By Wayne Witkowksi
It’s an ideal time for Allentown High School’s baseball team to enter the NJSIAA Central Jersey, Group III tournament.
The Redbirds, seeded No. 12 in the tournament, won four of five games last week to go to 11-10 as they traveled to fifth-seeded Northern Burlington County Regional High School (14-8) May 23, with the winner playing the victor of the Neptune High School (No. 13 seed) at Ocean Township High School (No. 4 seed) game May 25.
Colton Johnson, who leads the team with four mound wins, started against Northern Burlington with plenty of arms available for relief duty despite the heavy schedule last week that included victories over Nottingham High School, Lawrence High School, West Windsor-Plainsboro High School South and Princeton High School. Ryan Mastromarino, a senior, pitched his best game of the season over the first 6.1 innings against Princeton.
“We haven’t hit the ball all season. Pitching’s been keeping us in games,” Allentown coach Brian Nice said.
Nice said he felt he could turn to pitchers Ryan Huth, Kyle Lysy and Jordan Winston if he needed relief help in the tournament opener.
Nice pointed out that Northern Burlington graduated a lot of players from last year’s state finalist team, but the top half of its lineup remains formidable.
“They can score runs, and we have to stop them from the big innings and get a few runs ourselves,” he said.
Shortstop Brandon Munoz has been outstanding defensively, according to Nice, and catcher Chris Reeder leads a deep corps there.
Nice will count on the top of the batting order setting the tone, starting with second baseman Aydon Chavis, who drove in two runs against Princeton. He is followed by right fielder Rob Matos; center fielder Matt Coante, who has hit consistently; first baseman Huth, who has picked up his hitting of late; and designated hitter Frank DelGuercio. Third baseman Giuseppe Arcuri bats sixth, while left fielder Austin Ferrier rounds out the starting lineup.