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Ranney School baseball team has championship aspirations in 2022

Ranney baseball player Kris Bhatnager is congratulated by teammate Ricky Nagy after scoring on a wild pitch during a game against Keyport on April 21 in Keyport. Ranney won 12-0.

The first month of the 2022 high school baseball campaign has seen the Ranney School of Tinton Falls showcase why it is a championship-level team.

The Panthers are 10-1 and have earned recognition as one of the elite teams in the Shore Conference.

“We can score in multiple ways,” Coach Pat Geroni said. “We are able to play small ball, we run the bases well and we execute on our opportunities.”

Through 11 games, the Panthers scored 158 runs, including more than 10 runs in seven games.

“Everyone is doing well at the plate,” said senior Charlie Chropuvka. “Our lineup can hit from top to bottom, which sets us apart from other teams.”

The one game when the Panthers’ bats were held in check came when they faced Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School senior Charlie Jones on April 16. Jones allowed three hits and two runs as the Bulldogs defeated Ranney, 3-2.

The team’s first big test in the Shore Conference did not go Ranney’s way, however, Geroni said the loss showed his players what they must do against strong teams in order to win during tournament play.

“We left too many opportunities on the board and Rumson-Fair Haven took advantage of more opportunities and deserved to win the game,” Geroni said. “Our guys understood that. We have done a better job the last few games of executing on our opportunities.”

After losing to Rumson-Fair Haven, the Panthers defeated Mater Dei Prep, St. Mary High School of Rutherford and Keyport, all by shutout. The Panthers scored 37 runs in those three games, including a 12-0 win over Keyport on April 21.

Charlie Chropuvka and his brother Curtis Chropuvka each had two hits and two RBIs against Keyport.

Brett Wehringer had two hits and two RBIs against Keyport and reached base three times.

Hitting cleanup, sophomore Jack Tallent delivered a two-run single, stole three bases and scored a run against the Red Raiders.

Sophomore Logan Semevolos and junior Ricky Nagy each drove in a run.

After the game, Geroni said he was pleased with his players’ approach at the plate and their ability to score while playing in windy conditions.

“Our guys are selfless baseball players and they are really good at scoring in multiple ways,” the coach said. “I thought they did a good job bunting and finding ways to score runs on a windy day.”

The Panthers have received outstanding pitching early in the season, led by juniors A.J. Garcia, Marcello Mastroianni and Nick Coniglio.

Against Keyport, sophomore lefthander Grayson Testino pitched five scoreless innings, allowing one hit, one walk and striking out nine hitters.

“It felt good,” Testino said. “I just kept attacking with the fastball and allowing my defense to keep making plays behind me. Throwing strikes and getting a win is all that matters.”

The Panthers have added junior righthander Jack Renaud to the staff for the remainder of the season. In 2021, Renaud was 2-0 with a 0.54 ERA in 13 innings pitched.

On April 22, the Panthers won their fourth straight game by defeating Brick Memorial High School, 8-3. Wehringer led the way with two hits and three RBIs. Garcia had two hits, including a solo home run.

The Panthers have built momentum as they prepare to head into the Monmouth County Tournament.

“Our hope is that if we can play our game defensively and offensively, and pitch well, that we will be able to get through each round,” said Geroni.

Ranney is scheduled to host St. Rose High School of Belmar or Saint John Vianney High School of Holmdel in the first round of the Monmouth County Tournament on April 30.

Ranney starting pitcher Grayson Testino fires a strike to the plate during a game against Keyport on April 21 in Keyport. Testino struck out nine in five shutout innings on the mound to lead Ranney to a 12-0 victory over Keyport.
Ranney second baseman Diego Tavarez fields the ground ball and throws out the Keyport runner at first base during a game played on April 21 in Keyport. Ranney won 12-0.
Ranney outfielder Curtis Chropuvka bashes an RBI single to center field during a game against Keyport on April 21 in Keyport. Chropuvka had two RBI during the contest.
Ranney shortstop Brett Wehringer catches a pop fly during a game against Keyport on April 21 in Keyport. Wehringer had two RBI at the plate in the contest.
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