-2.
75 -- Evan Gleason, Forks, d. Logan Maczko, Lopatcong, 4-2 OT.
80 -- Elijah Bundro, Weaver Elite, md. Tyler Marason, Steele Hill, 19-6.
85 -- Travis Jones, Phillipsburg, p. Kyron Bryson, Easton Saints, 2:21.
90 -- Shane Van Ness, Somerville, tf. Dillon Murphy, Stroudsburg, 17-1, 6:00.
95 -- Jonathan Miers, Easton, p. Ben Lilly, North Warren, :55.
100 -- Quinn Melofchik, Belvidere, d. Mason Werkheiser, Easton, 6-2.
108 -- Ryan Anderson, Hackettstown, p. Gaven Krazer, Easton, 1:36.
116 -- Joshua Jones, Saucon Valley, d. Jayson Zinsmeister, Phillipsburg, 4-1.
125 -- Justin Kyra, Saucon Valley, d. Vincent Romaniello, Flemington, 6-3.
135 -- Blake Daniel, Easton, md. Kyle Tino, Phillipsburg, 11-1.
145 -- Isaiah DeJesus, Easton, p. Denny Perez, Phillipsburg, 2:29.
Outstanding Wrestler Award -- Shane Van Ness, Somerville.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Wrestling: Easton Lions Club Classic matchups, info

The 35th annual Easton Lions Club All-Star Wrestling Classic will be held Monday at Easton Area High School's 25th Street Gymnasium.

The match pits seniors from New Jersey against their counterparts from Pennsylvania's rugged District 11. The high school event, slated for 8 p.m., is preceded by a youth event at 6.

Pennsylvania won last year's event, 36-6. New Jersey, which has lost the last two events, had won four of the previous five classics. Pennsylvania leads the overall series, 19-15, dating to 1981.

Bouts will be three periods of 2 minutes, 1 1/2  and 1 1/2 minutes in length.

Tickets, available at the door, are $6 for adults, $4 for seniors (65 and older) and $3 for students.

Tentative high school matchups (New Jersey listed first):

120 -- Lucas Approvato (30-5, 47-20, D2), North Hunterdon, vs. Anthony Roche (17-12, D6), Easton.

126 -- Ryan Erwin (33-7, 61-28, D2, R3), Delaware Valley, vs. Travis Smith (32-11, D5, R4), Nazareth.

132 -- Max Nauta (30-8, 123-29, D1, R1), Warren Hills, vs. Todd Hetrick (32-9, D3), Northampton.

145 -- Steve Friedman (31-11, 89-58, D1, R2), Phillipsburg, vs. Adam Evans (34-6, 71-50, D4, R4), Freedom.

152 -- William Povalac (39-5, 136-26, D1, R2, S4), Edison, vs. Mike Communale (35-1, 137-25, D1, R1, S3), Pius X.

160 -- Max Elling (43-4, 128-37, D1, R3, S3), Phillipsburg, vs. Charlie Sell (38-4, D4, R5), Bangor.

165 -- Michael Sicola (33-7, 83-42, D1, R2), North Hunterdon, vs. Dallas LaBar (40-7, D5, R4), Bangor.

170 -- Kevin Merle (31-5, 632-8, D2), Belvidere, vs. Jake Young (33-4, D3, R6), Freedom.

182 -- Nick Suk (37-9, 64-20, D3, R3), Hunterdon Central, vs. John Callahan (26-6, 95-42, D1, R2), Freedom.

190 -- Nestor Crespo (39-5, 95-41, D1, R2), Hunterdon Central, vs. Tom Alcaro (31-5, D2, R3), Emmaus.

195 -- Tyree Sutton (42-0, 100-14, D1, R1, S1), Keansburg, vs. Omar Haddad (43-9, 131-47, D1, R1, S3), Parkland.

220 -- Gavin Lally (38-4, 87-24, D1, R3), Sparta, vs. Jason Kocher (26-10, D3, R3), Northampton.

285 -- Andrew Pacheco (29-4, 105-22, D1, R1), Warren Hills, vs. Kyle Gildner (29-18, 43-39, D4, R4), Liberty.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Wrestling: Melise going for gold in '16; AC notes

Time to put a bow on the 2014-15 wrestling season with a few leftover odds and ends from the weekend in Atlantic City.

