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RVL Action Monday, July 27, 2015

Ballay's four hits spark Cinnaminson

Kyle Ballay went 4-for-5, with three doubles, two runs and an RBI, to lead Cinnaminson to a 7-4 victory over Burlington Township.  Bill Dove and Brett Miller each had two hits and one RBI for the Reds (12-13-1). John Bednarek went five innings to pick up the pitching win, allowing five hits and fanning five.  Dave Torres was 3-for-4 with an RBI for the Pirates, and Matt Klish contributed a double.

Pine Barrens 8, Riverside 6:

Cameron Bahr had three hits, including a home run, as the Phantoms held off the Patriots.  Ron Krankowski added two hits and Trent Fiori had a two-run single in the sixth for the winners (15-13). Brett Lyons went four innings for the win.  Jason Sabol had three hits for Riverside (10-16) and Brett Knazek delivered a two-run double.

Vincentown 5, Willingboro 1:

Damon Valloreo pitched six solid innings as the Merchants (18-7) won.  Matt Weaver had a single and an RBI double and Jesse Pappler added two hits for V-town.

RVL Playoffs

The starting times for the RVL playoffs tripleheaders Saturday and Sunday at Vincentown’s Harry Thompson Field will be noon, 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. The matchups will be made official Friday. Regular-season champion Burlington gets a first-round bye.

Vincentown tops Cinnaminson

RVL Notebook

July 27, 2015

Courtesy of Bruce Johnson, Burlington County Times

'August in V-town' is around the corner

This week starts with the final three days of the Rancocas Valley League’s regular season. And it ends with the start of the 2015 playoffs.  The opening two days of “August in V-town” has been one of the most enjoyable days of every summer for avid local baseball fans. It’s when just about every team shows up at full strength, hoping for that hot streak that will produce an RVL championship.

Until this year, the first Saturday and Sunday of the playoffs had featured a quadruple-header at Vincentown’s Harry Thompson Field.  With one less team in the league this year it meant a change in the format. Regular-season champion Burlington drew a first-round bye into the semifinals. The Saturday and Sunday games will feature 2nd place vs. 7th place, 3rd vs. 6th and 4th vs. 5th from the final standings.

Saturday’s pairings and starting times won’t be known until after a league meeting Thursday night at the Oneida Boat Club in Burlington.  As of Sunday night, the two through six seeds are up in the air, with Vincentown (37.5 points), Pine Barrens (34.5), Cinnaminson (29.5), Willingboro (29) and Riverside (27.5) all capable of moving up, or down, a couple of spots.

Vincentown has two more games, against Willingboro and Pine Barrens; Pine Barrens has games against Riverside and Vincentown; Cinnaminson has two games this week, against Burlington Township and Riverside; Riverside has three games, against Pine Barrens, Willingboro and Cinnaminson; and Willingboro has Vincentown and Riverside.

It will all depend on what games get played this week, since there are thunderstorms in the forecast all week.

Burlington has won three of the last five playoff titles — in 2010, 2013 and 2014. The Cinnaminson Reds captured the 2011 flag and Vincentown won it all in 2012.

A baby Stumpy

Mike Stumpf, the manager of the Willingboro Townsends, became a father last Monday morning when his wife Bree gave birth to Sebastian Juan Stumpf.  The youngster, the Stumpfs’ first child, came in at 8 pounds, 7 ounces and 21¼ inches.

Kerns earns start

Former Burlington Mets standout Mike Kerns, a key member of the 2013 championship team, got his first start of the season Thursday morning for the Camden Riversharks.

The catcher was moved to the active roster and went 2-for-3. Jeff Singer, another former Met, and also a member of the 2011 Cinnaminson champions, threw two more scoreless innings in the game.

RVL Action Sunday, July 26, 2015

Vincentown clinches second place

Dave Gibson pitched his sixth complete game of the season as the Vincentown Merchants clinched second place with a 6-3 victory over the Cinnaminson Reds.  The lefty (6-2) went all seven innings and allowed just one run after the first inning. He gave up five hits and struck out four. Jeff McGarry had two of the Merchants’ six hits.

The Merchants have won three straight games, and five of their last six.  Jim Goodwin, the first of four pitchers for the Reds, took the loss.  Cinnaminson shortstop John Dockins was injured during a play at second base and had to be helped off the field.  “He’s the last guy we need getting hurt,” said Reds manager Brett Miller, whose team has been without the services of standout center fielder Frank Sirolli all year.

Pine Barrens 6, Burlington 5:

Cameron Bahr’s two-run single in the bottom of the seventh lifted the Phantoms over the first-place Mets at Patty Bowker Field. Mike Follett and Austin Kurey singled to set up the game-winning hit.  Alex Campbell was 3-for-3, including a two-run home run in the first inning, and scored three times. Alec Marconi went 5 2/3 innings before his brother Brian worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the sixth. Mason Anderson pitched the seventh and got the victory.  Pedro Perez had a two-run double and Paul Guerrieri an RBI double for the Mets.

Willingboro 14, Burlington Twp 5;  Willingboro 4, Burlington Twp. 1:

The Townsends swept the Pirates at Viereck Field, behind the solid pitching of Nick Cancelliere and Bill Parave. The ‘Boro has won four straight.

In the first game, Cancelliere picked up the pitching win against his former team. Dan Hill and Jeff Purcell each went 3-for-4, with Hill collecting a home run and Purcell a triple.  Parave won a pitchers’ duel from Connor Thomas in the second game when Willingboro pushed three runs across in the eighth inning. Parave knocked in the winning run with a base hit.

RVL Action Thursday, July 23, 2015

Hill gives Willingboro much-needed lift

Dan Hill pitched the shutout for Willingboro in a 3-0 win over Pine Barrens.  The victory is the second straight for Willingboro as the Townsends make a push for higher seeding in the upcoming league playoffs. Willingboro is 9-13-1 overall and holds sixth place.  Jon Wetzel and Mike Gulli had two hits apiece for Willingboro, with Wetzel hitting a triple and Gulli connecting for a double. ’Boro manager Mike Stumpf credited Kevin Faber’s defense at first base as another factor as the Townsends topped a hot team.  Pine Barrens had won five straight in moving into third place. The Phantoms are 13-13 overall.

Burlington 5, Cinnaminson 4:

The regular-season champions avenged a loss from two nights earlier and continued to fine tune for the playoffs. Burlington is 26-2 with two games to play before enjoying the break that comes with a first-round bye.  Sean Gusrang’s two hits featured a two-run homer and he had three total RBIs. Pedro Perez also had two hits and each scored two runs in support of winning pitcher John Harvey (six strikeouts, four walks). Matt Hill and Vinnie James had the other Burlington RBIs.  Kyle Higgins had two hits for Cinnaminson (11-12-1), which received RBIs from Joe Sirolli (triple), Greg Santora and John Dockins.

Vincentown 17, Riverside 8:

Home runs by Jim Best (a league-best ninth), Frank Cerami, Mike Ferrara and Matt Weaver powered the winners. Scott Wilhelm was the winning pitcher and Jeff McGarry worked the final two innings with three strikeouts as the Merchants (16-7) remained in control of the race for second place.

RVL Action Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Riverside rallies to edge Burlington Twp.

It was a competitive season series between rivals Burlington Township and Riverside.  Wednesday night was no different. The fifth and final meeting of the regular season ended with Riverside walking off with a 13-12 victory. Burlington Township had won the previous meeting, 11-7 on July 12 for its first win of the season.

In a game that featured some late-inning momentum swings, it was Brett Knazek who capped the Riverside rally with a two-out, two-run single deep down the right field line.

Burlington Township took a 12-9 lead into the bottom half of the seventh inning but the host Patriots scored twice and had bases loaded with no outs.

Reliever Matthew Horton induced a 1-2-3 double play to keep the score at 12-11. However, he wasn’t able to contain Knazek.  “Brett’s been seeing the ball well,” said Henry Chou, who went 3-for-4 on the evening and also pitched one inning-plus. “He was robbed twice earlier in the game. He was honestly just trying to get a single and he drove it pretty far.”

Knazek’s heroics would not have been possible without a stellar outing from Tyler Wolf, who came on in relief. Wolf entered with Township leading 12-9 heading into the fourth. The righty shut down the Pirates, allowing just four hits and no walks.  “I just featured fastball and curveball,” said Wolf, who also contributed at the plate with a solo home run. “I’m not really a pitcher so I just went out there and did what I could.”

Township was able to get ahead early on as they posted a five-spot in the first inning. An RBI single from Luke Hendricks that plated Wayne Feret to make it 1-0. After a David Torres walk and wild pitch, Eli Mireles added a two-run single to make it 3-0.

Knazek singled home Josh Sabol in the bottom of the first but Township put up four more in the second. Mireles singled home a run, Brian Eifert added a two-run single and Eddie Eifert followed with an RBI hit.  “They’re a good team that we can’t underestimate,” Jason Sabol said. “We underestimate them sometimes. I’m the oldest guy on the team (32) so I try and keep everyone focused.”

Riverside would score three in the second, thanks to RBI triples from Jason Sabol and Chou to make it 9-4. After three more by Township made it 12-4, the Patriots tallied five in the bottom of the third, highlighted by a two-run single from Jason Sabol to make it 12-9.

The score remained the same until that electrifying final inning, one that Riverside looks to propel from. The Patriots improved to 10-14.  “Good win here today,” said Chou. “This was the first game we actually played like a team. We can build off of this.”

Township built its lead with the help of Hendricks, Mireles and the Eiferts. Eddie Eifert was 4-for-4 with a double and two RBIs; Brian Eifert had two hits and four RBIs; Hendricks had three hits, scored three runs and batted in one; and Mireles had three hits and three RBIs, and scored twice.

RVL Action Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Cinnaminson defeats Burlington in RVL

Home runs by Mike Wasco and Kyle Higgins helped Cinnaminson to a 12-5 win over Burlington.  Wasco went deep with two teammates on base in the sixth inning, extending the Reds’ lead to 9-5. Higgins connected in the third inning with a man on.

John Dockins had three hits and three RBIs, and Kyle Ballay had three hits for Cinnaminson (11-10-1). Jim Goodwin was the winning pitcher, allowing one earned run while working the second through fifth innings. Ballay pitched the final two.  Shaun Babula had four hits for Burlington, which lost for only the second time in 27 games. The Mets had already clinched first place and a bye in the first round of the playoffs.

Willingboro 7, Burlington Township 2:

Jon Wetzel’s three hits led the winners, who were coming off a tough 10-inning loss Monday night to Vincentown.  Connor MacFarlane was the winning pitcher as Willingboro improved to 8-13-1. Vinnie Vasapolli had a single and RBI for Township.

RVL Action Monday, July 20, 2015

Vincentown outlasts Willingboro

Jesse Pappler's bases-loaded single in the bottom of the 10th inning scored Jim Best and lifted the Vincetown Merchants to a 4-3 victory over the Willingboro Townsends.  The Merchants improved to 15-7, while the Townsends fell to 7-13-1.  Eric Shugars started for the Merchants and tossed six scoreless innings.  But the Townsends broke through for three runs against reliever Allan Smith in the top of the seventh.

