Falcons end losing skid on diamond with pitching gem from Schade


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Evan Schade found out at the Monmouth Regional High School baseball team’s practice on May 5 that he would get his first career varsity pitching start against Holmdel High School the next day.

Saying he was “really excited” to have a chance to shine on the mound, Schade did not disappoint. On May 6, when the Falcons traveled from Tinton Falls to Holmdel, Schade threw 4.1 scoreless innings to help Monmouth Regional stop a two-game skid with a 9-3 victory over the Hornets.

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“I have been waiting for this for a while and it feels good,” Schade said after the game. “I knew I was well prepared for it and was focused on throwing strikes. I got the job done.”

Schade had a one-run lead to work with when he took the hill in the bottom of the first inning following a sacrifice fly by Brian Yadlon in the top of the first that gave the Falcons a 1-0 lead.

Schade faced his biggest challenge in the third inning when Holmdel put runners on second and third with two out. The junior righthander recorded his first career varsity strikeout to escape trouble.

Schade pitched a perfect fourth inning to preserve the 1-0 lead.

“He was awesome,” Monmouth Regional Coach Paul Crivello said about Schade’s performance. “He deserved this opportunity. He has been working out of the bullpen and getting outs for us. He throws strikes. He can throw off-speed pitches in a hitter’s count for strikes, which is very effective.”

Monmouth Regional’s hitters came alive in the fifth inning with a three-run frame. Andrew McKinley notched his second hit of the contest – a single that scored a run and moved the lead to 2-0.

Designated hitter Joe Esposito extended the lead to 3-0 with an RBI single. Esposito has eight RBIs in the early going.

Yadlon stole home to put Monmouth Regional up 4-0.

Schade’s day on the mound ended in the bottom of the fifth inning. He retired Holmdel’s first batter, but when the Hornets’ next hitter reached on an error that marked the end of the day for Schade. Lefthander James Kelly came on in relief and recorded the final two outs of the inning.

Schade said the most important thing he will remember from his first varsity start is his team getting the win.

“I have had a lot of time off to prepare for this season. It feels great to be back out here and winning games,” he said.

Junior Chris Theobald made the score 5-0 with a sacrifice fly in the sixth inning.

In the top of the seventh, the Falcons added four runs to take a 9-0 lead. Senior Brett Minto and sophomore Brian Boccino each had an RBI single.

Holmdel struck for three runs in the bottom of the seventh before Esposito came on in relief to close out the win for Monmouth Regional (5-3).

Crivello was happy to see his players perform well in all aspects of the game. That is something the Falcons had struggled to do in their previous two games.

“It was a total team effort,” the coach said about the victory over Holmdel. “We put it all together today. They are a good group of kids. Everybody can play anywhere. I’m happy our hard work paid off.”

McKinley was 3-3 with an RBI and a run scored for the Falcons.

Junior Christian Zito continued his strong start in 2021 with two hits and three runs scored. He reached base in all four of his plate appearances. Through seven games, Zito leads the Falcons in hits, RBIs and doubles from the leadoff spot.

Hitting balls in his garage and working out in the weight room during the off-season are training methods Zito believes have helped him to have a good first varsity campaign so far.

He is optimistic about the team’s chances for the remainder of the season.

“I think we have a lot of potential. If we all make our plays and hit the ball hard, we can go far,” he said.

Monmouth Regional will host Long Branch on May 8 and have a rematch with Holmdel on  May 10.

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