2012 Diamond Notes

The Trout Connection
December 19, 2012

Photo courtesy of Angels BaseballBaseball fans everywhere are aware of Mike Trout, the Angels' sensational defensive outfielder who was the unanimous choice for American League Rookie of the Year. The 21 year old New Jersey native was the first player in major league history with at least 30 home runs, 125 runs and 45 stolen bases in a season.

He led the majors with 129 runs and 49 steals as he joined Ted Williams, Mel Ott, and Alex Rodriquez as the only players to hit .320 or higher with 30 or more home runs in a season they started as a 20 year old.

Baseball fans may not know that his father Jeff Trout was an outstanding second baseman for the ACBL champion Allentown Wings in 1982. "Trouty" established seasonal hits and runs records which still stand thirty years later. Trout hit .481 in 40 games with 57 runs and 77 hits which included twelve doubles, six triples, ten home runs and 44 RBIs. Amazingly he only struck out ten times in 160 at bats and stole 13 bases also.

In 1983 he was drafted in the fifth round by the Minnesota Twins out of the University of Delaware. Jeff played four seasons in the Twins organization with the last three seasons at AA Orlando. In 1986 he hit .326 and after the season he returned to Millville, NJ to teach history and raise a family.

Photo courtesy of Angels Baseball

Lannan Signs with Phillies
December 16, 2012

Former Long Island Collegian, John Lannan signs with the philadelphia PhilliesJohn Lannan (Long Island Collegians, 2003) signed a one year contact with the Phillies and hopes to be their fifth starter for the 2013 season.

The 28 year old LHP was a 2003 All-Star for the Collegians as he went 6-2 with a 2.49 ERA in 47 innings.

He was drafted out of Siena College by the Montreal Expos in the 11th round of the 2005 amateur draft.

In six seasons for the Nationals he is 42-52 with a 4.01 ERA in 134 starts.

In 2012 he posted a 4-1 record in six starts. He pitched mostly at AAA Syracuse, but was brought up in September to replace Stephen Strasburg in the rotation.

Gorski added to Mets roster
December 4, 2012

Gorski added to Mets rosterDarin Gorski (Quakertown, 2007; Kutztown,2008) was recently added to the New York Mets 40-man roster.

The 6-4 LHP went 9-8 with a 4.00 ERA in 24 starts for Binghamton (AA) this summer. In 2011 he was the Mets Organizational Player of the Year after going 11-3 with a 2.08 ERA for St. Lucie (High A). He was a seventh round pick of the Mets in the 2009 draft and will join former Kutztown Rockie Zach Lutz on the Mets roster.

Eric Smith (Stamford, 2007) was added to the Arizona roster also. The 6-2 RHP was a second round pick of the Diamondbacks in 2009.

ACBL Announces 2012 Postseason Awards
August 17, 2012

Southampton's Paul Paez Southampton's Paul Paez led the ACBL in wins (7) and strikeouts (82) and was named the Darrin Winston Most Valuable Pitcher Award.

The 2012 Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League (ACBL) season had no shortage of outstanding performances all year long, and on Friday, the league announced the winners of its individual’s awards, with Center Moriches catcher Joe Solomeno (Pace) and Shelter Island infielder Thomas Roulis (Dartmouth) sharing Santy Gallone Most Valuable Player Award honors.

Southampton lefthander Paul Paez (Rio Hondo JC) reeled in the Darrin Winston Most Valuable Pitcher Award after leading the league in wins and strikeouts, while North Jersey southpaw Rich Anastasi (Fordham) was selected for the Outstanding Relief Pitcher Award after recording seven victories out of the bullpen for the ACBL champion North Jersey Eagles.

Solomeno also collected the league’s Hitting Award, awarded to the player with the highest batting average, while Staten Island catcher Gabby Molina (Keystone) earned the slugging award with a .726 slugging percentage.

Voting was done by a panel of the 17 field managers in the ACBL. The co-MVP honors were the first since 2009 when Jersey’s Ken Gregory and Riverhead’s Peter Greskoff split the award.

Solomeno had one of the best years in the league’s illustrious history, leading all hitters in average (.421), hits (61), doubles (14), RBI (53) and total bases (96). His year included a five-hit effort on opening night, a 10-9 triumph over Westhampton, and a stretch of 11 straight games in which he had at least one RBI. He was the starting catcher for the Hampton Division All-Star Team on July 19 at MCU Park in Brooklyn.

All Roulis did in his summer on Shelter Island was lead the league in runs scored (41) and stolen bases (24) while hitting at a .399 clip and finishing second behind Solomeno in hits (59). He sparked a Bucks offense that led the league in runs scored with 281; as a unit they carried the first-year squad to the Hampton Division regular-season crown. Roulis enjoyed a mid-season stretch in which he had a hit in 14 consecutive games.

Paez, an 18th-round pick of the New York Mets in 2012, dominated from day one in Southampton, striking out 12 over five innings in his debut against Shelter Island June 4. He fanned a season-best 13 in Southampton’s victory over Riverhead on July 14, and Paez tied former Tomcat right-hander Nick Tropeano for single-season wins by recording his seventh in the Breakers’ 9-4 triumph over Center Moriches on July 22.

He finished his season with 82 strikeouts, breaking Tropeano’s Hamptons mark of 77 in 2009. It also put Paez just outside the top five in ACBL history. Paez, who was named starting pitcher for the Hampton Division All-Stars, limited hitters to just 35 hits in 60 regular-season innings.

Anastasi tied Paez for the league high in victories despite making just two starts for the Eagles. He went 7-0 with a 2.11 ERA, also notching two saves. The senior missed bats all year long, striking out 57 batters in 42.2 innings, and his arsenal was particularly tough on right-handed hitters, who were limited to a .175 batting average against the Rams’ rising senior.

A Wolff/Kaiser All-Star selection, Anastasi shined in the postseason as well, recording the save in games two and three of the Wolff Division championship series, both played on the same day, the ACBL semifinal against Southampton, and then the ACBL final against the Kaiser Division champion New York.

Molina was a mainstay behind the plate for Staten Island, but he also wielded a mighty bat. Of the senior’s 27 hits this season, 16 went for extra bases, including 11 doubles and five home runs. Molina’s work allowed the Tide to claim the Kaiser Division regular-season title for the second straight summer.

Santy Gallone Most Valuable Player Award: Joe Solomeno (Pace / Center Moriches) and Thomas Roulis (Dartmouth / Shelter Island)
Darrin Winston Most Valuable Pitcher Award: Paul Paez (Rio Hondo JC / Southampton)
Most Valuable Reliever Award: Rich Anastasi (Fordham / North Jersey)
Hitting Award: Joe Solomeno (Pace / Center Moriches)
Slugging Award: Gabby Molina (Keystone / Staten Island)
All-Star Game MVP: Matt Moceri (Davis & Elkins / Trenton)

Eagles Topple Atlantics to Capture First League Title
August 5, 2012

North Jersey raises the Championship Trophy By Greg Diener (photos by Jeff Noreman)

OYSTER BAY, N.Y. – Heading into the ACBL playoffs, most people would have written off the North Jersey Eagles, who finished the regular season under .500 but still managed to grab the third seed in the Wolff Division playoffs. That didn’t stop the Eagles from overcoming the odds, and now they can head back to North Jersey as champions of the Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League, having defeated the New York Atlantics, champions of the ACBL Kaiser Division, by a final score of 3-2 at Charles B. Wang Athletic Complex.

North Jersey, which had never been in the playoffs in their four-year history prior to this season, earned their first-ever playoff berth near the end of the regular season. It overcame 1-0 series deficits against rivals Quakertown and Trenton to claim the Wolff Division crown. The Eagles continued their Cinderella run to the ACBL title defeating the Hamptons Division champ Southampton 4-3 before advancing to knock off the Atlantics. North Jersey’s last five victories came by one run.

New Jersey Eagles Chris Smith drives in a run The Eagles got all the offensive production they needed in the top of the fifth inning, when Chris Smith (Wagner) laced a single down the third base line for North Jersey’s first hit of the game. The hit by Smith ended a streak of 13 straight retired batters by New York starter Kevin Chenicek (LIU Post) to start the game.

Following a walk to Greg Smith (Rollins), the Eagles got the first run of the game on an RBI single by Jamie Wollerman (Southern New Hampshire). Kenneth Kirshner (St. Thomas Aquinas) and Stanley Paul (Connecticut) drove in the other two runs in the inning to give the Eagles a three-run lead. The Atlantics attempted to rally in the bottom half of the inning, when Mike Perrone (Vassar) ripped a double to right field that was fielded off the wall by the Eagles’ Tyler McCarthy (George Washington). McCarthy made an incredible throw to the cutoff man, who threw out Dan Roland (St. John’s) at the plate to keep the score at 3-0.

The Atlantics scored their first run in the game on a solo home run from Mike Russo (St. Thomas Aquinas) in the bottom of the seventh. Chris Kalousdian (Manhattan) hit a double to right center with two out that cut the score to 3-2.

Danny O’Neill (Rutgers) retired the Atlantics 1-2-3 in the bottom of the ninth to earn the save and clinch the ACBL championship for North Jersey. North Jersey starting pitcher Joey Gandolfo (Columbia) pitched the first four innings only allowing three hits with seven strikeouts.

The Eagles bullpen took over as Kevin Lee (Rhode Island) pitched a scoreless fifth inning, earning the win, while Pat Butler (Connecticut) and O’Neill pitched two innings each. For New York, Chenicek went the distance in the loss giving up three runs and five hits along with eight strikeouts with one walk.

The ACBL championship returned the Wolff Division for the first time since 2008. The Hampton Division captured the 2009 and 2010 crowns, while the Staten Island Tide chalked one up for the Kaiser Division last summer.

Eagles Best Breakers, Earn Spot in Championship
August 4, 2012

Eagles starter Brian Drapeau By Jim Furlong (photos by Jeff Noreman)

SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. – The resilient New Jersey Eagles continue to enjoy "a magical season."

With Chris Smith producing the game-winning hit and Brian Drapeau pitching eight solid innings, the Breakers eliminated the Southampton Breakers 4-3 Saturday night in the semifinals of the 2012 ACBL playoffs.

"This has been a magical season for us," said manager Jorge Hernandez. "We came through in the clutch. The whole roster is full of playmakers. Our pitching is the strong point of the team and clutch hitting. It's hard to name an MVP because everyone contributes." The Eagles, the Wolff Division champion, won for the fifth time in seven playoff games, and earned their third-consecutive victory on the opponent's field.

"This is like being an Olympic athlete and winning," said catcher Chris Bonti. "We were terrible at the beginning (of the regular season); we started 3-9. Going into the playoffs, everyone doubted us. The other teams felt they had to win and that played to our advantage. We played loose."

Before conquering the Breakers, the Hamptons champion, on their home field in eastern Long Island, New Jersey eliminated the Quakertown Blazers and the top-seeded Trenton Generals by a 2-1 playoff margins.

Drapeau, a poised righthander who pitched a season-best eight innings Saturday, is confident the Eagles will earn the 2012 ACBL title when they challenge New York Atlantics on the road Sunday.

"We are on cloud nine," said Drapeau. "We have hit the point where we are at our best, and even when we are not at our best, no one can stop us when we play as one unit."

New Jersey Eagles Chris Smith drove in two runsThe Eagles, playing their fourth game in less than 72 hours, rallied for three runs in the top of the sixth inning against the Hamptons' premier 2012 pitcher, lefthander Paul Paez, who is considering transferring to Louisiana State.

"This (semifinal success) is rewarding, satisfying," said Drapeau. "You put in the work every day. You are not going out at night, two-hour bus trips and get back at 1 a.m ... it becomes your life. Then you realize all your hard work results in the ultimate win. Nothing can top that feeling."

The Eagles, who are located in southern Bergen County, surged as the No. 3 seed from Wolff Division, and now own a 24-23 overall record. "We are the ultimate Cinderella story," said general manager Brian Casey. "I call us 'Team Adversity.’ It was third-and-11 for all the playoff games."

New Jersey, in their fourth season competing in the ACBL, lost both its openers in the Wolff semifinal and final. Hernandez directed hit squad to a 5-4 win to eliminate Quakertown. At Trenton, the Eagles came alive on Friday to sweep a doubleheader 7-6 and 3-2. North Jersey bounced back from a 9-3 setback in Thursday's first game against the Generals.

