Tuesday, July 22, 2014
Ferrara slam ignites Vincentown
Mike Ferrara hit a grand slam in the second inning, helping Vincentown to a 10-5 win over Riverside. Rex Workman added a solo home run in the third inning and the Merchants improved their record 9-14. Winning pitcher Dave Gibson struck out eight and walked two, allowing seven hits. Riverside (11-10-1) remains in fourth place, two points ahead of Willingboro and three in front of V-Town.
Burlington 5, Pine Barrens 2:
Shaun Babula had two hits, scored two runs, stole four bases and was the winning pitcher in relief. Casey Donahue and Matt Fischer had two hits, and Donahue joined Marshall Harden, Sean McNeil and Ryan Bell with RBIs. The victory lifted the Mets into a tie for first place with Cinnaminson. Both teams are 20-4-1 and, with Burlington’s victory Tuesday, each team is assured of at least the No. 2 seed in the league playoffs. The Phantoms’ runs were batted in by Ronnie Krankowski (single) and Eric Sellitto (double).
Pine Barrens 10, Burlington Township 7:
The Phantoms then stopped by Viereck Field and completed a suspended game, erasing a 5-4 deficit with six runs in the fifth inning. Krankowski singled the tying run home before a three-run triple by Alex Campbell broke it open. Sellitto followed with his own three-bagger to score Campbell. Township scored twice before Pine Barrens (14-9-1) held on.
RVL ALL-STARS 7, PENDEL ALL-STARS 7
July 19, 2014
Connor Hughes Correspondent
It’s been an up-and-down summer for Frank Sirolli. At times, the baseball seems the size of a beach ball for the Cinnaminson Reds outfielder; other times, it’s more like a Ping-Pong ball.
After going 2-for-6 with two RBIs Saturday for the Rancocas Valley League all-stars in a 7-7 tie with Pennsylvania’s Pendel League all-stars, Sirolli hopes it’s only up from here on out. “When you get some hits it gets you rolling. That’s all it is,” Sirolli said. “It’s about getting confidence, seeing some good pitches and putting a swing in there. I did that today.”
Sirolli is hitting .250 with five games to play in the RVL’s regular season. Despite his self-diagnosed “mediocre” performance, Cinnaminson is 18-4-1 and battling Burlington (18-3-1) for first place. The playoffs begin in two weeks. “Our team has been playing really well,” Sirolli said. “We’re positioned well atop the leaderboard. It’s all about the team and hopefully getting that No. 1 seed.”
Sirolli was one of 56 athletes to participate in the game at Harry W. Thompson Field in Southampton Memorial Park. The Pendel is an established, well-respected league based in the Philadelphia suburbs. “It was a pretty good experience and a great atmosphere,” Sirolli said. “It was fun to be a part of this because they don’t do it every year. It certainly was a good experience for everyone.”
After Pendel jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the third inning, the RVL fought back with six unanswered runs. Joe Knazek (Riverside) and Sirolli each hit two-run singles to highlight the scoring. Pendel quickly fought back, scoring five runs in the seventh. Bobby Argeros hit an RBI single to tie and Mike Kortzer hit a sacrifice fly to bring home the go-ahead run. “We had that one bad inning where we gave up a five-spot and the lead,” RVL manager Ric Babula said. “If we don’t kick the ball around that inning, this outcome is completely different.”
The RVL tied the game in the bottom of the ninth on an RBI single by Ronnie Krankowski (Pine Barrens). The teams then gathered and agreed to play one more inning in an attempt to break the tie. When the 10th frame came and went without a run, the game was called. “No one wants to tie. It’s not good,” Sirolli said, laughing. “I guess it’s part of semipro baseball, but this kind of (stinks).”
Friday, July 18, 2014
Pine Barrens 5, Vincentown 0
Eric Sellito had two hits and a key defensive play, and Ronnie Krankowski pitched six scoreless innings as the Pine Barrens Phantoms beat the Vincentown Merchants 5-0. Sellito’s big defensive play came in the fourth inning of a 1-0 game when the center fielder fielded Dave Gibson’s single and threw out Jack Bujanowski at the plate.
Krankowski allowed four singles and struck out six. Phil Shallenberger struck out the side in a 1-2-3 seventh. Krankowski had two hits, including a double, while Shallenberger and Tyler Allison had RBI doubles as the Phantoms improved to 12-7-1. Bujanowski had two hits for the short-handed Merchants (8-14).
Thursday, July 17, 2014
Anderson sharp for Pine Barrens
Mason Anderson pitched a four-hitter for Pine Barrens in a 3-1 win over Mount Laurel. Anderson, who graduated last month from Rancocas Valley High, worked all seven innings and struck out eight in raising his record to 6-0.
Pine Barrens is 11-7-1 for 26.5 points, one point behind Riverside (11-9-1, 27.5) for third place, heading into Friday’s 7 p.m. makeup game at Vincentown. Ronnie Krankowski had two hits and batted in two runs for Pine Barrens. Phil Shallenberger had a double and one RBI, and Tyler Kaiser doubled and scored a run. Cole Pewor tripled, then scored the Mount Laurel (6-12-2) run when Paul Meagher hit into a fielder’s choice.
Burlington 5, Willingboro 2:
Garrett Mull was 4-for-4 with an RBI and Marshall Harden had two hits (home run, double) and two RBIs as the Mets improved to 18-3-1. Max Newill worked the first six innings for his fourth win, recording five strikeouts. Jon Wilkins struck out the side in the seventh to save it. Willingboro (8-12) received two doubles from Mark Stumpf.
Cinnaminson 11, Riverside 4:
The Reds scored five times in the fourth inning to seize a 7-3 lead on the way to victory. Kyle Ballay’s two-run double was the biggest hit, while Bill Dove contributed an RBI double and John Dockins had an RBI single. Dockins went 4-for-5 and scored four runs, and Dove finished with two doubles and three RBIs. Eric Gertie got the mound decision for the Reds (18-4-1).
Wednesday, July 16, 2014
Ballay powers Cinnaminson to victory
Kyle Ballay hit two home runs to help Cinnaminson to a 13-6 decision over Willingboro. Ballay also doubled to finish the night with three hits and batted in five runs. His two-run shot sparked a five-run second inning that gave the Reds a 5-0 lead. Jeff Vitale and John Dockins contributed RBI singles. Dockins totaled three hits and Cinnaminson (17-4-1) benefited from reliever Antonio Guido, who got the win with three innings and allowed one run. Willingboro (8-11) was led by John Walls, whose three-run homer in the third inning made it a 6-3 game. Walls finished 3-for-4.
July 14, 2014
Courtesy of Bruce Johnson, Burlington County Times
The Rancocas Valley Baseball League will take on the Pendel League in an all-star game this coming Saturday, 5 p.m., at Vincentown’s Harry Thompson Field.
The RVL’s starting lineup is: ss Pedro Perez, cf Frank Sirolli, rf Matt Speckman, dh Zach Skidmore, 1b Dan Gavlik, 3b Marshall Harden, lf Brandon Barnes, c Joe Knazek, 2b Eddie Stiles, p Shaun Babula.
The RVL pitching staff is loaded, and (with ERA’s through Friday’s games) features Burlington’s Babula (0.00), John Harvey (3.30) and Max Newill (2.96), Cinnaminson’s Christian Rahman (2.07), Pine Barrens’ Ronnie Krankowski (2.62) and Mason Anderson (2.46), Willingboro’s Connor McFarlane (2.25), Vincentown’s Damon Valloreo (1.72) and Burlington Township’s CJ McNutt (1.40).
Some players were voted to the team — Vinny James, Greg Gilbert, Kyle Higgins, Eric Gertie, Mike Tobia — but are unable to attend. Other players were voted to the team as position players — Babula and Ronnie Krankowski — but chose to be pitchers.
Here are the rosters for both teams:
* voted by RVL managers as a starter
# unavailable to play
(r) added as replacement
(p) voted as a starter but chose to pitch
*# Vinny James (Burlington)
Joe Knazek (Riverside)
(r) Bill Dove (Cinnaminson)
* Dan Gavlik (Cinnaminson)
Connor Hall (Mount Laurel)
* Eddie Stiles (Riverside)
# Kyle Higgins (Cinnaminson)
(r) Mark Stumpf (Willingboro)
* Marshall Harden (Burlington)
Tyler Kaiser (Pine Barrens)
* Pedro Perez (Burlington)
John Dockins (Cinnaminson)
* Brandon Barnes (Mount Laurel)
(p) Ron Krankowski (Pine Barrens)
(r) Jon Wetzel (Cinnaminson)
* (p) Shaun Babula (Burlington)
Frank Sirolli (Cinnaminson)
(r) Brian Black (Mount Laurel)
* # Geoff Gilbert (Cinnaminson)
Matt Speckman (Willingboro)
(r) Dante Keys (Riverside)
* Zach Skidmore (Burlington)
Jack Bujanowski (Vincentown)
Shaun Babula (Burlington)
John Harvey (Burlington)
Max Newill (Burlington)
Ron Krankowski (Pine Barrens)
Christian Rahman (Cinnaminson)
# Eric Gertie (Cinnaminson)
# Mike Tobia (Mount Laurel)
Damon Valloreo (Vincentown)
CJ McNutt (Burlington Twp.)
(r) Connor McFarlane (Willingboro)
(r) Mason Anderson (Pine Barrens)
Casey Rothwell (Huntington Valley)
Dave McInerney (Upper Moreland)
Mike Janas (Upper Moreland)
Anthony Pletscher (Glenside)
Bobby Argeros (Warminster)
Mark Woltemate (LOMA)
Steve Sable (Warminster)
Brandon Roman (Warminster)
Pat Brady (Huntington Valley)
Bryan Wilde (Hunterdon Valley)
Sean Byles (Northampton)
Darnell Muse (Huntington Valley)
Dustin Kology (LOMA)
Jesse Goldstein (Horsham)
Sean Welsh (Warminster)
Alex Bragin (Warminster)
Brady McNab (Horsham)
Drew Gerhardt (Northampton)
Andrew Lihotz (Warminster)
Sean McCloskey (Horsham)
Ray Malagon (Horsham)
Rob Andris (Huntington Valley)
Tom Hellwarth (LOMA)
Tom Miller (LOMA)
Kyle Waler (Upper Moreland)
Dalton Smoot (Upper Moreland)
Harry Thompson has seen just about every possible situtation during his almost 70 years in the RVL. The Vincentown Merchants manager simply rolls with the punches. “We’ve gone from one of the elite teams to . . . ” Thompson said, of his 7-13 team. “But when you take the 2-3-4-5 hitters out of the lineup, that’s going to happen. We’re playing six, seven high school kids now, and I’ll tell you what, I like them. They come to play.”
The Merchants, who won the RVL in 2012 and were runner-up in 2013, are without Sam Pepper, Greg Miller, Jesse Pappler and Troy Foster, who were huge parts of that success. “We’ll be OK, babe,” Thompson said. “I like this kid at catcher, Brandon Kay. He’s got a gun. And when the Williams boys, Ryan and Dan, are here, we’re a pretty good team still.”
7 p.m. in V-town
The league announced that Vincentown’s remaining home games will start at 7 p.m., rather than the normal 8 p.m.
