By Warren Rappleyea
One was expected and the other maybe not as much, but both the South Brunswick High School and North Brunswick Township High School baseball teams have reached the semifinals of the NJSIAA Central Jersey, Group IV tournament and were set to play each other May 31.
The youthful North Brunswick (9-13) team lost eight straight games before edging Edison High School, 5-4, in a tune-up for the tournament May 19. Seeded 16th, the Raiders then knocked off top-seeded East Brunswick High School, 2-0, May 23 in the first round. Eric Reardon tossed a two hitter, and freshmen Andrew Tan and Felix Diaz contributed RBI-doubles to the cause.
Coach Ryan Lillis’ team pulled off another upset May 26, dropping eighth-seeded Marlboro High School, 6-3, behind Eric Vasquez, who went the distance and scattered seven hits. Roger Gomez delivered the sacrifice fly in the top of the seventh to give the Raiders the lead, and North Brunswick then added a pair of insurance runs to cement the deal. Sophomore Danny Reardon went 3-for-4 to lead the offense.
Lillis has repeatedly said that his team is among the most exciting he’s had but was prone to the ups and downs that afflict young teams.
“Some days are better than others,” he said. “We have a talented group, though, and it’s great to watch them develop.”
The Raiders regularly start three freshmen and two sophomores and have experienced the down part. North Brunswick’s two tournament wins clearly point to a bright future.
Despite its 19-9 record, South Brunswick was seeded 12th in the tournament. After a disappointing 10-0 loss to East Brunswick in the Greater Middlesex Conference (GMC) Tournament semifinals, the Vikings bounced back to down fifth-seeded Freehold High School in the first round of the Central Jersey, Group IV tournament May 23.
Brandon Siroki allowed just five hits over six innings to earn the win. Ryan Moran belted a solo home run, and Garrett Byrne, Kevin Reyes and Siroki each drove home a run. Three days later, Anthony Sjolund tossed a complete game and allowed only four hits, as South Brunswick defeated fourth-seeded Montgomery High School, 4-1. Moran had two hits and an RBI, and Byrne doubled in a run.
North Brunswick’s girls lacrosse team fell, 15-10, to fourth-seeded Hillsborough High School May 23 in the second round of the North Jersey, Group IV tournament. Samantha Mehalick scored four goals, and Tatum Altman and Victoria Tucci had three goals apiece. The loss dropped the Raiders, who won the GMC Tournament, to 20-4 on the season.
North Brunswick had previously defeated 12th-seeded North Hunterdon High School, 12-7, in the first round of the state sectional. Natalie Chapman made 14 saves and Altman scored four goals, while Mehalick and Tucci had three tallies each.
North Brunswick fell to fourth-seeded Wall High School, 2-0 (16-25, 17-25), in the Central Jersey tournament. Bryan Ezeonu had seven kills, and Max Santana added seven digs for the 13th-seeded Raiders, who finished the season at 15-7.
South Brunswick lost a 2-1 decision to fourth-seeded Monroe Township High School in the quarterfinals of the Central Jersey, Group IV tournament. The Falcons scored two sixth-inning runs to negate a solid showing in the circle by the Lady Vikings’ Nicole Majewski. Carly Rybinski and Kate Mastro had two hits apiece for South Brunswick.
The third-seeded Lady Vikings had previously defeated West Windsor-Plainsboro High School South (14th seed), 3-0. Majewski went the distance and drove in a run, Rybinski had three hits and an RBI and Haley Grossi picked up a pair of hits and an RBI for South Brunswick, which is 17-4.