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Posted by Glenn Fredricks at May 23, 2007 5:00PM PDT ( 0 Comments )



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Posted by Glenn Fredricks at May 20, 2007 5:00PM PDT ( 0 Comments )
By GREG TUFARO STAFF WRITER EDISON — A freshman and the Spotswood High School baseball team's eighth-place hitter, Cody Pace stepped to the plate twice Saturday in what could have been bunting situations. But instead of asking his rookie shortstop to lay one down with two aboard and none out in both the fourth and sixth innings, Spotswood coach Glenn Fredricks let Pace swing away. The result was a clutch RBI single that tied the game at 1-1 in the fourth and a clutch two-run single that ignited a five-run rally in the sixth as the Chargers rolled to a 7-1 victory over J.F. Kennedy in the Greater Middlesex Conference Tournament semifinals at Middlesex County College. Spotswood (19-4), which has won 12 of its last 13, will face J.P. Stevens, a 7-2 winner over Carteret in the other semifinal, for the GMCT title on June 2 at East Brunswick Tech. The Chargers, who have reached the semifinals four times in the past seven years, are making their first championship appearance since 2001. Winning pitcher Mike Hohman (6-1), who scattered eight hits but kept the ball down in the strike zone, resulting in 12 groundball outs, and Pace, a .373 hitter and the team leader in sacrifice bunts, are the main reasons Spotswood advanced. Pace's RBI single down the first-base line with runners on first and second in the fourth forged a 1-1 tie. His two-run single through the ride side of the infield with runners on second and third in the sixth gave the Chargers a 4-1 lead. "Those were both bunt situations," said Fredricks, who has a penchant for manufacturing runs. "I looked in Cody's eyes and I said, "What do you want to do?' He said, "I want to drive the ball to the right side.' And I said, "All right. There ain't gonna be no bunt for you today.' He's earned the right to swing the bat in that situation, and he got it done. That's what makes him such a special player. He's a 15-year-old kid and he's in ninth grade, but he's not a freshman." Spotswood had difficulty figuring out Grimes, a crafty right-hander who slots his pitches from three different arm angles with a somewhat herky-jerky motion. Grimes (5-1) was effective throwing straight over the top, three quarters and almost sidearm. Over the first five innings, he scattered four hits and yielded one earned run. "We pitched Grimes against Spotswood last season and he always dealt over the top," J.F. Kennedy coach Jerry Smith Jr. explained. "It wasn't until this year that we thought maybe we could surprise Spotswood with it and keep them off balance because he does throw three pitches over the top and three pitches from the side, so that gives them six different looks throughout the game." Grimes fanned five different Chargers, an accomplishment of sorts considering a disciplined Spotswood team averages just four strikeouts per game. "He made us work for everything we got," Fredricks said. "You can't replicate the elbows and the feet and knees coming at you and then the ball coming out in practice. I told these guys to just be patient and that's all you can do when a guy's got command." As effective as Grimes may have been, Hohman (6-1) was simply better. For that reason, Fredricks was willing to take himself out of a potentially big inning by playing for a sure score out of a first-and-third situation in the fourth. After Pace's single tied the game and put runners on the corners with none away, Fredricks signaled for Pace to steal second. The Mustangs executed a scissors cut to perfection but gave up the run to throw out Pace who had intentionally stopped halfway between first and second base. Grimes retired the next two batters to escape with a 2-1 deficit. The way Hohman was pitching, however, Fredricks felt the one-run lead was more than enough. "I just knew in my heart it was going to be tough to scratch one out against Mike," Fredricks said. "I was playing for one run right there. They had nine outs to go but I didn't care. I wanted the lead, so we'll trade the run for the out all day. We executed the play perfectly." Pace came around to score in the sixth on Hohman's RBI single. John Michael Berner followed with a two-run triple to center off reliever Brian Schroeder. The fourth-seeded Mustangs (16-10), who have the distinction of being the only GMC team to beat Spotswood this season, stranded six runners — four in scoring position — and had two picked off base. Schroeder plated J.F. Kennedy's lone run on a two-out single in the third. Mike Cabonilas went 3-or-4 with a double off Hohman, while teammate Mike Giordano singled and doubled. imageimage
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Posted by Glenn Fredricks at May 18, 2007 5:00PM PDT ( 0 Comments )