Jack Bujanowski's pinch-hit single tied the game and forced extra innings.  Smith pitched scoreless ball the last three innings to earn the victory.

Pine Barrens 6, Riverside 5: Austin Kurey was 4-for-4 and the Phantoms (12-12) held off the Patriots (9-14).  Nick Henderson, in relief of Brett Lyons, tossed four innings to get the win. Anthony Coniglio pitched the seventh.  Down 6-1, Riverside rallied with three in the sixth and one in the seventh behind doubles by Joe Gutowski, Eric Oliver and Brett Knazek.

RVL Notebook

July 19, 2015

RVL stars fell short against Pendel

Several times it looked as though the Rancocas Valley League all-stars had built enough of a lead to win Saturday night’s game against the Pendel League all-stars.

But each time they let it slip away, with Pendel’s four-run bottom of the eighth inning providing a 9-8 victory at Kopper Kettle Field in Lower Southampton, Pennsylvania.

The game was not without offensive highlights for the RVL team. Second-year player Tyler Kaiser of Pine Barrens had a grand-slam home run, and Pedro Perez of Burlington was 3-for-3.  John Dockins (Cinnaminson), Jeff Purcell (Willingboro) and Sean Gusrang (Burlington) each had RBIs, while Austin Kuray (Pine Barrens) and Connor Hall (Cinnaminson) scored.  Last year was the first RVL-Pendel all-star meeting, and the guys from across the river earned a 7-7 tie with a late rally.

Singer joins Riversharks

Jeff Singer was basically lights-out this summer during his five appearances with the Burlington Mets, so it wasn’t too much of a surprise when the lefty got the call to sign with the Camden Riversharks of the independent Atlantic League.  The 6-foot, 190-pound Singer allowed no runs in 10.2 innings, striking out 17. His WHIP was 0.84.

In his lone start, June 24 against Vincentown, the former JUCO National Player of the Year went all seven innings, allowing three hits and fanning eight in a 9-0 win.

In Camden he will join former Mets standout Mike Kerns, the Riversharks’ bullpen catcher.  Ironically, Singer was added to the ’Sharks to replace injured lefty Ryan Kulik, the former Cherokee and Rowan star.  Kulik, who pitched for Vincentown in the RVL, was a 2008 draft pick of the Cardinals, and played four years in their organization before joining Camden in 2013.

Did you know ... ?

Of the RVL’s original eight teams in 1947, only one — Burlington — survives to this day.

The final 1947 regular-season standings were:  Hainesport 18-8, Mount Laurel 18-9, Marlton 18-10, Indian Mills 15-12, Mount Holly 14-13, Burlington 11-15, Wrightstown 9-16, Juliustown 5-20.

Hainesport defeated Marlton and Indian Mills beat Mount Laurel in the semifinals.

Indian Mills then became the first RVL champion in a two-game sweep of Hainesport, taking the opener 9-8 and then romping 15-2 in the final.

The Indian Mills roster included Bob and Walt Abrams, Carl and Norm Adams, Frank Chappine, Mel Crain, Bob Erisman, Fred Garsan, Walt Gerber, Bill Lemmon, Dave New, Sam Pepper, Don Wells, Floyd Wells and Bill Wright.  Also that summer the RVL all-stars beat the American Legion all-stars 7-6.

75 years ago in the BCL

When the Burlington County League held its championship finals in 1940, Riverside was guaranteed to have a winner. The title series matched the Riverside Field Club, champion of the BCL’s American Division, against the Riverside A.C., who won the National Division.

The championship game was Sunday, Oct. 6, with a reported 1,500 fans in attendance. Dan Flagg (F.C.) pitched against Chet Nowski, and the teams were scoreless through six innings.  In the top of the seventh, with F.C. runners on first and third and two outs, catcher Fred Dyer faked a throw to second as the runner left and threw to third. But the throw was high and Spindle Bowers raced home with the game’s only run.

Flagg finished with 10 strikeouts and teammate Scrap Theurer, the league’s batting champion, was 4-for-4.

RVL Action Sunday, July 19, 2015

Pine Barrens tops Vincentown behind Marconi, Kaiser

The Pine Barrens Phantoms defeated the Vincentown Merchants 6-2.  It was the third win in the last four outings for Pine Barrens, and the first win over V-town after three losses.  “We finally beat (Dave) Gibson. He’d beaten us a couple of times this year,” Phantoms coach Gerry Lamola said.

In those two earlier meetings, Gibson gave up a total of nine hits and one run while striking out 15. He is now 5-2.  PB’s Alec Marconi improved to 5-2 with the pitching win, with Mason Anderson and Brian Marconi finishing.

Pine Barrens led 4-0 through three innings behind Austin Kurey (two hits, one RBI) and Cameron Bahr (two hits, two RBI).  But the Merchants made it a 4-2 game on fourth-inning solo home runs by Frank Cerami and Johnny Bujanowski.

Tyler Kaiser, who homered on Tuesday and again (a grand slam) in Saturday’s all-star game, opened the fifth inning with yet another round-tripper.  “That was a big hit for us,” Lamola said. “We’re starting to play some good ball.”

There are 10 days left in the regular season, which ends on Wednesday, July 29. The RVL playoffs are set to begin on Saturday, Aug. 1, at Vincentown’s Harry Thompson Field.  Burlington has already clinched first place and will get a first-round bye into the semifinals. But places two through six are up for grabs, depending on the next 10 days.

RVL Action: Saturday, July 18, 2015

Pendel All-Stars 9, RVL All-Stars 8:

In the second meeting between the leagues, the Pendel scored four times in the bottom of the eighth inning to win at Kopper Kettle Field in Lower Southampton, Pennsylvania.  The RVL led 5-4 after three innings, and 8-5 after seven.

RVL Action: Friday, July 17, 2015

Lefty Kevin Joo earned his fourth win of the season as Riverside defeated Willingboro 4-3 at Bob Kenney Field.  Riverside (8-13) had lost three straight, and five of its last six. Taylor Steen continued his hot hitting with a two-run double, while Henry Chou contributed a triple.  Willingboro (7-11-1) has lost four and tied one in its last five starts.

RVL Action: Thursday, July 16, 2015

Cinnaminson tops Riverside in RVL

Cinnaminson built a 6-0 lead on its way to a 6-3 win over Riverside.  Bill Dove and Kyle Higgins each had two hits and batted in one run as Cinnaminson evened its record at 10-10-1. John Dockins scored two runs and the Reds used the pitching-by-committee approach to get through this one  Riverside scored its three runs in the fifth inning. Taylor Steen had a double and batted in two of those runs.

Pine Barrens 9, Willingboro 8: Anthony Coniglio walked with the bases loaded in the bottom half of the seventh, lifting the Phantoms (10-12) to victory. Coniglio was the winning pitcher.  Connor Arsenault and Austin Kurey doubled and had RBIs in Pine Barrens' second win of the night.

Earlier, the Phantoms finished a 3-0 victory over 'Boro in a game suspended by rain Wednesday. Nick Henderson pitched the first four innings for that win, and Matt Curry worked the last three.  They combined on a four-hitter, and Henderson contributed one RBI. Cameron Bahr had two hits, one RBI and scored two runs. Willingboro received a double by Rich Stronski.

Burlington 8, Burlington Township 3:

Sean Gusrang had three hits and scored three runs to lead the winners (25-1), who had already clinched first place and the league's playoff bye.  Garrett Mull had two hits and scored two runs, Justin McFadden had two hits and two RBIs, and Matty Janulis had a double and two RBIs. Winning pitcher Ryan Bell had six strikeouts and no walks in five innings.  Brett Hoffman, Eddie Hoffman and Vinnie Vasapolli scored the Township runs and accounted for three of the Pirates' seven hits.

RVL Action Monday, July 14, 2015

Babula lifts Burlington past Pine Barrens

Shaun Babula made a difference with his arm and his bat in Burlington’s 2-1 win over Pine Barrens.  Babula bunted for a single to score Garrett Mull with the winning run in the bottom half of the seventh inning. That allowed Babula to win his pitching duel with Ronnie Krankowski.  The victory boosted Burlington’s record to 24-1. Babula pitched a four-hitter, struck out eight and walked none. Krankowski had one strikeout and allowed seven hits but kept his team close by not allowing a walk.  Babula and Matt Hill had two hits apiece for Burlington. Home runs accounted for the scoring prior to the seventh inning.  Vinnie James hit one in the second to give the Mets a lead. Tyler Kaiser answered in the fourth for Pine Barrens (8-12).

Cinnaminson 3, Willingboro 3:

The teams played seven innings before being halted by darkness. The tie stands.  Kyle Ballay doubled in the fifth inning to pull Cinnaminson (9-10-1) even at 3-3. Josh Machtinger had two hits for Willingboro (7-8-1), including an RBI double in the third for a 3-1 lead.

RVL Action Monday, July 13, 2015

Krankowski, Marconi power Pine Barrens

Ronnie Krankowski drove in five runs, including three on a bases-clearing double, to power Pine Barrens to an 11-2 victory over Burlington Township at Patty Bowker Field.  Krankowski was 2-for-2 with a sacrifice fly, and Trent Fiori added a two-base hit. That backed the three-hit, 10-strikeout pitching of Alec Marconi, who improved to 4-2.  The Phantoms, who snapped a three-game skid, are 8-11.

Vincentown 12, Riverside 3:

Stefan Kancylarz was 4-for-4 with a home run, a double and five RBIs to power the Merchants. Jim Best was 2-for-5 with a triple and three RBIs.  Eric Shugars went the first six inning and picked up his first win, with Allan Smith pitching the seventh.

Burlington 6, Willingboro 1:

Veteran John Harvey pitched a three-hitter and struck out seven as the Mets rallied late to win.  Harvey and 'Boro's C.J. McNutt (three hits allowed) were locked in a 1-1 tie through five innings. The Mets scored two in the sixth and three in the seventh off a reliever.  Justin McFadden's two-run homer broke the tie, before Sean Gusrang drilled his seventh homer with two aboard. Marshall Harden and Sean McNeil each had a pair of hits for the Mets (23-1).

RVL Notebook

July 13, 2015

Courtesy of Bruce Johnson, Burlington County Times

RVL all-stars take on Pendel

The Rancocas Valley Baseball League will take an all-star team Saturday to Kopper Kettle Field in Southampton, Pennsylvania, to face an all-star team from the Pendel League.  (1985 Bridgetown Pike, Feasterville, PA.  Click for link to map).

The RVL and the Pendel are both in their 69th season, having started in the summer of 1947. Last summer, for the first time, they met in an all-star game with the result being an extra-innings 7-7 tie at Vincentown’s Harry Thompson Field.

First-place Burlington, which is 22-1 after Saturday night’s 11-7 win in the Fireworks Game at Vincentown, dominated the RVL starters. The Mets had the top vote getters at catcher (Vinnie James), second base (Sean Gusrang), third base (Matt Hill), shortstop (Pedro Perez), center field (Shaun Babula) and had the top two pitchers (Babula, Max Newill) plus Nos. 5 (Ryan Bell) and 6 (Jeff Singer).