Semipro book in the Hall
“Covered Wooden Grandstands,” a book about semipro baseball in New Jersey, has been selected for inclusion in the library at the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. The book is in ABNER (American Baseball Network for Electronic Research), the Hall’s online library catalog. Among the many outstanding New Jersey sports writers contributing to the book were Bruce Johnson and Joe Mason of the BCT (the late Jeff Offord passed away before completing his story), former BCT writer Dave Zangaro, and Phil Anastasia of the Philadelphia Inquirer. There are four stories involving the RVL — on Shaun Babula, Jack Bujanowski, Rocky Petrone and Harry Thompson — plus stories from every county in New Jersey, and some from six other states.
Exhibition still on
The Mets’ July 26 exhibition game with the Hellertown Royals of Pennsylvania’s Blue Mountain League is still on . . . “tentatively,” according to Mets’ manager Keith Babula. The Royals are currently in first place in the BML, which means they would get a first-round bye in the playoffs and could play the Mets. “I don’t know if we’ll have enough players to field a team,” Babula said. “Hopefully, we will.”
Sunday, July 13, 2014
Pine Barrens, Willingboro split a pair at Bowker Field
Pine Barrens and Willingboro played a couple of one-run games Sunday night at steamy Patty Bowker Field, the Phantoms winning the opener 4-3 and the ’Boro Boys taking the nightcap 5-4. Dan Hill was the winning pitcher in the second game, striking out six in 4 2/3 innings. Mike Juckett got the save with 2 1/3 innings of relief. Jordan Glover had a single and double, and Tyler Bayley contributed two hits.
In the opener, Mike Kondrath pitched four solid innings, but Matt Curry got the win and Anthony Coniglio earned the save.
Ryan Krupa drove in two runs with a double and a sac fly, Alex Campbell had two hits and Cameron Bahr doubled.
Mark Stumpf had three hits and two RBIs for Willingboro, Drew Rodriguez had a double and triple and scored twice, and Jordan Glover and Jon Wetzel both doubled.
Pine Barrens (10-7-1) is fourth in the league with 24.5 points, while Willingboro (8-10-0) is fifth with 21.
Cinnaminson 9, Vincentown 7:
Trailing 6-2 when this game was suspended on July 8, the Reds rallied to tie and then broke a 6-all tie with three in the top of the seventh. One run scored on an error on Kyle Ballay’s hit, another scored on Joe Sirolli’s fielder’s choice grounder, and the last scored on Frank Sirolli’s single. Jim Goodwin pitched five innings, allowing two hits and one unearned run for the win.
Matty Janulis’ RBI single, Joe Sirolli’s two-run single and Geoff Gilbert’s sacrifice fly helped the Reds battle back to tie the game.
The Reds (16-4-1) stayed on the heels of Burlington (17-3-1), while sixth-place Vincentown fell to 7-13-0, 20.5 points.
Burlington 4, Burlington Twp. 2:
Brandon Elliott struck out six in five innings to earn the win. Matt Hill had a single and double for the Mets, while Vinny James added two hits and an RBI. Nick Cancelliere pitched a complete game for the Pirates, allowing two earned runs. Giancarlo Regni had two hits and Mike Zier drove in a run.
Saturday, July 12, 2014
Vincentown 8, Burlington 6:
Ryan Williams and Johnny Bujanowski delivered their own fireworks, helping the Merchants surprise the first-place Mets in their annual Fireworks Game (which ended at 12:45 a.m. Sunday). Williams was 3-for-3, including a three-run homer, while “Little Booj” was 2-for-3 with a solo dinger. Danny Williams also contributed three hits. Damon Valloreo went four innings for the win, with Dave Gibson finishing up. Marshall Harden (double), Matt Fischer (double) and John Harvey each had three hits for the Mets. Ryan Bell added a triple.
Wedneesday, July 9, 2014
Burlington takes ownership of first place
By Pete Innaurato Correspondent
There’s a difference between good, very good and great. If you’ve watched Shaun Babula pitch this season in the Rancocas Valley Baseball League, you’d know exactly what that means. Once again, Babula tossed a complete game, allowing only one run (unearned) on five hits and no walks Wednesday, while striking out eight in a 7-1 win over Cinnaminson. In doing so, Babula continued his streak of not allowing an earned run in 2014.
There isn’t too much to be asked from the Burlington offense when Babula toes the hill. However, there is one thing Babula asks of his teammates: take nothing for granted. “I’ve been really lucky so far early on this year,” said Babula, whose team improved to 16-2-1 and took sole possession of first place. “I throw it over the plate and hope good things happen,” the veteran left-hander said. “Some things have bounced my way and I’ve been fortunate to have had this success early on here. We can’t take anything for granted, though, because you’re beatable each night out. As the season comes to an end and the playoffs begin, we have to remain focused.”
Burlington essentially put things away early on as the Mets posted a three-spot in the second inning. An RBI single from Pedro Perez plated Matt Fischer to opening the scoring. An RBI groundout from Kyle Semmel and an RBI single from Matt Jolly wrapped up the scoring in that inning.
Cinnaminson (15-3-1) got on the board in the bottom of the third thanks to an infield error. However, that’s all the Reds would get.
With the score 3-1 in the bottom of the fifth, Babula struck out the side and continued to stifle the Reds’ bats. “He was on point all night long,” Mets manager Keith Babula said. “We weren’t doing anything offensively in the middle innings, so we needed Shaun to pitch well and he did.”
In the sixth, Burlington broke the game open with a four-spot. One-out singles from Marshall Harden and Perez, and a walk to Semmel, loaded the bases for Jolly, who roped a two-run double to left-center making the score 5-1. Two more runs scored on a Casey Donahue groundout and a throwing error. “I had some good opportunities to get hits,” said Jolly, who went 2-for-3 with three RBIs. “I had runners in scoring position all night and to go along with that, I felt loose at the plate. Hopefully this gets me kick-started.”
Burlington went on to close out the team with which it shared first place at the start of the night. “We beat a really good team tonight,” Keith Babula said. “I don’t know if this was a statement game or not, but we treated it like any other game. We have to keep racking up the wins because teams can go through lulls in the year. We already faced some points in the season where we caught some lucky breaks. We have to keep playing our game and we will be fine.”
Eight-run rally lifts Mount Laurel to RVL triumph
Mount Laurel scored eight runs with two outs in the bottom of the fifth inning Wednesday night to rally for an 8-5 victory over Riverside. Brian Black’s three-run double put Mount Laurel in the lead. Connor Hall and Paul Meagher had RBI singles in the inning, and both finished with two hits on the night. Matt Szukics, winning pitcher Mike Dunlap and Mike Tobia combined for 11 strikeouts as Mount Laurel improved to 6-10-2. Brett Knazek had two hits for Riverside (11-8-1)
July 7, 2014
Courtesy of Bruce Johnson, Burlington County Times
Photo courtesy of Bryan Woolston
Donahue adjusts to new role
Casey Donahue was 16 or 17 years old, a senior at Riverside High, playing with the big boys on the powerhouse Cinnaminson Myles Transportation in the Rancocas Valley Baseball League. That was when he first noticed the “older” guy playing lights-out third base for the Burlington Mets — Jeff Vitale.
Now, 20 years later, Donahue has returned to the RVL after an injury-forced two-year absence and is playing a solid second base — for Burlington. And Vitale? The league’s Methuselah is still flashing a great-glove at the hot corner — for Cinnaminson.
“It’s crazy, me with Burlington and Vi with Cinnaminson,” Donahue said. “When I started playing in the RVL, Vi was about my age now. I’m just happy to be playing baseball again. I’m a lifer. You can’t keep me away, although the shoulder (injury) kept me out two years.”
An all-county shortstop as a high school senior, Donahue played on some strong teams at Rowan and then Camden County College, while playing regularly on Cinnaminson for his high school coach, Gary Herron.
He seemingly capped his career by helping Cinnaminson top Vincentown for the 2011 RVL championship. He hit .350 that season.
But then came the surgery — a torn labrum, rotator cuff and a bone spur. He had a nice job with PSE&G, and got his baseball fix by helping Herron and Chris McManus coach at Riverside. It looked like his playing days were behind him. But his wife Lindsey and daughter Kaylee (who turns 20 Monday) kept pestering him. “They were like, ‘You can still play. You should go back.’ “
During the high school season, Donahue started taking swings during batting practice, and fielding grounders. He was getting the itch. It was after a Merle Haggard concert (or was it Rascal Flatts?) that Donahue and Mets manager Keith Babula stopped to have a couple beers. “We were just talking, about baseball and the RVL, and the bartender was listening and said I should play, that it seemed like that’s what I really wanted to do,” Donahue said. “I’m at an age where it’s nice having your summers off. But she made me bet Keith that if he chugged a 40-ounce beer in less than two minutes ... well, he did it. And that’s how this came about, although Keith never held a gun to my head to play. “I told Keith, if you have a spot for me, fine. But your younger kids, the college kids, they have to play.”
Donahue wasn’t on the Mets’ original roster, but was signed May 16. He made his first start on June 2 against Mount Laurel and was 1-for-2 with two walks. And he’s been in the lineup ever since. “Me and Max (Newill) both had our first starts for the Mets in the same game,” Donahue said. “It was a typical Max game, over in an hour and a half. It felt comfy.”
The Mets (14-2-1), who swept the RVL regular-season and playoff titles in 2013, have a nice blend of veterans and youth this summer. And as the league passed the midway point, Donahue, who turns 37 next month, is holding up. He’s played second base, third base and DH’d, and is usually in the No. 2 or 3 hole. He’s hitting .303 in 11 games, all starts.
Any chance he’ll still be playing in his 50s, like Vitale, or Herron, his mentor at Riverside and Cinnaminson? “Hey, the good Lord willing and the creek don’t rise, I’ll keep playing as long as they make bats,” Donahue said. “I know my role. I’m just happy to be out there around all the young guys. Once the playoffs come it’s their time. It’s not my time anymore. That ship’s come and gone.”
Guerrieri out for season
Burlington’s Paul Guerrieri will miss the rest of the 2014 season following recent season-ending surgery on his right hip. Guerrieri, one of the league’s most feared hitters, was hitting .303 with five RBIs in nine starts this summer. He hit .437 with 15 doubles and three homers during the Mets’ 2010 championship season, and led the RVL in hitting (.487) in 2012. The former Pemberton High star came into the season ranked among the Mets’ all-time leaders in at bats (third), runs (fourth), hits (third), doubles (first), home runs (third) and runs batted in (first).
Reelin’ in the years
Dan Hill’s bases-clearing double last Tuesday put Willingboro ahead of Mount Laurel, en route to a 16-3 win. The interesting part of the blast was that it scored Jamie Schwantes (39 years old), Jon Wetzel (32) and Kellen Peter (35), the latter all the way from first. That’s 106 years coming around the bases — with none out!
Sunday, July 6, 2014
Cinnaminson downs Vincentown
Bill Dove was 4-for-4 with three RBIs and Kyle Higgins added a pair of doubles and scored three times as Cinnaminson posted an 8-2 victory over Vincentown at Thompson Field. Jim Goodwin was the benefactor of the big bats, throwing six innings and allowing no earned runs, while walking none and striking out five. Ryan Williams was 3-for-3 for the Merchants, including two doubles.
