Middletown North bats power Lions to victory over Red Bank Regional

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Middletown High School North shortstop Ryan Frontera congratulates his brother Danny Frontera at home plate for hitting a three-run home run during a game against Red Bank Regional on April 22 in Little Silver. Middletown North defeated Red Bank 16-4.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Middletown High School North starting pitcher Colin Dowlen fires a pitch towards home plate during a game against Red Bank Regional on April 22 in Little Silver. Dowlen had eight strikeouts in the contest.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Middletown High School North relief pitcher Tyler Sharkey tags out Red Bank Regional's Dan Lopez at home plate during a game played on April 22 in Little Silver. Middletown North won 16-4.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Middletown High School North right fielder Tony Sansone hits a sacrifice fly during a game against Red Bank Regional on April 22 in Little Silver. Sansone had three RBI during Middletown North's 16-4 victory over Red Bank. STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Middletown High School North shortstop Ryan Frontera congratulates his brother Danny Frontera at home plate for hitting a three-run home run during a game against Red Bank Regional on April 22 in Little Silver. Middletown North defeated Red Bank 16-4.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Middletown High School North starting pitcher Colin Dowlen fires a pitch towards home plate during a game against Red Bank Regional on April 22 in Little Silver. Dowlen had eight strikeouts in the contest.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Middletown High School North relief pitcher Tyler Sharkey tags out Red Bank Regional's Dan Lopez at home plate during a game played on April 22 in Little Silver. Middletown North won 16-4.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Middletown High School North right fielder Tony Sansone hits a sacrifice fly during a game against Red Bank Regional on April 22 in Little Silver. Sansone had three RBI during Middletown North's 16-4 victory over Red Bank. STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF

High school baseball is back in full swing again in New Jersey and so were the bats of the Middletown North High School Lions during a game against Red Bank Regional High School on a cool, breezy afternoon on April 22 in Little Silver.

After scoring two runs in their opening day extra-inning victory over Holmdel on April 19, the Lions (2-0) needed only five innings to score 16 runs and beat the Bucs, 16-4.

“We swung it well today,” Middletown North Coach Ryan McCabe said. “It was nice to see the bats break out. This is a really hard-working group of guys. Everybody understands that when their number is called, they need to be ready.”

Clinging to a 3-2 lead heading into the top of the third inning, the Lions broke out the lumber and struck for nine runs to grab control. Senior Tyler Sharkey started the rally when he came up with the bases loaded and no out and smacked an RBI single to right field to put the Lions ahead, 4-2.

Kevin Lisser and Karl Strauch each walked with the bases loaded to extend the lead to 6-2, before junior Matt Adamson made it 7-2 with a sacrifice fly.

With two on and two out, senior Danny Frontera broke the game open with a booming three-run home run over the centerfield fence to give the Lions a 10-2 lead.

“I didn’t think it would go out today because of the wind, but I got all of it. It felt great. Hopefully, more will come,” said Frontera, who finished the game with four RBIs.

In the Lions’ season opener against Holmdel, Frontera struck out 10 hitters in five scoreless innings of work.

Being back on the diamond with his teammates and having a senior season has been a thrill for Frontera. He said he is playing every game like it’s his last one because of what transpired in 2020 when the coronavirus pandemic forced the cancellation of the baseball season.

“It’s great to have one last season and have one last ride with the guys. I’m happy to help the guys get a win and hopefully we can keep it rolling,” he said.

Leading 10-2, the Lions were still hitting in the third inning. Senior Tony Sansone delivered his second RBI with a single to push the lead to 11-2. Starkey followed with another RBI single to make the score 12-2.

Sansone and Starkey each contributed three RBI against Red Bank. Hitting ninth, Strauch contributed two RBI.

 

Seeing his players enjoying a nine-run inning and scoring 16 runs was something McCabe knew they had missed out on in 2020.

“It meant a lot to them,” he said of the Lions’ offensive fireworks. “It’s a good group of guys. We all like being around each other. It was nice to do that against a quality team.”

On the mound, senior righthander Colin Dowlen struck out eight Red Bank batters in three innings. Dowlen added two hits and an RBI at the plate.

Sharkey allowed one run in two innings on the mound to end the shortened five-inning contest.

Middletown North will play Mater Dei Prep in its home opener today (April 23) and start a two-game set against Long Branch on April 26.

McCabe, in his second year as coach, believes his players gained some momentum with their performance in a tournament that was played last summer. The event, which was dubbed the “Last Dance World Series,” featured teams from around the state.

The team that represented Middletown North High School reached the tournament’s single-elimination round.

This spring, the Lions hope to prove they are one of the top teams in the Shore Conference.

“It’s nice to be taken seriously. We just have to earn every day now,” McCabe said.