At Southampton, the home team scored in the first when Robb Scott's RBI single plated Vinny Zarrillo, who led off with a double. Chris Smith slugged a solo homer in the second, but it was the bottom of the third proved key to the outcome. Drapeau, with a 3-2 summer record, walked four consecutive Breakers to force in a run – Rob Fonseca got the RBI. The Breakers hoped for a big uprising, but the threat died with a 5-3 double-play grounder.

Paez, who lost for only the third time in 11 decisions this summer, dominated for the most part, notching 11 strikeouts. Still, the Eagles managed to piece together a rally in the sixth. Stanley Paul walked and Kyle Grimm smacked a single. Tyler McCarthy's RBI single then tied the score 2-2. With two outs, Chris Smith doubled to left to score two more runs.

"I just wanted to come through for the team," said Smith. "It was a big spot and (Paez) tried to sneak a fastball by me and I turned on it. … This is definitely something we were capable of."

In the seventh, the Breakers cut their deficit to 4-3. Zarrillo walked and stole second base. Brenton Allen added a bloop single to left field for an RBI. They mounted another threat in the ninth against lefthander Rich Anastasi, who matched Paez’s seven wins despite pitching predominantly out of the bullpen. The Breakers put two men on thanks to an infield error and a Scott single, but Anastasi shut the door with back-to-back strikeouts.

"We have to try to stay stable until we win the whole thing. Then I might go nuts," said Hernandez, knowing his team needs one more victory against the New York Atlantics.

The Breakers were denied their first ACBL crown.

"It stinks to lose the last game after coming all this way (the last two months), but I made a great group of friends," said Fonseca "We didn't make it happen. There is always next year."

Zarrillo said a lack of timely hitting hurt.

"We didn't get hits in big spots," he said. "We had a great season. We won the division, but we didn't go all the way. We came up a little short."

Southampton, with a 25-20 overall record, won four of its six playoff games, eliminating two Hamptons rivals, the North Fork Ospreys and the Riverhead Tomcats.

"I am proud of our guys," said Southampton manager Rob Cafiero. "They played well all season, especially down the stretch, but it is a disappointment to lose your last game."

For Scott, his three-year Southampton career ended with impressive individual highlights (including setting the HCB career records for runs scored and hits and games played) but no ACBL trophy for his team.

"That was really tough – my last game here," said Scott. "This has come almost like my home out here. … We left it all on the field. We all emptied the tank. Everyone is absolutely exhausted.

"No regrets."

Tide Take Game One in Best of Three Kaiser Championship
August 2, 2012

Staten Island vs New York By Jeff Noreman (photos by Jeff Noreman)

Offensively, the Tide was quiet for much of game at Richmond County. But in the eighth inning, they smacked back with a wave of seven runs and built a four run lead. They made that lead stick and won by the score of 8-4 in the first game of the Championship Series of the Kaiser Division.

The Atlantics cruised through seven innings, building up a 4-1 lead. Up to then, they had seven hits against Tide starter Robert Maguire (Sacred Heart), several Tide errors made all of those runs unearned. Maguire pitched 6 2/3 innings, and then Richard Anderson (College of Staten Island) took over and held the Atlantics scoreless.

The Tide began rolling in their half of the eight. They began the inning with a Matt Troisi (Manhattan) single. After Juan Bueno (Manhattan) popped out to the catcher, Cliff Brantley (Wagner) reached on an error. Shane Alvarez (Kean) singled to left, loading the bases for Chris Selden (Seton Hall) who singled to center and drove in two runs. Atlantics starter Max Schonfied (Molloy) got Gabby Molina (Keystone) to ground to third without the runners advancing. But the next batter Richard Mejia (Adelphi) doubled in the two runners and the Tide took the lead for good.

"Rich Mejia came through with the big hit," said manager Tommy Weber. "He’s been clutch all season long. Outstanding hitter, kid out of Adelphi that’s going to have an outstanding future."

"I got it off the end a little bit, so I thought he was going to catch it, actually," said Mejia of his eight inning double to left center. I got lucky, it found a gap in a good spot. The ball carried, so it was good." Mejia ended the day 3-for-4 with two RBI’s and two runs scored.

"We’ve been through this with these guys so many times," said Selden about the eight inning comeback. "It’s kind of the way our team is this year. We’re kind of relaxed. We don’t press, we don’t get excited where we have to score. It was the bottom of the eight and we still had another half inning to score."

"Chris Selden has been, in my opinion, the best player in the league all year," said Weber. "Once again, came through with a huge base hit in that last inning. He had a couple of miscues (at third base), so it was really good to see him make up for it with a big base hit."

The series is a best of three and continues today, Thursday August 2, at the Richmond Hill Youth Complex, 1350 Travis Avenue in Staten Island (directions are available here). Admission, as usual, is free.

Pitching Dominates at ACBL All-Star Game
July 21, 2012

Riverhead's Will Bacon threw a scoreless inningBy Jeff Noreman (photos by Jeff Noreman)

The combined Kaiser & Wolff Division All Star Team strung together three hits in the top of the first inning to jump out to a 2-0 lead over the Hamptons Division All-Stars. They made it stand up throughout the game where pitchers from all ACBL divisions dominated. In front of families, fans and scouts, the Kaiser/Wolff squad earned a 2-1 win in the nine inning game at MCU Ballpark in Coney Island.

Shamrocks outfielder Steve Goldstein (Stony Brook) led off the game by beating out a grounder to third. Lehigh Valley’s Corey Jensen (Whittier) followed him with a sharp double to left. After Paul Paez (Rio Hondo JC) of Southampton struck out the next batter, Trenton General’s DH Matt Moceri (Davis & Elkins) lined an 0-2 pitch to left center for a single, scoring both runners.

"It was a changeup down the middle, and I swung and … it came out well," said a humble Moceri. "I was looking offspeed, I didn’t think he was going to throw another fastball. It worked out."

The story of the game was painted in innings two through eight. The pitching for both sides was consistently solid to excellent. During those innings, only three hits were given up in total, yielding no runs for either side. One of those pitchers was the Tides Matt Mantione (Kean), who pitched a 1-2-3 fourth inning. Mantione got the call that he was playing in the All Star Game just two days before.

Sam Frost (Mississippi St.) scored for the Hamptons teamWesthampton’s Danny Goldstein (Bucknell) had a very solid performance in the seventh inning. His arsenal includes a fastball, slider, changeup, and sinker, which he used as he faced three batters, fanning two of them. When asked which of his pitches worked best for him today, Goldstein responded, "They all felt pretty great, to be honest. I don’t mean to boast, but they all felt pretty great."

Goldstein was one of many players that call the area home, having grown up in the New York, New Jersey, & Long Island tristate area.

The Aviators Sam Frost (Mississippi St.) scored the Hamptons run. He played third base and reached base in both of his at bats. Tomcats DH Jim Luppens (Canisius) appreciated being selected to represent the Hamptons All-Stars as well. "It was my first time," said Luppens. "It’s an nice stadium. It was a great atmosphere tonight. But I wish we could have won it."

Kaiser/Wolff closer Dashon Jones (Union CC) of the Pilots came into the game with guns blazing in the bottom of the ninth. Several times he touched 93mph on the radar gun, but he was admittedly excited and and walked three and hit one batter. After allowing a run on a fielder’s choice, he closed out the game with a strikeout, stranding runners at the corners.

"I was a little bit amped up coming in," said Jones. "I got my family here. My mom usually doesn’t come to the games because she’s always working. I was excited to show off for my mom."

Moceri's 2-Run Single Holds Up As Wolff/Kaiser All-Stars Stymie Hamptons
July 20, 2012

With one swing of the bat, Trenton slugger Matt Moceri (Davis & Elkins) put his team ahead by a pair of runs in the first inning of Thursday’s Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League All-Star Game at Brooklyn’s MCU Park. Little did he or anyone know that the two-run single would be all the offense needed for the Wolff/Kaiser Division team, which rode its pitching to a 2-1 victory over the Hampton Division squad.

Steve Goldstein (Long Island / Stony Brook) legged out a single to lead off the first inning, and Corey Jensen (Lehigh Valley / Whittier) followed with a double down the left field line. After Hampton starter Paul Paez (Southampton / Rio Hondo JC) struck out Chris Selden (Staten Island / Seton Hall), Moceri stepped in and dropped a single over the shortstop's head to drive in two.

It was a pitcher’s duel from there, with impressive innings logged by individuals from both sides. No more scoring occurred until the ninth when the Hampton team slashed the deficit in half courtesy of an RBI fielder’s choice by Rob Fonseca (Southampton / Northeastern).

However, with runners at the corners and two outs, Dashon Jones (Staten Island/Union CC) reached back and zipped a pitch in for a called strike three to end the game.

Check back tomorrow for Jeff Noreman's complete rundown of the game.

2012 ACBL All-Star Teams Announced
July 14, 2012

James Seader of the Jersey PilotsOn Thursday, July 19, players from all 17 teams in the Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League will take to the field at MCU Park in Coney Island, home to the Single-A Brooklyn Cyclones, for the annual All-Star Game festivities. The Hampton Division, comprised of teams from Center Moriches, Westhampton, Riverhead, Southampton, Sag Harbor, North Fork and Shelter Island, will challenge a team from the Kaiser and Wolff Divisions, consisting of representatives from Nassau, Long Island, New York, Staten Island, Jersey, North Jersey, Allentown, Trenton, Quakertown and Lehigh Valley.

Gametime is set for 7 p.m. For directions to MCU Park, visit the Brooklyn Cyclones website. You can also listen to the game by visiting IYMSportsRadio.com.

Through Friday’s games, the Generals from Trenton held the best mark in the ACBL at 21-9-1. They will send their top two hitters, Scott Kelly (College of New Jersey) and Matt Moceri (Davis & Elkins) as well as righthanders Kevin Burum (St. Joseph’s, Pa.) nad Kevin Becker-Menditto (Alvernia). Defending ACBL champion Staten Island has a trio of players who will attend as well, including catcher Gabby Molina (Keystone), infielder Chris Selden (Seton Hall) and righthander Robert Maguire (Sacred Heart).

North Fork and Riverhead lead the Hampton Division at 17-11 and will send a combined eight players to Brooklyn. The roster includes Southampton lefty Paul Paez (Rio Hondo JC), an 18th-round pick of the New York Mets in 2012, Westhampton first baseman Esteban Gomez (St. Thomas), a 35th-round pick of the Houston Astros in 2010, and Shelter Island infielder Thomas Roulis (Dartmouth), who leads the division with a .454 batting average.

Eagles Finally Break Through in Eleventh
Paul Goes Deep Twice, Anastasi K’s Nine, Six Home Runs on Night
July 10, 2012

By John Vittas

North Jersey’s Jamie Wollerman singled in the winning run in the bottom of the eleventh to beat the Jersey Pilots, 10-9 at Overpeck Park in Ridgefield Park, N.J Tuesday.

"I wanted to stay simple, stay short and try to hit the ball hard into the outfield to send the team home with the win," Wollerman said.

Wollerman (Southern New Hampshire) scored Ryan Quinn on a line drive to right over a drawn-in infield. Quinn (Cincinnati) began the rally when he singled and stole third base off Pilots’ righty Mark Palumbo (Binghamton), which set up the game-winning play.

"I know Mark very well," Quinn said. "I played with him through high school. He has a high leg kick, so once he went to it, I knew I had third."

Quinn also stole third base in the ninth inning off Palumbo to set up a potential walk-off that was nixed on a diving catch by Pilots’ right fielder Joe O’Connor (Kean). O’Connor’s sensational grab temporarily saved the game for Jersey and robbed Johnny Gandolfo (Marshall) of his second extra-innings, game-winning base hit against the Pilots this year.

The Eagles did tie up the game in the bottom of the ninth against Palumbo, however. The inning started with a great running catch by the Pilots’ centerfielder Joe D’Annunzio (Rutgers), who crashed into the wall to preserve the lead. But Kyle Grimm (Seton Hall) drove in Stanley Paul (UConn) with a one-out single later in the inning to tie the game at nine. Palumbo answered by striking out Chris Smith (Wagner), intentionally walking Wollerman, and then getting the great catch by O’Connor to send the game to extras.

The Eagles led for the majority of the night until the Pilots took the lead in the eighth on a two-run double from DH Zach Passerelle (Gloucester CC). Passerelle’s double came on the first pitch from Eagles’ closer Rich Anastasi (Fordham).

"That kid’s a great hitter," Anastasi said. "He sat on a first pitch slider. I thought he would take it for a strike. I thought it was a pretty good pitch but he stayed on it and hit it to left and after that I had to bear down and make sure it didn’t get any worse from there."