The other starters include first baseman Tyler Kaiser and right fielder Austin Kurey from Pine Barrens, slugger Jim Best of Vincentown in left field, and Rich Stronski of Willingboro in center field (Babula opted to be a pitcher).

Here is the complete roster for the RVL:

RANCOCAS VALLEY

LEAGUE ALL-STARS

(First listed was voted a starter)

Catcher: Vinnie James (Burlington), Reid Pulford (Vincentown).

First base: Tyler Kaiser (Pine Barrens), Matt Fischer (Burlington), Matt Klish (Burlington Twp.).

Second base: Sean Gusrang (Burlington), Stefan Kancylarz (Vincentown).

Third base: Matt Hill (Burlington), Alex Campbell (Pine Barrens), Jeff Pursell (Willingboro).

Shortstop: Pedro Perez (Burlington), John Dockins (Cinnaminson).

Left field: Jim Best (Vincentown), Ron Krankowski (Pine Barrens), Connor Hall (Cinnaminson).

Center field: Shaun Babula* (Burlington), Rich Stronski (Willingboro), Tyler Zachman (Riverside).

Right field: Austin Kurey (Pine Barrens), Frank Cerami (Riverside).

Pitcher: Shaun Babula (Burlington), Max Newill (Burlington), Ron Krankowski (Pine Barrens), Dave Gibson (Vincentown), Ryan Bell (Burlington), Jeff Singer (Burlington), Joe Gutowski (Riverside), Kevin Joo (Riverside), Dan Hill (Willingboro).

* opted to pitch rather than play the field

 

The Pennsylvania-based Pendel League consists of: Glenside Hawks (G), Horsham Astros (H), Huntingdon Valley Athletics (HV), Liberty Bell Patriots (LB), LOMA, Northampton Orioles (N), Philly Bandits (PB), Upper Moreland Rebels (UM) and Warminster Warriors (W).

PENDEL LEAGUE ALL-STARS

(First listed was voted a starter)

Catcher: Casey Rothwell (HV), Anthony Mirabelle (LOMA), Pat Brennan (Glenside).

First base: Bobby Argeros (W), Kevin Teta (H), Kris Bornholdt (HV).

Second base: Elliot Snyder (HV), Mike Deleo (LB).

Third base: Mike Woltemate (LOMA), Steve Sable (W).

Shortstop: Eric Spiedel (W), Tim Lecompte (LOMA).

Outfield: Darnell Muse (HV), Dustin Kology (LOMA), Sean Welsh (W), Mike Koelzer (W), Corey Kramer (LOMA), Justin Forktus (N).

Designated hitter: Sean Byles (N), Joe Stoll (N).

Pitcher: James Brown (W), Josh Teson (LOMA), Drew Gerhart (N), Don Bradley (LOMA), Marty Martens (W), Jesse Leary (G), Tom Hellwarth (LOMA), Tom Miller (LOMA), Evan Gillespie (PB).

 

RVL Action Sunday, July 12, 2015

Burl. Twp. snaps long losing streak

The Burlington Township Pirates snapped a 35-game regular-season losing streak with an 11-7 victory over the Riverside Patriots at Viereck Field.  Township’s last win was on June 22, 2014 — 4-3 over Pine Barrens. But the fourth-year Pirates had lost three previous meetings with Riverside. Ironically, Riverside is now the only team to lose to B.T., and the only team to beat first-place Burlington.

Lefty Chase Thomas got the pitching win, going 5 1/3 innings before the heat wore him down. Righty Dennis Dennis Stewart came in to get the save.  “We got pretty good pitching tonight,” BT coach Ed Eifert said. “We’ve been giving up 14, 15 runs a game, and it’s tough to beat anybody doing that. We’ve been playing better ball lately. Hopefully, we can keep it going.”

Ed Hoffman led the BT attack with three RBIs, including a two-run single. Phil Dunbar had a two-run single and Matt Klish, who will be playing in the RVL-Pendel All-Star Game this Saturday, had a single and a two-run double.  Cullen Carter and Joe Gutowski had two-run doubles and Don Strain had three hits for the Patriots (7-11).

Vincentown 7, Pine Barrens 0:

Lefty Dave Gibson tossed a four-hit shutout, striking out eight, as the Merchants (13-6) returned to the win column.  Jim Best belted his RVL-leading eighth home run, a two-run shot in the sixth. Matt Weaver and Johnny Bujanowski each had two hits.  Austin Kurey and Cameron Bahr doubled for Pine Barrens, which has lost three in a row and fell to 7-11.

RVL Action: Saturday, July 11, 2015

Burlington 11, Vincentown 7:

Saturday night was the annual Fireworks Game between Rancocas Valley League rivals Burlington and host Vincentown. And there were plenty of firecrackers and sparklers, etc., that went off from 9:12 to 9:28. But the real fireworks came later, in the fifth inning, when the Mets scored eight times and the Merchants came back with five of their own.

When the smoke finally settled, the Mets (22-1) had won a game that didn’t end until 12:45 Sunday morning.  Pedro Perez and Ronnie Grant had three hits each and scored twice, with Grant driving in two. Garrett Mull had two hits and scored twice, while dh Anthony Perez had two hits and drove in two runs. Max Newill went all seven innings, striking out seven to pick up his league-leading seventh win.

Matt Weaver had a two-run double for the Merchants in the first inning, and home runs by Jim Best and Johnny Bujanowski (with two aboard) were the fifth-inning highlights.

RVL Action: Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Cancelliere sparks Willingboro to win

Nick Cancelliere entered Tuesday with one hit in eight at-bats.  The Willingboro nine-hole hitter used his second hit of the season to punctuate a six-run rally in the team’s 6-3 win over Riverside.  Before Cancelliere stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the first, Jamie Schwantes, Dan Hill and Drew Rodriguez crossed home on walks and hit batsmen.

With his team already up by three, Cancelliere drove a single into left-center field that drove in Rodriguez and Bryan Bessinger.  “Honestly I don’t even bat,” Cancelliere said. “So it felt pretty good to get an AB. It was nice that we got two RBIs out of it too.  (The hit) feels pretty good. With the playoffs coming around, it’s good to know we have guys on the bench that can produce some offense.”

One batter later, Riverside starter Dan Hornyak left the mound after conceding his fifth walk of the inning.  Willingboro ended the inning with six runs in support of starter Connor McFarlane, who used the start as a confidence booster following a rough outing two weeks ago.  “I told (my catcher) on the first pitch, I have no idea where this is going,” McFarlane said. “(The win) definitely is a big confidence builder.  I always pitch better with the lead. I hadn’t pitched in two weeks and I didn’t do so hot my last time out.”

McFarlane gave up three runs on five hits in his five innings.  “I tried to throw strikes,’’ he said. “I did well in the first inning. The second inning I walked two guys and the third I came out and tried to throw a little more over the top and I found my control. I felt good from there.”

“It was pretty impressive considering he was hurt after his last start and he got lit up by Cinnaminson,” Canclliere said. “It was nice to see one of our guys to do well out there.”

Riverside’s three runs came in the second after McFarlane put the first two batters on base through walks.  Jason Sabol’s sacrifice fly drove in Jesse Fante for the first Riverside run and Tyler Wolf followed with a two-run single to bring home Henry Chou and Stevie Stevenson.

The visitors stranded five runners from the third inning on against McFarlane, Bessinger and closer Hill.

Willingboro moved to 7-7 with the win, while Riverside fell to 6-10.  “If we can beat teams like Riverside like this without all of our guys, I think it shows we’re going be tough in the playoffs when we have all of them together,” Cancelliere said.

RVL Action: Monday, July 6, 2015

Burlington overpowers Vincentown

The Burlington Mets entered Monday’s game against Vincentown with plenty of confidence and left with even more following a 10-1 victory.  The Mets (20-1) came into the game figuring they would receive a strong performance on the mound from southpaw Shaun Babula.  The extra confidence boost came in the form of an offensive barrage early in the win.

Babula, who scattered three hits in six innings, started the first Burlington rally with a single to center leading off the first.  Babula, Matt Fischer and Pete Perez all reached base to start the first frame, and each crossed the plate for a 3-0 advantage.  “Shaun set the tone for us, getting on base and stealing a couple bases,” cleanup hitter Vinny James said. “After that, the middle of the order had guys on all day.”

James, who went 2-for-4 with four RBIs, knocked in two of the three runs with a single to left field. Perez brought in Babula with a double.  “First at-bat was a first-pitch fastball inside,” James said. “I was able to get my hands around (the pitch).”

Justin McFadden provided the hosts with their fourth run on a solo home run in the bottom of the second.  In the third, the Mets chased Vincentown starter Scott Wilhelm from the mound with a five-run rally that was highlighted by James’ two-run homer to left.  “(On the) second at-bat I saw a couple off-speed pitches and saw them pretty well,” James said.  It gave me a little more confidence against the fastball. He tried to sneak a fastball in with two strikes.”

After two runs scored on a hit batter and a walk, Perez brought in Matt Jolly with a single to right, finishing off a successful inning.  “Vinny’s been swinging the bat great all year, Petey’s been awesome,” Babula said. “The whole lineup is coming together.”  Perez plated the 10th run on a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the fifth.

With a nice lead behind him, Babula was able to work quickly and finish off the Merchants (12-5) in fine fashion. The lefthander struck out eight, including five in the fifth and sixth.  “I felt good. That was the first time I saw those guys (this year),” Babula said. “They have a brand new lineup. I was trying to keep them off balance and honest.”

“Shaun’s our guy out there. We’re really confident with him on the mound,” James said. “He works fast so guys like to play defense behind him. Fischer caught a good game. When Shaun’s on the mound, we always like to swing the bats and get in and get out. We seem to play pretty well behind him.”

Jeff Singer entered in the seventh and closed out Burlington’s 20th victory with three strikeouts.

RVL Notebook

July 6, 2015

Hoffman has deep roots

The “Golden Jubilee” of the Burlington County Baseball League was a 64-page newspaper-style love letter to the first 50 years of adult/town baseball in Burlington County (1898-1948).  If you’re an old-time baseball fan, or a fan of old-time baseball, or both, this is your Roseta Stone. The editor of this project, and it had to be a huge project, was Russell L. Hoffman, who served as the BCL’s secretary-treasurer.

The Jubilee has over 200 photos, including all the Burlington County Baseball League champions, starting with Beverly, which won the titles in 1898 and 1899 under manager Alvin Spooner.  There are stories, photos and box scores for every year. And there are many individual stories about some of the more interesting characters who played in the BCL.

Did anybody know that the Pemberton Huskers downed the “famed” Burlington Shamrocks 3-2 in Pemberton to win the 1919 flag? It was a best-of-three final, with Pemberton winning the opener 6-2 and Burlington taking the second game 5-4.  All the scoring in the title game was in the first inning, before pitchers Newman of Pemberton and Gillece of Burlington tossed all goose eggs the rest of the way.

The title game was played on Saturday, Oct. 4. The Jubilee reported that “the series was a lively one and many individual scraps took place.”  Years later, again according to the Jubilee, veteran BCL umpire George (Skimmer) Adams, who was the Shamrocks’ manager, claimed that the Huskers had used “ringers” to win the title

There are also articles about some of the county’s legendary ballplayers, including major leaguers Russ (Lena) Blackburn, George Case, Eddie Miksis, Harry (Socks) Seibold, Gorby Smith and Hal Wagner.

