RVL opens 65th year tonight

May 9, 2011
Courtesy of BRUCE JOHNSON, Burlington County Times, Staff Writer

The Rancocas Valley League, which has been functioning since 1947, will begin its 65th season tonight at 8 with Riverside NJIBL taking on the Vincentown Merchants at Southampton Memorial Field. The teams will also meet Tuesday and Thursday nights in Southampton.
The long history of amateur baseball in the county began in 1898 with the Burlington County League, which ran through the 1951 season. In 1952 the BCL and RVL combined, meaning the county has had continuous semipro baseball leagues from 1898 into 2011, easily the longest stretch of any county in the state.
Of the leagues still operating in New Jersey, the Met League opened in 1967 (replacing the Bergen County League that started in 1945), the Atlantic County League in 1926, the Morris County Majors in 1958, the Jersey Shore in 1933, the Salem County in 1926 and the Tri-County League in 1952.
The Burlington Mets, who won the regular-season and playoff titles last summer, will open Tuesday at home (Life Center Academy) with a 6:15 tilt against muchimproved Willingboro. The title was Burlington’s first since 1951.
The other teams are Cinnaminson, Delran, Mount Laurel and Pemberton.
Cinnaminson has won four playoff titles in the 21st century (2004, 2005, 2006, 2009), Delran three (2002, 2007, 2008), Vincentown two (2000, 2003) and Riverside Pirates Inn one (2001).
Each team will face each of the other seven teams five times, for a 35-game regular season. The playoffs are scheduled to begin on Aug. 6, with best-of-three quarterfinals and semifinals, and a best-of-five championship finals.

All-Star Game
Plans are in the works for an All-Star Game, probably on July 9. Several other local semipro leagues were contacted but apparently not interested in a leaguevs.- league game, so the game will be among the RVL players, possibly set up as a “River” (Burlington, Cinnamonson, Delran, Riverside) vs. “Country” (Mount Laurel, Pemberton, Vincentown, Willingboro) setup. There would be a Home Run Derby before the game, which would serve as a fundraiser for the league.

Opening Night: May 9, 2010

Vincentown 5, Riverside NJIBL 1: Mike Ferrara was 2-for-2 with a home run and Stefan Kancylarz also had two hits as the Merchants won the league season opener Monday night. Zeke Boren was the winning pitcher. Don Strain doubled home the Riverside run. Courtesy of Burlington County Times

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Willingboro 15, Burlington 4: Ten runs in the fourth inning helped Willingboro open the season with a five-inning win over the defending league champion. Willingboro jumped to a 5-0 lead, saw the Mets come within 5-4 with the help of Garrett Mull's three-run homer, then broke it open. Andrew Csik had two hits, scored three runs and batted in three for the winners. Kellen Peter added two hits and two RBIs in support of winning pitcher Dave Caruso.

Vincentown 4, Riverside NJIBL 1: Alan Hasher had 13 strikeouts in his two-hitter as the Merchants improved to 2-0. Owen Boles was 2-for-2 for Vincentown.

Courtesy of Burlington County Times

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Cinnaminson 6, Pemberton 4: Bobby Diepold's two-run double in the third inning helped make the difference for Cinnaminson. Diepold and Joe Sirolli had two hits apiece, and Sirolli scored two runs. Cinnaminson pitchers Brett Miller (10 strikeouts in four innings) and Ryan Varga combined for 13 Ks. Mike Lamola's two-run single in the second inning was a Pemberton highlight.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Delran 13, Pemberton 0: Jason Ronca pitched hitless ball into the fifth inning and wound up with a one-hitter as Delran began its season on a winning note. He struck 10 and walked none. Ryan McFadden was 2-for-2, with two RBIs, and scored three runs. Chris Garrett had two hits and two RBIs.

Burlington 5, Willingboro 0: Shaun Babula pitched a three-hitter with eight strikeouts and Garrett Mull slugged his second home run in two games for the Mets. Babula also had two hits, scored twice and stole two bases. Vinnie James and Dan Graham added RBIs against Ryan Derry.

Vincentown 12, Riverside 3: Kevin Carty and Al Roach each had three hits, with Roach slugging a home run, to back the pitching of Kevin Kraft and Jesse Pappler for the Merchants. Brett Knazek had two hits and brother Joe added an RBI single for Riverside. Courtesy of Burlington County Times
Burlington 10, Willingboro 0: Carl Taylor bounced back from Tuesday's loss to Willingboro, pitching a complete game with seven strikeouts. Shaun Babula was 3-for-3 with four runs scored, while Jeff Vitale and Anthony Coniglio each had two hits. Mark Stumpf doubled for Willingboro.

Delran 10, Pemberton 0: Max Newill pitched a three-hitter with seven strikeouts, and also contributed two hits to the winners' cause. Rocky Petrone added a single and two doubles for Delran, while Bobby Henderson had a pair of hits for Pemberton.