Anastasi went on to retire the next eleven Pilots hitters, striking out nine of them to earn the win and not allow the Pilots to even sniff the bases.

"There’s pressure. Everyone on the team comes here every day and tries to win and play as well as they can," Anastasi added. "I just wanted to keep them in the game. I didn’t think about the strikeouts, I was just trying to make pitches in quality spots and get outs. Whenever you put up ten runs, you have to win."

Stanley Paul led the Eagles’ charge, going deep twice. Paul totaled four hits, three RBIs, a stolen base, three runs scored, earning the Goodman’s Deli Player of the Game honors.

"I’ve just been sticking with my approach and staying within myself to get a good pitch to hit," Paul said. "The league has really good pitching and competition. I’m really just trying to work hard and see good pitches."

Paul’s home runs came early in the game. He set the tone by leading off the first inning with a shot off Pilots’ starter Steve Melchiorre (Rowan), giving his team the 1-0 lead. Paul’s second tater came in the fifth off reliever Max Schmardel (Wagner), this one a two-run shot that gave North Jersey a three-run advantage.

"They definitely try and pitch me backwards," Paul said. "I just stay within myself and look for a good pitch to hit. It’s a grueling season. We’re going to see them again, and it definitely helps being able to recognize the pitches."

Six home runs were struck Tuesday night, with each team hitting three. Wollerman hit the other for North Jersey off Melchiorre in the third.

"Our hitters battled all night. We had a ton of great at bats," said Wollerman. "We never gave up and the pitchers helped us and did a great job."

Six Eagles hitters had multiple hit nights, with Paul and Quinn combining for seven of the team’s 17 base knocks. The Pilots combined for nine runs on ten hits of their own, with Passerelle, D’Annunzio and John Elson (Lehigh) picking up two each.

Melchiorre was tagged for six runs on seven hits, while striking out half a dozen in his three innings. Tuesday was Melchiorre’s first start in 2012, after serving as the ace of the Pilots staff last year.

Nate Newhall (Sacred Heart) started on the mound for North Jersey. After two hitless innings to begin the night, Newhall allowed five runs on two swings in the third, giving up home runs to Pilots’ catcher Mike Zavala (Rutgers) and second baseman Rob Bernardo (Queen’s College).

Chris Carroll (Seton Hall) got the Eagles out of two bases loaded jams in the fourth and fifth, but eventually allowed two runs in his two and one third innings. After a leadoff single to D’Annunzio in the sixth, the Rutgers outfielder stole two bases and scored on a wild pitch to cut the Eagles lead to 8-6. Carroll also allowed a solo home run to Brandon Gonnella (Towson) to begin the seventh, ending his night.

Jonathan Reich (Fordham) came in and retired the first four Pilots he faced before loading the bases on two walks and hitting O’Connor. At that point, Reich was relieved by his spring teammate Anastasi, who allowed the big double to Passerelle.

Schmardel, Greg Baruka (Towson) and Carlos Ruiz (Rowan) combined to pitch three scoreless innings for Jersey from the sixth to the eighth, allowing the Pilots to come back and take the lead.

But it was Grimm’s ninth inning single past a diving Elson at third, Quinn’s stolen bases and Wollerman’s single in the eleventh that ultimately got the Eagles the win, putting them back at .500 for the year.

"Our team all together is coming out here and playing hard," Quinn said. "I think we have one of the best offenses in the league. Our kids can swing it. Our pitchers put us in good positions. Usually we don’t have to put up ten runs to win the ball game. Usually we can win with four or five. That’s a good thing."

The 12 wins the Eagles have experience in 2012 match their win total from last year, a season where they went 12-24. The turnaround has garnered optimism amongst the Eagles’ clubhouse.

"It shows that we have a great group of guys," Stanley Paul said. "From the coaching staff to our GM, we just keep our heads up and never give up."

Pilots Walk-Off on Wild Pitch
July 5, 2012

Rob Bernardo By John Vittas

Rob Bernardo sprinted home with the winning run on a wild pitch from the Eagles’ Pat Butler as the Jersey Pilots won 5-4 Thursday evening at Snyder Field in Berkeley Heights, N.J.

"The pitch before I said ‘I have to score here’ because there was going to be two strikes. I took an aggressive lead and it worked out," Bernardo said. "I anticipated the pitch and he bounced it."

Trailing 4-2, the Pilots scored three runs in the decisive ninth. The inning started with a scare, as Pilots’ outfielder Aaron Vogt (Heartland CC) was struck in the face with a pitch from Eagles’ reliever Joey Gandolfo (Columbia). Both Gandolfo and Vogt exited at that point and right-hander Pat Butler (UConn) came in to pitch.

After striking out the first two he faced, Butler gave up a single to Brandon Gonnella (Towson). Bernardo followed with a chopper to third base on which Eagles’ third baseman Ryan Quinn (Cincinnati) rushed a throw that ended up down the right field line, allowing two runs to score to tie the game.

"I had that throw beat, hands down," said Bernardo. The play was ruled a straight throwing error against Quinn.

After two walks to load the bases, Bernardo scored on the 1-2 pitch to Joe O’Connor (Kean) that went awry.

"This says that it’s never over," Bernardo added. "I don’t think we played our best game today but we fought all the way and came out on top."

Thursday marked the sixth meeting between the north Jersey rivals, four of which came down to the final inning.

"We always play good games against North Jersey. They’re nipping at our heels in the standings," Pilots catcher Zach Passerelle said. "A win like this means a lot going forward. Maybe in the future the guys can grind out a few more wins and take it into the playoffs."

Passerelle was the offensive star for the Pilots, going 3-4 with a walk, run scored, double and RBI.

"I’m starting to realize how teams are going to pitch me, a lot of off-speed stuff with balls on the outside corner," Passerelle said. "Two or three of my hits came to the left side tonight, just trying to stay with that outside pitch and not do too much with it."

Passerelle is also adjusting to a new position in left field, a spot he’s occupied since Mike Zavala (Rutgers) joined the team. Zavala has played the majority of innings behind the plate, with Passerelle now serving as the designated hitter and left fielder.

"Outfield is outfield. It’s basically just being an athlete and finding the ball, running after it and playing fetch," Passerelle said.

Carlos Ruiz (Rowan) picked up the win after pitching a perfect top of the ninth, striking out the side in order.

J.R. Seader (Kutztown) started for the Pilots and went seven strong innings, allowing just six hits and one walk while striking out five. All three runs Seader allowed came in the fifth inning, two of which scored on a single from Quinn.

"I kind of got away from what I was doing the first four innings, which was going right after guys," Seader said. "I felt like I was pitching around them a little bit, throwing too many breaking balls instead of just packing it in with fastballs. I walked a couple guys and then had to throw fastballs in fastball counts and that’s when they hit it."

Only one of the three runs was earned against Seader’s record, as his outstanding season continues.

"I try to keep things the same every time out," Seader said. "Today it was hot out but you just have to battle through it like everyone else."

Danny O’Neill (Rutgers) started for North Jersey and was outstanding as well. He gave up just two runs and struck out eight over his six innings. Gandolfo had thrown two scoreless innings before hitting Vogt in the ninth.

Gonnella and the Eagles' Chris Smith (Wagner) had two hits apiece. Gonnella also stole three bases.

Drew Sutton, Lehigh Valley Catz alum, hits walkoff home run for Pittsburgh Pirates
July 5, 2012

Drew Sutton gets mobbed at the plate after Sutton's ninth-inning home run lifted Pittsburgh to an 8-7 victory over the Houston Astros on Tuesday night By Associated Press

Former Lehigh Valley Catz standout, Drew Sutton smacked a one-out solo homer in the bottom of the ninth and propelled the Pittsburgh Pirates to an 8-7 win over the Houston Astros.

Sutton was acquired via waivers last week, Sutton homered for the first time since Oct. 3, 2010.

Click here to read the entire article

Tice contributes to Blazers' offense
July 1, 2012

Second baseman Dylan Tice (Indiana U of PA) is off to a good start with the Quakertown Blazers By Tom Bonekemper (Photo Courtesy of The Intelligencer)

Second baseman Dylan Tice (Indiana U of PA) is off to a good start with the Quakertown Blazers. On Sunday his two run home run provided the margin of victory in the Blazers 8-7 win over North Jersey in the first game of a split with the Eagles. Tice is hitting .387 (29-75) with eight doubles for the 12-9 Blazers.

Generals Return Favor by Blowing Out Pilots
July 1, 2012

Scott Kelly By John Vittas

The Trenton Generals blew out the Jersey Pilots 18-1 Sunday night in Berkeley Heights, N.J., regaining sole possession of first place in the ACBL’s Wolff Division.

The offensive onslaught began early for Trenton, roughing up the Pilots’ starter Greg Baruka (Towson) for seven runs on six hits in just an inning and a third. Baruka also walked three and hit two in his least impressive outing of the year.

Alex Mottle (Delaware) was Baruka’s nemesis, taking Baruka deep twice in as many innings. Both shots drove home three runs and gave the Generals a quick 6-0 lead.

"I was just looking for fastballs both at bats," Mottle said. "First one he threw a slider, second one he threw a fastball but I just stay with the same approach every time."

Mottle (Delaware) at just five feet ten inches tall, is not usually a home run threat, but was moved into the three-spot in the Generals’ batting order for Sunday’s game.

"It definitely felt good to break out. I’m not usually a home run hitter," said Mottle. "I just put good swings on it and with the smaller field, I got it out without even getting it that high in the air."

Matt Moceri (Davis & Elkins) drove in one more in the second with a single off Pilots’ reliever Pat Lia (UMass). The hit scored Eric Forth (East Stroudsburg), which was the final run charged to Baruka.

Lia, Mike Cranston (Adelphi) and Dashon Jones (Union CC) combined to throw four scoreless innings, before Jones walked in a run in the seventh.

Christian Spurr (Ramapo) drove in the only Pilots’ run in the fourth, scoring Mike Zavala (Rutgers), who also singled.

Josh Jensen (William Paterson) started for the Generals and dominated the Pilots. He went seven innings, allowing just that one run on four hits, walking four and hitting one. Jensen struck out eight, throwing 115 pitches.

"I feel great after a win like that, it doesn’t matter how many pitches I throw," Jensen said. "It’s so much easier to pitch with a big lead. You can just keep throwing strikes and you know they’re going to be swinging so it’s a lot of fun.

Jensen’s performance came on the heels of a long doubleheader the Generals endured the day before.

"A game like this helps our pitching," Mottle added. "Josh went most of the game, which really helped our bullpen after yesterday in Staten Island when the whole second game was pieced together. We really needed someone to eat innings."

Sunday night belonged to the Generals offense, which put up nine runs in the final two innings against Pilots’ righty Karl Fiske (Brookdale CC).

Scott Kelly (TCNJ) went yard off Fiske in the ninth, driving in three runs to blow it open, 18-1.

"When you have pitching like Josh had tonight, it really keeps you in tune with the game and everyone keeps hitting and it just rubs off," Kelly said. "When everyone starts hitting, you realize you have that much more confidence and motivation to provide for your team."

Kelly reached base six times in the game. He went 3-4 with five RBIs, three runs scored, two walks and was hit by a pitch. Eric Forth, Moceri, Rich McLaughlin (Mercer CC), Ian Moyer (Mercer CC) and Ryan Gibbons (William Paterson) all reached base at least three times, as the Generals’ hitters came to the plate six or seven times each.

The Generals’ win comes after losing a heartbreaker on the very same Snyder Field three days earlier. Trenton now evens the season series with the Pilots at 1-1-1 and regains sole possession of first place.

"This is what our offense can do," Kelly said. "This is what we’ve been waiting for all year. Today showed what a potent offense we have. We knew from the start that this was the type of offense that we had."

Pilots 8th-Inning Rally Beats Generals
June 28, 2012

J.R. Seader By John Vittas

The Jersey Pilots put up five runs in the bottom of the eighth to beat the Trenton Generals 9-6 Thursday night at Snyder Field in Berkeley Heights, N.J.

The go-ahead run scored when John Elson (Lehigh) was hit by a pitch in the leg from Trenton righty Kevin Becker-Menditto (Alvernia).

“I was just trying to keep things simple and get on base any way I can. If I get on base, that run scores no matter what,” Elson said.

“When it’s coming at you, your first instinct is to get out of the way but then you remember that the bases are loaded so you wear that in the leg and take the lead and go from there.”