How about the first night baseball game in New Jersey — it was played on Aug. 16, 1901, at the old East Burlington grounds, with Burlington outscoring Florence 15-11.

Or John Hargrove’s 15-inning, 25-strikeout, no-hitter that kicked off the 1945 season as Mount Holly edged the Columbus A.C. 1-0 on May 6.

It’s all there, and so much more.

And if you want to connect the past to the present, there’s a story on page 27 about Riverside’s 5-2 championship-game victory over Vincentown in 1947. Playing on that V-town team, although not in the championship game, was a 17-year-old named Harry Thompson. Now, 68 years later, the same Harry Thompson is the Merchants’ manager and has the V-town field named after. (And he has an original copy of the “Golden Jubilee.”)

Further connecting the past to the present, Hoffman’s great grandson is Brett Hoffman, a first-year catcher for Burlington Township in the Rancocas Valley League, which merged with the Burlington County League in the early 1950s.  “No, I haven’t read it (the Jubilee),” the younger Hoffman said. “But I knew that he had something to do with the old RVL or BCL.  I really like playing in the league. I like the team and the competition is a lot better than high school.”

The younger Hoffman played his high school ball at Maple Shade, hitting .300 as a senior with one home run and 15 RBIs. He caught all but four innings for the Wildcats. Next year he will be at Penn State-Abington.  “He’s doing a good job for us at catcher,” Burlington Township coach Ed Eifert said. “He’s still got to work on his hitting, but that’s the same thing for any high school kid coming into the RVL.”

Big week for V-town

The Vincentown Merchants (12-4) appear to be the only team capable of catching the Burlington Mets (19-1) in the battle for first place — and a first-round playoff bye.  The teams are scheduled to meet twice this week — Monday, 6:15 p.m., at Life Center Field and Saturday, 9:30 p.m., in their annual Fireworks Game at Harry Thompson Field in Vincentown.

Bridgeton Invitational XLIX

The 49th Bridgeton Invitational baseball tournament will be held July 31 through Aug. 17 at Alden Field.  The Camden Reds of the Tri-County League won the 2014 tournament. Previous champions in the field include the Cecil County (Maryland) Braves (2013) and the Susquehanna (Pennsylvania) Assault (2012).

RVL Action: Thursday, July 2, 2015

Pappler home run wins for Vincentown

Jesse Pappler hit a home run in the top of the seventh inning, lifting Vincentown to a 4-2 win over Riverside.  The Merchants were the visiting team although the game was played at V-town.  Pappler connected with Pat Donnelly on base, breaking a 2-2 tie. Dave Gibson got the win in relief as the Merchants won for the ninth time in their last 10 games. Vincentown is 12-4 overall.

Mike Ferrara and Reid Pulford had two hits each for Vincentown. Ferrara walked in the seventh (Donnelly pinch-ran) to set the stage for Pappler.  Gibson worked the last four innings and struck out eight, allowing two hits and one (unearned) run. Riverside left fielder Eric Oliver threw out a runner at the plate in the sixth, keeping the Patriots (6-9) even until Pappler connected.

Burlington 5, Willingboro 0:

Winning pitcher Max Newill worked into the sixth inning and Jeff Singer went the rest of the way in a combined two-hitter for the league leaders (19-1).  Newill struck out seven and Singer added two Ks. Dan Hill of Willingboro (6-7) matched Newill for three innings before Burlington scored a run in the fourth, and two each in the next two frames. Hill fanned seven in his time on the mound.  Sean Gusrang had two hits and scored two runs. Ronnie Grant, Matt Hill and Vinny James batted in runs.

RVL Action: Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Steig helps Vincentown to RVL triumph

Dave Steig pitched a one-hitter for Vincentown in a 10-0 win over Cinnaminson.  Steig worked all seven innings. He had one strikeout but was around the plate (two walks).  The Cinnaminson hit was by John Dockins in the sixth inning.

Vincentown strengthened its hold on second place, boosting its record to 11-4.  Cinnaminson is third at 7-10.  The Merchants were aided by Frank Cerami, who was 4-for-5 with a home run. Cerami had three RBIs and scored three runs.  Jim Best had two hits and two RBIs. He hit his sixth home run of the season, taking the league led in that department.

Pine Barrens 13, Burlington Township 2:

Cameron Bahr had three hits and three RBIs as the Phantoms improved to 6-8. Austin Kurey added three hits and two RBIs, and Ronnie Krankowski also had three hits.

Nick Henderson got the win for Pine Barrens, sponsored by American Sheds and Mall Chevrolet. Henderson pitched four innings, struck out nine and allowed one hit — Eddie Eifert’s double that scored both Township runs. Anthony Coniglio followed Henderson to the mound and fanned five in three hitless innings.

RVL Action Monday, June 29, 2015

Riverside hands Burlington first loss

By Joe Tansey Correspondent, Burlington County Times

It took five tries but Riverside finally knocked Burlington from the ranks of the unbeaten.  The Patriots defeated the Mets 6-5. Burlington entered the game with an 18-0 record.  “There was a lot of motivation to win, especially because every time we’ve played them, they’ve beaten us,” winning pitcher Kevin Joo said. “We needed one from them at least.”

The Patriots raised their record to 6-8, having four previous meetings. RVL teams are scheduled to meet each other five times, so this was Riverside’s last chance until a possible playoff matchup.  Joo scattered eight hits over seven innings and struck out five. He conceded a run in the bottom of the first inning by way of a Vinny James sacrifice fly.

The visitors struck back for a pair of runs in the second. Cullen Carter, who went 2-for-4 with two doubles, hit his first two-bagger with one out in the second. Stevie Stevenson moved Carter over to third with a sacrifice bunt before Joe Knazek knocked Carter in with a single to right-center field.  Knazek crossed the plate two batters later on Jeff Briggs’ single to center.

Carter ignited a second Riverside rally in the fourth with a double to left-center. What followed was a four-run, four-hit inning that put Riverside in the lead for good.  “I was trying to sit on the fastball. I was seeing the ball well today,” Carter said. “I was just trying to jump on the first pitch like I did in the second at-bat. (Burlington starter Ryan Bell) threw a curveball, left it up a little bit.”

Joe Knazek, Henry Chou, Briggs and Taylor Steen strung together a streak of four consecutive RBI hits to extend the advantage to 6-2.  “The guys followed up right behind me,” Carter said. “Those were the two big innings (for us). That’s what you’re supposed to do.”  “The run support was great,” Joo said.

With a four-run lead, Joo still had to face a dangerous Burlington lineup for four more innings. Despite conceding two runs in the fifth on a double by James and another on a solo home run to left from Matt Fischer in the sixth, Joo held on for a complete game victory. 

“Kevin pitched a very good game,” Burlington manager Ric Babula said. “We had a chance, but we didn’t do anything with it.  “We didn’t expect to go undefeated anyway. To go undefeated, you not only have to be good, you have to have a little luck involved. Today the luck wasn’t there.”

Vincentown 6, Willingboro 2:

Stefan Kancylarz was 3-for-3 (home run, double) with two RBIs as the second-place Merchants improved to 10-4.  Mike Ferrara had two hits, including a home run. Damon Valloreo pitched all seven innings for the win, allowing three hits (no earned runs or walks) with eight strikeouts.

Cinnaminson 10, Pine Barrens 4:

Joe Sirolli’s three hits helped the Reds (7-9) win for the third time in two nights.  Mark Wickersham had two hits and three RBIs, and Connor Hall had two hits and scored two runs. Jim Goodwin worked 5.2 innings for the win.  Connor Arsenault hit a three-run homer and Alex Campbell was 3-for-3 for Pine Barrens (5-8).

RVL Notebook

June 29, 2015

Courtesy of Bruce Johnson, Burlington County Times

Gusrang homecoming cause for celebration

Sean Gusrang was a key player in 2010 when the Burlington Mets captured their first Rancocas Valley Baseball League title since 1951.  Both Gusrang and the Mets were off to a good start in 2011 when the slugger got the opportunity to go west to play professional baseball. He spent the past 3½ summers playing infield and outfield for the Traverse City (Michigan) Beach Bums in the independent Frontier League. He hit 25 home runs during his time in Michigan and had a .249 average in 846 at-bats.

With slugger Zach Skidmore -- whose bat helped the Mets win RVL titles in 2013 and 2014 -- relocating to Chicago for a new job, Gusrang's return to New Jersey, and the RVL, this summer was well-timed for Keith Babula's club. Gusrang's bat has been a key in the team's 18-0 record -- although super-strong pitching hasn't hurt. And his defensive work at all four infield positions -- he was an all-Big East first baseman at Seton Hall -- has been sparkling.

Playing in all 18 games through Friday, the Burlington City High graduate leads the league in five of the nine main offensive categories: hits (21), doubles (6), home runs (5, tied with Vincentown's Jim Best), RBIs (27) and walks (11).

Three of the departments he's not leading -- average (.447), runs scored (21) and triples (1) -- he is second. Austin Kurey of Pine Barrens is tops in hitting at .486, while Mets' teammate Shaun Babula leads in runs scored with 23. Babula also leads in stolen bases with 14. Dennis Stewart of Burlington Township is tops in triples with two.

Fireworks Game

Burlington will face Vincentown in a Fireworks Game at Harry Thompson Field on Saturday, July 11, at 9:30 p.m.  The teams are currently first (Mets 18-0) and second (Merchants 9-4) in the standings.  Last year V-town won an 8-6 slugfest as Johnny Bujanowski and Ryan Williams belted home runs.

All-Star games

The Rancocas Valley League will face the Pendel League in an all-star game for the second straight year. The game will be Saturday, July 18, 5 p.m., at Kopper Kettle Field in Southampton, Pennsylvania.  In last year's inaugural meeting, the teams played to a 7-7 tie.

All-star teams from the Morris County Majors and the Jersey Shore League will face each other on Wednesday, July 15, 5 p.m., at FirstEnergy Park, home of the Lakewood Blueclaws.

RVL Action Sunday, June 28, 2015

Cinnaminson sweeps RVL twinbill

The Cinnaminson Reds jumped from sixth place to third place in the standings, taking a doubleheader from host Burlington Township 12-2 and 11-6 Sunday.  In the opener, Clinton Hart took a no-hitter into the sixth inning before allowing Dennis Stewart’s two-run triple. Greg Gilbert was 3-for-4 and drove in two runs for the Reds, who had lost six in a row.  Greg Santoro went all seven innings for the pitching win in the second game, backed by two hits each by John Dockins and Kyle Ballay. Wayne Feret was 3-for-4 and Phil Dunbar had two hits for Township.

RVL Action Friday, June 26, 2015

Pine Barrens edges Riverside

Tyler Kaiser had three hits and scored two runs as the Pine Barrens Phantoms edged the Riverside Patriots 3-2.  Austin Kurey added two hits to support winning pitcher Matt Curry (5 innings, three hits, 1 run) and reliever Anthony Coniglio (2 innings, 1 unearned run). Alex Campbell had two RBIs for the winners, on a pair of sacrifice flies.  Jonny McGugan drilled a triple and scored the first Riverside run, and also pitched three strong innings allowing no earned runs.