Courtesy of Burlington County Times

RVL Notebook

May 16, 2011
Courtesy of Bruce Johnson, Burlington County Times

Mount Laurel is the only Rancocas Valley League team to not see action yet. But that will change soon - weather permitting. The Laurels are set to open their season tonight, 6:15, against Riverside at the Hainesport complex.Coach Dean Johnson's club, which finished 15-18-1 in 2010 but was a playoff finalist in 2006 and '07, will then face three toughies on the road the next three nights - Vincentown, Cinnaminson and Burlington.

Riverside comes into tonight's game 0-3, but coach Gabe Mastrangelo's guys played Vincentown pretty tough in three meetings last week, losing 5-1, 4-1 and then 12-3. "We're young and we're motivated," he said. "The guys are playing with a lot of energy. Hopefully they'll stay together for a couple of years."

In addition to Riverside not getting any break from the schedule-maker, Willingboro had three games with defending champion Burlington last week, and faces Cinnaminson (Tuesday), Vincentown (Thursday) and Delran (Sunday) this week.

This and that
Twenty years ago Keith Babula was the shortstop at Burlington City High School; this year the Blue Devils' shortstop is Pedro Perez, just a sophomore. Last Thursday night, the past and the present combined on a 6-4-3 double play (Perez to Babula to Jon Reiner) in the Burlington Mets' 5-0 win over Willingboro.

Once again, Willingboro opened its season with an all-lefty fielding outfield: Mike Stumpf, Andrew Czik and Mike Juckett. And that doesn't include Jon Wetzel, who is recovering from a shoulder injury from a flag football game. Since all four can handle center field, it's a strong defensive unit.

Game to see
If you're only going to see one RVL game this week, make it:
Willingboro at Vincentown, Thursday, 8 p.m. Two of the better offensive teams in the league square off under the lights in Southampton.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Delran 1, Willingboro 0:Jason Ronca and Dan Hill hooked up Sunday in a classic pitchers' duel. Ronca pitched a four-hitter and struck out 10 as Delran won 1-0 in a Rancocas Valley League game at J.F. Kennedy Recreation Center Field. Hill, in his first start for Willingboro, allowed just five hits and worked out of several jams. Delran got the only run Ronca would need in the second inning. Dave Kittle walked, stole second and took third on a passed ball. Mike Delellis singled to center for the game's lone run.

Burlington 6, Pemberton 5: Jon Reiner was 4-for-4, including a three-run home run and a double, as the Mets took the opener of a doubleheader. Carl Taylor struck out nine to win a tough matchup with Pemberton ace Ronnie Krankowski. Dan Graham and Kyle Semmel each had two hits for Burlington. Nick Henderson had a double for Pemberton.

Pemberton 10, Burlington 7: Tyler Veterano and Ian McLeaf each went 2-for-3, with Veterano scoring three times and McLeaf twice, as coach Gerry Lamola's club got its first win. Kyle Brown added a two-run single for the winners. Mike Kondrath picked up the pitching win, striking out nine in 5 innings, before Brown finished up. Pedro Perez took the loss.
Reiner and Perez each went 2-for-3, with Reiner driving in two runs.

Cinnaminson 4, Mount Laurel 3: Mike Osborne's one-out bases-loaded single in the bottom of the ninth was the game-winner. Ryan Varga pitched four scoreless innings to earn the win in relief of Brett Miller, who gave up just three first-inning runs (and was saved a fourth on Geoff Gilbert's throw to the plate).

Monday, May 23, 2011

Mount Laurel 2, Willingboro 1: Pat O'Reilly batted in the winning run in the bottom of the seventh inning. Matt Szukics had walked and stolen second before scoring. Sean McNeill was the winning pitcher.

Cinnaminson 5, Riverside 0: Jim Goodwin pitched a five-inning shutout, allowing two hits, and was helped by Bob Diepold's two-run double in the third inning. Dennis O'Hanlen also had two RBIs and Casey Donahue had one.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Willingboro 5, Cinnaminson 3: Mike Loffredo was 4-for-4, including a triple and double, and also pitched the seventh inning to save the win for Dave Caruso (five hits, one earned run in six innings).

Riverside 9, Pemberton 1: Don Strain had three hits and two RBIs, and Justin Ely had two hits and three RBIs as the second-year team picked up its second win. Dan Koneschusky had eight strikeouts in five innings.

Burlington 13, Mount Laurel 2: An 11-run first inning launched the Mets to victory. Winning pitcher John Harvey struck out six in a three-hitter. Garrett Mull and Jon Reiner each had two RBIs. Shaun Babula had two hits and scored three runs.

Vincentown 12, Delran 2: Jesse Pappler's grand slam broke it open for the Merchants, who were aided by three hits each from Mike Ferrara and Greg Miller. Zeke Boren got the win with five innings of two-hit ball.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Riverside 4, Willingboro 1: Winning pitcher Kevin Joo had eight strikeouts and went the distance as Riverside improved to 3-4. Justin Ely had two hits and two RBIs.