Wednesday, July 2, 2014
Storm leaves teams frustrated
By Pete Innaurato Correspondent
When the skies opened up, they ended up playing for hits and giggles.
With Vincentown leading 5-4 in the bottom of the fifth inning, Mount Laurel was threatening to take the lead with runners on first and third with one out in Wednesday night’s Rancocas Valley League game. The baseball gods then interfered with the action taking place and the game was called two outs shy of being deemed final.
According to RVL rules, five innings of baseball must be played in order for a game to result in either a win, loss or tie. For two struggling teams, the frustration of not being able to complete Wednesday’s contest is a little irritating. “It’s a pain that we weren’t able to finish this one out,” said Mount Laurel manager Dean Johnson, whose team is 4-9 on the year. “We felt the momentum shifting our way there at the end and we definitely had a chance to take the lead and win the game. My guys have been inconsistent this year and it was nice to see them display something there offensively. A few good innings isn’t enough for me though, we need to turn things around in back-to-back games.”
Vincentown (5-10) opened up action with a 5-0 lead thanks to a two-run dou
ble from Zeke Boron in the first, a two-RBI single from John Bujanowski Jr. and an RBI hit from Patrick Donnelly in the fourth. Mount Laurel scored two runs in the bottom of the fourth after a two-out, two-run single from Tyler Revay to make it 5-2. In the fifth, two more runs crossed thanks to Cole Pewor, who tripled home a run and scored on a wild pitch.
For a struggling Vincentown team, the storm may have been a blessing in disguise. “We had opportunities and failed,” said assistant coach Reg Williams. “We built a lead and almost surrendered it. We couldn’t get the leadoff man in often enough — we had ours on every inning. We’ve got to get back to playing fundamental ball in those instances.”
Burlington Twp. 5, Pine Barrens 4, suspended:
The game was stopped in the bottom of the fifth inning.
Tuesday, July 1, 2014
Hill powers Willingboro to victory
Dan Hill’s three-run double was the big blow as Willingboro posted a 16-3 win over Mount Laurel. Hill’s blow gave the Boro a 4-2 lead. Jose Martinez, Jamie Schwantes and Drew Rodriguez each had three hits for the winners (6-7). Craig Ricks (five innings) and Connor McFarlane were the benefactors. Brandon Barnes was 2-for-3 with a double and an RBI for Mount Laurel (4-9-1).
Pine Barrens 9, Vincentown 3:
Mason Anderson fanned 10 in five innings and Alex Campbell had two doubles, two RBIs and scored twice, as the Phantoms improved to 8-6. Tyler Kaiser pitched the last two innings to finish off a combined four-hitter. Phil Shallenberger and Mike Follet each doubled for the winners. Ryan Williams had a double for the Merchants (5-10).
Burlington 4, Burlington Twp. 0:
Ryan Bell tossed a four-hitter and struck out seven in a complete-game win. Jon Wilkins was 2-for-3 with an RBI and Justin McFadden had two hits for Burlington (14-2-1). Giancarlo Regni was 1-for-3 for the Pirates.
Monday, June 30, 2014
By Pete Innaurato Correspondent, Burlington County Times
Pine Barrens tops Burlington Twp.
Pine Barrens was hungry for a win and Burlington Township resembled a filet mignon Monday night as the Phantoms claimed a 6-1 victory in the Rancocas Valley Baseball League.
Louis Atkins was solid for the Phantoms, pitching five innings, only allowing one run while striking out two and walking five. Atkins toed the rubber for only the third time this season and impressed with his ability to mix speeds and keep the Township hitters off-balance. “We were really happy with the way Louis pitched,” coach Gerry Lamola said. “He incorporated all of his pitches and located his fastball well. When we field well behind him, that’s when he’s at his best. He will keep us in the game and work hard.” Atkins’ outing was backed by the sticks of the Phantoms, who posted runs in the middle innings.
Third baseman Tyler Kaiser plated Ryan Krupa in the third on a sacrifice fly to make the score 1-0. In the fourth inning, the Phantoms extended their lead to 3-0 on a sacrifice fly from Krupa, which brought home Alex Campbell, and an infield error, which plated Mike Follett. “We put pressure on their defense by stealing some bases early on,” Follett said. “We started slow, but something was bound to happen because we kept at it. We had to bring our ‘A’ game because we didn’t exactly dominate the competition tonight.”
Burlington Township got on the board thanks to an error, and loaded the bases with one out. But Atkins hunkered down and struck out the next two batters.
In the fifth, the Phantoms broke the game open on a three-run home run by Campbell. The hit was one that couldn’t have come at a better time considering the Pirates were making some noise in the previous inning. “That was a big-time hit for us,” Krupa said. “We were scratching some runs across early but were waiting to break things open a bit. We had a lot of runners throughout the game; it was good to see Campbell go deep there and give our defense some room to breathe.”
Alec Marconi, who pitched the final two innings of Monday’s victory, sees great potential in a team that has surpassed the .500 mark a month into the season. “This team has a lot of fun together and we get along,” Marconi said. “Sometimes we feed off each other’s energy and that’s why we’ve been having success lately. I have confidence in these guys, we just have to stay focused.”
June 30, 2014
Cinnaminson returns to old neighborhood
Now that’s more like it.
Cinnaminson reached the midpoint of its Rancocas Valley Baseball League schedule with an 11-2-1 record. Through 14 games last year, Cinnaminson was 5-9. Things picked up a bit and the Reds finished the regular season at 11-15. They won the play-in game to make the eight-team playoff field, then extended eventual finalist Vincentown to a third game before bowing out in the first round. “We struggled to get guys out on a consistent basis and we didn’t have a deep bench,” Reds manager Brett Miller said. “We made it a point to build much more depth. We knew what we had to do to get back to what we’re used to doing.”
Usually, you check the standings in late July and see Cinnaminson with 20 or more wins, and situated much higher than eighth place. While there’s been some turnover in recent years, there remains a nucleus of guys who know what it takes to be a contender. “We still have the Wascos (Mike and Tim), Sirollis (Frank and Joe) and the Gilberts (Geoff and Greg),” Miller said. “So we had the foundation. We just had to build around it.”
Delran was unable to field a team this year and many of those players have found new homes in the RVL. Kyle Ballay, Eric Gertie and Mark Wickersham relocated to Cinnaminson. Others who’ve helped include John Dockins, and league newcomers Bill Dove, Dan Gavlik and Kyle Higgins. RVL veterans Jeff Vitale and Matty Janulis lend leadership.
The pitching staff blends experience (Ryan Varga, Craig Carrol, Jim Goodwin) and youth (Clinton Hart, Christian Rahman, Alex Sankey). Hart, a contributor to Cinnaminson High’s state championship in 2013, pitched a no-hitter last week against Vincentown. “It’s not just the nine guys who are out there at one time, it’s all 25,” Miller said. “We have guys who we just put in the lineup and we don’t miss a beat. We’ll see what happens in August.”
Rich Ledbeater was 4-for-4 Wednesday night, the tough way. He was hit by a pitch all four times during Mount Laurel’s victory over Burlington Township.
Kevin Faber (6-2) and Diego Melendez (4-2) were the two leading pitchers for Penn State-Abington (18-19) this spring.
Tuesday night they were rival pitchers, with Melendez and Mount Laurel defeating Faber and Willingboro 6-3. Melendez, out of Pennsauken High, just finished his freshman year, while Faber (Father Judge) just graduated.
All-Star Game still on
The all-star game between the RVL and Pennsylvania’s Pen-Del League is still a go ... scheduled for July 19 at 5 p.m.
“We’re in the process of collecting names from our managers,” RVL president Ric Babula said. “Keith (Babula) will be in charge of the team, since Burlington won the (RVL) title last summer.”
Mull a dad
Longtime Burlington Met Garrett Mull recently became a proud papa, when his wife Christina presented him with Lucas Lee.
Thursday, June 26, 2014
Willingboro rolls to RVL triumph
Willingboro scored eight runs in the first inning Thursday on the way to an 11-2 win over Burlington Township. Tyler Bayley pitched five innings, allowed one hit and recorded the win. Dan Hill worked two hitless frames in relief and struck out four. Mark Stumpf had three hits, the biggest of which was a three-run double in the first inning. Kellen Peter doubled, singled and had one RBI. Willingboro improved to 5-7.
Babula leads Burlington past Riverside
He’s a complete player and a big reason why Burlington has been so dominant in the Rancocas Valley Baseball League in recent years.
Shaun Babula stifled Riverside with six shutout innings on the mound Thursday. The veteran left-hander had nine strikeouts, and allowed four hits and no walks in Burlington’s 5-0 victory in the Rancocas Valley Baseball League. “We have great chemistry on this team,” the southpaw said. “We pitch well, hit well; we really just do it all. There’s not much to it. I felt good tonight and when that happens we have a good chance to win because I know the offense will score some runs.”
The win is the fourth straight for Burlington, which is 12-2-1 overall and holds first place. The Me ts are the defending league champions. Burlington’s offense backed up Babula’s outing with three runs in the first inning and never looked back.
In the first, Pedro Perez singled home Babula, who singled to lead off the inning and stole second base. An RBI single from Paul Guerrieri and bases-loaded walk to Dominic Gallone made the score 3-0.
After Babula struck out the side in the top of the second, the Mets posted another run in the bottom half thanks to another RBI single from Perez, who finished 3-for-4 with two RBIs. “When we build an early lead it gives (Shaun) the comfort of knowing he can make mistakes,” Mets manager Keith Babula said of his kid brother. “Even though he doesn’t make many of them, it allows him to attack and take control of the game.”
Burlington added one more run in the fifth inning on a Shaun Babula RBI single, which plated John Harvey. Shaun went 3-for-3 with a walk, two stolen bases and two runs scored. “He’s got all the skills out there,” said Harvey, who went 3-for-4. “Whenever Shaun is on the mound, we feel like we’re going to win the game. He also can hit, which helps out big time. I think our pitching staff is strong and that’s why we’ve had so much success. When you have a guy like Shaun leading the way, it’s going to produce some wins.”
Riverside (10-6-1) is still a growing team and looks to make progress as the season moves on. The fifth-year club has never won more than 13 games in a season.
That could change this year. Shaun Babula sees improvement in the Patriots, who share second place with Cinnaminson. “Riverside has everything going for them,” he said. “They’re talented. They stay within themselves, and they always put up a good at-bat. That’s going to be a very tough team to beat as the years move on. “Their offense is already good and they have pitching. If they keep adding talent, who knows where they will end up?”
Tuesday, June 24, 2014
Mount Laurel rallies past Willingboro
By Pete Innaurato Correspondent
It was time to stop playing around. Well, they still played around, they just played with a purpose: to win. The first 10 games of the Rancocas Valley Baseball League season were not so kind to Mount Laurel, which came into Tuesday’s game with a 2-7-1 record. However, a 6-3 victory over Willingboro made game No. 11 very enjoyable.
Mount Laurel starter Diego Melendez made his first start of 2014 and was effective. He went the distance, struck out seven, walked two and allowed three runs (one earned) on just five hits. “I felt good out there after the first inning,” said Melendez, who pitched college ball at Penn State-Abington. “I was a little nervous to start, but after the first I felt great and had command. This is my first game here with Mount Laurel so it was important for me to pitch a good game.”