RVL Action: Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Singer helps Burlington remain unbeaten in RVL

Jeff Singer pitched a shutout and knocked in two runs in the first inning launched Burlington to a 9-0 win over Vincentown.  Singer went the distance, allowed three hits and two walks, and had eight strikeouts. Burlington is undefeated in 17 games and halted Vincentown’s winning streak at six.  Sean Gusrang doubled with two outs in the first inning and scored on Vinny James’ single. A walk to Matt Hill with bases loaded brought home the second run.  Five runs in the third broke it open, two scoring on an infield single by Ryan McFadden. The Mets added two runs in the fifth.  Burlington turned two double plays, both involving Pedro Perez, Gusrang and Matt Fischer.  A highlight for Vincentown (9-4) was a relief stint by Eric Shugars. He worked three hitless innings and struck out four.

Willingboro 4, Cinnaminson 3:

Rich Stronski doubled twice and scored two runs in helping Willingboro move past .500. The Townsends have won five of their last seven and are 6-5 overall.  Matt Speckman had three hits and one RBI for Willingboro. Winning pitcher Dan Hill struck out eight.

RVL Notebook

June 22, 2015

Courtesy of Bruce Johnson, Burlington County Times

Wednesday's matchup is worth a visit

Vincentown’s Harry W. Thompson Field is Burlington County’s old-school Field of Dreams. And the Merchants’ new light grey uniforms, with those mesh hats, do nothing to take away from that image.  You look at Mike Ferrara and Jack Bujanowski and Stefan Kancylarz as they warm up before a game, and you half expect Ray Liotta to come walking out of the corn fields across Red Lion Road, and introduce himself as Shoeless Joe Jackson.

But there’s something else to the dream this summer in Vincentown. The 2015 season is the 50th anniversary season of Harry Thompson being the team’s player-manager. In fact, the 85-year-old Thompson has been a part of Vincentown since the Rancocas Valley Baseball League opened in 1947. He was a 16-year-old at Pemberton High when he debuted with the Merchants.

The Merchants A.A. operation is a very local oriented operation, and very old school. Most of its fans are on social security, and the team is supported by the town’s merchants, especially Allen’s Oil & Propane — conveniently located across the street from Thompson’s house on North Main Street.

The natives were a little restless last summer when the Merchants were an underachieving 11-15 bunch. And it got worse when they were swept in the first round of the playoffs by Riverside.  Thompson had been through this before, and he released some talented players and brought in a bunch of new blood this summer. And the results have been pretty good so far. The Merchants are 8-3 and sit in second place behind unbeaten Burlington (16-0). And guess who’s coming to V-town this Wednesday night?

You don’t like to build up one game out of the 30 on the schedule, and Riverside will visit the Merchants Monday night, but ...  “We’ve got a pretty nice little ballclub,” Thompson said the other day. “I think our pitching matches up with anybody’s, and I like our team in the field, too. Defensively we can play with anybody. We’ve got boys who want to be here.”

The pitching has been key for V-town. Lefty Dave Gibson is 4-0 and leads the league in strikeouts with 41. Dave Steig, Damon Valloreo, Joe Argow, Allan Smith and Scott Wilhelm are all solid, with possible depth coming from Nick Alloway, a 2010 Twins draftee and a former part of the Brooklawn Post 72 American Legion dynasty.

And the team in the field is deep, with Ferrara and Pappler at first, smooth Stefan Kancylarz at second, Matt Weaver at short, and Frank Cerami or Pat Donnelly at third.

The Bujanowskis, father Jack and son John, give Thompson two clubs in the middle of the lineup. And don’t forget Eric Shugars, Adam Collis and Ian Thomas. 

But the two new additions that have meant the most are catchers Reid Pulford and Jim Best, a pair of 2008 Shawnee High graduates.  Pulford was a four-year starter at Shawnee, and also was Steig’s catcher when West Chester University won the NCAA Division 2 national championship in 2012.  Best plays wherever he’s needed, to keep his bat involved. He played catcher at George Washington, but for Thompson he’s usually in left field. His home run on Thursday night reportedly landed near the Vincent Fire Company. Because of his job at a baseball academy, Best doesn’t get to some games, but he’s tied (with Burlington’s Sean Gusrang) with a league-best five home runs, in just 19 at-bats.

Before Thursday’s game against Pine Barrens, Ferrara sarcastically joked about the “crowd” at the game. That should not be a problem Wednesday night. The Merchants and the Mets are the Hatfields and McCoys of the RVL. They are also — on paper, and on the field so far — the two best teams.

Babula, Perez, Gusrang, James, Guerrieri, Mull, Donahue, McFadden, Fischer, Hill, Jolly, Semmel in powder blue. Kancylarz, Cerami, Bujanowski (Sr. and Jr.), Best, Pulford, Weaver, Pappler, Ferrara, Donnelly in light gray. If you like baseball, Thompson Field is where you’ll want to be Wednesday night.

Eye openers

Our weekly look at top defensive plays is replaced this week by a rare steal of home by Garrett Mull of Burlington on Friday night.  During the Mets’ five-run third inning, Mull was on third with one out and Paul Guerrieri at bat. He timed Kevin Faber’s delivery and broke for home. Guerrieri aided the cause by squaring around fake a bunt, and Mull dove head-first under the tag of Jose Martinez.

RVL Action Friday, June 19, 2015

Burlington boosts record to 16-0

Five runs in the third inning sparked Burlington to a 6-2 win over Willingboro.  Ryan Bell pitched the first five innings and recorded his fifth win this season, allowing two runs as Burlington improved to 16-0. Bell struck out six, walked two and permitted five hits. Jeff Singer worked a scoreless inning in relief, striking out the side.

The Mets’ big third inning was highlighted by a steal of home by Garrett Mull. Burlington also capitalized on two errors in the third.  Shaun Babula had two hits and scored two runs. Paul Guerrieri and Sean Gusrang contributed RBIs as the Mets clinched a winning season with 14 games left on their schedule.  Josh Machtinger batted in both Willingboro runs and Jamie Schwantes doubled for the Townsends (5-5).

RVL Action Thursday, June 18, 2015

Vincentown wins fifth straight

Vincentown took control in the later innings for a 7-1 win over Pine Barrens.  The game was 1-1 before Vincentown scored three times in the bottom half of the fifth inning. Stefan Kancylarz singled home the go-ahead run, John Bujanowski followed with an RBI single and Reid Pulford hit a sacrifice fly.  The Merchants put it out of reach in the sixth on a three-run home run by Jim Best, whose five round-trippers share the league lead with Burlington's Sean Gusrang.

Kancylarz, Jack Bujanowski and John Bujanowski (double) had two hits apiece as Vincentown boosted its winning streak to five games. The Merchants are 8-3 overall and hold second place in the league.  Winning pitcher Dave Gibson worked all seven innings, struck out seven, walked two and allowed five hits. Gibson has four wins, all complete games, and has permitted four runs this season. 

Alex Campbell had two hits for Pine Barrens (3-6) and Austin Kurey's single batted in the Phantoms' run.

RVL Action: Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Riverside downs Pine Barrens

Joe Gutowski pitched six strong innings and allowed just one run as the Riverside Patriots downed the Pine Barrens Phantoms 6-4.  Henry Chou had two hits and a couple of RBIs for the Pats (4-6), while Taylor Steen also banged out two hits and knocked in a run.  Austin Kurey had two singles for the Phantoms (3-5), and Trent Fiori added an RBI double.

Burlington 8, Cinnaminson 2:

Max Newill won his league-best fifth game and Casey Donahue was 3-for-3 as the Mets improved to 15-0.  Newill fanned eight in six innings and allowed two unearned runs. Garrett Mull and Shaun Babula each scored twice.  Cole Pewor had three hits, Mike Wasco two and Mark Wickersham added a double for the Reds (4-7).

RVL Action: Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Willingboro 10, Burlington Township 3: 

Jason Kelmer and Rich Stronski hit home runs, helping the Townsends improve to 5-4. The pair combined for four hits, five RBIs and four runs scored.  Josh Machtinger pitched five innings for the win and struck out five. Brian Eifert’s RBI double was a Township highlight.

RVL Action: Monday, June 15, 2015

Best leads Vincentown power surge

Jim Best hit home runs in the first two innings Monday night, igniting Vincentown to a 10-3 win over Pine Barrens in the Rancocas Valley baseball league.  Best went deep for a two-run shot in the first inning and added a grand slam in the second. Jesse Pappler contributed a solo blast, also in the second inning.  Best finished 3 for 3 with the six RBIs, and Pappler and Stefan Kancylarz had two hits apiece as the Merchants improved to 7-3. They’ve won their last four.  Dave Steig benefited from the Vincentown attack and worked all seven innings for the victory. He struck out six and walked one. Pine Barrens is 3-4.

RVL Notebook

June 15, 2015

Courtesy of:  Bruce Johnson, Burlington County Times

Burlington sets pace into backstretch

In the spirit of horse racing’s Triple Crown season — the 2015 Rancocas Valley Baseball League season has passed the one-third pole and as it heads for the backstretch, here’s how things are shaping up.

Burlington: The Mets are trying to Secretariat the field and earn the first-round bye that comes with finishing first in the regular season. But they’re also at least peripherally looking at a possible undefeated season — they are 14-0 after Sunday night’s win over Cinnaminson.

Vincentown: The Merchants haven’t quite kicked into gear yet, and there may be some turmoil boiling under the surface. But Harry Thompson’s club has won three straight, thanks to pitchers Joe Argow, Dave Steig, Dave Gibson and Damon Valloreo. Matt Weaver has been a great addition.

Cinnaminson: Another team that hasn’t played its best ball yet. But on paper the Reds have a lot of talent, strong pitching and the offense is led by hit machine Connor Hall, a pickup from defunct Mount Laurel, and shortstop John Dockins.

Willingboro: Mike Stumpf’s club is always pretty good. And if/when it gets pitching it’s very good. Kevin Faber gave the Townsends nine very solid innings in Wednesday’s wild win at Cinnaminson. And veteran Jon Wetzel continues to bang out hits, collecting five that night.

Pine Barrens: The Phantoms are one of those “on any given night” teams. Second-year player Tyler Kaiser has provided a nice bat. And teammates Austin Kurey, Phil Shallenberger, Alex Campbell and Connor Arsenault make for a potent attack. Mike Follett is solid in center field.

Riverside: Joe Gutowski (.700, 7-for-10) and newcomer Taylor Zackman have been the Patriots’ main offensive threats. The Knazek brothers, Joe and Brett, are solid, dependable guys. When the Pats get good pitching, they are much better.

Burlington Township: The Pirates are still looking for that breakthrough victory. Eddie Hoffman, Eli Mireles and Matt Klish have given Ed Eifert some consistent hitters.

Tough week

Tom (T.J.) Johnson, the older brother of former Mount Laurel coach Dean Johnson, passed away late Wednesday night after a long illness. He had spent his last 40-plus years as a paraplegic.

Then came word Thursday that Betty Babula, the mother of RVL president Ric Babula and grandmother of RVL players Keith and Shaun Babula, had passed at age 87.