Cinnaminson 5, Pemberton 4: Dennis O'Hanlen singled the winning run home in the bottom of the eighth inning, capping a two-run rally. Mike Osborne (three hits, two RBIs) had singled the tying run home.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Willingboro 8, Mount Laurel 3: Dan Hill and winning pitcher Matt McAllister had two hits apiece for Willingboro.

RVL Notebook

May 31, 2011
Courtesy of Bruce Johnson, Burlington County Times

Pemberton coach sees light at end of tunnel
A look at today's Rancocas Valley Baseball League standings shows all eight teams in a pretty tight race ... with just two points separating first-place Vincentown and sixth-place Riverside with 8 points (not including Monday night's game). With just 25 of the regular-season's 140 games having been played, it's way too early to make any predictions on how things will play out. But it would hardly be a wild guess to go with Vincentown, Burlington, Delran and Cinnaminson - currently 1-2-3-4 - as the top four spots, even though the "other four" are all significantly improved over last year. And although his team's current 1-7 record does not show it, fifth-year Pemberton coach Gerry Lamola is beaming over his team's prospects, once the high school season ends and he gets his entire roster involved. "By far this is my best team," the coach was saying last week after his team's first win of the season. "Trust me, we are going to compete with the top four teams." It's been a slow process for Lamola and Co., going 1-29 that first year in 2007, followed by 2-24, 9-19 and 8-25. But he's got some nice pieces in place, including hard-throwing right-handers Ronnie Krankowski, Mike Kondrath, Kyle Brown and Nick Henderson.
(Krankowski is in the strange position, following offseason shoulder surgery, of being able to pitch, where he is one of the league's best, but unable to swing the bat. He is normally the team's No. 3 hitter.) When the high school playoffs end, Pemberton will enjoy a mini-youth movement, with slugger Gabe Santone (Seneca), slick-fielding Vince Gares (Burlington City) and Rich Powelson (Seneca) giving Lamola some solid infield defenders. Tyler Veterano and Ian McCleaf were recently picked up as the pieces continue to be put into place for a turnaround out in Pemberton. "I don't want us to be the stomping boy for everybody," Lamola said. "I think we're going to have a really fun summer. We're going to be right there. I believe that."

Youth movement
Nobody has made a bigger commitment to young players than the Burlington Mets, who have six high schoolers on their roster: shortstop Pedro Perez (Burlington City), outfielder Kyle Semmel (Holy Cross), pitcher Anthony Coniglio (Burlington City), infielder Josh Limon (Rancocas Valley), infielder Vince Corbi (Shawnee) and outfielder Jimmy Graham (Rancocas Valley). "I think it's because of the press coverage in the paper," Mets player-manager Keith Babula said. "After last season, we were contacted by more high school kids than ever before." Winning back-to-back titles is never easy. And it's tougher if changes aren't made, to make the team deeper, while building for the future. The Mets will be without slugger Paul Guerrieri all summer, and Jeff Vitale, while seeming to sip from a fountain of youth somewhere, is chronologically on the dark side of 50. But not only have the Mets been infused with youth, they've been infused with really, really talented young players.

Non-youth movement
Last week only eight players showed up for a Mount Laurel game, forcing Dean Johnson to take the field. "Yes, my 57-year-old (butt) had to play seven innings," he said. "I played first base. Once I got some action, I had a great time, actually." Defensively it might have been fun, but offensively was a different story. "I fouled off four pitches," Deano said. "No hits, two strikeouts and a walk. It's a big difference going from over-55 baseball on weekends to RVL pitchers."

Photo of the week
Fans, teammates, girlfriends, wives ... anybody is invited to send us RVL game photos to be used in future RVL Notebooks. Send your photos to bctsports@yahoo.com and make the subject: rvl photos. Please have complete identification and information of what is happening in the photos. We will try to use at least one each Monday.

Pitching makes difference
Veteran Vincentown manager Harry Thompson felt a lack of pitching kept his team from possibly winning the league playoff title last summer. This year, it's pitching that has carried the Merchants to a league-best 5-0 record.
"We have some arms this year," the 65-year veteran of the 65-year-old league said, reeling off the names, "(Alan) Hasher, Zeke (Boren), (Damon) Valloreo, (Owen) Boles, (Chris) Murray, Sam (Pepper) and Jesse (Pappler). (All were on last year's roster, except Valloreo and Murray.) "We have three games with Burlington next week, so we're going to need good pitching. I hear they're bringing in some guy who pitched in China. We'll see, babe."

Game(s) of the week
After playing Monday night at Southampton Memorial Field, the Burlington Mets and Merchants will go at it again tonight and Thursday night - all under the lights in lovely V-town.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Vincentown 4, Burlington 1: Zeke Boren struck out eight, walked none and permitted three hits in the Merchants’ victory Tuesday night. Troy Foster had two hits and one RBI as Vincentown improved to 6-1. Josh Limon’s double scored the Burlington run and John Harvey had seven strikeouts for the Mets (5-3).