Willingboro struck for all three runs in the first inning. Jose Martinez singled home Jordan Glover for the first run. An outfield error and an RBI single by Mike Gulli gave the hosts a 3-0 advantage. “We really put ourselves behind early with some sloppy defense,” Mount Laurel manager Dean Johnson said. “We didn’t help our starter out at all in the first. But he really
Willingboro (4-7) let an early lead slip away to a team that needed a win.
settled in and we were able to score some runs for him as the game went on.”
Mount Laurel tallied two runs in the third on a two-run double by Brandon Barnes (2-for-4, three RBIs), which scored Rich Ledbeater and Cole Pewor. Mount Laurel took the lead with two runs in the fourth. Brian Black plated Ty Powell on an RBI double to even things at 3. Black took third on a passed ball, then came home on a sacrifice fly by Paul Meagher.
It stayed 4-3 until the seventh, when two insurance runs came across for Mount Laurel. Barnes singled home Ledbeater, who’d been hit by a pitch, to make it 5-3. An error allowed the final run to score.
Melendez tossed a 1-2-3 bottom of the seventh to wrap it up. “He had good command and he retired 18 of the last 21 batters he faced,” said Ledbeater, his catcher. “Fastball, curveball, slider was his arsenal and mostly everything was working for him.”
Willingboro center fielder Jordan Glover, who went 2-for-4 with a stolen base, believes his team can turn things around. “There have been a few tight games so far,” Glover said. “We need to execute the fundamentals and we’ll be alright.”
Monday, June 23, 2014
Victory puts Burlington in first place
Vinny James batted in five runs Monday and led Burlington to a 7-1 win over Vincentown. Max Newill was the winning pitcher as Burlington boosted its record to 11-2-1 for 24 points, lifting the Mets into first place. James had two hits, including a home run, and Zach Skidmore scored two runs and contributed one RBI. Ian Thomas batted in the run for Vincentown (5-9).
Cinnaminson 11, Riverside 1:
The Reds overcame an early deficit and took the lead for good on a two-run single by Frank Sirolli, who finished with two hits and four RBIs. Joe Sirolli had three hits and scored three runs, helping Cinnaminson improve to 10-2-1 for 22 points. Winning pitcher Christian Rahman struck out nine in a two-hitter and the Riverside run was unearned. Eric Oliver had both Riverside hits and scored the Patriots’ run. Riverside is 10-5-1 and holds second place with 23 points.
June 23, 2014
Valloreo back on the mound
Damon Valloreo had some good outings pitching for the Vincentown Merchants during the first month of the Rancocas Valley Baseball League season. The fact that he’s pitching at all is notable. Valloreo is a year removed from major surgery to repair injuries to his shoulder and biceps. He underwent the procedure shortly after he completed his senior season at Kutztown University in Pennsylvania. “It happened when I was a junior,” Valloreo said. “But I kept throwing through it and I wanted to help the team when I was a senior. I became a reliever and didn’t throw as many innings. “But after my senior year, I thought, ‘What if I want to have a catch some day with my son or daughter? What if I want to keep playing in the RVL?’ I decided to get the surgery and be healthy for the future.”
Valloreo recalled spending four to six weeks with his arm in a sling, then the rehab taking six or seven months. “After 10 months, I was able to start really throwing and stretching it out. I’m still trying to find a groove,” said Valloreo, who pitched for Seneca High School (2008 graduate) and Burlington County College before joining Kutztown’s NCAA Division 2 program.
Vincentown held a 5-7 record through last week. Valloreo sees better days ahead for the Merchants and plans on doing his part to make it happen. “I’m trying to help us get back on track,” he said. “We have some guys who took time off after their college seasons. Some played 50 or 60 games, and you need that time to step away and re-charge the batteries. Once we get them back, that will help. I think we’re going to find our stride pretty soon.”
Phantoms coming together?
Pine Barrens didn’t play its first game until June 2 but made up for lost time. Beginning with the season opener, the Phantoms played eight games in 17 days and came through that stretch with a 5-3 record. That’s where they stood entering the weekend.
Head coach Gerry Lamola liked what he saw in a 7-2 win over Mount Laurel last Wednesday, suggesting it may have been Pine Barrens’ best all-around effort so far. The Phantoms received effective pitching from Ron Krankowski and Nick Henderson, an offensive attack led by Krankowski and Tyler Kaiser, and errorless defense that night.
Two days earlier, Pine Barrens handed the Burlington Mets their first loss after eight wins. Recent Rancocas Valley High graduate Mason Anderson went six innings on the mound for that win, Kaiser had two hits and two RBIs, and Phil Shallenberger tripled and doubled for his two RBIs.
Dallas Green, who managed the Phillies to a World Series victory in 1980, will be among the guests at this summer’s Bridgeton Invitational Tournament, which will run from Aug. 1-15. Green and Alan Maimon recently co-authored a book titled “The Mouth That Roared” and he will be in Bridgeton on Wednesday, Aug. 13, to sign copies.
Other special guests at the 48th annual tournament will include Phillies’ color announcer Matt Stairs, the Phillie Phanatic and former Phillies’ color announcer Chris Wheeler, who will also be signing copies of his new book, “View From the Booth.”
The Vincentown Merchants won the Bridgeton Invitational in 1968 (the event’s second year) and 1982. Cinnaminson won four times, in 1976 and 1978 as Midwest Emery, in 1986 as Cinnaminson Liquors and in 1987 as Kardon Auto Mall.
The Cecil County (Maryland) Braves won in 2013.
Sunday, June 22, 2014
Burlington Twp. wins; no-hitter for Hart
The Burlington Township Pirates broke into the victory column with a 4-3 triumph over Pine Barrens at Viereck Field. The Pirates had lost their first 13 games this season. But the win didn’t come easily.With two outs in the top of the seventh and two runners on base, the Phantoms’ Ronnie Krankowski lined out to second baseman Eddie Eifert.
Zach Gould went 6 2/3 innings and earned the pitching victory, with final-out relief from C.J. McNutt. Eifert had a single, triple and an RBI, Giancarlo Regni had two singles and two RBI, Mike Zier had two hits and an RBI, while Wayne Feret had two singles and scored twice. Krankowski had a single and triple, with one RBI.
Cinnaminson 6, Vincentown 2:
Right-hander Clinton Hart tossed a no-hitter as Cinnaminson knocked off Vincentown at Memorial Park. Hart, a Cinnaminson High grad who pitched at Burlington County College this spring, struck out nine, walked four and hit two batters. Bill Dove’s two-run double gave the Reds a 4-0 lead, and Mike Wasco added a two-run home run. Dan Gavlik had two hits and an RBI. Newcomer Dave Gibson, a lefty, pitched a complete game for the Merchants (5-8).
Burlington 1, Willingboro 0:
Casey Donahue led off the top of the eighth with a walk and scored on Kyle Semmel’s single for the Mets (10-2-1). John Harvey threw five scoreless innings and Jon Wilkins picked up the win with three more blanks, combining on a one-hitter. Connor McFarlane pitched seven shutout innings for ‘Boro (4-6). Dan Hill took the loss, allowing an unearned run.
Thursday, June 19, 2014
Burlington tops Willingboro
Shaun Babula had two hits and batted in two runs for Burlington in a 5-3 win over Willingboro. The victory was Burlington's first of the week after two losses and a tie. The Mets are 9-2-1 overall.
Wednesday, June 18, 2014
Cinnaminson edges Burlington in RVL
A run in the first inning was the difference in Cinnaminson’s 1-0 victory over Burlington. Eric Gertie prevailed in a duel with opposing pitcher Shaun Babula, each limiting the other team to four hits in a game that left both teams with 8-2-1 records.
Monday, June 16, 2014
Pine Barrens hands Burlington first loss
The Pine Barrens Phantoms passed the .500 mark in a big way Monday, doing so with a 13-4 win over Burlington. Pine Barrens raised its record to 4-3 and handed Burlington its first loss this season after eight victories. Phil Shallenberger tripled and doubled for the Phantoms, batting in a run with each extra-base hit. He also scored two runs, as did Tyler Kaiser (double, single, two RBIs). Winning pitcher Mason Anderson worked six innings and had five strikeouts. Vinny James had three hits and one RBI for Burlington, while Shaun Babula had two hits and scored twice for the Mets.
Mount Laurel 6, Riverside 6:
Darkness halted proceedings before a winner could emerge. Riverside (9-4-1) was led by Dante Keays’ three hits and two RBIs, and Eric Oliver’s two hits featured a home run. Mount Laurel (1-6-1) received a home run among three hits from Connor Hall.
Cinnaminson 11, Burlington Township 0:
Alex Sankey pitched a one-hitter and struck out seven as the Reds improved to 7-2. John Dockins hit a two-run single on his way to three RBIs and Mark Wickersham was 2-for-2 with a walk and batted in two runs.
June 16, 2014
Gradual improvement proof that Riverside on course
Goals remain modest. Teams don’t enter the Rancocas Valley Baseball League and quickly become championship contenders. The Riverside Patriots are beginning to achieve that look. The fifth-year club enters this week with a 9-4 record and appears likely to surpass the team record of 13 wins set in 2012 and matched last summer. “The goal is .500 or just above,” manager Mike Hynes said. “Eventually we hope to be way above .500.”
Riverside hasn’t had a winning season and endured a winless first year. The team improved to 12 victories in Year 2 and the third summer saw a victory in the opener of a playoff series against Burlington. The Mets rallied to win the series.
Riverside moved up to fifth in the standings last season and was competitive in being swept by No. 4 seed Mount Laurel in the first round. Last Wednesday, the Patriots allowed a run early, responded quickly and held on for a 2-1 win over Mount Laurel. A night later, Riverside prevailed 11-9 in 10 innings at Vincentown. “We have timely hitting this year and we’ve been pretty consistent,” said Hynes, who also credits the support of team sponsor New Jersey Diamond Academy. “Guys see the results and want to play harder,” Hynes said. “I tell them ‘Give me two or three years and we can build something.’ A lot of them are BCC (Burlington County College) guys, either alumni or still there, so they’ve already played together.”
The attack receives contributions from Dante Keays, Jeff Briggs, Phil Stiles, the Sabols (Jason and Josh), among others. Stiles is 8-for-11 with six stolen bases in his last two games. The pitching staff, at the moment, isn’t as deep as it may be later this season. Dan Coughlin is an effective closer who saved a win for Alex Forte against Mount Laurel and got a ‘W’ the next night by working the last three innings. Coughlin was recently joined on the roster by older brother Jimmy, who will be a nice left-handed option for Hynes.
Donnie Strain is back after serving in the Army. Strain helped keep things together the first season when he assumed the role of manager while playing. Gabe Mastrangelo Sr. became manager the next year. Strain had two hits and two RBIs in a win Saturday over Burlington Township. His bat and leadership aren’t all he brings to the diamond. “When he comes, I play him,” Hynes said, “because he’s an amazing center fielder.”
Fadool out for season
Ben Fadool, a rising senior at Lenape High who played the last two summers for Mount Laurel, will miss the entire 2014 season. Playing in an AAU Showcase, Fadool was involved in a collision, which saw him tear his ACL and his MCL. But being in a giant cast didn’t prevent him from attending last Sunday’s game against Pine Barrens. “He’s a good kid ... he came to watch his teammates, and that says a lot about him,” manager Dean Johnson said. “I hope it doesn’t affect his senior year at Lenape.”