Eye opener

Pedro (Pete) Perez has been a regular at shortstop for the Burlington Mets since his sophomore year in high school. So the fact that he made this week’s “eye opener” shouldn’t be a surprise.  Thursday night the Rutgers Camden junior-to-be robbed Alex Campbell of a sure base hit. The Pine Barrens catcher drilled a ball that just eluded a diving third baseman Matt Hill. But Perez backhanded the ball, turned and, leaping in the air, fired across his body to Sean Gusrang for the bang-bang out.

Kerns a Rivershark

Mike Kerns was a standout on the Burlington Mets’ 2013 championship team. Then he signed with the Roswell Invaders in 2014 and played in the independent Pecos League.  The catcher was back on the Mets’ roster this season until signing last week to play for the Camden Riversharks of the independent Atlantic League of Professional Baseball.

RVL Action: Sunday, June 14, 2015

Riverside outslugs Burlington Township

Riverside contined its hot play, taking a 13-8 slugfest from Burlington Township.  The Patriots (3-6) have now won three of their last four games. Dan Hornyak went all seven innings to earn the pitching win. Brett Knazek had three hits, including two doubles, and Jeff Briggs contributed a two-run double.  Eddie Eifert had two doubles, including one for three RBIs for the Patriots while Luke Kendricks and Eddie Hoffman each added two hits.

Burlington 11, Cinnaminson 4: 

Sean Gusrang slammed his league-best fifth home run during a six-run sixth inning as the unbeaten Mets pulled away late to beat the Reds. Gusrang, who drove in four runs, is now hitting over .500 and has a slugging percentage over 1.100 through 14 games.  Shaun Babula pitched the first five innings to earn his fourth win, tying Ryan Bell and Max Newill.  Babula had two hits, two RBIs and scored three runs. Pedro Perez, Gusrang and Matt Fischer each had a pair of hits, and Paul Guerrieri and Justin McFadden scored two runs each.  Gregg Gilbert had a double for the Reds (4-6).

RVL Action: Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Pine Barrens victorious in RVL

Pine Barrens used a balanced attack in a 13-2 victory over Burlington Township.  Alex Campbell had three hits, batted in two runs and scored a pair as Pine Barrens improved to 3-2. Tyler Kaiser doubled twice, scored two runs and had three RBIs, and Austin Kurey was 2-for-2 and scored three runs for the Phantoms.  Alec Marconi worked the first four frames to get the mound decision in the five-inning contest. He scattered four hits and allowed one earned run.  Matt Klish (double) and Tyler Diaz had the RBIs for Burlington Township.

RVL Action: Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Cinnaminson picks up victory

Cinnaminson regained its winning ways Tuesday with a 15-3 triumph over Willingboro.  Connor Hall and Mark Wickersham had two hits and two RBIs apiece, helping Cinnaminson halt a losing streak at three games. That followed a 3-0 start for the Reds.  Clinton Hart pitched six innings and struck out four in picking up the win. Willingboro (3-4) received a big game from recent addition Jeff Pursell, who was 3-for-3, batted in a run and scored one.

Vincentown 7, Burlington Township 0: 

Lefty Dave Gibson had 16 strikeouts, allowed one walk and one hit as the Merchants won for the second time in two nights.  Stefan Kancylarz led off the bottom half of the first inning with a home run to launch Vincentown to its fifth win in eight games. Reid Pulford doubled, singled and had two RBIs.  Burlington Township foiled Gibson’s bid for a no-hitter when Matt Klish singled in the seventh inning.

RVL Action: Monday, June 8, 2015

Burlington 3, Pine Barrens 0:

Sam Guckin went the 7-inning distance, allowed three hits and no walks, and struck out three in recording the win for the Mets (12-0). Guckin, a Riverside High School senior, is a two-time member of the Burlco Carpenter Cup team.  Sean Gusrang hit two home runs to account for Burlington’s three runs. Speaking of the Carpenter Cup, Gusrang was a participant during his time at Burlington City High (2004-07).  Austin Kurey’s triple was a highlight for Pine Barrens (2-2).

Vincentown 7, Riverside 6:

Stefan Kancylarz, Johnny Bujanowski and Jim Best belted home runs as the Merchants (4-3) held off the Patriots (2-6).  V-town led 6-0 behind Damon Valloreo, but the lefty tired in the fifth and Eric Shugars threw the last three innings to get the save.  Riverside had a run in and the bases loaded in the top of the seventh when Shugars got a strikeout to end the game.

RVL Notebook

June 8, 2015

Courtesy of:  Bruce Johnson, Burlington County Times

Tough night gets better for Shallenberger

Last summer, Phil Shallenberger provided some nice play at shortstop to help the Pine Barrens Phantoms win 17 games and enjoy their best season in the Rancocas Valley Baseball League. Patty Bowker Field was a fairly short trip for the assistant baseball coach at Cairn University in Langhorne Manor, Pennsylvania.  But Shallenberger recently got a new job at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee. He sadly informed Phantoms coach Gerry Lamola of his situation and both made plans to move on.

Then the 27-year-old Shallenberger found out that he didn't have to show up for the new job until early July. Lamola was happy to find out he'd have a shortstop and leadoff hitter, until the end of June anyhow.  But around 9:30 last Wednesday at Cinnaminson's Memorial Park, Shallenberger might've been wishing he'd left early for Tennessee. The Phantoms were trailing the Reds and errors, mostly by Shallenberger in his season debut, were the main reason.

But he hung in there and in the top of the seventh inning, with two outs and his team down a run, he drilled a 2-2 pitch from Alex Sankey to the base of the fence in dead center field for a three-run double. Pine Barrens hung on for a 10-8 victory.  "I had played at Cinnaminson before, but the three errors was a combination of the field conditions and shaking the rust off," said Shallenberger, who threw with his Cairn players during a season that had ended in early May.  "They were plays I should have made but just wasn't able to come up with them. Our pitchers threw great and we let them down in the field."

But all's well that ends well, or something like that. Shallenberger finished the evening with three hits and six ribbies. It was offensively the kind of effort Lamola expected from his shortstop. Shallenberger's RVL debut season in 2014 saw him hit .311 with 24 runs (second on the team), 23 hits (fourth), six doubles (third), two triples (first) and a team-best 10 stolen bases. He struck out seven in 4 2/3 innings of shutout relief.  "The guys are a blast to play with and I wanted to have a little fun with them before I started my new job," he said. "The guys in front of me (Wednesday) did a great job of getting on base against a tough pitcher (Sankey) with a walk and a clutch hit by Trent Fiori. I was just looking to barrel something up for a base hit and not try to do too much. But I got a pitch I could handle and was able to get the guys in.

"We should have had the game well in hand at that point ... but it was nice to make up for the mistakes I made in the field."

Eye openers

Thursday's Vincentown-Burlington matchup did not lack for superior defensive plays.  You had Merchants first baseman Jesse Pappler looking like Gil Hodges, scooping at least four balls out of the dirt for an out.  The Mets' Sean Gusrang looked like he'd played second base his whole life (he hasn't), ranging far, far to his left to grab a ball hit by Jack Bujanowski and toss him out in a bang-bang play at first.

But the play of the evening had to be by V-town shortstop Matt Weaver. Burlington's Pedro Perez ripped a bullet that looked like a sure single to left field. But third baseman Frank Cerami dove and deflected the ball toward Weaver, who fielded it and threw off-balance to just nip the speedy Perez.

RVL Action Thursday, June 4, 2015

Willingboro gets past Pine Barrens

Kevin Faber pitched the first five innings for the win and Erik Danser finished Willingboro’s 3-1 win over Pine Barrens.  Danser also helped offensively, batting in two runs as the Townsends won for the second time in five games this season. The loss was the Phantoms’ first after two wins.

Burlington 6, Vincentown 3:

Vinny James’ three-run home run in the first inning propelled the unbeaten Mets to their 11th win. James finished with four RBIs.  Garrett Mull added a two-run homer and Casey Donahue had one RBI. Ryan Bell pitched all seven innings, allowing three hits and one walk.  Matt Weaver hit a two-run homer and Allan Smith batted in the other run for Vincentown (3-3).

Riverside 8, Burlington Township 1:

Two runs in the bottom of the second inning gave the Patriots the lead for good. Stevie Stevenson was the winning pitcher as the Patriots recorded their first win after five losses to start the season.  Riverside scored a run in the first inning before Township tied it in the top of the second, Eddie Hoffman knocking in Chase Thomas. Hoffman finished 3-for-3 but the Pirates suffered their eighth setback in as many games.

RVL Action: Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Pine Barrens 10, Cinnaminson 8:

Phil Shallenberger’s three-run double in the seventh inning lifted the Phantoms over the Reds (3-2), in a sloppy game that saw the teams combine for 10 errors.  Shallenberger had three hits and six RBIs. Austin Kurey was 3-for-3 with two runs scored, and Conner Arsenault was 2-for-3 with three runs for the winners. Alec Marconi got the pitching win with three scoreless innings in relief of his brother Brian. Anthony Coniglio earned the save.  Greg Gilbert had two hits and scored twice for the Reds.

RVL Action: Monday, June 1, 2015

Newill leads Burlington to 10th win

Max Newill allowed three hits and one unearned run as the Burlington Mets defeated the Riverside Patriots 8-1.  Newill (3-0) struck out four and walked one to help the unbeaten Mets to their 10th victory. Dan Hornyak took the loss for the Patriots (0-5).  Casey Donahue had a double and three RBIs, while Pedro Perez had a double and scored twice, and Vinny James and Sean Gusrang both had RBIs.

RVL Action Sunday, May 31, 2015

Burlington tops Cinnaminson, moves to 9-0

The Burlington Mets improved to 9-0 with a 10-2 victory over the Cinnaminson Reds at Memorial Field. The Reds dropped to 3-1.  Lefty Shaun Babula allowed three hits and no runs over the first six innings to win his third game.  Sean Gusrang and Pedro Perez led the attack against losing pitcher Christian Rahman. Each had a single, double and home run, with Gusrang knocking in three runs and Perez two.  Paul Guerrieri added a two-run double and Matt Fisher had a pair of singles.  In a quirk of the schedule, the two powerhouses are scheduled to meet June 14 and June 17 at Memorial Park, and then not again until the final week of the season, July 21 and 23 at Life Center Academy, home of the Mets.

Vincentown 12, Burlington Twp. 1:

The Merchants (3-2) were without some of their big guns — Greg Miller, Jesse Pappler, Mike Ferraro and the Bujanowskis — but Harry Thompson’s “kiddie corps” came through.  Lefty Dave Gibson went the route, allowing six hits and one run for his second win. The Merchants gave him a quick lead in the top of the first when Stefan Kancylarz walked and Frank Cerami smacked a home run.  Leading 5-0, Matt Weaver’s three-run double iced the victory.

All-Star Game

The RVL will once again play the Pendel League in an all-star game this summer. Last year’s inaugural meeting at Vincentown’s Harry Thompson Field ended in a tie.  This year’s game will be held July 18, 5 p.m., at Kopper Kettle Field in Southampton, Pennsylvania.  The Pendel League includes: Glenside Hawks, Horsham Astros, Huntingdon Valley Athletics, Liberty Bell Patriots, LOMA, Northampton Orioles, Philadelphia Bandits, Upper Moreland Rebels, Warminster Warriors.