Delran 3, Willingboro 0: Mark Wickersham hit a two-run double on a two-out 3-2 pitch in the bottom of the sixth inning, breaking up a scoreless mound duel between Eric Gertie and Ryan Derry. Gertie went the distance and struck out five.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Cinnaminson 3, Riverside 1: Winning pitcher Ryan Varga allowed one hit and an unearned run, and had four strikeouts in going all seven innings. The Wasco brothers, Mike and Tim, accounted for the Cinnaminson runs in the fourth inning. Mike hit a two-run double and Tim batted in a run with a groundout.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Vincentown 5, Burlington 1: The first-place Merchants (7-1) won behind Damon Valloreo, who struck out eight and permitted six hits Thursday night. John Bujanowski Jr. was 3-for-3 and Owen Boles added two hits for Vincentown. Reliever Chris Murray pitched a 1-2-3 seventh inning, striking out three.

RVL Notebook

June 6, 2011
Courtesy of Bruce Johnson, Burlington County Times

Pitching has been the key for Willingboro

Willingboro took a 3-6 record into Sunday’s doubleheader at Pemberton. Despite that record, coach Mike Stumpf’s crew has been playing pretty good ball in the early going of the Rancocas Valley Baseball League.
The Boro Boys opened with a 15-4 victory over defending champion Burlington, blasting 16 hits and looking like a contender. In the eight games since, Willingboro plated just 19 runs, including just two in the six losses — four shutouts and two games with just one run.

The pitching, which figured to be a problem for a team known as one of the league’s better offensive clubs, has been pretty solid. Lefty Dave Caruso earned wins over Burlington and Cinnaminson, while Matt McAllister had the other win before Sunday. Tough-luck Ryan Derry had a couple of narrow losses, to Burlington and Delran (0-0 into bottom of the sixth). Another tough-lucker is Ace Robinson, whose losses include a 2-1 game to Mount Laurel and Sunday’s 2-0 game with Pemberton. Dan Hill lost the toughest game, a 1-0 decision to Delran.

Willingboro’s bats finally erupted on Sunday in the second game of a doubleheader with Pemberton. After being shut out in the opener, The Boro scored 22 in the nightcap. “It’s a little frustrating to score 22 runs in a doubleheader and only win one game,” Stumpf said. “We have to start hitting. Maybe the second game is a start.”

Hill and McAllister were members of the Penn State-Abington team during the spring. Their college pitching coach is Shaun Babula, ace of the Burlington staff, who convinced them to come play in the high-caliber RVL. Hill, a first baseman-designated hitter, and McAllister, an infielder, are also helpful members of the regular lineup. Willingboro also has added Devon Hedgepath, who just finished his senior year at Rancocas Valley High School. He will provide a bat, a glove in the outfield, and another arm on the mound.

Problems, problems
Maybe it’s his age. Or maybe he was speaking with tongue firmly planted in cheek. Despite his team’s league-best 7-1 start, which includes taking two out of three games last week from defending champion Burlington, Harry Thompson thinks his team has a problem. It seems things have been going quite well with Greg Miller handling shortstop during the early going, while returning starter Stefan Kancylarz was finishing up his high school career at Lenape (the Indians lost in the South Jersey Group 4 final on Friday). “What the heck am I going to do at shortstop when Kancylarz is back?” Thompson said, with a straight face.
If that’s his team’s biggest problem, it’s one the league’s other seven teams would all like to have.

Who’s at catcher?
When last season ended, the one position that 2011 champion Burlington didn’t figure to have a problem at in 2011 was behind the plate. Paul Guerrieri figured to return from injury. Joe Mastrangelo had filled in well before an injury ended his season. And then Matt Fischer not only filled in behind the plate but took over as the cleanup hitter.

But when the 2011 season started, Guerrieri was out for the entire year with a back injury, Mastrangelo did not return, and, so far this spring, Fischer hasn’t made the trip back over the Burlington-Bristol Bridge for any games.

Vinnie James was brought in, but he didn’t make his first appearance until Thursday night. So coach Keith Babula has had to mix and match — one game it was outfielder Garrett Mull and then it was infielder Dave Jost. Finally, things reached a head a week ago Sunday when Burlington had NO actual catchers for a doubleheader at Pemberton.
Brandon Elliott caught the opening game and was so worn out that he couldn’t start on the mound in the second game. With no catchers available, starting pitcher Carl Taylor put on the tools. Then he was replaced by veteran Dan Torres.

An emergency call went out and Babula was able to pick up Jon Gonzalez, a talented 16-year-old from Winslow Township. James was behind the plate for Thursday’s game at Vincentown. Speaking of the Mets, with Seton Hall University’s elimination from the College World Series on Sunday, they should be regaining the services of hard-hitting Sean Gusrang.