Starting ’em young
Anthony Perez, a rising ninth-grader at Burlington City High, got the start a week ago Sunday when Burlington visited Burlington Township. With only nine players available, Mets manager Keith Babula had no qualms about playing the youngster, who displayed some nice crossover footwork defensively. And he added two hits to the attack, which was led by older brother Pedro, who will be a sophomore in college and has been playing for the Mets since his sophomore year in high school. “Anthony played a couple innings for us last summer,” Babula said. “Hey, it was him or me, I gave him the shot.”
Hennigan back with Somerset
Dan Hennigan, who played shortstop and hit .315 for the Burlington Mets during their 2010 championship season, re-signed with the Somerset Patriots, who play out of Bridgewater. After playing five games for the Mets in 2012, Hennigan signed with the Patriots and played 35 games, collecting 24 hits. He graduated from Franklin Pierce University (a perennial NCAA Division 2 tourney qualifier) in Rindge, New Hampshire.
BCT staff writer Phil Chappine contributed to this article.
Sunday, June 15, 2014
Cinnaminson tops Pine Barrens
Greg Gilbert’s RBI double drove in the first run and Kyle Higgins’ three-run home run closed the scoring as the Cinnaminson Reds posted an 8-1 victory over the Pine Barrens Phantoms. Frank Sirolli contributed a single, double and an RBI for Cinnaminson (6-2). Christian Rahman went the first five innings, striking out six and allowing an unearned run. Ryan Varga pitched the final two frames.
Saturday, June 14, 2014
Stiles leads Riverside to victory
Phil Stiles had four hits and batted in three runs for Riverside in a 12-1 win over Burlington Township. Donnie Strain had two hits and two RBIs, and Joe Corbett also had two hits as Riverside improved to 9-4. Jason Sabol hit a two-run triple and Jeff Briggs tripled another run home for the Patriots. Stiles had three stolen bases.
Wednesday, June 11, 2014
Riverside edges Mount Laurel
Alex Forte, with last-inning relief help from Dan Coughlin, won a pitchers’ duel from Mike Cooper as Riverside notched a 2-1 victory over Mount Laurel. All the scoring came in the first inning. Mount Laurel took the lead when a bases-loaded walk forced in a run, but Forte escaped further damage.
Tuesday, June 10, 2014
Burlington edges Mount Laurel
Max Newill struck out eight and picked up the decision Tuesday in the Burlington Mets’ 3-2 win over Mount Laurel in the Rancocas Valley Base. Newill worked the first six innings and John Harvey handled the seventh as the Mets boosted their record to 8-0.
June 9, 2014
Ageless Newill still winning
Coaching the Bridgewater-Raritan High Panthers and throwing an occasional batting practice has apparently helped keep Max Newill and his arm feeling young. The ageless lefty made his 2014 debut last Tuesday and, in his first game as a member of the Burlington Mets, shut down Mount Laurel 7-2.
Newill, of course, engaged in some memorable pitching duels when he pitched against the Mets for the now-defunct Delran entry in the Rancocas Valley League. He struck out eight, walked two and allowed four hits while nibbling at the corners all night. He took a shutout into the bottom of the seventh. “It was a typical Max game,” Mets manager Keith Babula said. “He works fast, throws a lot of strikes and keeps the hitters off balance. He said before the game he was happy to put on blue jersey because every other team he played for — Delran High, Baldwin-Wallace College and Delran in the RVL — wore brown.”
Newill wasn’t wearing a Mets uniform for the first time. He’s been on the team’s roster the last few years for the Labor Day weekend York Tournament in Pennsylvania. “He’s pitched for us in York the last three years,” Babula said. “He pitched a good game in the winners’ bracket final last year against the Susquehanna Assault, who won the tournament.”
Newill’s last RVL appearance was last August, a 2-1 loss to Willingboro in the opening round.
Burlington vs. Hellertown?
It’s a dream matchup: the defending RVL champion Burlington Mets vs. the Hellertown Royals, a perennial powerhouse in Pennsylvania’s Blue Mountain League. It’s tentatively scheduled for July 26. The Royals currently lead the BML with a 7-2 mark. They must finish either first or second in the regular season to get a playoff bye that would allow the exhibition to be played. Hellertown, located just south of Bethlehem, has won five of the last nine BML championships, including four straight from 2009-12.
One at a time
Yes, it was only one game, but Gerry Lamola was almost giddy after the Pine Barrens Phantoms opened their season last Monday with an 8-1 win at Riverside. Playing without veterans Nick Henderson, Bryan Henry, Mike Lamola, Rich Powelson and Eric Sellitto, he got a complete game from Rancocas Valley High senior Mason Anderson. “These young kids were amazing,” Lamola said. “They hit the ball. And Mason Anderson threw a great game. We have a lot of arms.”
Mark Wickersham has been signed by the Cinnaminson Reds. The former Delran third baseman had been thinking of retiring, or just playing in a weekend league. After several decent seasons, “Wick” hit .466 last summer with 17 RBIs.
Sunday, June 8, 2014
Mount Laurel gets first win of season
Jason Ely pitched five innings, allowing four hits and no earned runs as Mount Laurel won its first game, 4-1 over Pine Barrens at Babe Ruth Field in Delanco. Mike Dunlap and Mike Tobia each threw one inning to finish off the victory. Cole Pewor had a single, double and two RBIs, and Brandon Barnes added two hits and two RBIs for Mount Laurel (1-4). Ronnie Krankowski and Mike Kondreth pitched three innings each for the Phantoms (2-2).
Burlington 8, Burlington Twp. 2:
Brandon (Twocas) Elliott became the sixth pitcher to earn a pitching win for the Mets (7-0). He got plenty of support from the Perez brothers — Pedro had three hits, including a triple, and knocked in three runs, and Anthony had two hits and an RBI. The Pirates (0-9) got a two-run double by Zach Gould.
Cinnaminson 5, Willingboro 2:
Veteran Ryan Varga took a no-hitter into the seventh inning, settling for a two-hit, nine-strikeout win after allowing a double to John Trotman and a two-homer to Jamie Schwantes at Memorial Park. Greg Gilbert had an RBI triple and Mike Wasco added a two-run single in the sixth for the Reds (5-2). Willingboro fell to 3-3.
Wednesday, June 4, 2014
Pine Barrens tops Riverside
Nick Henderson pitched four innings and Alec Marconi finished up as Pine Barrens posted a 9-1 victory over Riverside at Kenney Field. Henderson also contributed an RBI double for the Phantoms (2-1). Phil Shallenberger had an RBI triple, while Alex Campbell and Vince Gares added RBI doubles.
June 2, 2014
Courtesy of Bruce Johnson, Burlington County Times
Dockins fills a big hole in Cinnaminson lineup
Losing a player like Mike Osborne from your lineup could keep a manager up at night. The veteran has been a fixture in the Cinnaminson Reds’ lineup — at either center field or shortstop — for quite a while.
But manager Brett Miller wasn’t that concerned when he learned Ozzie wouldn’t be back this summer. He knew John Dockins was returning to the Rancocas Valley League. Dockins had played three years as a part-time infielder-outfielder for the Reds before playing last summer for the Geneva (New York) Red Wings of the New York College Baseball League. “John has been solid for us since we got him after he graduated from Cinnaminson High,” Miller said. “We moved him around all over the infield and outfield, wherever we needed him. Every year in college you could see him improving.
“Once he moved to shortstop in college (Kutztown University), we knew that with Ozzie’s days numbered we already had our long-term replacement ready.”
The 5-foot-8, 160-pound Dockins was an all-conference second baseman in high school, and again at Frederick (Maryland) Community College, where he played two years before joining Kutztown. The Golden Bears won the PSAC East this spring and advanced to last week’s regionals, where they lost in the semifinals. So Dockins didn’t make his RVL season debut until Thursday night, going 2-for-4 and handling all his plays at shortstop. “Dock had to earn his spot the old-school way, showing up to all the games, especially the 6:15 starts that a lot of guys with jobs have trouble making,” Miller said. “Play good off the bench for a couple years and earn a starting position.”
Dockins was a solid defensive shortstop at Kutztown (.946 and .944) and hit .309 and .260. He was the seventh toughest D2 player in the country to strike out. How does the pitching in the RVL compare to Division 2?
“That’s a hard question,” he said. “The RVL pitching is pretty good, but I’d say overall D2 pitching is a bit tougher. It’s really close.”
There are many new faces on Dockins’ old team this summer. Third baseman Jeff Vitale, second baseman Kyle Higgins, catcher Bill Dove and slugger Dan Gavlik (dh-1b-of) among them. “We have a much improved team,” Miller said. “And now that John is back playing the most important position in the infield, I like our chances.”
It may have happened a couple of years and many baseball games ago, but Dockins remembers his part in one of the weirdest plays in recent RVL history. Burlington’s Shaun Babula was picked off first base and got in a rundown that seemed to last 10 minutes and involve every defensive player on the field. Eventually Dockins joined the rundown and tagged out the speedy Met. “I was playing third base, right?” Dockins said. “Yeah I remember that rundown like it was yesterday.”
On Kutztown’s baseball webpage, “The Dockins File” lists his career goal as: MLB.” The major leagues? “I’ll just go with the flow and see what happens,” he said.
Burlington veteran John Harvey suffered an injury while warming up Thursday, so Ryan Bell answered the call and in his first start pitched a complete game 3-2 win over a tough Cinnaminson club.
Longtime Mets third baseman Jeff Vitale played his first game since joining the Reds last offseason. Good buddy Shaun Babula, the leadoff hitter, greeted him with a bunt single down the third-base line.
Cinnaminson’s Joe Sirolli and Burlington’s Ronnie Grant showed off strong throwing arms, with Sirolli nailing Vinnie James at the plate, and Grant nailing a runner at third for the third out in the fifth inning, a micro-second before what would have been the go-ahead run reached the plate.
Pine Barrens will finally open its season Monday night, when it visits Kenney Field to face Riverside.
Sunday, June 1, 2014
Riverside rallies for victory
Riverside scored five runs in the top of the seventh inning to pull out a 7-4 victory over Cinnaminson at Memorial Field. Riverside (5-2) used RBI singles by Joe Knazek, Jesse Fante, Jeff Briggs and a two-run single by Dante Keys in the final at-bat. Jason Sabol, in relief of Frank Cerami, threw three innings to pick up the win. Josh Sabol, Tyler Wolf and Fante each had two hits, and Brett Knazek had a double. Catcher Bill Dove had a home run for the Reds (3-2).
Thursday, May 29, 2014
Burlington wins battle of unbeatens
Shaun Babula drew a balk in the process of trying to steal home and scored the run that lifted Burlington to a 3-2 win over Cinnaminson. Vinny James' home run provided the first two runs for Burlington in a meeting of teams that came in with 3-0 records. Ryan Bell was the winning pitcher. Kyle Higgins had two hits and batted in a run for Cinnaminson.
