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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
In predicted order of finish
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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
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.
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