D’Agostino to rely on deep pitching staff in 1st year as Trojans coach


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By Jimmy Allinder

Bishop Ahr

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Scott Runkel retired as head baseball coach after 33 seasons, but he certainly didn’t leave the cupboard bare for his successor at Bishop George Ahr High School, Tom D’Agostino.

The Trojans (10-10-1 overall, 5-6-1 Greater Middlesex Conference (GMC) Blue Division) are deep in pitching, which is more important than ever because of a New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) rule this spring that mandates throwers rest a specific period in between games.

D’Agostino hopes senior Matt Smith (1-1) and junior Rich Albrecht (3-3) will be the one-two punch that kickstarts the Trojans. He can also choose from among six others: seniors Austin Brooks and Dudley Engram, juniors Sean Flynn and Sam Rodriguez, sophomore Nick Rhodes and freshman Gerard Chiricolo.

The starting lineup changes depending on who pitches. Brooks plays outfield, Albrecht is an infielder, senior all-around athlete Andrew Brazicki plays outfield, Smith plays first base, sophomore Kyle Orta is at third base, Flynn is an outfielder, junior Devin Merle is behind the plate and junior Brandon Rodriquez is at shortstop.

Top reserves include seniors Billy Taylor (first base), Adrian Genao (second base), Eric Gonzalez (outfield), Giuseppe Capasso (second base) and Engram (infield); juniors Jack Roarty (first base/outfield), Christian Torres (outfield), Rodriquez (outfield) and Joe Mauro (outfield); sophomore Sean Baelis (shortstop); and freshmen Justin Coogan (outfield) and Christian Kadi (catcher).

All-Division Brazicki heads to Bentley College next year on a football scholarship and was a state wrestling finals qualifier his junior and senior years.

“Pitching is potentially a strength because we have depth,” D’Agostino said. “We hope to capitalize on that.”

Bishop Ahr opens the season April 1 by hosting Sayreville War Memorial High School and faces New Brunswick High School in a home and away series April 7 and 8, respectively.

St. Joseph of Metuchen

Saint Joseph High School of Metuchen is another pitching-rich team as it opens the season at home April 1 against East Brunswick High School, followed by a visit to the Bears three days later.

Seniors Kyle Angel (committed to Northeastern University), and Mike Farr top the depth chart on the mound and are joined by juniors Nick Estes, Kyle Subers, Ryan Stamm, Jake Guensch and Dan Anderl and sophomores Jake Hellwig and Mike Velez.

“We know pitching will be important with the new rules,” second-year coach Mike Murray said. “There’s never an easy opponent in [the Red Division], and [South Jersey, Non-Public A] is very competitive, so we’ll need as many arms as we can put out [on the hill].”

Murray hopes the Falcons better their 16-12 overall and 9-7 division records. Senior catcher Brandon Warick, who is committed to Adelphi University, guides the pitching staff and is one of the team’s best hitters. Shifty senior shortstop Nick Loffredo is headed to Furman University.

The other starters are seniors Ross Maertz (right field), Angel (first base), Gabe Mejias (left field) and Anthony Favor (second base); junior Jon Sot (center field); sophomore Velez (third base); and freshmen Seb Mueller (infield) and Tim Leano (infield).

In reserve are seniors John Fresco (first base), Connor Esposito (outfield) and P.J. Catalano (catcher); juniors Matt Hennelly (outfield), Guensch (outfield), Austin Neal (third base) and Nick Scull (catcher); and sophomore Dave Razzano (infield).


Edison High School’s challenge this season can be summed up by 14-year coach Vin Abene’s admission he has never coached a more inexperienced team.

Edison (17-11 overall, 8-8 Red Division) returns only junior Colin Lombardo (second base) from a team that graduated 12 regulars. Abene said he is still evaluating every player in the program to field a starting lineup as opening day fast approaches.

The Eagles open on the road against crosstown rival John P. Stevens High School April 1 and host Dunellen High School and Piscataway Township High School April 5 and 6, respectively.

Besides pitchers, Abene expects the following players will see action, although most positions have not been determined: senior Mike Barbato; juniors Kyle Garland, Jason Smith, Jeremy DeOleo and Marcus Tirado; and sophomores Frank Vega, Sam Cruz and Chris Biolsi. Senior Joe Strachan and junior Alex Sommer could battle for the designated hitter spot.

Pitching-wise, Biolsi is expected to be the No. 1 starter, and the second spot will be filled between seniors Robert DaCosta, Mike Smith and Sommer and juniors Jake Appelman and Kyle Garland.

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