For whom Bell tolls

On a team that is deep with veteran pitchers — Max Newill, Shaun Babula, John Harvey, Pedro Perez, Jon Wilkins, Kevin Gunter, Marshall Harden and Andy Noga — the early-season staff leader is Ryan Bell.  The two-year Burlington County College pitcher has taken the ball three times for the defending league champion Mets and the results have been spectacular. He’s 3-0 with an 0.43 ERA, having allowed just five hits in 16 1/3 innings with 12 strikeouts. He’s hit more batters (3) than he’s walked (2).  And Bell’s shutout Thursday evening against the Willingboro Townsends was over in 90 minutes.

 

RVL Action Thursday, May 28, 2015

Pine Barrens gets a victory in first game

The Pine Barrens Phantoms finally opened their 2015 season, knocking off the Burlington Township Pirates 11-2.  Ron Krankowski pitched the first two innings, and five relievers went one inning apiece. Dennis Stewart had an RBI triple and Matt Klish collected two hits for B.T.  Cameron Bahr went 4-for-5 with two RBIs for the Phantoms, who also got two hits each from Krankowski and Austin Kurey. Matt Curry contributed an RBI double.

Cinnaminson 10, Riverside 3:

Geoff Gilbert had three hits, including a double, and batted in two runs as the Reds improved to 3-0.  Kyle Ballay had a double, single and two RBIs for Cinnaminson in a game halted by darkness after six innings. Jim Goodwin got the win by working the first four frames. He struck out four and allowed no runs.

Burlington 4, Willingboro 0:

Ryan Bell set down the Townsends on just four hits in a game that took 90 minutes to play.  Paul Guerrieri and Justin McFadden each had two hits for the Mets (8-0) while Sam Guckin and Pedro Perez knocked in runs. Jeff Purcell was 3-for-3 with a double for Willingboro (1-3).

RVL Action: Monday, May 25, 2015

Mets improve to 7-0 behind Newill, Gusrang

Max Newill pitched a complete game and Sean Gusrang provided the big bat as the Burlington Mets knocked off the Vincentown Merchants 5-4.  Newill allowed four earned runs and walked four, striking out five as the Mets improved to 7-0. Damon Valloreo took the loss.  Gusrang had a double and four RBIs.  Andrew Lydon hit a home run for the Merchants (2-2) and scored twice.

RVL Notebook

May 25, 2015

Courtesy of Bruce Johnson, Burlington County Times

Pine Barrens finally gets to play first game

By the time Pine Barrens plays its first game, the rest of the Rancocas Valley League will have played from four to eight games.  Hopefully, it won’t rain Thursday so the Phantoms’ game at Burlington Township will go off as scheduled — 2½ weeks after the league opened up May 11.  Of course, the late start will mean very few days off — 15 games in June and 14 in July — until the RVL playoffs take place in early August.  Gerry Lamola’s club is coming off its best season, going 17-10-1 last year to finish in third place.  Although missing a couple of key players from last season, the Phantoms do return solid players like Ronnie Krankowski, Tyler Kaiser, Eric Sellito, Nick Henderson, Alex Campbell, Cameron Bahr and Mason Anderson.

Do as he says, does

Bill Parave, who had four hits and was the winning pitcher in the Willingboro Townsends’ opening win, is an assistant coach at Penn State-Abington.  The Merchantville native played at Pennsauken High and Camden County College before attending Abington. He hit .399 as a player last spring.  Also on the Abington coaching staff is Dan Hill, a current Willingboro RVLer.

Hennigan is a Loon

Dan Hennigan, 25, who played shortstop on the Burlington Mets’ 2010 championship team, has spent the last few summers playing Independent ball.

He impressed someone in the Los Angeles Dodgers’ scouting system, because he was recently signed and added to the roster of the Class A Great Lakes Loons. The Midland, Michigan-based Loons play in the Midwest League.

Happy birthday

Shaun Babula’s birthday Thursday night was pretty much business as usual for the 38-year-old lefty.  He tossed a six-inning, three-hit shutout as the Mets defeated the Willingboro Townsends 6-0. He also opened the game with a base hit on the first pitch.  Babula is in his sixth year as an assistant baseball coach at Penn State-Abington, where he also is the Assistant Director of Development and Alumni Relations.

Memorial Day game

The Burlington Mets will put their unbeaten record on the line Monday night when they visit Harry Thompson Field to play the Vincentown Merchants at 7 p.m.

According to the RVL’s website, this is at least the seventh straight year the teams have played on Memorial Day. Vincentown won in 2009, Burlington won in  2010, Vincentown took three straight from 2011-13, before Burlington won in 2014.

RVL Action: Friday, May 22nd, 2015

Harvey leads Burlington to sixth win

John Harvey struck out 13 and allowed four hits in for Burlington’s 6-1 win over Burlington Township.  Harvey’s gem paced the Mets to their sixth win without a loss. Kyle Semmel was 3-for-3; Shaun Babula, Sean Gusrang and Justin McFadden had two hits each. Matt Hill had two RBIs and Pedro Perez scored two runs.  Township’s run was batted in by Eddie Kotch.

RVL Action: Thursday, May 21st, 2015

Babula leads Burlington to fifth win

Shaun Babula pitched a three-hitter for Burlington in a 6-0 win over Willingboro.  Babula struck out five as Burlington boosted its record to 5-0. The Mets are two-time defending league champions.  He also was one of three Mets with two hits. Justin McFadden was 2-for-2 and scored two runs, and Matt Hill was 2-for-3 with one RBI.

RVL Action: Wednesday, May 20th, 2015

Cinnaminson posts second victory

Connor Hall hit a grand slam in Cinnaminson's 14-2 win over Burlington Township.  Hall had three hits and Mike Wasco homered as Cinnaminson won for the second time in as many games. Wasco had two hits, walked twice and batted in four runs.  Jim Goodwin was the winning pitcher in relief, allowing one hit and striking out four in three innings.

RVL Action: Monday, May 18, 2015

Gusrang paces Burlington to fourth triumph

Sean Gusrang was 3-for-3 in helping Burlington remain undefeated with a 6-5 win over Riverside.  Gusrang tripled, doubled, batted in two runs and scored twice as the Mets improved to 4-0. Matt Hill had two hits and scored the winning run in the bottom of the fifth inning, which turned out to be the end of the game because of approaching darkness.  Ryan Bell was the winning pitcher in relief, working 3 2/3 scoreless and hitless innings (four strikeouts).

Willingboro tops Vincentown

Bill Parave did a little bit of everything in the Willingboro Townsends' 9-1 victory over the Vincentown Merchants.  Parave pitched the first five innings, allowing three hits and one unearned run. He had four hits and drove in two runs.  Erik Danser added two RBIs and Drew Rodriguez had a pair of hits.

RVL Notebook

Courtesy of Bruce Johnson, Burlington County Times

Gilder Park deserves a place

Bordentown’s Gilder Park was 9 years old when the Rancocas Valley Baseball League was created in 1946.  Built in 1937 with money from FDR’s Works Progress Administration, it is a jewel that sits just off Route 206 North, basically unused. The Bordentown High junior varsity plays there, as does the Bordentown Post 26 American Legion team. And there’s a men’s adult 25-and-over team that uses it Sunday mornings.

But the RVL, one of the best men’s adult leagues in New Jersey, hasn’t used Gilder Park in years, since the powerhouse Koenig Oilers teams of the 1960s and early ’70s.  “Gilder Park ... that’s a beautiful field, well taken-care of,” said Vincentown player-manager Harry Thompson, who has been in the RVL since its inception. “We used to play there against the Oilers. We had some great games up there.”

 

The Oilers were led by a tall pitcher out of Rider College named Jack Madden, who pitched in the minor leagues and later became an NBA referee.  The Koenig Oilers won the RVL playoff title in 1960, 1962, 1966 and 1970. The Merchants won in 1967-69, and Cinnaminson won the first of its 17 titles in 1971. 

 

The question then is, if one of the best leagues in the state is in Burlington County and one of the best fields is in Burlington County, can anything be done to get them together?   Willingboro manager Mike Stumpf tried to get Gilder for some home games last summer, but the request was turned down.

 

Most players would prefer playing at, say, Arm & Hammer Field in Trenton or Campbell’s Field in Camden or TD Bank Ballpark in Bridgewater, with all of their amenities, to playing in some ancient ballyard with a Port-o-John in left field, concrete bleachers and no shade. 

 

But not all of them.  “My guess is most guys would say they prefer the newer fields,” said Burlington’s Shaun Babula, the RVL’s best player the last few years, adding, “not me.”  Some people understand the allure of a field like Gilder Park. The only thing it doesn’t have is a covered grandstand, like at Harry Thompson Field in Vincentown.

 

This and that

·        By the end of this week, the Burlington Township Pirates will have played Vincentown twice, Burlington twice and Cinnaminson once. Facing the league’s three juggernauts would be a tough schedule for anybody.  But especially for Ed Eifert’s Pirates, their fourth-year manager.  “We have to play everybody five times,” Eifert said, philosophically.  The Pirates, who have been sponsored by the Lucas Auto Group since they joined the league in 2012, are coming off three long, hot summers.  Eli Mireles stroked a solo home run off Burlington’s Max Newill on Friday night — the fourth in team history, after Mike Zier in 2012, and Jazz Hendrick and Phil Dunbar in 2014.

 

·        Thompson is very upbeat this summer, partly due to the return of Greg Miller and Stefan Kancylarz, but mostly because of his pitching staff.  “We’ve got eight starters and two relievers,” he said. “Bring it on, baby.”  One of his new pitchers — Matt Weaver — could see his first action Monday night under the V-town lights against Willingboro. The Browns Mills native is a veteran of the Atlanta Braves’ minor-league system.

RVL Action: Friday, May 15th, 2015

Burlington Mets win third straight

 

John Harvey and Pete Perez had three hits each for the Burlington Mets in a 14-1 win over Burlington Township.  The victory boosted the Mets' record to 3-0. Perez batted in two runs and Harvey scored two runs.  Max Newill made his season debut on the mound, worked 4 2/3 innings for the win and struck out six.  Paul Guerrieri and Justin McFadden hit home runs, and combined for five RBIs. Sean Gusrang had two RBIs and Shawn Babula scored three runs.  Eli Mireles hit a home run for Township.  

RVL Action Thursday, May 14, 2015

Bell, James lead Burlington to second win

Ryan Bell pitched into the sixth inning Thursday and Vinny James led the offense in the Burlington Mets' 6-0 win over Riverside.  Bell worked 5 2/3 innings, struck out six, walked none and allowed one hit as the defending league champions improved to 2-0.James had three hits and batted in three runs, Pedro Perez had two hits and scored twice and Kyle Semmel had two hits and stole two bases.

Vincentown 19, Burlington Township 1

Dave Gibbons struck out eight in a five-hitter and was backed by an attack that featured four hits by Greg Miller. Jim Best hit a home run for V-Town.