SOUTH RIVER — The highly-anticipated pitching duel between South Amboy's Brian Seres and Spotswood's Willie Beard more than lived up to the billing. Beard got the best of his counterpart in a matchup of arguably the Greater Middlesex Conference's top two hurlers, tossing a one-hit shutout to lead top-seeded Spotswood to a 2-0 victory over South Amboy in the GMC Tournament quarterfinals Wednesday night at Grekorski Park. Seres was equally superb after a shaky first inning that proved to be his undoing. The senior right-hander yielded one hit, a leadoff double by Mike Hohman, but fell victim to some early wildness in losing for the first time this spring. Spotswood (18-4) pushed across two runs in the first, capitalizing Seres' four walks. Hohman scored the first run on a wild pitch and Mike Collins plated the second with a sacrifice fly to left, and that proved to be enough for Beard. The Rutgers University-bound righty struck out 12 and walked three in a 97-pitch effort. With Seres fanning 12 in six innings, the two pitchers combined for 25 strikeouts in the game that spanned one hour, 29 minutes. "Our goal in any game is to go into the second inning up 2-nothing," said Spotswood coach Glenn Fredricks, whose team earned a semifinal meeting with J.F. Kennedy tomorrow at Middlesex County College. "When you have a guy like Willie on the mound (two runs) becomes even more important. Anytime I look at the mound and see No. 34 out there, I feel comfortable." South Amboy's best scoring opportunity came in the top of the first, as Joe Bongiorno led off with a walk and Seres followed with a lined double to right. Beard settled down to fan Jared Mundy with a 2-2 fastball before catcher Mike Dejoy drilled a liner that appeared destined to plate two. But shortstop Cody Pace made a nice leaping grab, then quickly fired to second to double off Seres and extinguish the threat. "That was huge," Beard said. "Just a heads-up play by Cody and a perfect way to get out of the inning." Both pitchers settled down after their shaky first inning, with neither team recording a hit the rest of the way. South Amboy's only other threat came in the six as Bongiorno walked, stole second and reached third on a wild pitch, but Beard struck out the next two batters to escape unscathed. "He just throws hard," said Seres, who finished 1-for-3 with two strikeouts. "His fastball is explosive." Seres, meanwhile, used his breaking pitch to disrupt a Spotswood lineup that came in batting .383 and averaging 8.4 runs per game. "I just tried to get my curveball working because if I threw my fastball, they were going to tank it," Seres said. "They didn't touch it all game. If I didn't have that one bad inning I would've been fine."
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Posted by Glenn Fredricks at May 16, 2007 5:00PM PDT ( 0 Comments )
STAFF REPORT The heavy rains that washed away Wednesday's Greater Middlesex Conference Baseball Tournament quarterfinals may have created a high school pitching matchup for the ages in the process. Had the game between Spotswood and South Amboy been played on Wednesday, only Chargers' coach Glenn Fredricks knows for certain whether he would have thrown ace Willie Beard on three days rest or No. 2 starter Mike Hohman, in whom he has an equal amount of confidence. "Would you have seen Mikey today or Willie today?" Fredricks said after his game was rained out, "nobody is every going to know that. You will never ever know that. However, things change tonight for tomorrow night a little bit due to the weather." South Amboy coach Dennis Bourgeau has maintained all along that ace Brian Seres, the GMC's strikeout leader, would pitch against the top-ranked Chargers. Seres will definitely take the mound tonight at 7 p.m. at Grekorski Park. "With Willie on full rest and knowing that they have Seres on full rest with the rain, you'd be hard-pressed to see anything else but Willie (tonight)," Fredricks said. "However, our staff is very deep this year and anything is possible." The Rutgers University-bound Beard, who is the hardest thrower in the conference, may face Seres, who has the nastiest curveball in the league. Beard has fanned 70 batters in 56 innings and boasts a 1.93 ERA. He owns a 7-1 record including two no-hitters and a one-hitter. Seres is 6-0 on the year with 82 strikeouts in 34 innings and a 1.44 ERA. He has fanned 16 batters three times this season. The way Spotswood has been hitting — averaging more than 15 hits per game over the last nine outings including a season-high 17 against Monroe — it may not matter who is pitching tonight. The South Amboy-Spotswood winner will advance to Saturday' semifinals against the winner of the other quarterfinal being played at 4 p.m. today at Grekorski Park between J.F. Kennedy and Perth Amboy. The other half of the bracket will be contested at Memorial Stadium in New Brunswick. St. Joseph will face Carteret and South Brunswick will meet J.P. Stevens at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m., respectively. image

Chargers poised to grab some hardware


Staff Writer



A blistering .383 team batting average and some superb pitching have vaulted the Spotswood High School baseball team to a 17-4 record, and a No. 2 seed in the upcoming state tournament.

