Pace sparks Spotswood to CJ title (Sentinal)
Pace sparks Spotswood to CJ titleFunny how a season can dramatically change after the outcomes of just a few games. A week ago, Spotswood High School was staring at the possibility of finishing its second consecutive season under .500 after not suffering a losing campaign since 1993.
But on Tuesday, June 1, the Chargers faced Audubon High School with the right to play the winner of West Essex and Ramsey for the State Group II championship.
Championship, you say? Wasn’t this the same Spotswood that was 10-12 before the tournament began and rightfully seeded 11th?
Yes, but with an important qualifier. Records don’t necessary reveal the true quality of team. That’s what Spotswood coach Glenn Fredricks believes.
“We were seeded low because of our record,” he said, “but you can’t look at records to predict who should be favored to win the sectional. We scheduled many quality teams in the area, and even though we lost some, many were close and could have gone either way.”
Wary that his team might get down on itself entering the tournament, Fredricks had one question for his players.
“Do you want to be a team that breezes through the schedule playing easier opponents and then exit early in the tournament, or do you want to make a run at the title?” Fredricks asked. “I think the answer is obvious.”
Adding to the team’s obvious satisfaction of having turned around this season has been the opportunity to win with shortstoppitcher Cody Pace, a multi-talented athlete whom Fredrick’s considers to be among the premier players in the state. While Pace entered the season as the team’s primary closer, the decision was made to make the senior a starter, and the results have been decisive. Pace leads the team with a 5-2 record and 2.91 earned-run average. His performance in Spotswood’s 7-5 Central Jersey Group II championship win over Governor Livingston High School last Friday was nothing short of spectacular.
In addition to enabling an overworked pitching staff to rest its arms by hurling a complete game, Pace launched a two-run homer in the sixth inning to provide the margin of victory. His average on the season is .554 and includes 36 hits, 33 runs, 24 RBIs and five homers, all tops on the team.
His value, however, goes far beyond statistics. Fredricks, whose tenure at Spotswood comes after a stint with Immaculata of Somerville, says this about Pace:
Still, Spotswood isn’t a one-player team. Outfielder Mikey Liming has contributed with a .417 average while catcher Shawn Weeks has managed the young pitching staff well and has hit .342. Senior outfielder Joe Cappa has a hefty .375 average while second baseman Matt Mangarella has hit .354. John Relay, another senior outfielder, is batting .315 while senior first baseman and designated hitter Anthony Pietanza has stroked the ball for a .307 average.
The young arms on the pitching staff will benefit from seeing action this year, since most will return next season. Anthony Berg is a sophomore who owns a 3-1 record against quality teams. While his record isn’t outstanding, freshman Kevin Martin (3-3) demonstrated poise and will be better for the experience. Finally, sophomore Chris Stout was a regular who recorded two wins and will be a third important starter for Spotswood next year.