Game of the week
Mount Laurel at Pemberton, Wednesday, 6:15. The teams only had one win each going into Sunday’s action, so this one takes on added importance. And if it’s Ronnie Krankowski vs. Bret Jenkins, it should be memorable.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Cinnaminson 13, Mount Laurel 0: Diepold pitched the first five innings and Bob Osborne worked the sixth and final frame, combining on a four-hitter. Diepold had three hits and two RBIs, Dennis O’Hanlen had three hits, and Gary Herron had two hits and three RBIs.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Delran 9, Riverside 1:Max Newill had 12 strikeouts and permitted five hits in Delran’s 9-1 triumph over Riverside in Rancocas Valley League baseball Tuesday. The run against Newill was unearned. Dave Kittle was 2-for-2 and scored three runs. Mike DeLellis had two hits and batted in two runs as first-place Delran boosted its record to 8-2.

Willingboro 8, Pemberton 3: Ryan Derry struck out 13 in a five-hitter, and Brett McLaughlin had three hits and three RBIs for the winners.
Jared Turner and Jamie Schwantes added two hits each for Willingboro. John Perinelli had a home run and double for Pemberton.

Burlington 8, Cinnaminson 3: Jeff Vitale had three RBIs and Garrett Mull doubled twice in support of winning pitcher Carl Taylor. Cinnaminson received a two-run homer from Bob Diepold in the first inning.

Vincentown 8, Mount Laurel 4: John Bujanowski Sr. had three hits and batted in three runs to lead the Merchants (8-1) to victory Tuesday night. Mike Ferrara and Stefan Kancylarz added two hits each in support of winning pitcher Alan Hasher. Mount Laurel rallied to within 6-4 on a two-run homer by Kevin Diamond.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Willingboro 5, Riverside 0: Willingboro scored two runs in the first inning on its way to a 5-0 victory over Riverside in Rancocas Valley League baseball Wednesday. The pitch-by-committee approach worked. Nick Berardinucci, Evan Plys and Jared Turner combined for a four-hitter and five strikeouts. The win gives Willingboro a 6-8 record. The early burst of offense also helped. Andrew Csik doubled the first run home, then scored on Jamie Schwantes’ triple. Kellen Peter had two hits, including a triple, and scored three runs.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Maull perfect on a hot nightDelran 12, Riverside 0: Chris Maull pitched a perfect game for Delran in a 12-0 victory over Riverside in a Rancocas Valley League baseball game Thursday.
Maull recorded five strikeouts among the 18 batters he retired in the six-inning game. Mark Wickersham led the Delran offense with three hits and scored two runs. Justin McFadden had two hits.

Cinnaminson 7, Burlington 1: Home runs by Frank Sirolli and Mike Wasco led the winners. Each had two hits, and they combined for five RBIs. On the mound, John Meadus worked the first innings for the win and Nick Melchiorre pitched the last two frames. The lefty-righty combination accounted for five strikeouts and allowed four hits.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Vincentown 8, Willingboro 2: Unbeaten Damon Valloreo earned his third win as the Vincentown Merchants posted an 8-2 victory over Willingboro on Sunday in a Rancocas Valley Baseball League game at the J.F. Kennedy Recreation Center. Stefan Kancylarz had three hits for the Merchants, while ageless John Bujanowski Sr. belted a pair of doubles. Jamie Schwantes and Devon Hedgepeth each had a pair of hits for Boro.

Delran 3, Mount Laurel 0: The Dooks improved to 11-2 as Eric Gertie allowed just five hits and struck out six. Dave Smith only allowed two hits, singles by Rocky Petrone and Mark Wickersham, but ended up the tough-luck loser at Notre Dame Field.

Cinnaminson 10, Pemberton 0: Ryan Varga allowed one hit and fanned seven in the five-inning opener. The Gilbert brothers each drove in four runs to lead the offense, Greg getting two singles and a double, Geoff getting two singles and a home run.

Cinnaminson 18, Pemberton 6: Greg Gilbert was 4-for-5 with three RBIs and Tim Wasco went 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles for Cinnaminson. Brett Miller earned the win with six innings of relief. Tyler Veterano had a grand-slam homer for Pemberton.

RVL Notebook

Courtesy of Bruce Johnson, Burlington County Times

A quick rundown of 'The Great Rundown'

Remember when you were a kid, playing “Running bases” or “Rundown” in the backyard or on the playgrounds? Basically, all you needed was a ball, two gloves, two bases, two fielders, and somebody who would get caught “in a pickle” and a rundown would ensue. The fastest players were the hardest to get out, and usually won.

Which brings us to last Thursday night at Life Center Academy’s field for the Rancocas Valley League game between visiting Cinnaminson and host Burlington. Cinnaminson scored once in the top of the first, and Shaun Babula led off the bottom of the inning with a single to left. A couple pitches later, Babula took off for second, while lefty pitcher John Meadus threw to first base in a pickoff attempt.