RVL Action: Wednesday, May 13th, 2015

Cinnaminson gets past Willingboro

Kyle Ballay and Kyle Higgins each had two doubles and a triple as the Cinnaminson Reds posted an 8-5 victory over the Willingboro Townsends.  The Reds took a 6-0 lead into the fifth inning, behind starter Clinton Hart. But the Townsends closed to within 6-5 on Jose Martinez’s RBI single and an RBI double by Rich Stronski. Jim Goodwin relieved and got the save.  Back-to-back triples by Ballay and Higgins in the bottom of the sixth produced one run, and Geoff Gilbert’s single drove home the final run.

RVL Action: Tuesday, May 12th, 2015

Vincentown 14, Burlington Township 5:

Jack Bujanowski and Zeke Boren had three hits apiece as the Merchants won their opener.  Scott Wilhelm worked three scoreless relief innings and got the win when Vincentown rallied. Burlington Township highlights included two hits by Matt Klish and a two-run single by Eli Mireles.

RVL Action: Monday, May 11th, 2015

Burlington Wins Opener

Vinny James’ two hits and three RBIs helped Burlington start the season with an 11-7 win at Riverside in the Rancocas Valley Baseball League season opener.  Sean Gusrang celebrated his return to the Mets with two hits and scored three runs. Matt Hill had two RBIs for the two-time defending league champs and Shaun Babula was the winning pitcher.  Joe Knazek had two RBIs and Jason Sabol added one for Riverside.

 

2015 RVL Preview

May 11, 2015

By Bruce Johnson Staff Writer, Burlington County Times

The 2015 Rancocas Valley Baseball League season kicks off Monday evening with the defending playoff champion Burlington Mets playing the Riverside Patriots at Bob Kenney Field, 6:15 p.m. first pitch.

It is the 69th season for the league, and also the 69th season — as a player and manager — for Vincentown’s Harry Thompson. He started as a V-town player in 1946, two years before the building of the field that now bears his name.

The RVL lost one team during the offseason, when Mount Laurel dropped out. Surprisingly, only four of its players were picked up by the remaining teams.

With just seven teams, the league has adopted a new playoff format for its annual “August in V-town” experience. The team that finishes in first place during the regular season will get a first-round bye in the playoffs.

“There were a couple of options on the table, but that’s the one we decided to go with,” RVL president Ric Babula said. “It will make the regular season more important.”

The RVL will once again play the Pen-Del League in a midsummer all-star game. Last year’s game ended in a tie.

Rosters

In predicted order of finish

Burlington Mets

Manager: Keith Babula

2014: 22-5-1, second place; won playoffs

Home field: Life Center Field, Florence

Roster: Keith Babula of, Shaun Babula p-of, Ryan Bell p-if-of, Casey Donahue 2b, Brandon Elliott p, Matt Fischer c, Ronnie Grant of, Paul Guerrieri c-1b, Sam Guckin p-if; Kevin Gunter p, Sean Gusrang if, Marshall Harden 3b-p, John Harvey p, Matt Hill of, Vinny James c-of, Matt Jolly if, Justin McFadden of-c, Sean McNeil of-p;

Garrett Mull of, Max Newill p, Andy Noga p, Anthony Perez of, Pedro Perez ss, Jon Reiner 1b, Kyle Semmel of, Jon Wilkins p.

Outlook: Dom Gallone, Dan Hennigan, Zach Skidmore, Carl Taylor and Dave Viselli are gone. But Paul Guerrieri and Jon Reiner (injured last year) and Sean Gusrang (Independent ball the last two years) return. And adding Riverside High’s Sam Guckin to a pitching staff that already includes Shaun Babula, John Harvey, Ryan Bell, Jon Wilkins, Max Newill, Kevin Gunter, Marshall Harden, Andy Noga, Pedro Perez, Sean McNeil and Brandon Elliott is almost a 15-yard penalty for piling on.

Cinnaminson Reds

Manager: Brett Miller

2014: 23-4-1, first place; lost in playoff final

Home field: Memorial Park, Cinnaminson

Roster: Kyle Ballay if, Craig Carroll p, John Dockins ss, Bill Dove c, Eric Gertie p, Geoff Gilbert of, Greg Gilbert 2b, Jim Goodwin p;

Anthony Guido p, Connor Hall 1b, Clinton Hart p, Kyle Higgins 2b, Matt Janulis 1b, Brett Miller p, Dennis O’Hanlan 3b, Cole Pewor if; Christian Rahman p, Alex Sankey p, Greg Santoro p, Frank Sirolli of, Joe Sirolli of, Jeff Vitale if, Mike Wasco of-1b-dh, Tim Wasco if, Mark Wickersham 3b-p.

Outlook: Frank Sirolli will miss the 2015 season after an injury suffered in last year’s York Tournament, and the fleet center fielder is a big loss. In addition, side-armed righty Ryan Varga is not on an RVL roster for the first time since 1999, and slugger Dan Gavlik (.441, 24 RBI) did not return. But shed no tears for the Reds, because EVERYBODY else is back, and Brett Miller added Connor Hall and Cole Pewor from the defunct Mount Laurel team. Cinnaminson can nearly match Burlington in pitching depth, with Craig Carroll, Eric Gertie, Jim Goodwin, Anthony Guido, Clinton Hart, Christian Rahman, Alex Sankey and Greg Santoro.

Vincentown Merchants

Manager: Harry Thompson

2014: 11-15, tied for fifth place

Home field: Harry Thompson Field, Southampton

Roster: Joe Argow p, Jim Best of-c, Zeke Boren p-if, Jack Bujanowski of-dh, John Bujanowski of, Frank Cerami p-3b, Pat Donnelly 2b; Mike Ferrara dh, Dave Gibson p, James Hoff of, Stefan Kancylarz ss, Andrew Lydon if, Greg Miller 3b-p, Jesse Pappler 1b; Reid Pulford c, Allan Smith p, Dave Stieb p, Ian Thomas of-c, Harry Thompson dh, Damon Valloreo p, Scott Wilhelm p.

Outlook: A busy offseason saw nine players released, including veterans Kevin Carty, Troy Foster, Vern Powell, Danny Williams, Ryan Williams and Rex Workman. But Harry Thompson fully expects his 60th year in the RVL to be an improvement. The veteran manager expects the return of Stefan Kancylarz and Greg Miller to give him what could be the league’s best shortstop-third base combination. The acquisition of stud catcher Reid Pulford, who caught Merchants teammate Dave Stieb at West Chester University, will be an upgrade, too. And the pitching, with Stieb, Joe Argow, Zeke Boren, Dave Gibson, Allan Smith, Scott Wilhelm, Damon Valloreo and Riverside pickup Frank Cerami will be a strength.

Pine Barrens Phantoms

Manager: Gerry Lamola

2014: 17-10-1, third place

Home field: Patty Bowker Field, Tabernacle

Roster: Tyler Allison 2b-of, Mason Anderson p, Connor Arsenault if-of, Cameron Bahr c-1b, Kyle Brown p-of, Alex Campbell c-1b, Anthony Coniglio p, Mike Cogliano p; Matt Curry p, Ryan Derry p, Trent Fiori, Mike Follett cf, Vince Gares 2b-of, Nick Goetz, Nick Henderson p-of, Tyler Kaiser 3b;

Ronnie Krankowski p-of-1b, Ryan Krupa 2b, Austin Kurey, Mike Lamola of, Alec Marconi p, Dylan Mengal, Shane Pastore if-of, Eric Sellito rf.

Outlook: The Phantoms have two new sponsors — Mall Chevrolet and American Sheds — and they have to replace key players in Phil Shellenberger (.417) and Rich Powelson, and pitchers Mike Kondrath and Louis Aikins. But Gerry Lamola returns some top players, too, like Ronnie Krankowski, Tyler Kaiser, Eric Sellito, Nick Henderson, Mike Follett, Cameron Bahr and Alex Campbell. Mason Anderson was 7-1 last year as an RVL “rookie.”

Willingboro Townsends

Manager: Mike Stumpf

2014: 11-15, tied for fifth place

Home field: J.F. Kennedy Rec Center, Willingboro

Roster: Bryan Bessinger ss, Justin Binder if-of, Nick Cancelliere p, Jorge Clavo p, Erik Danser 1b-p, Kevin Faber p, Jordan Glover of, Kazon Godwin of;

Mike Gulli c, Aiden Hernandez p, Dan Hill if-p, Mike Juckett p, Jose Martinez c, Wilbert Martinez p, Connor MacFarlane p, C.J. McNutt p; Kellen Peter 1b-dh, Drew Rodriguez of, Jamie Schwantes dh-1b, Matt Speckmann ss-of, Rich Stronski of, Mark Stumpf 2b, John Walls of, Jon Wetzel of-dh.

Outlook: Change was in the air in the RVL offseason, but the Boro Boys return almost their entire starting team and most of their pitchers. That means Willingboro will be a tough opponent, especially come “August in V-town” — the RVL playoffs.

Riverside Patriots

Manager: Kodi Byrnes, Mike Hynes

2014: 12-15-1, fourth place

Home field: Bob Kenney Field, Riverside

Roster: Brandon Barnes of, Chaz Briggs 2b, Jeff Briggs of-1b, Cullen Carter 3b, Harry Cicale of, Dan Coughlin p, Tyler Dipascal ss, Jesse Fante p-1b, Alex Forte p;

Joe Gutowski p, Dan Hornyak p, Kevin Joo p, Brett Knazek 3b-1b, Joe Knazek c, Brett McLaughlin c, Jon McGugan c, Eric Oliver of;

Jacob Reeder 1b, Jason Sabol of, Josh Sabol ss, Donnie Strain of, Tyler Wolf of, Taylor Zackman of.

Outlook: Another basically-the-same roster, with the solid addition of Mount Laurel outfielder Brandon Barnes. The Knazek brothers, Brett and Joe, are dirty-uniform guys at third base and catcher, while 2014 saw big-time performances by cf Jeff Briggs, lf Eric Oliver and ss Josh Sabol. Pitching, as it does in baseball at every level, will be the difference, and the return of lefty Kevin Joo immediately improves the staff.

Burlington Township Pirates

Manager: Ed Eifert

2014: 1-26, eighth place

Home field: Viereck Field, Burlington Twp.

Roster: Ian Biluck c-if, Matt Chimiego p-1b, Phil Dunbar 1b-p-dh, Brian Eifert if-p, Ed Eifert of, Eddie Eifert if, Wayne Feret of, Luke Hendricks of-p; Eddie Hoffman if-p, Matt Horton p-1b, Jake Kaighn of-p, Matt Klish if-p, Eddie Kotch of, Zach Lang p-1b, Devin McDermott c-1b-dh; Eli Mireles of, Joe Parzyck c-of, Zack Schuyler p-if, Dennis Stewart 1b-of-p, Jeremy Swanson of, Dave Torres if-of, Mike Zier of-if-p.

Outlook: A busy offseason saw Eifert clear house, releasing nine players from the roster. Wayne Feret and Mike Zier return to supply the offense for the Pirates. The Eifert brothers, Eddie and Brian, are solid guys, and Burlington Township High star Zack Schuyler should provide an infusion of youthful enthusiasm.