Mike Zavala (Rutgers), Joe D’Annunzio (Rutgers) and Brandon Gonnella (Towson) followed Elson with three straight RBI singles off Becker-Menditto, shattering an inning that began with a tie score by giving the Pilots a 9-4 advantage.

Kevin Burum (Saint Joseph’s) was charged with the loss after allowing the first two men to reach to begin the inning. Burum had thrown two scoreless innings prior to the fateful eight.

Steven Melchiorre (Rowan) earned the win for Jersey, pitching three innings in his season debut.

“I just wanted to come in and throw strikes early in the count,” Melchiorre said. “They were putting some good swings on the ball. After that eighth inning, I just wanted to get three outs without giving up all these runs. I made a couple bad pitches but we ended up getting out of it so it worked out alright.”

That bad pitch came in the ninth to Generals’ DH Matt Moceri (Davis & Elkins), who parked a two-run shot off Melchiorre to make it 9-6. After Melchiorre allowed two consecutive hits, he retired the next two hitters to put away the victory.

J.R. Seader (Kutztown) started for the Pilots, getting through six innings and only giving up three runs on six hits, while striking out five and walking four.

“I knew coming in that the Trenton Generals were a real good ball club,” Seader said. “They have some good hitters over there and some good pitching. I knew it was going to be a tough game where I would have to make good pitches.”

Seader did not allow a hit in his final two innings, getting through six with the lead in tact.

“Those first 3-4 innings I was a little uncomfortable out there,” Seader said. “I had a little cut on my foot. I just kept working through it and those last couple innings I really settled in. The velocity picked up and I got a little more bite on my breaking balls.”

Seader now leads the Pilots in innings pitched with 32 and a third. Thursday was a strong bounce-back effort from his eight-run debacle in Quakertown, a game the Blazers won 11-10.

“I just wanted to bounce back,” Seader said. “I’ve had a good year so far. That was just a little speed bump against Quakertown. I just wanted to come out here and get back to what I was doing in previous starts.”

D’Annunzio got the scoring going for Jersey, getting himself into scoring position with a single and stolen base, scoring the first run of the game on a Joe O’Connor (Kean) groundout.

Seader allowed four straight singles in the second and a solo home run to Generals’ catcher Eric Strano (Rider) in the fourth to give Trenton a 3-1 lead.

But the Pilots answered in the bottom of the frame, scoring two runs to tie it up on back-to-back doubles from Ian Glassman (UMBC) and Christian Spurr (Ramapo). Glassman had two hits and scored twice Thursday, keeping his average above the .400 mark for the season.

Stephen Nappe (Montclair St.) homered off Generals’ starter Jeff Singer (Gloucester CC) in the fifth, to give the Pilots a 4-3 lead. Singer gave up four runs on seven hits over his five innings.

Nappe would then surrender the lead back to Trenton in the top of the eighth, when he committed an error that eventually allowed Rich Ricciardi (Alvernia) to score and tie the game against Melchiorre.

The Pilots hitting has picked it up over the past few games, keeping the team within striking distance of first place.

“We had a month layoff after the spring season. We just had to see a lot more pitches and get more at bats,” John Elson said. “I’m feeling a lot more comfortable at the plate and just trying to put good swings on the ball.

North Jersey Begin New Win Streak, Game Ends as Lights Fail
June 27, 2012
By John Vittas

Kyle Grimm drove in four and reached base four times as the Eagles beat the Jersey Pilots 11-2 in game two of a doubleheader Wednesday night in Ridgefield Park, N.J.

Grimm homered twice and drove in a run on each of his three hits.

"It feels good that we bounced back after game one," Grimm said. "Coach gave us a really good speech and you saw the results."

The Pilots won game one of the doubleheader, 7-4, but the Eagles rebounded with 11 runs on 14 hits in just six innings in game two.

Grimm’s two-run home run in the first inning got the Eagles going. They added three more in the second on a sacrifice fly by Stanley Paul (UConn), an RBI double by Ryan Quinn (Cincinnati) and a run-scoring single by Grimm.

The first five Eagles’ runs were scored against the starter, Max Schmardel (Wagner), who went three innings, giving up eight hits and striking out one over than span.

Grimm went yard for the second time against Karl Fiske (Brookdale CC) in the fourth. Johnny Gandolfo (Marshall) and Danny O’Neill (Rutgers) added RBI singles later in the inning against Fiske to make it 8-2 Eagles. O’Neill is the usual ace of the pitching staff, and was in the DH spot for Wednesday’s nightcap, going 2-3 at the plate.

Ryan Casey (Wagner) started for the Eagles, pitching five innings and allowing just two runs on six hits, striking out three, walking one and hitting two.

"The Pilots have been playing well all year. I just had to buckle down and not try and do too much and get the win," Casey said. "When you start seeing kids over and over, you get to start knowing hitters and their habits. Against the good hitters, I tried to stay away and keep them off-balanced."

The final three Eagles runs were scored in the final sixth inning. The rally started when Pilots’ shortstop John Brucker (Rutgers) made an error and Pilots pitcher Carlos Ruiz (Rowan) walked three of the next five batters. Ken Kirschner (Siena) then drove in two on a single to make it 11-2.

But what seemed like a typical blowout took a turn when Stanley Paul stroked a single to centerfield. Pilots’ centerfielder Aaron Vogt (Heartland CC) fired a throw to the plate in an attempt to throw out Eagles’ catcher Ray McCourt (Molloy) at the plate. Just before the throw reached the plate, Overpeck Park went black, as the lights failed, and the play and final score ended in question.

With no explanation for the failure and no apparent solution, the game was called in the sixth. With no visual proof that McCourt reached home safely, the score remained 11-2.

Victorious, the Eagles jump back over .500 to 10-9 after their 6-game win streak was snapped in game one of Wednesday’s doubleheader.

Prior to 2012, the Eagles had never beaten the Jersey Pilots. Wednesday was the second time that has occurred this year, with the season series now even at two.

Optimism now surrounds the Eagles team, as they search for their first winning season in the franchise’s four-year history.

"By doing this, I think it shows that we can take the league," shortstop Kyle Grimm said. "We can probably win first place. Who knows what can happen. It’s good to see we can bounce back after a loss like that and come out and put up eleven runs."

"This is my second year playing for the North Jersey Eagles and the past couple years we’ve been struggling," Ryan Casey attests. "We really stepped it up a notch after a big recruiting year. It’s a whole new team except for three or four of us. We started the year a little slow but now we are starting to gel."

The Eagles can now sit on their winning record until Sunday, when they travel to Quakertown to take on a hot Blazers team in a doubleheader.

Pilots Snap Eagles 6-Game Win Streak
June 27, 2012

Joe D'Annunzio By John Vittas

The Pilots put up a five spot in the top of the seventh inning to snap the North Jersey Eagles’ six-game win streak, winning 7-4 Wednesday afternoon at Overpeck Park in Ridgefield Park, N.J.

With the game tied at two heading into the final inning, Zach Passerelle began the frame by hitting a solo home run to center field off Eagles’ right hander Jordan Gajdos.

"I’ve just been working with my cousin a lot on my swing," Passerelle said. "He fell behind 2-0 on me and I knew he was going to come with a fastball. I was just looking for something up in the zone and thankfully he left one up there for me."

Gajdos was immediately lifted for lefty Chris Carroll, who gave up four more runs. Carroll hit two and walked one, also allowing singles to Brandon Gonnella (Towson) and Joe D’Annunzio. D’Annunzio’s hit drove in two runs to bring the score to 7-2 Pilots and cap the big inning.

D’Annunzio drove in a game-high three runs. The other came on a solo home run in the fifth inning when the Pilots were being shut out, 2-0.

"To score the first run in any game is big," said D’Annunzio. "Obviously, the home run really sparked the team, putting up seven runs the rest of the game."

D’Annunzio made his return to the lineup Wednesday, after missing two games with a leg injury. He could not run well enough to play centerfield, but gutted it out as the designated hitter.

"The kids on this team know I’m willing to play a hundred percent," D’Annunzio said. "I’m here to help us win any way I can."

Brian Drapeau (Sacred Heart) started for North Jersey, and got through his first four innings scoreless, allowing five hits, striking out five and walking one. Before getting knocked out in the sixth, the Pilots squeaked out two runs on four hits to tie the game at two.

"This is the third time we saw him. He’s got good stuff," D’Annunzio said about Drapeau. "He’s got a get-me-over curveball and a dirt curveball. He has a fastball that he spots up well and a changeup so you just look for a pitch that you can work with and from there you just try and put the ball in play and hope for the best."

The Pilots scored the tying run in the sixth inning when Christian Spurr (Ramapo) led off the inning with a double that eluded the glove of a diving Stanley Paul (UConn). Spurr was moved to third on a sacrifice by Ian Glassman (UMBC) and scored on a wild pitch by Drapeau.

Mike Cranston (Adelphi) started the game for the Pilots and went five and one third innings without walking a batter. He allowed just two runs on seven hits, while striking out one.

"This is the most I’ve thrown in any game," Cranston said. "I didn’t have that many strikeouts and the position players made some plays for me today and that helped a lot."

Cranston has now started three games, pitching in seven, and is second on the Pilots in innings, solidifying his spot as one of their most reliable arms.

"The Northeast 10 helped me get to know how to face college hitters and develop my pitches, so coming here I’ve just been pitching the way I have been so it’s been pretty successful so far," Cranston said.

Cranston’s two runs allowed came on an RBI single by Tyler McCarthy (George Washington) in the first and a run-scoring double by Jamie Wollerman (Southern New Hampshire) in the fourth. Cranston allowed a single to McCarthy and a double to Chris Smith (Wagner), with only one out in the inning. He was relieved by Mark Palumbo (Binghamton), who struck out two batters to get the Pilots out of the inning scoreless and keeping the game tied at two.

Palumbo allowed two runs to score in the seventh, before Dashon Jones (Union CC) came in to get the final out on a strikeout of Johnny Gandolfo (Marshall) for his second save of the year.

Palumbo was taken out due to injury, and Jones had to enter without throwing in the bullpen.

"You got to get focused ASAP," Jones said. "I was on the bench with Karl Fiske laughing and all of a sudden I heard my name get called to come get the last out. I didn’t feel myself the first batter but the second batter I struck out on four pitches."

With the victory, the Pilots improve to 11-7-1 and the Eagles fall back to five hundred at 9-9, as they meet again in Wednesday’s nightcap.

Pilots Offense Surges
June 24, 2012

Zach Passerelle By John Vittas

The Jersey Pilots scored ten runs in the third inning and five more in the eighth to beat the Lehigh Valley Catz 16-6 Sunday night at Snyder Field in Berkeley Heights, N.J.

The win snaps the Pilots’ three-game losing streak, their longest of the year.

"It was a really important win," Pilots’ second baseman Rob Bernardo said. "We needed this after losing three games. Last year, I don’t think we ever lost three games in a row. Before the game, Coach Davis told us that we needed to up the focus and we did in that third inning."

Zach Passerelle led the 3rd-inning attack, hitting both a 2-run home run and 2-run double in the inning. The Pilots’ DH finished the game going 3-4 with a walk and two runs scored.

"I can’t say I’ve done that [4 RBIs on two hits in the same inning]. That was something new and pretty interesting for me. It was a great feeling," Passerelle said. "I have to give it up to the offensive guys for getting on base. The pitching did well tonight and everyone just had a real good game."

The Pilots scored 10 runs on eight hits and three walks in that long third inning that saw 13 men come to the plate.

All of the damage was charged to starting pitcher Jordan Smith (Lehigh), who was lifted with two outs in that miserable third inning. He had given up one run through his first two frames, and appeared to be settled in.

"Smith was rolling through the first two innings but he left a couple pitches up in that third," Passerelle said. "It was a good job by him early but credit to our guys for making an adjustment the second time through."

Dashon Jones (Union CC) started the game for Jersey and went five strong innings, allowing just two runs on four hits while striking out and walking three.

"It feels good. This is my field and I own this field," informed Jones. "I need to give it up to my team. We played hard."

One of the runs came on a solo homer from Catz’ catcher Tyler Boyd (Seton Hall). Boyd also scored the other run on a sacrifice fly from Tyler Urps (Yavapai).

Rob Bernardo (Queen’s College) complemented Passerelle’s performance with three hits of his own. He scored twice and drove in a run as well.

"I’ve been putting in a little extra work with my father," Bernardo said. "After work, he’ll come and throw me some balls and work on some things and I’m feeling better and seeing the ball."

Bernardo also had three hits last Saturday against the Catz, all doubles.

