Red Bank Regional baseball returns to action after 2020 season lost to virus

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Red Bank Regional High School shortstop Jackson Hyman tags out Middletown North's Karl Strauch at second base during a game played on April 22 in Little Silver. Middletown North won the game 16-4.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Red Bank Regional High School designated hitter Ed Devine rounds third base and heads home to score a run during a game against Middletown North on April 22 in Little Silver. STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Red Bank Regional High School starting pitcher Cole Armond tosses a pitch to the plate during a game against Middletown North on April 22 in Little Silver. Armond had two strikeouts in the contest. STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Red Bank Regional High School centerfielder Sean O'Mara steals third base during a game against Middletown North on April 22 in Little Silver. STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Red Bank Regional High School shortstop Jackson Hyman tags out Middletown North's Karl Strauch at second base during a game played on April 22 in Little Silver. Middletown North won the game 16-4.STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
  2 / 4 
Red Bank Regional High School designated hitter Ed Devine rounds third base and heads home to score a run during a game against Middletown North on April 22 in Little Silver. STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Red Bank Regional High School starting pitcher Cole Armond tosses a pitch to the plate during a game against Middletown North on April 22 in Little Silver. Armond had two strikeouts in the contest. STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Red Bank Regional High School centerfielder Sean O'Mara steals third base during a game against Middletown North on April 22 in Little Silver. STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF

LITTLE SILVER – Time away from the baseball diamond last spring was a tough pill to swallow for Coach Nick Tucker and his Red Bank Regional High School players.

The 2020 high school baseball season in New Jersey was cancelled by the coronavirus pandemic.

“I just missed watching them play,” Tucker said this week. “I’ve never been without baseball this long in my life. I know I would be devastated if I was in their shoes and couldn’t play high school baseball.”

After a lengthy wait to see his squad compete, Tucker enjoyed watching his players have fun playing their first scrimmage of the 2021 season on April 9 against Raritan High School of Hazlet.

The seventh-year coach of the Buccaneers knew from speaking with his players how much it meant to them just to be able to play baseball.

“Hearing what they had to go through as teenagers is something that makes you humble and know that just playing and seeing them with their friends is what matters the most,” Tucker said. “Seeing them out there playing again and having some normalcy was fun to watch.”

Red Bank has a core group of seniors who saw playing time as freshmen and sophomores.  Those players will take the lead for an inexperienced squad this spring.

Starting catcher C.J. Paolino is back and will work with senior pitchers Andrew Glauber and Nick Ferrogine (3-4, 3.60 ERA in 2019). Junior Cole Armond and senior Matt Keegan will be the other key arms in the rotation.

Glauber is the top returning hitter, batting .281 with five doubles and nine RBI as a sophomore.

Senior Sean O’Mara (9 RBI in 2019) is the Bucs’ leadoff hitter and he will be asked to set the tone for the offense. O’Mara brings an element of speed to the offense. When the Bucs are in the field, O’Mara will play in centerfield.

Looking to the future, Glauber plans to attend Belmont Abbey College and O’Mara plans to attend Catholic University, and both young men are planning to continue playing baseball.

Senior Aidan Keale will be in left field for the Bucs. He made an impact on the bases as a sophomore (12 runs) and hit .278.

“All the seniors are good people and I have known a lot of them for a long time,” Tucker said.

Red Bank (0-3) has started the 2021 season with losses to Rumson-Fair Haven Regional, Wall Township and Middletown North.

The Bucs are scheduled to play Holmdel on April 24 and begin a two-game series with Manasquan on April 26.

“In the past, we have had some tough games at the beginning of the season and then it paid off in the long run when we had good runs in the middle of the season or late in the season,” Tucker said. “I think the kids will benefit from it. The season is far from over. All we can do is come back and work hard and learn from it.”