Vincentown 10, Burlington Township 1:
Sam Pepper ignited the Merchants after drawing a walk in the first inning. Pepper stole second base and was attempting to steal third when he drew an errant throw that allowed him to score. Vincentown added another run in the first and held a 2-1 lead before a two-run single by Vern Powell in the fifth gave the Merchants some cushion. Damon Valloreo, recently recovered from arm surgery, pitched the first four innings for the win and Jonathan Morrow got the remaining nine outs.
Willingboro 8, Riverside 3:
Rich Stronski had three hits and scored three runs in support of winning pitcher Kevin Faber, who pitched five innings and allowed two hits. Jason Kellmer was 2-for-2, including a home run, and had four RBIs for 'Boro.
Monday, May 26, 2014
Babula, Harden lead Burlington Mets to victory
Winning pitcher Shaun Babula allowed no earned runs and aided the attack Monday night in the Burlington Mets’ 8-3 win at Vincentown. Babula had three hits and scored three runs as defending champion Burlington boosted its record to 3-0. Marshall Harden’s two hits featured a grand slam on his way to five RBIs. Matt Jolly had two hits and one RBI.
May 26, 2014
Courtesy of Bruce Johnson, Burlington County Times
Pine Barrens still a week from opening game
After the first two weeks of the Rancocas Valley Baseball League season, a casual fan might wonder if it’s a seven-team league this summer.
Fair question. In the first 14 days, only seven teams have seen action. And that will be the case for another week.
June 2 is when the Pine Barrens Phantoms will open their season at Riverside. They are scheduled for 15 games in June (12 away, three home) and 13 games in July (two away, 11 home), concluding with a July 29 game vs. Riverside at Patty Bowker Field.
When they do take the field, coach Gerry Lamola’s team will have quite a few new faces. More than half the roster this summer will be different, although standbys Ronnie Krankowski, Mike Kondrath, Nick Henderson, Bryan Henry and Eric Sellitto return.
“A good percentage of the players didn’t want to come back, or they couldn’t,” Lamola said. “Most of our guys are new players from college, so that’s why I didn’t want to start until June.”
Krankowski’s pitching status is day-to-day, due to an arm injury. But, Lamola notes, he’ll be in the lineup every day.
“Ronnie, (Bryan) Henry and (Eric) Sellitto could be a very nice 3-4-5, and (Ryan) Krupa or (Nick) Henderson could be leadoff,” Lamola said. “I’ve heard (Rich) Powelson wants to come back; he’d be a good No. 2 hitter.”
Cameron Bahr and Vince Gares joined the team after playing for Cinnaminson.
“One thing that’s different,” Lamola said, “is there will be plenty of pitching ... if Ronnie is healthy, with veterans Matt Baer, Kondrath and Henderson. It should be another interesting summer of RVL baseball.”
Back with a bang!
The annual Memorial Day fireworks game at Vincentown’s Harry Thompson Field will be played Monday night at 7.
The opponent is Burlington, in a matchup of last summer’s playoff finals, won by the Mets 3-1. The Mets are 2-0 while the Merchants are struggling at 1-3.
Hall is all-Region
Connor Hall, a junior from Rutgers Camden University who plays in the RVL for Mount Laurel, was named first team all-Mid Atlantic Region this spring. The Delran native hit .356, tying the school record with nine home runs and finishing with 52 RBIs, one short of the school mark.
Vincentown shortstop Ryan Williams, a junior at Rowan, was named second team shortstop.
Willingboro’s Kevin Faber, a senior at Penn State-Abington, was named third team.
A couple of former RVLers — Mount Laurel’s John Burns (Gwynedd-Mercy) and Pine Barrens’ Dylan Johannink (Rowan) — earned first and second team honors, respectively.
Tom Potts, a senior pitcher at Rutgers-Camden and former Bordentown High star, was on the second team. He was 7-2 with a 2.10 ERA in 60 innings. (Why hasn’t some RVL team scooped him up?)
Plays of the week
Sometimes you can actually hit the ball too hard, just ask Zach Skidmore. Last Tuesday the Burlington Mets slugger lined a laser to right field, where a fast-charging Mike Cooper (playing a bit shallow for a lefty like Skidmore) fielded the ball cleanly. The Mount Laurel veteran came up throwing to first baseman Connor Hall and got a rare 9-3 assist.
In the same game, with runners on first and second, the Mets’ Paul Guerrieri hit a sky-high fly ball to left field, where Brandon Barnes tracked it down near the line and made the catch ... or did he? The ball bounced from his glove before the umpires called Guerrieri out and by the time the play was over Mount Laurel had achieved a rare 7-5-4 double play, from Barnes to third baseman Mike Tobia to second baseman Cole Pewor.
Thursday, May 22, 2014
Riverside's Lovitt blanks Vincentown
Kevin Lovitt allowed two hits as Riverside topped Vincentown 9-0 in a rain-shortened five-inning game. Eddie Stiles was 2-for-3 with a two-run home run, and Eric Oliver and Jason Sabol each knocked in a pair of runs. Riverside is 4-1, while the Merchants fell to 0-3.
Burlington 7, Burlington Township 0:
John Harvey, Jon Wilkins and Ryan Bell combined on a one-hitter as the Burlington Mets (2-0) beat the Pirates (0-6). Shaun Babula was 3-for-3 with three runs scored and five stolen bases. Marshall Harden contributed a two-run double to the attack.
Wednesday, May 21, 2014
Cinnaminson wins third straight
Bill Dove hit a two-run double Wednesday to launch Cinnaminson to a 5-0 win over Burlington Township. Dove's two-bagger in the first inning benefitted winning pitcher Jim Goodwin, who worked the first three frames of the victory that boosted Cinnaminson's record to 3-0. Geoff Gilbert later hit a run-scoring double, and Tim Wasco had an RBI single.
Eric Gertie pitched the fourth and fifth, and Clinton Hart got the remaining six outs. The three moundsmen combined for 10 strikeouts.
Tuesday, May 20, 2014
B-Mets open with win over Mount Laurel
The Burlington Mets scored four runs in their first at-bat of the season and coasted to a 9-0 win over Mount Laurel.. Paul Guerrieri had two hits, including a two-run single in the first. Garrett Mull also had two hits, while Marshall Harden had a two-run double. Shaun Babula pitched a two-hitter, both by Paul Meagher, and struck out eight.
Willingboro 4, Riverside 3:
Willingboro squeezed out a narrow win at Kenney Field, handing Riverside its first loss. Jesse Fante had an RBI for Riverside.
Vincentown 16, Burlington Township 2:
Sam Pepper had three hits, including his second home run of the season, and Jack Bujanowski also had three hits in support of winning pitcher Joe Argow.
May 19, 2014
B-Mets' Kerns lands in Roswell
Mike Kerns had himself a whale of a summer in 2013, helping the Burlington Mets capture the Rancocas Valley League playoff title. After enjoying an outstanding senior year at Penn State-Abington, the talented 21-year-old signed a contract recently with the Roswell (New Mexico) Invaders of the independent Pecos League. The league also has teams in Texas, Colorado and Arizona.
In three seasons at Abington, Kerns had a .363 batting average and earned first team all-NEAC as a senior catcher. He batted .401 as a senior, collecting 14 doubles, 34 RBIs, a home run and scoring 26 runs. Kerns posted .977 field percentage from behind the plate, picking off 15 runners from stealing bases. The Invaders opened their season May 14 starting a three-game set with the White Sands Pupfish. He joins Dan Hennigan and Sean Gusrang as B-Mets playing in the independent leagues.
Miller in the house
When the 68th RVL season kicked off last Monday at Harry Thompson Field, there was a familiar face renewing acquaintances in the Vincentown dugout. Greg Miller, who starred for the Merchants the past four summers as a hitter, third baseman and relief pitcher, had a night off from the independent Atlantic League and took in the 8-7 loss to Riverside. Miller signed recently as a relief pitcher with the Camden Riversharks.
Where's the time go?
Zeke Boren earned the start for Vincentown last Monday, but the veteran couldn't believe he was still in the RVL.
"This is my 15th year in the league," he said, proudly. "And it's the first one with no Delran team in it. Delran is where I started, as a 17-year-old catcher." Boren took the loss, although most of the runs he gave up were unearned.
New look to Thompson Field
There were some pleasant additions to Vincentown's Harry Thompson Field over the winter: screens in front of the dugouts (much safer) and new lights, or maybe just new bulbs (you can see all the action in right field now). "Amazing," said Thompson, the veteran manager.
Did Burlington Township manager Ed Eifert do something to upset Steve Kolwicz, who makes up the league's schedule? In the space of a little over 50 hours this week, the Pirates will take on Vincentown (Tuesday), Cinnaminson (Wednesday) and the Burlington Mets (Thursday) — the winners of the past three playoff titles. With Memorial Day weekend open, the highlight game is Monday when the B-Mets take on Vincentown in a rematch of last summer's playoff finals. Game time is 7 p.m. at Thompson Field.
Sunday, May 18, 2014
Cinnaminson walks past Vincentown
Cinnaminson managed just one hit Sunday night but took advantage of 12 walks to post a 9-1 win over Vincentown. Tim Wasco's RBI single in the fifth inning was the lone hit. Christian Rahman went four innings to get the win, allowing one hit, no runs and striking out six. Jim Goodwin, Eric Gertie and Alex Sankey each pitched one inning.
Willingboro 6, Burlington Township 4:
Tyler Bayley (seven in five innings) and Dan Hill (two) combined for nine strikeouts for Willingboro (1-1). Rich Stronski had a two-run double for the winners. Mike Gulli added two hits and a pair of RBIs, and Jon Wetzel drew three walks, stole two bases and scored twice. Joey Dash had a two-run triple for the Pirates (0-3).
Thursday, May 15, 2014
Riverside's Hornyak tosses a no-hitter
Dan Hornyak pitched a no-hitter Thursday as Riverside posted a five-inning 6-1 victory over Burlington Township. Hornyak, a Northern Burlington High grad, struck out seven as Riverside improved to 3-0. Dante Keys drove in three runs and Joe Knazek added a two-run double.
Tuesday, May 13, 2014
Riverside knocks off BT Pirates
Kevin Lovett went five innings to earn the win, and Jonnie McGuggan, Jeff Griggs, Tyler Wolfe and Frank Cerami each knocked in two runs as Riverside defeated Burlington Township 11-7. Brett Knazek was 2-for-2 with a double and Tim Kemmerlee was 2-for-4. Jason Sabol pitched the last two innings as Riverside won its second straight.
Monday, May 12, 2014
Riverside starts off with a victory
Josh Sabol’s home run was the key hit in a five-run fourth inning that propelled Riverside to an 8-7 win over Vincentown. The game at Southampton Memorial Park launched the 68th season of RVL baseball. Sabol’s home run was a two-run blast and Sam Pepper hit a two-run shot for Vincentown.
May 12, 2014
Courtesy of Bruce Johnson, Burlington County Times
RVL Notebook: It's 'Play ball" for RVL's 68th season
The long and winding road to “August in V-town” — the Rancocas Valley League playoffs — begins Monday night when Riverside travels east for an 8 p.m. game against the Vincentown Merchants. This will be the 68th season of the RVL, and the 117th consecutive summer of organized semipro baseball in Burlington County. Of course, winning the regular season and winning the playoffs have not been a match recently. In fact, over the last five summers, only the Burlington Mets in 2010 have won both titles in the same year. Vincentown and Burlington finished 1-2 in the regular season last year, then flip-flopped in the playoffs with Burlington beating Vincentown. The regular season ends July 29 and the playoffs are scheduled to start Aug. 2, when four games Saturday and four more Sunday start things with a bang. Here are the rosters, in order of last year’s regular-season finish, with comments.