Cory Brown (Brookdale CC), Carlos Ruiz (Rowan) and Stephen Nappe (Montclair St.) combined to finish off the final four innings, allowing four runs. Nappe started the game at first base and came in to chew up an inning on the mound for a Pilots team that has four games in the next four days. Brown gave up three earned runs over two and one third innings, allowing four hits and a walk, including a 2-run blast by Brian Mauro (DeSales).

Anthony Elia (Seton Hall) and Josh Prevost went four and a third scoreless for Lehigh Valley, before Westyn Baylor (Radford) gave up five in the eighth. Urps, the second baseman, got Baylor through the eighth, coming in to get the final out.

Aaron Vogt (Heartland CC) reached base four times and scored three runs, going 2-3 on the night. John Elson (Lehigh) reached base three times and had a bases clearing double in the eighth.

The Pilots will head to Trenton to play the first place Generals for the first team this season Monday. First pitch is scheduled for 5p.m. The Catz will head to Allentown to take on the Railers Tuesday.

Blazers Walk off with Sweep
June 23, 2012

Tyler Brong By John Vittas

Tyler Brong hit a walk-off fielder’s choice to beat the Pilots for the second time Sunday at Memorial Park in Quakertown.

With the win, the Blazers overtake the Pilots for second place in the ACBL’s Wolff Division and sweep Saturday’s doubleheader.

"I kept my weight back and looked for a hitter’s pitch," Brong said. "I didn’t chase and made sure I worked into hitter’s counts."

Brong had three hits to add to his three-hit performance in game one, going a combined 6-for-8 Saturday. Quakertown stroked 25 base hits between the two 7-inning games.

"We’ve been hitting well all year. When we get good pitching and solid defense, it gives our offense a chance to do things," said Quakertown head coach Lee Saverio. "We have a lot of athletes. We steal bases. That’s how we won both games today. We stayed in the game and eventually our offense got it done for us."

The Blazers scored their other three runs in the fourth inning off both Pilots’ pitchers.

Mark Palumbo (Binghamton) made his ACBL debut for the Pilots and began his day with three scoreless innings, allowing just two baserunners and striking out a pair. But Palumbo faltered in the fourth by giving up three straight hits to start the inning, including a double to Brong (Lehigh).

Palumbo was lifted for his former high school teammate, Pat Lia (UMass). Lia got out of the inning, but not before two unearned runs scored, due to an error by shortstop John Elson (Lehigh).

"We really hit well. We really fought back," said Brong. "With 17 hits in a game, you are not going to lose very often. And in the second game, the starter Palumbo was very good and so was Lia so we are very happy with four runs."

Lia pitched two scoreless frames before allowing Brong’s walk-off fielder’s choice. He began the fateful seventh by hitting pinch hitter Tim Ravel (Bloomsburg) and walking Ryan Pater (Saint Joseph’s). After a sacrifice and an intentional walk, Brong hit a grounder up the middle on which Elson made a diving stop in the outfield grass and a flip to Rob Bernardo (Queen’s College), the Pilots second baseman. Bernardo made a bare-handed grab and fired to first while stepping on the bag, but Brong beat it out and the Blazers walked off with the sweep.

Matt Hollenbeck (Georgetown) started for Quakertown, allowing just one run on two hits. The only run was a solo home run by Stephen Nappe (Montclair St.), his second of the day. Hollenbeck also struck out four and walked three in his four innings of work.

"Today was more of an adjustment with location and trying to save myself to extend over the course of the game," Hollenbeck said. "I didn’t do the job I would have liked but I got out of jams when I could."

Taylor Runge (Bucknell) came in for Hollenbeck in the fifth. He immediately allowed two runs on a single by Zach Passerelle (Gloucester CC) and a double from Nappe. Nappe had two doubles, two home runs and 5 RBIs between the two games Saturday.

But Runge settled down after that, pitching a scoreless sixth and a perfect seventh to earn the win.

"After the first inning, I just sat back and had some fun playing summer baseball," Runge said. "I didn’t really think about pitching too much and just threw the ball as best I could. I made an adjustment and started moving the ball down in the zone and that seemed to set the hitters back a little bit."

With Saturday’s Quakertown sweep, the Blazers overtake the Pilots for second in the ACBL’s Wolff Division.

"They have a very good team," said coach Saverio. "We beat the first place team [Trenton] earlier in the week and then we come in and play well against this team so we are feeling good."

Blazers Hang On to Win Slugfest
June 23, 2012

By John Vittas

Saturday’s 7-inning slugfest included a combined 21 runs on 25 hits, as the Blazers were able to escape with a one-run win over the Jersey Pilots at Memorial Park in Quakertown.

Blazers’ reliever Jim McDade (Millersville) earned the save by getting Pilots’ second baseman Rob Bernardo (Queen’s College) to ground into a double play with the bases loaded to end the game.

"I didn’t have much time to warm up but I knew coming in with the bases loaded I had to get a double play to get out of it as quick as possible," McDade said.

The Blazers’ bats accounted for 11 runs on 17 hits in just six innings. Dylan Tice (IUPUI) and Tyler Brong (Lehigh) had three hits apiece, while Ryan Hartley (Delaware) went 4-4 with a double, two runs scored and 2 RBIs. Brong and Tice also scored twice, doubling and driving in at least a run each to knock off the division’s second best team.

"We don’t necessarily look at the standings," Hartley said. "We just come out here and play the same game every time. I guess we were just seeing the ball well today and they left some balls over the plate for us."

Greg Guers (USC-Upstate), Dave McInerney (Cincinnati) and Ryan Pater (Saint Joseph’s) also had two hits each.

"We have a good fan base," Guers said. "There was a nice crowd out today so it was a good day for baseball. We all live closer so it’s just more comfortable."

Eight of the 11 Blazers runs came against Pilots’ ace J.R. Seader (Kutztown), who lost for the first time this season, falling to 3-1. Seader was facing the Blazers for the second time, winning the first meeting in New Jersey, 3-2.

"It’s a lot easier when you know what he throws and what his velocity is," Guers added. "Whatever he did against us last time, he’s probably going to do again, so we adjusted and it worked."

Seader was only on the mound for six of the eight runs he allowed.

Karl Fiske (Brookdale CC) came in for Seader in the fifth and gave up two consecutive singles, allowing both of Seader’s runners to score.

Fiske allowed three runs of his own in the sixth inning on five more hits.

Jerry Mulderig (Rider) started for Quakertown, getting knocked out after allowing back-to-back doubles to Joe O’Connor (Kean) and Stephen Nappe (Montclair St.) in the third. Mulderig was charged with five runs, three of them earned in only two and one third innings. He struck out the first two batters of the game and failed to retire another on strikes for the remainder of his outing, while also walking two.

Josh Mellon (Millersville) earned the win Saturday, pitching four innings in relief. Before the fateful seventh inning, Mellon had allowed just one hit in his first three and two thirds, a solo home run to Nappe.

In the seventh, Mellon allowed three singles and two walks, while only getting one out before being lifted for his Millersville teammate, Jim McDade.

"I haven’t stretched much this year and my pitch count got up there on a pretty hot day so it kind of fell apart," Mellon explained. McDade proceeded to walk John Elson (Lehigh) and hit the leadoff hitter Aaron Vogt (Heartland CC), before getting the fateful groundball from Bernardo to end the game.

"It was all fastballs to the last hitter [Bernardo]," said McDade. "Ravel and Tice made a nice double play to end it."

"I knew Jim would get it done," said Mellon. "He’s pretty consistent it was just a matter of time and he finished it."

The Blazers held on to improve to 8-6, moving to within a half game of the 9-6 Pilots for second place in the ACBL’s Wolff Division.

Putman Signs with the Chicago White Sox
Assigned to Great Falls of the Pioneer League
June 22, 2012

Former Blazer David Putman

By Tom Bonekemper

David Putman (Blazers, 09, 11) signed a free agent contract with the Chicago White Sox and has been assigned to the Great Falls Voyagers of the Pioneer League.

The Doylestown native served as the closer for Duke this spring and posted a 2.76 ERA with six saves in 33 innings.

Chris Nichols (Blazers, 10) and Vince Voiro (Blazers, 09) were recently selected in the June MLB amateur draft.

Nichols, the son of former MLB pitcher Rod Nichols and current Iron Pigs pitching coach,was selected by the Phillies in the 31st round and pitches for the Phillies' Gulf Coast League team while Voiro, a 15th round selection of the A's, will be playing for the A's team in the Arizona Rookie League.

Eagles Fight Back to Win in Ten
Gandolfo Singles Home Game-Winning Run as Reich Holds it Down
June 21, 2012

Jonathan Reich By John Vittas

The North Jersey Eagles rallied for two runs in the top of the tenth to knock off the Jersey Pilots, 6-4, Thursday night at Snyder Field in Berkeley Heights, N.J.

Johnny Gandolfo (Marshall) drove in Chris Smith (Wagner) with a single to right field, as the Eagles finally broke through against Pilots’ reliever Greg Baruka to earn his team their sixth win of the year.

"He’s a great pitcher. Hats off to him," Gandolfo said. "I was on him, I just didn’t let the ball travel enough. I like to be in those situations where the game is on the line and I can pick my teammates up. I got a fastball on the outside corner and just drove it the other way."

Chris Bonti (Wesleyan) added an insurance run by driving in Gandolfo later in the inning off J.R. Seader (Kutztown), who came in for Baruka.

Jonathan Reich (Fordham) was the winning pitcher, going three and two thirds scoreless innings to seal the win. Reich struck out two in his perfect bottom of the tenth.

"My guys scored a couple runs for me," said Reich. "I definitely got the energy from these guys. I was able to throw a little harder in the last inning because I felt that we were coming to the end and we had to get the win there. It was a big win for us."

Reich relieved Chris Carroll (Seton Hall), who hit two batters in a row in the seventh. Reich retired Chris Berry (Franklin Pierce) and Joe D’Annunzio (Rutgers) to get the Eagles out of the jam.

Clutch pitching was a theme for the Eagles, as they stranded 14 Pilots runners.

"When it comes down to the wire, you’ve got to find something extra," starting pitcher Brian Drapeau said. "You’ve got to dig down and find it within yourself. With runners on, it’s no prisoners from that point. You just have to bear down and do your job because everyone is counting on you."

Drapeau allowed one earned run over four and one third innings. He stranded six of those 14 Pilots’ runners. Drapeau pitched against the Pilots on June 6, allowing four runs in two innings of relief. He was much more effective in the starting role Thursday.

"We’ve been working with Doug Sinella, our pitching coach the past few weeks. Doug’s a smart guy and he just helped us work on keeping the ball down in the zone," Drapeau said. "Last game I was up and wasn’t finishing my pitches so I made an adjustment and put the work in to make sure I prepared better. I kept the ball down so the best they could do was beat it in the dirt."

The big inning for the Eagles was the fifth. In a scoreless ballgame, they scored four runs off Pilots reliever Max Schmardel (Wagner). Schmardel allowed five hits, walked two and was unable to get out of the inning. Baruka got Gandolfo to pop up to end the frame, before eventually allowing the deciding runs in the tenth.

Mike Cranston (Adelphi) started for the Pilots, and pitched four shutout innings, allowing only two hits and one walk, while striking out two.

Bonti joins teammates Stanley Paul (UConn) and Tyler McCarthy (George Washington) as the three Eagles with multiple hits. Paul also drove in two on a single against Schmardel.

"This game says a lot about our heart and character," Reich remarked. "They killed us earlier in the year and we just got a little revenge. We’re starting to gel and I think we are going to be a good team going forward."

The Eagles are now on a 3-game winning streak, pulling to within four games of first place after beating the Pilots, who were tied for the division lead entering Thursday. They will be in action next on Saturday, hosting a doubleheader with the Lehigh Valley Catz.

"I just love this game so much," Gandolfo said. "Just trying to get as far as I can, I want to pick these guys up. I don’t want to get all the credit because I love these guys and we all fight really hard and are molding together as a team and a unit."

Patete, Pacillo Put Away Pilots
June 21, 2012

Robbie Patete Blasts 3-Run Shot En Route to Blowout By John Vittas

Robbie Patete hit a 3-run home run and the Railers put up nine runs to beat the Jersey Pilots 9-2 at Snyder Field in Berkeley Heights, N.J.

Sunday marked Allentown’s second win of the season. Their other win came two days earlier at ECTB stadium against the same Pilots club. "We needed this really bad," Patete said after the game. "We have two wins now and we’re trying to get back in the swing of things with all the other teams."