Here’s where the fun started, as The Great Rundown ensued. Babula was caught in a rundown that lasted more than one minute, but less than two minutes. Eventually he was tagged out while diving back into first base ... by third baseman Johnny Dockins.

Wondering how that was scored, the two managers were contacted and asked for help.

Cinnaminson’s Brett Miller: “I just told our scorer to write down ‘picked off.’ The ball must’ve changed hands 10 times. With no replay, it’d be impossible to remember.”

Burlington’s Keith Babula: “1-3-6-3-4-6-4-1-4-5-3-6, I think. Their third baseman (Dockins) saved the play with a backup after one throw got away.”
For the uninitiated, Babula’s number meant: pitcher (1) Meadus to first baseman (3) Matt Janulis to shortstop (6) Casey Donahue to Janulis to second baseman (4) Bob Osborne to Donahue to Osborne to Meadus to Osborne to Dockins to Janulis to Donahue. But Miller checked and reported back that Dockins had made the final tag, adding “don’t ask me how he got over there.” So that would make it 1-3-6-3-4-6-4-1-4-5-3-6-5.

“I should’ve gotten out of it,” Shaun Babula said. “My old legs gave out. If I don’t fall, I escape. No way Casey (Donahue), Bob Osborne or Matt Janulis can run me down.”

Probably the best comment on the play came from Mike Osborne, Cinnaminson’s injured center fielder. “It looked like a bunch of fat, out-of-shape cops chasing a criminal,” he said.

Heading into the back stretch
After Sunday’s action, we are now 48 games down, 92 games to play ... a little more than a third of the way through the 35-game regular season. And Delran, Cinnaminson and Vincentown have started to slowly pull away from the pack.

The Dooks (11-2) have won seven in a row and allowed just seven runs over that period. With Jason Ronca, Eric Gertie, Max Newill and Chris (Mr. Perfect) Maull, they’ve got as much pitching as anybody. Mike Delellis (.385), Ryan McFadden (.350) and Kyle Ballay (.350) have been the top hitters. But expect to see Rocky Petrone, Mark Wickersham and Dave Kittle — the 2-3-4 hitters — pick it up soon. Delran’s only losses have been night games at Vincentown.

The Merchants (9-1), meanwhile, seem to have found plenty of pitching — Damon Valloreo, Alan Hasher, Zeke Boren and Kevin Kraft — to go with a brutal offensive attack. Mike Ferrara is leading the league with a .522 average, and the Merchants also have Greg Miller (.474), Stefan Kancylarz (.400), Troy Foster (.400), John Bujanowski Sr. (.370), John Bujanowski Jr. (.357) and Owen Boles (.353). That’s seven starters hitting better than .350. And that doesn’t include Chris Murray, Kevin Carty, Jesse Pappler, Al Roach or Andrew Lydon, all big hitters.

Cinnaminson (8-4) has quietly won four of its last 5, with plenty of pitching, and hitting supplied by a different couple of guys every game.
For the time being, defending champion Burlington (6-5) and Willingboro (6-9) appear the next level, with Riverside (3-8), Mount Laurel (2-7) and Pemberton (2-12) following.

The RVL’s Beef and Beer fundraiser will be held June 25, at the Jug Handle Inn, Route 73 South, Cinnaminson, from 7-11?p.m. The Jug’s famous chicken wings highlight the menu, along with pulled pork and ziti. Cost is $25 and the money goes to the league’s scholarships and to raise money to pay the umpires. The evening is open to the public. For tickets, contact your local manager, or Keith Babula at kdbabula@yahoo.com.

The Willingboro entry in the RVL will be hosting the third Alvin Townsend Beef and Beer this Saturday at the Cool Cricket, 216 4th Street, Fieldsboro, from 6-9?p.m. Cost is $25. Contact manager Mike Stumpf or any member of the Boro Boys if you’re interested in helping preserve the memory of Townsend, a former member of Willingboro’s RVL team.

Game of the week
Willingboro at Vincentown, Thursday, 8?p.m. The Boro Boys took a three-game win streak into Sunday’s action, finding a different pitcher every day. (Hopefully this will be better than last week’s game of the week — when Pemberton forfeited to Mount Laurel).

Monday, June 13, 2011

Riverside 9, Mt. Laurel 9: Four home runs helped Riverside in a 9-9 tie with Mount Laurel in a Rancocas Valley League baseball game halted by darkness after seven innings. Riverside erased a 9-4 deficit with the help of a two-run homer by Don Strain in the sixth inning and Jason Sabol’s three-run blast in the seventh. Riverside’s earlier runs were produced on a pair of two-run homers, by Justin Ely and Brett Knazek. Mike Cooper helped Mount Laurel hold its own in the home run derby, with a threerun homer and a two-run shot.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Cinnaminson 2, Riverside 0: Two runs in the second inning made the difference. Tyler Powell scored on an error and Tim Wasco followed with a triple for the insurance run. Wasco also doubled in going 2-for-2. Corey Mingin worked six innings for the win and Nick Melchiorre pitched a 1-2-3 seventh to save it. Riverside’s Kevin Joo had five strikeouts, permitted four hits and neither run was earned.