Manager: Harry Thompson
Home field: Harry Thompson Field, Vincentown
Roster: Joe Argow, Zeke Boren, Jack Bujanowski, John Bujanowski, Kevin Carty, Mike Ferrara, Troy Foster, Adam Goldstein, Greg Miller, Jon Morrow, Jesse Pappler, Sam Pepper, Vern Powell, Eric Shugars, Al Smith, Bryce Sonberg, Dave Stieg, Ian Thomas, Billy Thompson, Harry Thompson, Damon Valloreo, Danny Williams, Ryan Williams, Rex Workman.
Outlook: Losing Greg Miller to the independent Camden Riversharks leaves a monster hole at third base and the cleanup spot. But Harry Thompson returns the rest of his lineup — with Rex Workman, formerly of Delran, replacing Jesse Pappler at first.
Manager: Ric Babula, Keith Babula
Home field: Life Center Academy, Florence
Roster: Keith Babula, Shaun Babula, Ryan Bell, Brandon Elliott, Matt Fischer, Dominic Gallone, Ronnie Grant, Paul Guerrieri, Kevin Gunter, Marshall Harden, John Harvey, Vinny James, Matt Jolly, Garrett Mull, Max Newill, Anthony Perez, Pedro Perez, Jon Reiner, Kyle Semmel, Zach Skidmore, Carl Taylor, Dave Viselli, Jon Wilkins.
Outlook: Mike Kerns opted for independent baseball and Jeff Vitale is now with Cinnaminson, but Burlington’s deep pitching staff — Shaun Babula, John Harvey, Carl Taylor, Pedro Perez, Jon Wilkins and Kevin Gunter — got deeper with the additions of Max Newill (Delran) and Marshall Harden.
Manager: Mike Stumpf
Home field: J.F. Kennedy Rec Center, Willingboro
Roster: Tyler Bayley, Bryan Bessinger, Justin Binder, Brian Camp, Fran Caruso, Kevin Faber, Kazon Godwin, Mike Gulli, Dan Hill, Mike Juckett, Jose Martinez, Wilbert Martinez, Connor McFarlane, Matt Moceri, Pat Moran, Sam Nocito, Craig Ricks, Jamie Schwantes, Matt Speckman, Rich Stronski, Mark Stumpf, Mike Stumpf, John Trotman, John Walls, Jon Wetzel.
Outlook: With slugger Matt Moceri back in the lineup and most of last year’s third-place team returning, this could be a big year for coach Mike Stumpf.
Manager: Dean Johnson
Home field: Babe Ruth Field, Delanco
Roster: Brandon Barnes, Brian Black, Kurtis Burnett, John Burns, Niko Celia, Mike Cooper, Ryan Derry, Kevin Diamond, William Di Curcio, Justin Ely, Ben Fadool, Connor Hall, Dean Johnson, Ken Kraft, Rich Leadbeater, Ryan McFadden, Jeff McGarry, Paul Meagher, Austin Papp, Cole Pewor, Andrew Shaefer, Trevor Sotell, Matt Szukics, Mike Tobia.
Outlook: Coach Dean Johnson might have his best team since 2007, when it lost in the playoff finals. Everybody is back, and it added speedy center fielder Ryan McFadden when Delran folded. It improved to 7-21-2 in 2012 to 15-12 last year.
Manager: Mike Hynes
Home field: Kenney Field, Riverside
Roster: Jeff Briggs, Frank Cerami, Dan Coughlin, Tyler DiPascale, Jesse Fante, Tyler Freeman, Joe Gutowski, Pat Hayduk, Dan Horniak, Alex Humes, Tim Kemmerle, Dante Keys, Brett Knazek, Joe Knazek, Matt Leith, Kevin Lovitte, Matt Mann, Kevin McAdams, Jonnie McGugan, Eric Oliver, Jason Sabol, Josh Sabol, Donnie Strain, Tyler Wolf.
Outlook: Another team that made a huge improvement, from 12-20-3 in 2012 to 13-16-1 last year. All the key players return, along with former player-coach Donnie Strain.
PINE BARRENS PHANTOMS
Manager: Gerry Lamola
Home field: Patty Bowker Field, Tabernacle
Roster: Mason Anderson, Matt Baer, Cameron Bahr, Alex Campbell, Anthony Coniglio, Matt Curry, Mike Follet, Jerry Gares, Vince Gares, Nick Henderson, Bryan Henry, Tyler Kaiser, Mike Kondrath, Ronnie Krankowski, Ryan Krupa, Gerry Lamola, Mike Lamola, Alec Marconi, Shane Pastore, Eric Sellito, Phil Shallenberger, Brandon Triantos, JT Triantos.
Outlook: The team went 4-30 in 2012 as Pemberton, then changed their name and went 10-19-1 last year. There was a massive roster overhaul, but many key guys — Nick Henderson, Bryan Henry, Mike Kondrath, Ron Krankowski, Eric Sellitto, JT Triantos — will be in Tabernacle.
Manager: Brett Miller
Home field: Memorial Park, Cinnaminson
Roster: Craig Carrol, John Dockins, Bill Dove, Dan Gavlik, Eric Gertie, Geoff Gilbert, Greg Gilbert, Jim Goodwin, Antonio Guido, Clinton Hart, Kyle Higgins, Matt Janulis, Chris McManus, John Meadus, Brett Miller, Dennis O’Hanlan, Christian Rahman, Alan Sanky, Greg Santora, Frank Sirolli, Joe Sirolli, Ryan Varga, Jeff Vitale, Tim Wasco, Mike Wasco.
Outlook: The Reds went from 25-10 in 2012 to 11-15 last year, finishing eighth and playing in the play-in game. There were some major roster losses, but manager Brett Miller expects to be in title contention.
BURLINGTON TWP. PIRATES
Manager: Ed Eifert
Home field: Viereck Field, Burlington Township.
Roster: Kyle Batie, Ken Brock, Ian Buluck, Dan Callahan, Nick Cancelliere, Joey Dash, Phil Dunbar, Brian Eifert, Eddie Eifert, Ed Eifert Sr., Wayne Feret, Zach Gould, Jazz Hendrick, Eddie Hoffman, Aaron Jones, Lucas Jones, Matt Klish, Charlie Lavin, CJ McNutt, Ryan Murtaugh, Joe Parzyck, Giancarlo Regni, Ace Robinson, Mike Zier.
Outlook: It was another long summer for manager Ed Eifert, but he has added a couple of veteran arms — Jazz Hendrick and Ace Robinson — to help Nick Cancelliere. Wayne Feret is solid.
May 5, 2014
Courtesy of Bruce Johnson and the Burlington County Times
A season of change in RVL
Seven days until the 68th season of the Rancocas Valley League starts.
Nothing will be official until Tuesday night’s roster meeting at the Oneida Boat Club, on the shores of the Delaware River in Burlington, but, after getting several rosters via email, one thing has become crystal clear: There’s going to be a lot of new looks and a lot of old familiar faces missing when the 68th season of the Rancocas Valley Baseball League starts next Monday night.
Although there are many longtime names still on the Burlington Mets roster, gone are veterans Jeff Vitale, Dan Graham and Dan Torres. That’s 45 some years of experience, with Vitale having been around since 1990. Also gone is the very talented Mike Kerns, off to an independent league. In their place is Max Newill (and no jokes that he makes up for the 45 years experience all by himself). The veteran lefty pitcher was signed after Delran dropped out of the league. That means there will be no 70-minute, seven-inning pitching duels between Newill and Shaun Babula this summer. This year will be the 50th anniversary of the Burlington Mets being known as the Mets.
And there were some wholesale changes on the Cinnaminson Reds. Gone are veterans Bob and Mike Osborne, Corey and Ryan Mingin, and pitcher Nick Melchiorre. Replacing them are Vitale, former Delran pitcher Eric Gertie and former Red John Dockins, who didn’t play in the RVL last summer. Coach Brett Miller may have lost two brother combinations, but he still has three others: Geoff and Greg Gilbert, Frank and Joe Sirolli, and Mike and Tim Wasco. And he’s got some newcomers he expects big-time help from.
At Pine Barrens, coach Gerry Lamola returns a mostly veteran lineup, including perennial Ronnie Krankowski, whose arm problems may limit him to DHing this year. Cameron Bahr was signed after getting released by Cinnaminson.
The RVL was well represented this week in the New Jersey Athletic Conference tournament.
Top-seeded Rutgers-Camden had Connor Hall (Mount Laurel) at first base. He started all 35 regular-season games and hit .348, with a slugging percentage of .588. Among his hits were 10 doubles and seven home runs, and his 42 RBIs were second on the team.
Rowan had seven RVLers, four of them current or former members of the Pine Barrens Phantoms — Nick Henderson, Dylan Johannink, Rich Powelson and Eric Sellitto. Ryan Williams (Vincentown), Kevin McMenamin (formerly Delran) and Tyler Bayley (Willingboro) were the others.
And The College of New Jersey’s roster included Justin Ely (Mount Laurel) and Josh Limon (formerly Burlington).
Blue Mountain expands
In Pennsylvania, the Blue Mountain League has added three teams, two from the late Tri-County League, which folded at the end of the 2013 season after a 63-year run. Added to the eight BML teams — defending champ Martin’s Creek Creekers, Berlinsville Braves, Blue Mountain Hawks, Easton Falcons, Hellertown Royals, Limeport Dodgers, MetLife Orioles and Northampton Giants — were the defending Tri-County champ Northern Yankees of Allentown, and Limeport Bulls. (The more games at Limeport Stadium, the better!) Also new to the BML are the Roseto Bandits. The league opens play May 15 and will play one 11-team division. The top six teams qualify for the playoffs in late July/early August.
April 28, 2014
Courtesy of Bruce Johnson and the Burlington County Times
Delran drops out of the league
Fourteen days until the 68th season of the Rancocas Valley Baseball League opens ...
For the first time in over 30 years, there will be no Delran entry in the Rancocas Valley Baseball League this summer.
Delran captured eight RVL titles — five as the Delran Diamonds in 1977, 1978, 1981, 1984 and 1993, and the last three as Delran, in 2002, 2007 and 2008. In addition to those titles, Delran lost in the 2010 and 2012 finals, and in 2011 it captured the regular-season title.
The recent retirement of core players like Mike Delellis, Dave Kittle and Rocky Petrone over the past few years, and injuries to Kyle Ballay and Matt Ulmer, among others, took their toll. The announcement came via a text message from 2013 player-coach Mark Wickersham to league president Ric Babula during an organizational meeting at the Oneida Boat Club. “Delran has been one of the top clubs in the league for a long time,” Babula said. “It’s a shame. But I’m not surprised. All their 2013 players are now free agents, and can sign with anybody.” Among the top players available are Ryan and Justin McFadden, Dan George, Rex Workman, Bobby Isopi and Wickersham. Jason Ronca, Eric Gertie and Max Newill can all still pitch, although age and family obligations have entered the picture.