Patete has now hit two home runs and gone 6-11 in four games against the Pilots this season. He’s driven in seven runs and walked four times as well, getting on base at a .667 clip.

"I’m just trying to work hard. The PSAC conference is no joke," said Patete. "This league is just as good. I’m just trying to get better every day."

Patete walked twice against Pilots pithing as well, scoring two of the team’s nine runs. The Railers drew nine walks off Pilots pitching Saturday, which accounted for six of those nine scores.

Three of the eight Railers’ hits drove in runs. Andy Brandstetter (East Stroudsburg) drove in one on a fifth inning single, Derrick Walling (Bridgewater) drove in Brandstetter with a single in the third and Patete plated three on his big blast in the third.

"I’ve just been hitting fastballs," Patete said. "I think he missed with that one. I was down 0-and-2 and he left a fastball high and I hit it out."

Patete’s jack came off Pilots’ starter Pat Lia (UMass), who pitched two scoreless innings before being roughed up for five runs in the third, knocking him out of the game.

Both starters were making their debut Sunday, with Colby Pacillo going for the Railers. Pacillo (DeSales) went six innings, giving up two runs on eights hits. Allentown lead the whole way, earning Pacillo a win in his first start.

It definitely helps with a cushion like that. Runs definitely relax you more. I was able to go out and calm down a little bit," Pacillo said. "Coming in, I knew it would be competitive, as it has been the last two years when I was in this league."

Pacillo pitched the past two summers with the North Jersey Eagles. But now, according to him, he is on a better team. The Railers are also located closer to his hometown of Lebanon, N.J.

"It’s huge for these pitchers to pick us up with these wins that we’re getting and just come in here and do a great job and throw so many innings for us," Robbie Patete said.

Joe O’Connor (Kean) was the offensive star for the Pilots, collecting two hits, two stolen bases and a walk. He also scored both Pilots’ runs.

The bullpen combined to allow four runs in the fifth inning, all charged to Carlos Ruiz (Rowan), who walked the four batters he faced. Kevin Luna (Union City, NJ) and Max Schmardel (Wagner) finished the inning.

Karl Fiske (Brookdale CC), Ian Glassman (UMBC) and Christian Spurr (Ramapo) each pitched a scoreless inning of relief in back of Lia.

Glassman and Spurr are starting position players on the Pilots, who did an admirable job eating innings for a pitching staff that has now played six games in the past 72 hours. Spurr retired the side in order in the seventh.

Luna left the game with a strained labrum and will likely have to rest his arm for at least a week, although he can serve as a designated hitter in the meantime.

Luna, Fiske and Ruiz now have each pitched three consecutive days. Schmardel pitched Sunday with just one day of rest, having thrown 73 pitches on Friday against the same Railers team.

The depleted Pilots staff will have to get through one more game Sunday, as the Pilots and Railers meet again in game two of the Father’s Day doubleheader.

Pilots Arms Silence Catz’ Bats Again to Earn Sweep
June 16, 2012

Dashon Jones By John Vittas

The Pilots pitching staff combined to allow two runs on 12 hits in 16 innings Saturday in Easton, P.A., sweeping a doubleheader from the Lehigh Valley Catz.

"It was definitely nice coming here for one day and getting two wins," starting pitcher Greg Baruka said.

Baruka (Towson) went four innings in game two, allowing just one run on two hits. Greg Fazio (Rider) and Brian Ernst (East Stroudsburg) both singled off Baruka in the 4th inning to cut the Pilots lead to 4-1, which was the final score.

"I had to sit out this season [due to NCAA transfer rules] so I had to work my way back with just a couple innings here and there," Baruka said. "It was fun to get out there as a starter. The adrenaline really took over."

The only adversity Baruka faced through the first three innings was a broken bat that struck him on the back of the leg. The putout was made by Pilots’ second baseman Rob Bernardo (Queen’s College), but the coaching staff’s attention quickly turned to Baruka.

"It was tough getting hit with the bat in the first inning, but there was no way I was coming out," Baruka said.

Not only did Baruka stay in the game, he needed just 54 pitches to get through his four innings to earn the victory.

The Pilots scored all four runs in the first two innings off Catz’ starter Ryan Lubreski (UMass).

After Lubreski allowed a double to leadoff hitter Brandon Gonnella (Towson) and walked Bernardo, Lehigh Valley shortstop Stephen Rogers (Trinity) made two consecutive throwing errors, each allowing a run to score. Both throwing mistakes were in the dirt, which first baseman Ty Neuhaus (Yavapai) could not handle. After a run-scoring groundout from Stephen Nappe (Montclair St.), the Pilots headed to the field for the first time with a 3-0 lead.

"You got to love getting runs early because you can be a little more daring," Baruka said. "Not only did we get one, we got three. You can definitely challenge batters a lot more."

Bernardo drove in the second inning run on a groundball that Aaron Vogt (Heartland CC) beat out at the plate. Vogt had reached on a single and stole second.

Lubreski shut out the Pilots for the next four innings, before Conor Krauss (Seton Hall) got through a scoreless seventh.

Dashon Jones (Union CC) pitched a hitless bottom of the seventh to pick up his first save of the season.

"Saving is my thing, so there was no pressure for me," Jones said. "I just had to come in, throw strikes and get three outs to go home." Karl Fiske (Brookdale CC) and Kevin Luna (Union City H.S.) each got out of trouble during their scoreless innings of relief. Jones, Fiske and Luna all pitched in Friday’s doubleheader in Allentown as well.

The Pilots will return home to New Jersey Sunday to play another doubleheader with the Allentown Railers, which marks their sixth and seventh games played in the past four days. With a pitching staff belittled by injuries and enduring a harsh schedule, healthy and rested pitching will be at a premium on Sunday.

"Tomorrow, I’ll be ready to come out again," Jones said. "One, two innings out of the bullpen, whatever coach needs, I’ll be ready."

Pilots Overcome Baserunning Errors to Win in Extras
June 16, 2012

Winning Pitcher J.R. Seader By John Vittas

The Pilots finally broke through against Lehigh Valley pitching in the 9th to overcome six costly base running mistakes by scoring three runs to win the game in extra innings at Easton H.S. on a beautiful Saturday afternoon.

The winning run scored in the top of the ninth inning when Pilots’ batter Christian Spurr (Ramapo) laid down a sacrifice bunt. Catz pitcher Jordan Smith (Lehigh) fielded the bunt and made a high throw that ended up in the right field corner, allowing the Pilots’ Stephen Nappe to score all the way from first base.

"We were very fortunate to win the game after six base running mistakes from over running bases, to getting picked off," head coach Evan Davis said. "Against a team like Lehigh Valley you usually don’t escape games like that with a victory."

Another throwing error by catcher Ty Neuhaus (Yavapai) into left field allowed Spurr to score and gave the Pilots a 3-1 lead.

The Pilots scored once more on a sacrifice fly by Joe O’Connor (Kean) against new pitcher, Anthony Elia (Seton Hall). The run scored Ian Glassman (UMBC), who had greeted Elia with a single.

Carlos Ruiz (Rowan) came in to close out the game, pitching a scoreless ninth to earn his first save. The save came after Ruiz had struggled through his first few outings.

"I’m just trying to figure out my mechanics right now and get everything going together," Ruiz said. "Confidence is the biggest thing as a pitcher. Mound presence is important and I feel like I’ve been doing a lot better with my demeanor on the mound."

J.R. Seader (Kutztown) started for the Pilots, pitching eight innings and allowing just a solo home run to Catz’ outfielder Landon Thibodeaux (LSU-Eunice) in the second inning. He allowed six hits, struck out eight and walked only one. Seader’s leadoff walk in the first inning was his only one of the season, now after 21 innings on the bump. His strikeout to walk ratio is now a remarkable 23:1.

"Generally speaking, I just try and mix it up," Seader said. "Usually all it is is keeping them off-balance and then I adjust accordingly from game to game."

Saturday was the second time facing the Catz. He pitched six innings against them en route to a win on June 3.

"I feel pitching against the same opponent goes both ways. Pitchers get to see some of he hitters’ weaknesses. Hitters get to see what I have with pitch selection. I just try to keep it mixed up so they don’t see everything that I have so they can’t sit back and wait on anything."

Seader was matched up against Brian Ernst (East Stroudsburg), who also pitched against the Pilots on June 3, pitching a 7-inning complete game and only allowing one run. Ernst pitched the first game of the doubleheader, while he and Seader accounted for both wins that day.

They were both on their game again Saturday, with Ernst going seven innings against the Pilots for the second time in as many weeks. On both June 3 and Saturday, Ernst gave up one run over seven while throwing exactly 119 pitches.

"It’s great. I love pitching in a pitcher’s duel," Seader said. "Whether I’m watching baseball or whether I’m in the game, I love a pitcher’s duel. I love the art of it. I love having to battle and fight for a win and picking up my teammates.

Seader won the battle with Thibodeaux in the 7th, striking him out with the bases loaded to send the game to extra innings.

"It’s just about staying calm and keeping in mind my job to keep my team in the game," he said. "I made good pitches in that situation. I kept my poise and didn’t try to do too much and I was able to get the outs I needed."

Offensively for the Pilots, the star was second baseman Rob Bernardo (Queen’s College). He doubled in his first three at bats and was responsible for three of the six hits the Pilots had against Ernst.

"It felt really good to breakout," Bernardo said. "I knew it was only a matter of time before I played the way I should. I expect a lot, it just hasn’t happened so far. I hope today is a good start to keep it going."

The Pilots had runners on base in every inning Saturday. They had four runners thrown out at third base, and two more at second. Neuhaus was responsible for three of the seven outs on the base paths, catching three Pilots runners trying to steal. However, the most costly mistake may have come in the seventh inning when Aaron Vogt (Heartland CC) was hit by a batted ball by Brandon Gonnella (Towson), ending a rally that may have ended the game two innings earlier. Nappe, Gonnella and Spurr each made errors on the bases as well.

"It’s hard for the kids to know all of the signs in a week’s time, but mistakes that have to do with not thinking or knowing the situations should always be addressed right away," Coach Davis said.

But the resilient Pilots overcame the mistakes to win their seventh ballgame of the season, improving to 7-3, while the Catz drop to 6-5. The eight innings from J.R. Seader was a season high for the Pilots. Seader has now won all three of his starts and has emerged as the ace of the staff.

"Any pitcher would love to be the ace of any staff," he said. "I wasn’t even coming into this summer thinking about being the ace. I just wanted to get my innings and face good competition and I’ve just been off to a good start."

No one appreciates Seader’s efforts more than head coach Evan Davis, "J.R. has been our best pitcher. He has eaten innings, kept us in every game he’s pitched, keeping the ball low constantly and pumping the zone," Davis said. "We are most fortunate to have J.R. on our roster, he has proven he can handle the tough spots."

Railers Earn First Win in Team History
Shimo goes the distance in first start
June 15, 2012

Railers’ Starter Brandon Shimo By John Vittas

Brandon Shimo pitched a complete game as the Railers won their first game in team history, beating the Jersey Pilots 7-1 Friday afternoon at ECTB Stadium in Allentown, PA.

Shimo, who was making his season debut for the Railers, pitched all seven innings, allowing just one run on six hits and two walks. He struck out three to earn the win.

"I didn’t really know what to expect," Shimo said. "All I knew was that I was coming in with a bunch of guys I never met before. All I knew was I was going to pitch like it was any other teammates and play to win the game like I always do."

Shimo (Kutztown) allowed a single to the Pilots’ centerfielder Joe D’Annunzio (Rutgers) to begin the game. D’Annunzio stole a base and came around to score on a wild pitch. Unfazed by the early speed of D’Annunzio, Shimo did not allow a run over the next six innings.

"From my experience of giving up many runs in my career, I just stayed calm and collected," said Shimo. "I knew one run wasn’t going to win the game for them so I just tried to keep pitching my game and do what I do best, knowing my team would back me up."

Shimo appeared to get stronger as the game went along, allowing just one man to reach in the final two innings.

"I noticed my velocity went down a little bit but I was able to place my off-speed pitches better," he said. "As I got through the game, all my pitches seemed to develop a little better. I was able to settle in after the first two innings and after that, it all seemed like I was in a rhythm."

The first time Allentown hosted the Pilots on June 1, the Pilots scored 13 runs, blowing out the Railers and ruining their inaugural game.

At the time, Shimo was not even a glimmer in the minds of the Railers. Two weeks later, with the Railers 0-5 and still looking for their first win, Shimo delivered.