Thursday, June 16, 2010

Riverside 10, Cinnaminson 7: Chaz Briggs (triple, double) was 4-for-4 in support of winning pitcher Jason Sabol. Brett Knazek had two RBIs and Justin Ely had two hits for Riverside, which set the tone with an eight-run first inning.

Burlington 6, Pemberton 0: Brandon Elliott allowed two hits over five innings and the Mets received two RBIs each from Shaun Babula (two hits) and Dave Jost. Sean Gusrang was 2-for-2 with one RBI.

Delran 13, Mount Laurel 2: Dave Kittle had three hits and batted in three runs for the winners. Delran scored a combined 10 runs in the fourth and fifth innings to help winning pitcher Chris Maull.

Vincentown 9, Willingboro 8: Owen Boles’ bases-loaded single in the bottom of the eighth won the first game. Greg Miller had a home run and drove in two runs, as did Jesse Pappler and Boles. Chris Murray earned the pitching win with three scoreless innings of relief.

Vincentown 10, Willingboro 9: John Bujanowski Jr. was 4-for-4 with three RBIs, and Al Roach also knocked in three runs as the Merchants improved to 11-1 with a win in the second game of a wild twinbill. After Willingboro had one run and the bases loaded in the top of the seventh, Murray struck out two batters to end the game.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Burlington 8, Pemberton 6: The Burlington Mets held on for an 8-6 win over Pemberton. Shaun Babula, Sean Gusrang and Jeff Vitale had two hits each for the winners. Babula stole four bases and Vitale had two RBIs. John Harvey got the win, pitching four hitless and scoreless innings.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Willingboro 3, Cinnaminson 2: Ace Robinson pitched a complete game six-hitter as Willingboro held on for a 3-2 victory over Cinnaminson in the second game of a Rancocas Valley league doubleheader Sunday night at Memorial Field. Robinson, who has suffered several tough losses, became a first-time winner when player-coach Mike Stumpf threw out pinch-runner Ryan Varga on Mike Wasco’s hard two-out single to right field. Bob Diepold took the loss, allowing one earned run in five innings. Jamie Schwantes and Jon Wetzel each had two hits for Willingboro (7-12). Cinnaminson (11-6), which could have moved into first place with a win, got two hits from Dennis O’Hanlon.

Cinnaminson 6, Willingboro 1: Ryan Varga and Mike Loffredo were hooked up in a 1-1 pitchers’ duel into the bottom of the sixth inning of the opener. Cinnaminson then loaded the bases with none out and Mike Wasco delivered a grand-slam home run, the first earned runs allowed by Loffredo this summer. Geoff Gilbert followed with a solo home run to finish the scoring. The lone run off Varga, on a single by Jon Wetzel, was unearned.

Burlington 5, Delran 0: Carl Taylor pitched a four-hit shutout for his league-leading fifth win, and Shaun Babula was 4-for-4 with two runs scored as the Mets knocked off the first-place team. Dave Jost had a two-run single while Pedro Perez, Garret Mull and Sean Gusrang each had two hits for the Mets (9-5), who have won three straight and will host Delran on Tuesday, 6:15?p.m., at Life Center Academy. Chris Garrett had two hits for Delran (12-3), while Eric Gertie pitched a strong game.

RVL Notebook

June 20, 2011
Courtesy of Bruce Johnson, Burlington County Times

RVL fundraiser this Saturday open to public
The Rancocas Valley Baseball League will hold its big fundraiser of the year Saturday at the Jug Handle Inn, Route 70, Cinnaminson.
There is a $25 fee, and tickets can be purchased from team managers, or by contacting Keith Babula at kdbabula@yahoo.com.

The event is open to the public and players from all the teams will be there.

The Jug’s famous chicken wings are a big draw, as is the possibility that Burlington Mets veteran Jeff Vitale may grab the mic for a Howard Cosell imitation or maybe a little standup routine.

A separate booth may even be created for Burlington’s Jon Reiner to do his famous imitation of a legendary sports writer conducting an interview.

Pappler on fire
Jesse Pappler has been swinging a big bat for the 11-1 Vincentown Merchants. Through Friday’s games, the first baseman was hitting .345 and among the league leaders in runs (12, second to Burlington’s Shaun Babula), RBIs (11, first with Willingboro’s Mike Loffredo and Riverside’s Justin Ely), walks (11, tied for third) and home runs (2, with Mount Laurel’s Mike Cooper, Pemberton’s Ian McCleaf, Riverside’s Ely and Burlington’s Garrett Mull).