The Open Mike area collected six medals in the 82nd State Wrestling Championships, including thirds by North Hunterdon's Ryan Pomrinca and Phillipsburg's Max Elling. Both were favorites to reach the championship round, where Hunterdon-Warren did not have a finalist for just the 11th time since the tournament began in 1934, and for the sixth time since 2001.

From 1942-98, the H-W area produced at least one finalist each tournament. In addition to this season, the area was shut out of the finals in 1935, '36, '37, '38, '41, 2001, '04, '05, '08 and '09.

Voorhees junior Kyle DiNapoli, eighth at 120 pounds, and Phillipsburg sophomore Robert Melise, fifth at 220, were the only underclassmen in the HWS area to earn medals at Boardwalk Hall.

Sophomore on rise

It's been an eventful first two seasons for Melise, who was a hero in Phillipsburg's win over Southern in the 2014 Group 4 final. For an encore, the sophomore capped a fine season with his a state medal in his first appearance in AC.

With two seasons left, could this be the first of three medals and possibly a state title? Brandon Hull is the Stateliners' last champion and the program's 33rd overall -- winning at 220 in 2012.

Melise said he started to turn the corner as a wrestler in the youth program, as an undersized upper weight. As a freshman, he had to drink water just to weigh-in at 195 to wrestle 220. Now, Melise is a legitimate upper weight, and he said he benefited this season by competing at 285 early on.

"It wasn't until my eighth-grade year that I was actually decent," said Melise, who finished 38-9 on the season and is 43-15 overall. "I was about 150 wrestling in the 240-pound class. It really set me up for high school, going undefeated in grade school."

Working with assistant coaches Josh Haines (a two-time PIAA Class AAA state champ for Northampton) and Bryan Kopesky (three-time District 1 runner-up for the 'Liners) also prepared Melise for dropping to 220.

"The 220-pounders shoot [for takedowns], and I have gotten better at defending shots," Melise said. "Haines and Kopesky shoot like 106-pounders."

Melise and junior Brandon Paetzell should be P'burg's best hopes for a finalist next season. Paetzell is a two-time state placewinner, finishing second at 106 in 2014. He was sidelined most of this season with a hand injury.

Pomrinca's promise

Keep an eye on North Hunterdon junior Brian Smolinsky next season. Despite going 0-2 in  his first trip to states, Smolinsky enjoyed a breakout 36-4 season, winning his first District 17 title and placing third in Region 5 at 152 pounds.

Smolinsky made a believer out of Pomrinca, who said the experience of getting to Boardwalk Hall will benefit his teammate next time around.

"The first time [in AC] is a little daunting," said the Lehigh-bound Pomrinca, a three-time placewinner and Hunterdon-Warren's all-time wins leader at 155-13. "He'll be here again."

Pomrinca lamented not being more aggressive in a 2-1 overtime loss in the 126-pound semifinals to eventual champ Patrick D'Arcy of Holy Spirit. After that loss, Pomrinca went back to his hotel and regrouped mentally for a run at a second third-place medal.

"Nothing was stopping me in the last tournament of the year," he said.

"He got himself together in a hurry," said Lions coach Tim Flynn, who has coached seven state placewinners in his six seasons at the helm. "Some people are so crushed after losing in the semifinals, they can't [come back ready for the wrestlebacks]. [Sunday] morning, he was ready to go."

Pomrinca scored a 4-1 win over Randolph's A.J. Vindici in the consolation semifinals before beating DePaul's Matt Noble for a second time in the tournament, 7-3, for third. Pomrinca beat Noble, 3-2, in the quarterfinals on Saturday. In two previous meetings, Pomrinca won decisions of 7-5 in 2012 and 3-1 in '13, when Noble was at Bridgewater-Raritan.

All in the family

It was a bittersweet tournament for High Point's Jason Gaccione and coach John Gardner, who is also Gaccione's uncle. The season ended with another state medal for Gaccione, who placed fifth after a fourth-place finish as a sophomore, but it was the final time that Gardner will get to coach a family member.

Gaccione's brother, Joe, had a fine career for the 'Cats that concluded with a third-place finish at 145 in 2011, the same tournament in which High Point crowned four state champions.

"I'm very happy [Jason] placed," said Gardner, who won three state medals and the 1990 state title at 189 pounds for the Sussex County school. "I'm happy he was able to walk off the mat for the last time with a win. I hadn't really thought about it [being the last time] too much, until I watched him run out [to the mat]."