"The fact that I don’t have the highest velocity, I need to use every advantage that I have," said Shimo. "What makes a good hitter is a hitter who knows what’s going to be coming in a certain count. I like to mix it up and use different arm angles to get that extra split second where he’s behind the ball."

Shimo’s teammates appreciated the performance.

"He threw a lot of strikes. You don’t want to walk people and make them hit it and he did a good job today and kept us in the game," said Allentown second baseman Jeff Birkofer.

Birkofer (Morehead St.) went 3-3 on Friday, scoring three runs and driving in two. Both RBIs came on his double in the 4th, giving the Railers their first lead, 3-1. Pitt outfielder Mike Douglas followed with another RBI double, scoring Birkofer.

The first four Railers runs came off Pilots’ starter Max Schmardel (Wagner), who was also making his first start of the season. Schmardel lasted four innings, giving up four runs on seven hits and being charged with the loss.

Karl Fiske (Brookdale CC) relieved Schmardel and pitched a scoreless 5th, before allowing a two-out, bases clearing double to Railers’ first baseman Robby Patete (East Stroudsburg), breaking the backs of the Pilots. Patete’s double cleared the glove of D’Annunzio by a slim margin and bounced off the centerfield wall, breaking the game open, 7-1, and propelling the Railers to their first ever win.

"We just tried to sit fastball and if we get our pitch early in the count, we’re going to be swinging," Birkofer said. "We talk in the dugout. We ask whether the ball’s moving in and out and just try and get a feel before you get up there and see if you can get your pitch."

With the win in the first game of the doubleheaders, the Railers improve to 1-5 and the Pilots fall to 5-3. The Pilots now begin their 7 game stretch in a 4 day span at 0-2, after losing to Staten Island Thursday night.

But Friday belonged to the Railers, who are encouraged by their first win in franchise history.

The group of guys behind supported me the entire game and made some amazing plays," Shimo said. "I think all together we are going to bring that record up to at least .500."

Braves Recall Anthony Varvaro
Former Metro NY Cadet Back in the Bigs
June 15, 2012

Braves Recall Anthony Varvaro By Tom Bonekemper (Photo courtesy of MILB)

The Atlanta Braves recalled Anthony Varvaro (St. John's, Metro NY Cadets) from Triple-A Gwinnett of the International League.

The right-hander was recalled from Gwinnett for Wednesdays night game against the Yankees.

The 27-year-old RHP Varvaro posted a 2.81 ERA with two saves in 19 appearances for the AAA affiliate.

The former ACBL All-Star also struck out 35 in 25.2 innings and is the sixth former ACBL player to be called up from AAA this season.

Tide Pitching Stifles Pilots
June 14, 2012

Tide SP Felix Lopez By John Vittas

Felix Lopez shutout the Pilots’ bats during his seven innings of work as the Staten Island Tide defeated the Jersey Pilots 3-0 Thursday at the Richmond Youth Complex in Staten Island, N.Y.

Lopez scattered seven hits, striking out seven and walking three. Thursday was Lopez’s first day on the mound for the Tide in 2012, as he did not disappoint.

"I did not expect to go seven," Lopez said. "I was just trying to go out there and throw strikes and get my team back in the dugout as soon as possible to give them a chance to hit."

Lopez allowed the leadoff man to reach in four of his innings, and permitted 11 men to reach base in total. He escaped a bases loaded jam in the 4th, getting Aaron Vogt (Heartland CC) to line out to centerfield. Lopez worked through trouble again in the 5th, when Pilots’ catcher Christopher Berry (Franklin Pierce) was gunned out at the plate by Tide left fielder Cliff Brantley (Wagner).

"To get out of the jams I just worked on keeping the ball down, hitting corners as much as possible and keeping it off the fat part of the bat," Lopez said.

Matt Mantione (Kean) pitched a scoreless eighth and ninth to earn the save. Mantione gave up just one hit, a double to Pilots’ shortstop John Elson (Lehigh). Mantione struck out two, including Berry to end the game.

The offensive attack for the Tide was lead by fist baseman Matthew Troisi (Manhattan), who went 3-4 and drove in one of the three Tide runs.

"We all were trying to get out early and hit the first pitch fastball," Troisi said. "He was throwing mostly first pitch fastballs so we were jumping on that."

All three Staten Island runs were scored in the second inning off of Pilots’ starter Cory Brown (Brookdale CC). After Juan Bueno (Monroe) and Tim McCormick (Florida Southern) lead off the inning with singles, Brown plunked the next two batters, allowing the first run of the game to score. The second run scored on a fielder’s choice before Troisi drove in the third and final run of the day.

Brown went five innings for Jersey, allowing those three runs on seven hits and walking one, striking out one as well. He fell to 1-1 on the year, after winning his first start of the season last Wednesday at the North Jersey Eagles.

Greg Baruka (Towson), J.R. Seader (Kutztown) and Rob Corsi (Rutgers) each pitched a scoreless inning of relief for the Pilots.

The Pilots managed nine hits off Tide pitching, with three players having multiple hit days. The most notable of which was Christian Spurr’s (Ramapo), who had two line drive doubles to the fence in his two at bats. In his subsequent two, he flew out deep to the warning track, as he had the number of Tide pitching all night.

Ian Glassman (UMBC) and Berry also had two single apiece.

With the loss, the Pilots fall to 5-2 and out of first place in the Wolff Division, half a game behind the Trenton Generals. The Tide improves to 2-3, maintaining their third place position in the Kaiser Division.

Staten Island will rest Friday before traveling to Long Island Saturday to play the Shamrocks in a two-game set. Jersey begins a string of three straight doubleheaders Friday when they head to Allentown to take on the Railers at ECTB Stadium at 5pm.

Pilots Edge Blazers 3-2
June 11, 2012

Pilots’ winning pitcher J.R. Seader By John Vittas (Photo by Wagner College Athletics)

Another strong outing from the Jersey Pilots pitching staff earned them a 3-2 victory over the Quakertown Blazers on a hot Sunday afternoon at Snyder Field in Berkeley Heights, N.J.

J.R. Seader (Kutztown) went five innings to earn his second win of the season. He allowed two runs on eight hits, striking out three and hitting one.

"It’s really about hitting spots for me, working in and out, changing speeds. I don’t throw the ball past many guys, so I just have to pitch backwards," Seader said. "I didn’t have my best stuff today so I had to battle."

The biggest moment for Seader came in his final 5th inning. The Pilots lead the Blazers, 3-1, before Quakertown quickly loaded the bases on three straight singles, one of which knocked the glove off Seader’s hand. But Seader retired the next three, allowing just one run to score. He ended his day on a strikeout of Kyle McCrossen to end the frame and sustain the lead.

""I just try and stay poised and not try and do to much, especially with two outs," said Seader. "I wasn’t necessarily looking for a strikeout. It wasn’t a strikeout situation, it just happened to turn out that way."

Max Schmardel (Wagner) pitched two shutout innings after Seader to earn himself a save in his first appearance on the mound this season. "I felt pretty comfortable. At school I was put into a lot of good situations like this," said Schmardel.

Working with just a one-run lead, Schmardel retired the first five batters he saw. But with two outs in the final seventh inning, Schmardel gave up a single to Jeff Wiand and a deep fly ball to Tyler Brong, which Pilots’ left fielder Joe O’Connor caught inches in front of the fence as the Pilots narrowly escaped.

"Second to last batter [Wiand], I left a 2-2 fastball up and he hit it up the middle," Schmardel explained. "Next guy [Brong], I started him off with an inside slider which he got a pretty good piece of but I jammed him a little bit which kept it in and got us the W."

The losing pitcher was Bryan Morris (Bloomsburg), who went the whole way for the Blazers, going six innings and giving up three runs on eight hits.

The Pilots scored two runs in the first inning on a sacrifice fly from Stephen Nappe and an RBI single by O’Connor. They scored again in the third when Zach Passerelle crushed a double to the wall to score Joe D’Annunzio.

Passerelle and D’Annunzio both went 2-3, with D’Annunzio scoring two of the Pilots’ 3 runs, improving his on base percentage to .600 through the first six games.

The Pilots began their offensive day with four of the first five batters reaching on singles, before Morris induced a double play from Christian Spurr to keep it a one-run game.

The Blazers put up a run in the top of the first when Brong drove in Tim Ravel with a double. Brong drove in both runs for Quakertown. The other came in the 5th, when he drove in Ravel again with a sacrifice fly, cutting the Pilots lead to one before Schmardel snuffed out the comeback.

The second game of the scheduled doubleheader was scratched due to thunderstorms.

With the win, Jersey improves their record to 5-1 and regains first place in the ACBL’s Wolff Division, percentage points ahead of the Trenton Generals. The Pilots will be in action again Thursday night in Staten Island as they wrap up a home-and-home with the Tide. The Blazers will travel to North Jersey to take on the Eagles on Wednesday.

O’Connor’s Walk-Off Hit Lifts Bullpen
June 7, 2012

Joe_OConnor By John Vittas

Joe O’Connor’s 9th-inning single allowed the Jersey Pilots to walk off with their fourth win of the season Thursday night at Snyder Field in Berkeley Heights, N.J.

O’Connor’s walk-off hit came after the Pilots’ bullpen blew a four run lead in the top of the inning.

"I knew I had to come through. So I did whatever I could to see the ball well and put the bat on it," O’Connor said. "The kid was struggling so I was looking fastball and once I saw it I just let it loose."

O’Connor’s single scored Rutgers outfielder Joe D’Annunzio, who began the inning with a well-struck single off Tide right-hander James Farrington. D’Annunzio quickly stole second base before being moved to third on a groundout by Pilots’ second baseman Rob Bernardo.

"It’s another at bat. Nothing changes. You try and put a good swing on it and thank God, that time it happened for me," D’Annunzio said about the base hit. Regarding the stolen base, he said, "First pitch I wanted to see how his move to the plate was. Coach Davis gave me the sign, I saw the leg kick and took off."

D’Annunzio reached base in three of his five plate appearances Thursday, going 2-4 with a hit-by-pitch, two runs scored and two stolen bases. O’Connor was 2-4 with two stolen bases, a walk, sacrifice bunt and game-winning RBI, earning him the Delicious Heights Player of the Game honors.

Brandon Dolan of Marist College started the game for the Pilots, pitching five scoreless innings and allowing only one hit. He struck out six while walking just one. Dolan was in line for his second win of the season before the bullpen blew the lead. He has allowed just one run in 9 innings this season, striking out 14.

"I threw the ball hard and when I locate my changeup and curveball it makes my fastball that much better and that’s what kept them off-balance again today," Dolan said.

Dashon Jones, Karl Fiske and J.R. Seader each pitched a scoreless inning of relief to maintain the Jersey shutout into the 9th. Carlos Ruiz of Rowan University started the 9th and allowed five of the seven batters he faced to reach base. Ruiz struck out two, walked three and allowed a single to Chris Selden.

Greg Baruka replaced Ruiz, seeking his second save of the season. He hit the first two batters he faced to allow the tying runs to score. All four Tide runs in the 9th were unearned, due to an error by Pilots’ third baseman John Elson, which kept the Tide rally going.

Baruka ended up earning the win thanks to O’Connor’s heroics. With Thursday’s win, the Pilots improve to 4-1 on the early ACBL season, while the Tide fall to 1-1. The Pilots return to action Sunday afternoon at 4p.m. when they host a doubleheader against the Quakertown Blazers.

Major League Baseball Amateur Draft - Lehigh Valley Catz
4 Catz Selected
June 6, 2012

By Pat O'Connell

If asked to review the recently completed Major League Baseball Amateur Draft.......the Lehigh Valley Catz faithful would have to give it 4 Stars!!

The Lehigh Valley Catz are very proud to announce that 1 current and 3 former players were taken in the 2012 MLB Draft.

The current Catz player is Chris Nichols, the son of Iron Pigs Coach Rod Nichols, who was the 31st round selection of the Philadelphia Phillies. Chris was the Catz opening day starter on Saturday is in his second summer season leading the Catz starting rotation.

Other Catz players selected were Lee Sosa (Binghamton University – Catz 2011) who was a 26th round selection of the Oakland A’s, Zach Kirksey (Ole Miss – Catz 2009) was the 29th round pick of the Detroit Tigers, and local standout Steve Nikorak (Temple – 2008 Catz) was selected in the 32nd round by the White Sox.

Congratulations to all 4 deserving athletes.......we wish them the best of luck as they continue to chase their dreams of being professional baseball players!!