And coach Glenn Fredericks is delighted that his Chargers seem to be peaking at the right time.

"We struggled a bit in the beginning of the season," he said. "When we were getting good starting pitching, we weren't getting timely hitting, and when we were hitting, the pitching wasn't as strong. But ever since we beat Highland Park to clinch our fifth straight divisional title, we've been in double-digits in hits for eight straight games, average 14.8 a game. They're on fire like I've never seen a high school team.

"We have a lot of guys returning," added the coach. "They played ball all year round, so they had a whole extra season together as a unit. It's been great way to introduce the younger guys to the team."

For all the batting prowess, the Chargers, who went 19-5 last spring, have had some brilliant pitching, notably from senior righty Willie Beard, who is heading to Rutgers next year on a scholarship. Beard, who is 7-1 to date, pitched a perfect game against Metuchen earlier in the season, then in late April tossed a one-hit gem against East Brunswick at Trenton's Waterfront Park. Last Saturday, Beard threw his second no-hitter of the campaign, again whitewashing the Bears, as Spotswood took an 8-0 decision in the second round of the Greater Middlesex Conference Tournament. Beard, who has 70 strikeouts in 50-2/3 innings, fanned six and walked a pair.

"Willie just won his 20th career game to break the school record for lifetime wins held by my brother, Dan, who's our pitching coach," Fredericks points out.

As for the offense, SHS has strength from the first through ninth spots in the order. Mike Hohman, who has a 5-1 pitching record in addition to being perhaps the county's best second baseman, also broke a school record by rapping out his 100th career base hit. Hohman, who will play at Kean University next year, is hitting .471 out of the leadoff position, with 30 runs scored - in fact, he's crossed the plate in all but three of his team's 21 games. His double-play partner, shortstop Cody Pace, has been impressive as a freshman, both afield and at bat, where he has a lusty .373 average.

"He's been a huge plus," Fredericks says.

The emergence of Pace has allowed John Berner to move back to his normal position, third base. Berner leads the conference with six home runs and has knocked across 24 RBIs, forming a formidable back-to-back punch with catcher Anthony Addone, who leads the squad with 26 ribbies. Designated hitter Michael Collins, who bats fifth in the lineup, is batting a healthy .403 with 25 hits, and 14 RBIs - eight of them coming with two outs.

"Probably the biggest improvement on the team has come from center fielder Phil Spina, who is one of the best in the field but only hit .178 in a full season last year," said Fredericks. "He's got his average up to .377 and has been around .400 all year. Phil worked hard, got bigger and stronger and spent a lot of time in the cage."

Another player who has made strides is first sacker C.J. Mooney, who hit .222 last season but is now at .339, a good two-strike hitter who smacks it to all fields. So does speedy right fielder and cleanup batter Joe Petosa, who is hitting .437 with 22 runs. Over in left, first-year starter Brian Curci is a .300 hitter, batting last in the order.

"There are no easy outs on our team," says Fredericks, who is assisted by brother Dan, Mike Bruschini, Dale Rubino and Mike Feaster. As for the rest of the pitching staff, a quartet of lefties supplement Beard and Hohman, including Nick Brown, Jon Martin, Dan Hohman and Dave Lynch.

Last night, the Chargers faced South Amboy in the GMC quarterfinals; if they won, they'd play on Saturday. The states, meanwhile, commence on Tuesday.

"We've beefed up our schedule this year - the only way you improve is to play against top competition," Fredericks said. "That's really taken us a long way."

Diamond notes... While the Chargers are the only local baseball team still alive in GMCT play, there are several local girls teams hoping to make a run at the GMCT softball crown, with play set to start today.