Notebook: Week 2

Posted by Glenn Fredricks on Apr 15 2005 at 05:00PM PDT
NOTEBOOK Guvs' blowout win has repercussions Published in the Home News Tribune 04/16/05 by GREG TUFARO Baseball The final score of Tuesday's Greater Middlesex Conference Gold Division game between South Amboy and St. Peter raised more than a few eyebrows. The Governors, who have White Division talent, rolled to a 44-3 mercy-rule victory that some in the GMC community believed to be unsportsmanlike. "I want to publicly apologize to the players, coaches and administration of St. Peter High School for our unsportsmanlike actions," South Amboy Athletics Director Gene Mosley said. "As for South Amboy, what we have is a ruptured reputation. I'm hopeful that we as a district have the courage to take the steps necessary to ensure that this never happens again and begin the long process of restoring our integrity." After rallying for 17 runs in the second inning, South Amboy owned a 23-0 lead. Coach George Krzyzanowski, who had 10 varsity players and no junior-varsity squad available that day, said he was not trying to run up the score. "I had nobody to put in as subs," he said. "In baseball, I can't tell a kid not to hit. We went up to hit and guys were hitting the ball. I had no control of the outcome." South Amboy scored nine more times in the third and 12 more times in the fourth to produce the final margin. Nobody would ever suggest that the Governors should intentionally get themselves picked off first, steal home without taking a lead or remove their helmets while running the bases (which is against the rules) to make easy outs. There are, however, less conspicuous ways to make the outcome more respectable. Asked if he told his players to bat from the opposite side of the plate or encouraged them to work on fundamentals, such as hitting the ball to the opposite field or out of a two-strike count, Krzyzanowski said, "I never thought about it. "Everything was just happening so quickly. Sometimes you just don't know how to react. I spoke to the coach afterward. He was not offended." St. Peter coach Jorge Diaz, indeed, said he did not feel as though the Governors were intentionally trying to run up the score. Regardless, a 41-run drubbing violates the spirit of competition at any level, especially in high school baseball. The players, however, should not be faulted for the lopsided outcome. This is a terrific group of kids who can compete against any GMC team, as evidenced by their 2-1 loss to J.P. Stevens in last year's conference tournament. Sophomores Joe Magnifico, Joe Bartlinski and Brian Seres form a pitching rotation that may be as strong as any in the league. Quite simply, South Amboy has talent that the Gold Division hasn't seen in a number of years, if ever. Realizing that, Mosley beefed up the school's schedule. The Governors are playing the likes of Piscataway and Woodbridge this season. St. Peter is as classy as South Amboy is talented. The Cardinals have captured the attention and received the respect of seemingly every GMC coach for their dedication to the game and their resiliency. The Cardinals continue to play for the love of the game, regardless of the outcome. For that, they are to be applauded. SPOTSWOOD FULLY CHARGED: About a mile of Summerhill Road separates East Brunswick and Spotswood high schools. Players from both institutions combined to form the Milltown Senior American Legion team that finished fourth in last summer's state tournament. While several starters from that squad graduated, the bulk returned to their respective high school programs this spring. As a result, some of the best baseball in Middlesex County is being played within that one-mile stretch of Summerhill Road. Nobody knows that better than first-year Spotswood mentor Glenn Fredricks, who coached the Milltown Legion team to a 25-5 record and whose Chargers got off to a 5-1 start following Wednesday's 9-6 victory over Colonia. "You could tell by the way the early season is going, between us and EB, that the balance of power has really shifted to southern Middlesex County," Fredricks said. "The way that we are handling ourselves on Summerhill Road, both towns have a lot of reason to be proud." East Brunswick (5-1) is ranked No. 1 in the Home News Tribune Top 10 and Spotswood is ranked sixth. The teams opened the year with a combined 10-2 record. The Chargers' lone defeat was an 8-7 setback to Woodbridge in which they squandered a six-run lead late in the game. Apparently, Spotswood does not know how to handle prosperity. Fredricks' club