Miller a Rivershark
Greg Miller made a big impression on the Camden Riversharks at their tryout camp in late March, and recently signed with the Atlantic League independent team. Miller, 27, has been among the RVL’s best hitters and relief pitchers the last four years for the Vincentown Merchants. It was his second tryout with the Riversharks, the first coming last year. Miller was a 10th-round draft pick of the Milwaukee Brewers in 2008 out of Seton Hall University.
The Shamong native graduated from Hammonton High School, where his father was the principal. “I think I was a lot less prepared last winter. I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do,” Miller said. “But this year, it helped me work harder to get back and be more prepared mentally and physically for the workout.”
Pitching coach Chris Widger is happy to have Miller on board. “Greg is a player who has done all of the right things on the field, and he has such a great attitude off of it,” Widger said. “It is awesome to see a local guy fight for and ultimately earn his chance to pitch for us. I’m excited to see how he contributes to our championship run this year.”
The Riversharks dropped their first two games this season to the York (Pa.) Revolution. Miller was the losing pitcher Saturday night, allowing a run and two hits in the bottom of the eighth.
No Gilder Field in ’14
The Bordentown Koenig Oilers were a league power in the 1960s, playing their home games on Gilder Field, just off Route 206. While the Oilers are long gone, Gilder has been refurbished and is still used by Bordentown Post 26 American Legion. Mike Stumpf tried to schedule some games there this summer for his Willingboro team in the RVL, but that was shot down. “The mayor wouldn’t sign off on us playing there,” he said. “He said the field is over-used. There’s an NJIBL team that plays there Sunday mornings. That’s it. I think there are 18 games scheduled. Maybe next year.”
Some of my favorite baseball memories involve a Fourth of July baseball tournament between N.J. legion powerhouses Bordentown, Brooklawn, Hamilton and Westfield (my hometown). There’d be games all day, and back then there was a picnic area in center field. So a couple six-packs, a couple of subs equaled a beautiful day.
The RVL will face Pennsylvania’s Pen-Del League this summer in an all-star game matching leagues that opened in 1947. The game will take place on Saturday, July 19, at Harry Thompson Field in Vincentown. Game time is 5 p.m.
The Pen-Del League includes teams from Glenside, Horsham, Northampton, Northeast Philadelphia, Plymouth, Upper Moreland and Warminster.
The 2014 RVL season starts May 12 when Riverside visits Vincentown for an 8 p.m. first pitch at Harry Thompson Field.
Seven of the eight teams play their first games by May 16. The last team to open up is Mount Laurel, which doesn’t start until May 20 against the Burlington Mets at the Field of Spleens. Each team plays 28 games, with the regular-season ending on Tuesday, July 29. All playoff games will be at Vincentown — “August in V-town” — starting Saturday, Aug. 2, with a quadruple-header involving all eight teams.
Greg Miller Makes the Team
April 24, 2014
Courtesy of: Joe Tordy, Riversharks News (www.riversharks.com)
The Riversharks roster, like any other in the Atlantic League, combines players with MLB experience, former first-round draft picks, AAA veterans, and independent league studs. Like many other teams, they also hold an open tryout every season to give local, undiscovered talent an opportunity to pursue their pro baseball dreams. It is a long shot, but every so often a player shines in the tryout, makes the team, and becomes a contributor on the Atlantic League club.
A season ago, Villanova product and ex-Phillies farmhand Jordan Ellis made the team from the open tryout and had a strong season for the Riversharks. This year, another righthanded reliever has made the team after a strong tryout, and he will try to follow in Ellis’s footsteps.
Greg Miller, 27, is a local pitcher who was born in Shamong, NJ. Originally a 10th-round draft pick out of Seton Hall in 2008, Miller spent one season in Milwaukee’s minor-league system. The Hammonton High product earned the invite on his second try; he tried out for the Riversharks last season as well.
“I think I was a lot less prepared last winter. I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do,” Miller said. “But this year, it helped me work harder to get back and be more prepared mentally and physically for the workout this year.”
Miller impressed the coaches with some private bullpen sessions before standing out in the tryouts. He was strong throughout spring training, and ultimately made the Riversharks Opening Day Roster.
“Greg is a player who has done all of the right things on the field, and he has such a great attitude off of it,” says Riversharks pitching coach Chris Widger (CHW WS ’05). “It is awesome to see a local guy fight for and ultimately earn his chance to pitch for us, and I am excited to see how he contributes to our championship run this year.”
Flashback: RVL All-Stars vs. Tri-County All-Stars - July 1987
April 5, 2014
The below article was kindly provided by resident league historian and researcher, Keith Babula, manager of the Burlington Mets baseball club and previews an all-star game between the RVL and Tri-County Leagues back in 1987.
Diamond Luster Baseball Stars To Come Out Friday In Battle Between Leagues
By Marc Narducci, Special to The Inquirer
Posted: July 15, 1987
Baseball bragging rights will be at stake Friday when the the Tri-County League and the Rancocas Valley League meet in their first annual all-star game.
The all-stars will represent the two men's amateur baseball leagues in the Camden, Gloucester and Burlington County area.
The game will be played at Burlington Memorial Field in Burlington City and will begin at 7:30 p.m. The game originally was set for June 27th but was postponed because of rain.
There are 11 teams in the Rancocas Valley League, including nine from Burlington County. The two others are from Cherry Hill and Northampton, Pa. The Tri-County League consists of 10 teams - seven from Camden County, two
from Gloucester County and one, Delran, from Burlington County.
Most of the participants were high school stars. Many are either playing
college baseball or had successful college careers. And a select few use the leagues to display their skills to major-league scouts.
But the majority of the competitors are involved for a simple reason: a love of baseball.
"I wasn't ready to pick up the softball bat when I retired from pro ball," said Pete Dempsey, 30, of Pennsauken, a star in the Rancocas Valley League who will play Friday. "This still gives me a chance to enjoy the game. I won't get extra pumped-up for the all-star game because I enjoy playing any game, but I think it's good for baseball in South Jersey to have this event."
Dempsey, whose Cinnaminson team is sponsored by the Kardon Auto Mall, is a 1975 graduate of Pennsauken High School who played three years for Temple before signing with the Phillies in 1978. He played in the Phillies organization for three years - 2 1/2 in Reading and a half-season in Oklahoma City. His final two years were spent in the Toronto Blue Jays' minor-league system.
Dempsey has been playing in the Rancocas Valley League for the last five years, since his retirement in 1982.
The league is considered a notch above the Tri-County League. It is a league that is dotted with numerous players who went through the rigors of professional baseball in the minor leagues. The all-star game is a showcase for the upstart Tri-County League, which hopes to demonstrate that the talent gap between the leagues is being closed.
If anybody has a handle on the strengths of the two leagues, it would be catcher Rick Santarone. The former New York Yankees minor leaguer plays in both leagues - for Vincentown in the Rancocas Valley League, and for Cherry Hill in the Tri-County League (the rules permit players to participate in both leagues). Santarone, a star at Cherry Hill High School East and Camden County
College, played in the Yankees organization for two years before suffering a career-ending elbow injury.
It is not unusual for the 27-year-old Santarone, who lives in Mount Laurel, to play five games a week in the two leagues. He says the Rancocas Valley League is his top priority, and he will represent Vincentown in the all-star game.
"I think both leagues are pretty competitive," said Santarone, who is an assistant baseball coach at the University of Pennsylvania. "The pitching in the Rancocas Valley League is a little better. The defense is basically the same, but the RVL has more depth in pitching and power hitting."
The top Tri-County all-stars include Tom Troost, 22, of Cherry Hill, and Fred Bianculli, 21, of Washington Township, former star infielders at Glassboro State College. Tim Walsh, 22, of Voorhees, an Eastern High graduate who recently graduated from Colgate, leads the pitching staff.
Besides Santarone and Dempsey, the Rancocas Valley League's roster includes two accomplished pitchers, Mike Behrend, 26, of Willingboro, formerly of the St. Louis Cardinals system, and Jeff Gyamarti, 25, of Princeton, who played in the Milwaukee Brewers organization. Gyamarti was reported to be unable to play in the game, however, because of a shoulder injury.
Both rosters were chosen by league managers.
RANCOCAS VALLEY LEAGUE ALL-STARS
Kardon Auto Mall - 1b, Pete Dempsey; 3b, Tak Upshar; ss Rich Damush; outfield, Jim Filotti; outfield, Bruce Carter; c, Todd Powell; p, Kevin Fynan; p, Mike Behrend; p, Don Enoch; p, Jeff Gyamarti; p, Larry Lewis.
All Star Sports - 1b, Steve Eager; dh, Lou DiPietro; p, Al Collins.
Burlington - 2b Bob Osborne; p, Darrin Kotch; p, Sanvo Porto.
Northampton - 2b, Scott Csaszar; outfield, Jeff DiPiano; outfield, Tom Rockhill; c, Rob Ricciani; p, Dink Burkhead; p, Mike Wieczorek.
Delran - 3b, Bob Gaskill; outfield, John Siemanowski; p, J.D. Paternoster.
Maple Shade - ss, Joe Catalino; p, Mike Brady.
Vincentown - outfield, Ansley Jessup; c, Rick Santarone; dh, Rick Lombardi; p, Steve Praino.
Bellmawr - c, Walt Dzierzgowski; 2b, Tom Troost; 3b, Fred Bianculli; ss, Bob Cleaver; outfield, Mike Basara; p, Steve Mondile; p, Buddy Blackiston.
Cherry Hill - outfield, Joe Davis; outfield, Steve Grizer.
Delran - ss, Mike Kean; infield, Jay Tiziani; p, Cory Satterfield.
Haddonfield - c, Ted Frangos; 2b Lee Deloach; ss, Bill Kohut; outfield, Nick Caputi.
Heights Blue Jays - 1b, Mike Malloy; infield, Juan Mandizabel; outfield, Bill Grubb; p, Glenn Leary; p, Bill Reese.
Hardenbergh - 1b, Mike Leise; outfield, Bill Hunt; dh, John Gardiner; p, Doug Whilley; p, Ron Arons; p, Ted Bickel.
J.D. Stars - dh, Pete Gwason.
Miller's All-Stars - c, Mark Masterson; 1b, Gary Madrack; 3b, Mike McLaughlin; outfield, Mike McKeever; dh, Joe Spinuzza; p, Tim Walsh; p, Lance Hudak.
West Deptford - p, Jim DeLucas.
"Perfecta" at RVL Fund Raiser
March 12, 2014
On Tuesday, March 11th, the RVL held a drawing for its preseason 50/50 fund raiser. And to the surprise our everyone, one lucky winner claimed the top two prizes. Anna Ghassemi, won both the top prize ($1250) and the second prize ($800). Lou Sordino, took home the third prize of $250 while Emma Williams and Brian Kinigney won the fourth and fifth place prizes of $100 each. Monies raised from the preseason fund raiser will directly benefit the 2014 RVL Scholarship Fund which will be awarded to two RVL players that are attending college during the Fall semester. Applications will be available starting June 1st and winners will be announced prior to the beginning of the RVL playoff tournament.
The RVL is planning to hold another 50/50 fundraiser during the season so contact your favorite manager or player for additional information.
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Rancocas Valley League Baseball