Gaccione was seven seconds away from reaching his own state final, when he gave up a reversal in a 3-2 loss to Brick Memorial's Alec Donovan, who went on to win the title.

"It's a very difficult thing being so close to where you truly want to be," Gardner said. "He was pretty close to being in the finals."

Gaccione was part of a special senior group that included Dom Gallo (126) and Mike Derin (132). Gallo was a two-time District 3 champion and state qualifier, while Derin won a pair of District 3 and Region 1 titles -- finishing eighth in the state as a sophomore. This season, Derin's season ended prematurely with a knee injury. As a team, these guys were a part of three sectional titles and two Group 2 championships.

Gallo and Gaccione also added their names to the program's list of 100-match winners.

"Jason, Dom and Mike picked up the pieces when we needed guys to step in. A lot of people had written us off [after graduating a lot of talent from the 2010-11 squad that won the Group 3 title]. "If you look at the success these guys had, it's pretty amazing."

"I loved every second of my career," said Gaccione, who will continue to wrestle at Division II Millersville next season.

The senior also said he'd like to coach in the future. Maybe we'll see a Gardner-Gaccione combination on the High Point bench in a few years.

End for AC?

In speaking with NJSIAA executive director Steve Timko during the fall, there are few options when it comes to hosting the State Wrestling Championships. The NJSIAA's latest three-year deal with Boardwalk Hall ended in 2015, and Timko said the Prudential Center in Newark is being considered as a potential site.

Atlantic City has hosted the championships 21 times from 1992 to 2015, with the tournament shifting to the Meadowlands for the 2000 and '01 tournaments while Boardwalk Hall was undergoing renovations. Only Princeton University (22 from 1970-91) has hosted more state tournaments than AC.

Other former hosts include the Elizabeth Armory (nine times, 1947-55), Rutgers (seven from 1959-65) and Asbury Park Convention Hall (four from 1966-69). In addition, 10 high schools have been sites for the tournament -- Union, Somerville, Roselle Park, Teaneck, Grover Cleveland Jr. (Elizabeth), Springfield, Thomas Jefferson, Rahway and Belvidere (1946). Union hosted the first four tournaments from 1934-37.

Back points

Newton senior Gus Protogeropoulos (seventh place at 195) is the seventh state placewinner for coach Eric Bollette. Not bad for a wrestler who was 6-17 as a freshman, his first season in the sport.

"I made the most of what I had," Protogeropoulos said. "I was in karate my whole life. [After that freshman season] it motivated me and I wanted to get better. It's a bad feeling to know it's over. I wish I had started earlier."

It was heartbreak city for five other Sussex County wrestlers -- Hopatcong's Joe Aumann (113), Kittatinny's Austin Scrivani (132), High Point's Jared Kobis (138), Lenape Valley's D.J. Barrett (182) and Sparta's Gavin Lally (220) -- who all finished one round shy of earning a medal. Both Kobis and Lally lost in OT in their final bouts.

Elling, who became Phillipsburg's career wins leader early on in the state tournament, also owns the single-season record in going 43-4, eclipsing Jake Kocsis' total of 41 wins last season. Elling finished 128-37 overall.

Region 1 produced a total of 16 medal winners, including Wayne Hills junior Daniel Kilroy, who became the Passaic County school's first placewinner with a fifth at 170 pounds. Kilroy is also just the second wrestler in the program to win a Region 1 title.

County gold breakdown

New Jersey has crowned a total of 988 state champions since 1934. Here's a breakdown of winners produced in each county since that first tournament. The 2015 champs for their respective counties in parentheses:

Union 129
Sussex 113
Bergen 113 (Nick Suriano, Shane Griffith, Joe Grello and Kevin Mulligan of Bergen Catholic; Kyle Bierdumpfel and Zack Chakonis of Don Bosco Prep)
Warren 85 
Ocean 62 (Alec Donovan, Brick Memorial)
Morris 61 (Gerard Angelo, Hanover Park; Joe Tavoso, Delbarton)
Somerset 61
Gloucester 58
Camden 57
Middlesex 41
Monmouth 38 (Tyree Sutton, Keansburg)
Hunterdon 36
Essex 34
Burlington 24
Passaic 22 (David McFadden, DePaul)
Atlantic 20 (Patrick D'Arcy, Holy Spirit)
Cumberland 12
Salem 8
Hudson 7 (Christian Colucci, St. Peter's Prep)
Cape May 4
Mercer 3 (Brandon Cray, Steinert)