Pilots’ Power Past Eagles, 11-4
June 6, 2012

Pilots First Baseman Stephen Nappe Wednesday’s Delicious Heights Player of the GameBy John Vittas

The Jersey Pilots took advantage of the short fences at Overpeck County Park in Ridgefield Park, N.J. by hitting three home runs to beat the North Jersey Eagles, 11-4.

"It’s always in the back of your mind," Pilots’ first baseman Stephen Nappe said about the short fences. "You always come to the ballpark and see how far the fence is, but at the end of the day you’re not thinking about that. You’re just trying to drive runs in and see what you can do for the team."

Nappe (Montclair St.) began the home run parade for the Pilots with his two-run shot in the 4th inning against North Jersey’s Nate Newhall (Sacred Heart). His home run gave the Pilots their first lead of the game, a lead they would never relinquish.

The next hitter, Zach Passerelle (Gloucester CC), also went deep, pulling a homer to right field to make it 4-1 Pilots.

Jersey added three more runs against Newhall in the 6th, on an opposite-field home run by Joe O’Connor (Kean). It was O’Connor’s second three run home run of the year. The first one came in Allentown on June 1.

The Pilots scored two more on a two-run single by Passerelle in the 7th. In the 8th, they tacked on another two spot on back-to-back RBI hits from Joe D’Annunzio (Rutgers) and Kevin Luna (Brookdale CC). Both late-inning rallies came off Eagles’ reliever Brian Drapeau.

Danny O’Neill (Rutgers) started on the mound for North Jersey, pitching three perfect innings. He was relieved after just three innings by Newhall because of his relief role with the Scarlet Knights in the spring.

Cory Brown started the game for the Pilots, making his season debut. He persevered through four innings, allowing two runs while stranding four. He allowed five hits and a walk while striking out one to earn the win.

"I had some nerves," Brown said. "It was mostly because my mechanics aren’t the best right now. I was just thinking about doing too many things at once."

Brown allowed the leadoff man to reach in every inning, pitching from the stretch virtually the whole night.

"I don’t mind pitching out of the stretch but definitely prefer pitching out of the wind-up," Brown said. "But there’s not a better feeling than having a man on third and getting out of the inning."

After Brown’s exit, the next three Pilots’ relievers combined to throw four shutout innings, while the offense pulled away. Greg Baruka (Towson) pitched a perfect 7th inning, Rob Corsi (Rutgers) a scoreless 8th and Mike Cranston (Adelphi), two scoreless in the 5th and 6th.

Cranston allowed just one man to reach in his two innings, bouncing back from his loss on Sunday, when he gave up 7 hits in three innings against Lehigh Valley.

"I changed a couple things with my mechanics from last outing to this one. I think that really benefitted," Cranston said. "I was able to throw more strikes and have a little more velocity. This game I got ahead and was able to throw my curveball and I think that was the biggest difference."

The Eagles scored two runs in the 9th inning off Carlos Ruiz (Rowan), making the final score 11-4.

With the win, the Pilots improve to 3-1, while the Eagles fall to 0-2. The Pilots will play the Staten Island Tide at home on Thursday night, while North Jersey will head to Quakertown.

Wednesday marks the second time in four games the Pilots have reached double figures in runs.

"We have a lot of returners from last year, including me and a good amount of other people," Nappe said. "They came in with the mindset of having fun and getting together with everybody and the new kids came right along with it. They didn’t hold back."

Ernst Dominates Pilots
June 3, 2012

Lehigh Valley Starter Brian ErnstBy John Vittas

Brian Ernst (East Stroudsburg) pitched 7 strong innings to earn a complete game victory as his Lehigh Valley Catz defeated the Jersey Pilots, 9-1 at Snyder Field in Berkeley Heights Sunday.

Ernst allowed just three hits, four walks and one run over his 7 innings of work, while fanning 8.

"I was throwing my fastball pretty much where I wanted it," Ernst said. "My curveball was a little inconsistent so I had to make sure I kept my shoulder closed and once I did that I started getting it over the plate."

Brian Mauro (DeSales) reached base all five times he came up, driving in two runs and scoring one. Ty Neuhaus (Yavapai) also reached base in all four of his plate appearances, going 2-2 with a run scored.

The big blow came in the 4th against Pilots’ righty Karl Fiske (Brookdale CC) when the Catz’ Corey Jensen (Whittier) smoked a two-run double to open up a 5-0 lead. Mauro followed with an RBI single to add on.

Jensen went 2-4 and drove in three. Joe Bamford (Monmouth) also had two hits, a run scored and an RBI.

Greg Fazio (Rider) and Dan Iturrey (Emory) had two hits apiece for Lehigh Valley, with Fazio scoring two runs to add to the Catz’ assault.

"Any win is big," said Ernst. "It’s hard to come by a win in a league like this. It just so happens that it came after two losses."

Sunday’s Catz win comes on the heels of back-to-back losses to the Trenton Generals.

Mike Cranston (Adelphi), a Berkeley Heights native himself, made the start for the Pilots in the team’s first game ever played in his hometown. He lasted only three innings, surrendering three runs on seven hits and got tagged with the loss.

Fiske allowed four in his one inning, while Dashon Jones (Union CC) gave up three runs in three innings of relief.

Blazers Split a Pair With Trenton
June 3, 2012

Quakertown BlazersTrenton GeneralsThe Quakertown Blazers defeated the Trenton Generals 5-2 in the opener. Tim Ravel, Dylan Tice and Greg Guers each had two hits to pace the Blazers' offense.

Bryan Morris pitched five innings for the win while Adam Zipko picked up the save.

The Generals won the nightcap 7-3 behind the two home runs and five RBI of Matt Moceri. Ryan Hartley posted a solo home run for the Blazers.

Pilots' Bats Spoil Railers' Debut
June 1, 2012

Pilots Starter Brandon DolanBy John Vittas

The Jersey Pilots scored 13 runs on 14 hits in seven innings to ruin the inaugural game of the Allentown Railers Friday at ECTB Stadium.

Six Pilots had multiple hits and Joe O’Connor (Kean) and Kevin Luna (Brookdale CC) each went deep in their first game as members of the Jersey franchise.

Another new Pilot with a strong debut was starting pitcher Brandon Dolan (Marist), who struck out eight in four innings, allowing just one run on three hits and walking one to earn the victory.

"He was great with the slider," Pilots catcher Scott Glozzy said about Dolan. "Everyone was out in front and swinging over it a lot, which is where a lot of his K’s came from. He’s looking good right now."

Glozzy (Montclair St.) was one of those six Pilots with multiple hits, driving in two and reaching base three times. Fellow catcher Zach Passerelle (Gloucester CC), who was the D.H. Friday, reached base in four of his five plate appearances as well.

The first run of the game came in the top of the second, when Railers pitcher Jason Henderson (Kutztown) made a throwing error that allowed the first Pilots’ run to score. The next batter, Pilots’ third baseman Christian Spurr (Ramapo) promptly crushed a two-run double to the wall in left field to give Jersey a 3-0 lead.

Robbie Patete (East Stroudsburg) demolished a solo home run off Dolan in the 4th to make it 3-1, but the Pilots responded with four runs in the following inning.

O’Connor hit a two-run homer off Allentown’s Eric Snyder (Fairleigh Dickinson) and Glozzy plated a pair on a single, extending the lead to 7-1.

"First game of the season, you try to swing the bats well," said Glozzy. "They we were leaving some pitches over the middle that we were able to hit."

Max Mueller (East Stroudsburg) could not ease the bleeding, allowing six runs in his two innings of relief. He walked four consecutive batters, allowing two runs in the sixth and allowed four runs on five hits in the seventh. Three of those four 7th-inning runs came on a moonshot home run by Kevin Luna, clearing the center field wall by a large margin.

"The game was one-sided all day. I was just looking for a fastball I could drive and I got it and I drove it," Luna said. "By far, it was the furthest home run I’ve ever hit."

Joe D’Annunzio (Rutgers), Rob Bernardo (Queen’s College) and Ian Glassman (UMBC) also had multiple hits.

Greg Baruka (Towson) allowed two runs in two innings of relief for the Pilots, while Carlos Ruiz (Rowan) walked three but struck out the side to end the game and earn the Pilots the opening day victory, 13-3.

The second game of the doubleheader was rained out, and will be made up as part of a doubleheader on Friday, June 15.

"We’re disappointed in a way," said Glozzy. "Looking forward to Sunday coming back off this good game with all of our hitters hitting the ball real well."

The Pilots will open their new ballpark, Snyder Field in Berkeley Heights, Sunday at 4pm against the Lehigh Valley Catz.

Two Trades, Two Hits in Whirlwind 24 Hours for ACBL Alum
May 23, 2012

”Drew Former Lehigh Valley Catz star, Drew Sutton, capped off a whirlwind tour by going two-for-four with a double and RBI as the Rays defeated the Blue Jays 8-5 on Tuesday.

The journey began on Sunday night when he was pulled from the Gwinnett Braves lineup in the fourth inning at Rochester. He was told that he was traded to the Pirates and he should pack for Buffalo to join the Pirates AAA club. Soon after he made plans to go to Buffalo, he was notified that he had been traded again, this time he was to join the Tampa Bay Rays in Florida.

He arrived in time to start at second base for the Rays, now his fourth MLB team. The 28 year old switch hitter played previously with the Reds (2009-10), Indians (2010) and Red Sox (2011) where he hit .315 in 31 games.

ACBL Alumni: Joe Martinez Joins the Diamondbacks
April 29, 2012

”Photo Joe Martinez (Jersey Pilots) was called up to the Arizona Diamondbacks from Reno (AAA). Martinez, a former ACBL All-Star from Boston College, will be used mainly in relief.

Three former ACBL players were promoted to the big leagues this week. The other two players included are Zach Lutz (Kutztown Rockies, Mets) and Brad Eldred (New Jersey Colonels).

Martinez made his Major League Baseball debut with the Giants in 2009.

ACBL Alumni: Brad Eldred Gets Call Up from Toledo to Join Tigers
April 28, 2012

 Photo by MILB Brad Eldred (Jersey City Colonels) joined the Detroit Tigers from Toledo (AAA) where he hit 12 home runs in nineteen games. The 6-5, 265 pound 1B from Florida International, may see time as a 1B or DH for the Tigers.

Three former Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League players were promoted to the big leagues this week. The other two players include Zach Lutz (Kutztown Rockies, Mets) and Joe Martinez (Jersey Pilots, Diamondbacks).

Brad Eldred started his career with the Pirates in 2005.

ACBL Alumni: Lutz Makes MLB Debut
April 26, 2012

 Photo by MILBZach Lutz (Kutztown Rockies) was called up to the New York Mets on Tuesday from Buffalo of the International League.

Lutz was an Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League All-Star in 2005 when he hit .279 for the Rockies with two home runs and 31 RBI after his freshman year at Alvernia.

The 6-1, 220 pound corner infielder was a fifth round pick of the Mets in 2007 and was hitting .333 with three home runs and 10 RBI in 19 games for the Bisons.

Moyer Becomes Oldest in MLB History To Record Win
April 20, 2012

AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez Colorado lefthander Jamie Moyer (Allentown Wings) pitched himself into the record books when he held the Padres to six hits and two unearned runs in seven innings as the Rockies defeated the Padres 5-3 on Tuesday night. That made him the oldest pitcher in major league history to earn a victory.

At 49 years and 150 days, Moyer passed the Brooklyn Dodgers' Jack Quinn, who beat the Cardinals in 1932 at Ebbets Field at the age of 49 years and 70 days.

With the win, Moyer, who missed the entire 2011 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery, also tied Hall of Famer Jim Palmer for 35th position on the all-time wins list with 268. He is slated to pitch Monday at Pittsburgh and then again Sunday in Colorado against the Mets.

Jamie Moyer Makes Comeback!
March 29, 2012

Jamie Moyer (Allentown, 1983) pitched four spotless innings on Thursday as the Rockies defeated the Giants 7-0. Moyer allowed no hits or walks and whiffed four with just 45 pitches, of which 30 were strikes.

Moyer, a non-roster invitee, is trying to gain a position with the Rockies after rehabbing for a year and a half after Tommy John surgery. He has a 1.00 ERA with a 0.44 WHIP in nine innings this spring.

The 49 year old LHP has 267 major league wins which place him at 36th on the all-time win list where he sits between Hall of Famers Jim Palmer and Bob Feller. He ranks ninth among left handed pitchers.

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2019 ACBL Standings

Wolff Division


Kaiser Division

North Jersey211600.568
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