seems to perform better when coming from behind. In four of their five victories, the Chargers trailed in the first inning by a combined 7-0 score. Each of those runners who crossed home plate reached safely via walk or error. Fredricks put an end to his pitchers issuing first-inning free passes by having them throw a simulated inning in the bullpen before taking the mound for a game. The move worked as opponents failed to receive first-inning walks in Spotswood's last two outings. "If we keep our walk totals down," Fredricks said, "we win comfortably." Spotswood has outscored opponents 73-32 or by an average of 6.8 runs per game. The sixth has proved to be a huge inning for the Chargers, who combined to score 22 runs during that frame in mercy-rule wins over Highland Park and Dunellen. Strangely, Spotswood relievers actually earned saves in those 21-5 and 16-6 victories. The Chargers are batting .398 as a team with Brian Dzuro (.813), John Dubovick (.500), Mike Hohman (.450) and Steve Abbott (.417) leading the way. Twenty-one of the team's 68 hits have gone for extra bases. Spotswood compiled a 6-0 mark in the preseason, defeating St. Joseph, Carteret and Immaculata along the way. FALCONS STILL FLYING HIGH: No GMC Red Division team, other than Edison, may have lost more to graduation than St. Joseph. Despite losing so many players, the Falcons are off to a terrific start. St. Joseph has been led by the pitching and hitting of junior Matt Owens and junior Dan Rizzolo. As a pitcher, Owens owns a 2-0 record and a 2.99 ERA. He outdueled South Brunswick ace Travis Smart in a 4-3 victory on Monday. At the plate, Owens is St. Joseph's second-leading hitter with a .444 average, including a home run. He had the game-winning RBI against the Vikings with a two-out hit. The 6-foot-3, 200-pound right-hander throws fairly hard, but is most successful when he can get his curveball over for strikes. "We had plans to pitch Matty last year on the varsity," St. Joseph coach Lou Urbano said, "but we just couldn't ever get him in because of all the senior pitching we had. But we've had our eye on him since freshman year. He's starting to pitch with confidence now." Rizzolo, who plays left field and bats third, wasn't on anybody's radar at the start of the year. All he's done thus far is bat .409 with a homer, two doubles and a team-leading 10 RBI and 11 runs scored. "No one relaly knows about him," said Urbano, who moved Harry Douglas to the leadoff spot so that Rizzolo could bat third. "I put this kid there because he's just been tearing the cover off the ball and knocking in a lot of runs for us." In addition, Rizzolo may be the fastest player in Urbano's lineup. ONE-RUN FUN: In yet another sign of the league's incredible parity, GMC teams have already played a total of 27 one-run games this season (please see accompanying chart). A dozen of those one-run contests were played in the Red Division. Edison has been involved in five one-run affairs this season, winning every single one of them. Coach Vin Abene hopes living on the edge will pay off down the road. "We are building some character for later in the year," he said. THAT'S GOTTA HURT: After getting hit by a curveball in a game against Old Bridge Tuesday, Sayreville center fielder Ed Goldmann was not allowed to take first base because the plate umpire felt he made no effort to get out of the way. On the ensuing pitch, Goldmann was drilled by a fastball. Again, he was not allowed to take first base because the plate umpire felt he still made no effort to avoid being hit. "I've never seen anything like that," Sayreville coach Mike Novak said. After working the count full, Goldmann reached first safely, and less painfully, on a bloop single. GMC'S BEST-KEPT SECRET: The GMC's best-kept secret may be Monroe pitcher Scott Basarab, a rubber-armed right-hander who will play at Monmouth University next year and doesn't get the credit he deserves. Basarab led the Falcons to a 7-2 victory over Sayreville on Thursday. His shutout was spoiled by Goldmann's two-run, seventh-inning homer. Behind Basarab, who has thrown 26 of Monroe's 42 innings, the Falcons are off to a 3-3 start. Basarab throws a fastball, curveball, slider and knuckleball. He learned the latter from his uncle, Barney Shultz, a former major-league pitcher who compiled a 3.63 ERA in seven seasons with St. Louis, Detroit and the Cubs. Basarab said he learned the rest of his pitches from his father, who played in the Baltimore Orioles organization.


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