By Jimmy Allinder
The Memorial Day weekend is usually when the high school sports season is nearing its end. However, the Saint Joseph High School of Metuchen baseball team (18-9) hopes this spring can last longer.
The Falcons met Monroe Township High School May 27 at East Brunswick Vocational Technical High School for the Greater Middlesex Conference (GMC) championship.
The fifth seed in the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) South Jersey, Non-Public A tournament then traveled May 30 to fourth-seeded Christian Brothers Academy. If the Falcons prevailed, they will head to Bishop Eustace Preparatory School June 2 in the semifinals with the winner playing for the sectional championship June 6 against an opponent to be determined.
Coach Mike Murray believes what has propelled his team — pitching — will determine how far the Falcons remain alive in the state tournament.
“Senior Kyle Angel (5-0, 1.79 earned run average) has established himself as one of the top pitchers in the state and he [was to have] the ball in the GMC final,” Murray said. “(Junior) Kyle Subers has been a jack of all trades with five starts and an occasional relief [outing]. [Junior] Nick Estes (2-1, 2.80 ERA) has been used a lot out of the bullpen, and we have given him starts too. Then we have [sophomore] Jack Hellwig (7-1, 1.00 ERA), who has a lot of starts and relieved too, and finally [juniors] Ryan Stamm and Danny Anderl have combined for a 1.92 ERA and are prepared to come out of the pen.”
The one question mark is senior Mike Farr (2-2, 2.13 ERA), who has been limited by a strained back. When he’s been healthy, Farr has been dominant, Murray said, and was hoping to have Farr ready to pitch in the state tournament.
“We’ve tried to lay out a [pitching] plan for the week ahead and go into every game using our pitchers any way we need to in order to win,” he said. “At the beginning of the season, we used most of our starters in spurts but in other cases, we used them to throw complete games. We have only asked our pitchers to be honest with how their arms feel so we can make good decisions about how long they should throw.”
With nothing but tournament games remaining, the Falcons can expect to face opponents’ best pitchers, which means scoring opportunities will be at a premium.
Senior Ross Maertz and junior Jon Sot lead with 31 hits each and are batting .443 and .397, respectively. Farr’s ailing back hasn’t affected his hitting (.436, 17 hits), while regulars Brandon Warrick (.377), Gabe Mejias (.338, 24 hits) and Angel (.364) have experienced excellent seasons at the plate.
In another state tournament game, eighth-seeded Bishop George Ahr High School ended its season at 8-17 when it dropped an 11-1 decision to ninth-seeded Paul VI High School May 24.
The John P. Stevens High School softball team defeated Westfield High School, 3-1, in a North Jersey, Section II, Group IV state sectional game May 23. That enabled the Hawks (17-5) to advance to the semifinals scheduled for May 26 when they visited top-seeded North Hunterdon High School. The winner moves on to the sectional championship game May 30 at the higher-seeded team.
Fifth-seeded Metuchen High School (15-7) hosted eighth-seeded Riverside High School in the Central Jersey, Group I semifinals May 26, with the winner advancing to the sectional finals May 30 against the winner of second-seeded New Egypt High School and sixth-seeded Point Pleasant Beach High School. The Bulldogs previously defeated 12th-seeded Middlesex High School, 12-1, and 13th-seeded South Hunterdon Regional High School, 10-0.
Sixth-seeded Bishop Ahr (16-7) visited third-seeded Notre Dame High School May 25 in the South Jersey, Non-Public A quarterfinals, with the winner taking on the survivor of the other quarterfinal between second-seeded Saint John Vianney High School and seventh-seeded Gloucester Catholic High School May 30. The sectional final is June 1 at the highest seed.