The head coach at Westampton Tech drew seven walks on Thursday night during Vincentown’s wild 9-8, 10-9 sweep of Willingboro.

Speaking of the Merchants, they had all nine starters hitting over .333 according to the league’s website. In addition to Pappler, that includes Mike Ferraro (.500), Stefan Kancylarz (.500), Al Roach (.409), Greg Miller (.400), John Bujanowski Jr. (.389), John Bujanowski Sr. (.381), Owen Boles (.364) and Chris Murray (.333).

Drought is over
Mark Stumpf and Mike Gulli have been two more-than-solid players for Willingboro the past 13 years. But it wasn’t until last Thursday night that either of them had hit an RVL home run. During Willingboro’s wild 9-8, 10-9 double loss at Vincentown, the duo pounded the ball over the fence at Southampton Memorial Park. Teammate Kellen Peter also hit a home run, but he’s done it before.

Mr. Slugger
John Montemurro has been smacking the ball at a .467 clip (14-for-30) during his first 10 games with Mount Laurel. And six of his 14 hits have been doubles, so he has a league-best .667 slugging percentage. Trailing are Willingboro’s Kellen Peter (.630), Burlington’s Dan Graham (.625) and Vincentown’s Pappler (.621).

Carpenter Cup
Five members of the 2011 Carpenter Cup team representing Burlington County are currently playing in the RVL: Shawnee’s Vince Corbi (Burlington), Rancocas Valley’s Devon Hedgepeth (Willingboro), Lenape’s Stefan Kancylarz (Vincentown), Burlington City’s Pedro Perez (Burlington) and Seneca’s Gabe Santone (Pemberton).

All-Star Game
It appears there will be an All-Star Game this summer. But that’s all that is known at this point. Several local leagues were contacted but have not expressed interest in taking on the RVL.

One possibility is an all-RVL game, broken into River (Burlington, Cinnaminson, Delran, Riverside) and Country (Mount Laurel, Pemberton, Vincentown, Willingboro) divisions.

Another possibility is having two captains pick the teams.
Stay tuned for the actual date and site of the game.

Quite a few members of the Rancocas Valley League are playing in the second-year New Jersey Independent Baseball League.

The Riverside Rams, playing in the 18-and-over National League West, took a 6-2 record into Sunday’s game against the first-place St. Ann’s Angels (8-1). RVLers included on the Rams’ roster are: Jim Caparelli, Brandon Elliott, Jim Goodwin, Alan Hasher, Brett and Joe Knazek, Mike Loffredo, Matt Mann, Gabe Mastrangelo Sr. and Jr., Corey Mingin, John Mongon, Dennis O’Hanlon, Dave Sorrentino, and Mike and Tim Wasco. RVLer Vinnie James plays for St. Ann’s.

In the 25-and-over American League Central, the Moorestown Wolfpack (7-2-1) includes RVLers Geoff and Greg Gilbert, Gary Herron, Brett Miller, Mark Stumpf, Jeff Vitale and Mark Wickersham, while Jay Sabol plays for the Moorestown Phillies (6-4).

A Pemberton grand slam home run last Sunday was incorrectly reported to the paper. Bobby Henderson hit the blast. Teammate Ian McCleaf also homered in the game.

Quote of the week
“The way you were chasing foul balls, I thought they were giving out free hot dogs for every returned ball.”
Burlington’s Shaun Babula to a big RVL fan who was watching the June 9 Cinnaminson-Burlington game from far down the right-field line.

Game of the week
Tuesday, 6:15, at Life Center Academy, it’s a rematch of last year’s playoff finals, with the Delran Dooks taking on the Burlington Mets, the defending champs. Get there early, because runs figure to be at a premium.

TriCounty Sports Online Coverage of the RVL

June 20, 2011
Mike Wasco's grand slam in the bottom of the sixth inning broke open a 1-1 tie and gave Cinnaminson a 5-1 lead. Geoff Gilbert followed Wasco with a solo home run to give Cinnaminson a 6-1 advantage, which would turn out to be the final score. Bobby Diepold scored Cinnaminson's first run earlier in the game when he raced home following a passed ball. Willingboro's lone run came on an RBI single by Jon Wetzel. Ryan Varga pitched a complete game and picked up the win for Cinnaminson. Mike Loffredo took the loss for Willingboro. Photo Gallery

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Cinnaminson 10, Willingboro 1: Tyler Powell and Mike Osborne went 3-for-4 as Cinnaminson routed Willingboro 10-1 in a Rancocas Valley League baseball game on Tuesday. Mike Wasko had two hits, including a double, for Cinnaminson. Nick Melchiorre was the winning pitcher. He struck out 10 in six innings of work.

Delran 9, Burlington 0: Kyle Ballay had three hits, including two triples, and Mike Delellis crushed a three-run home run to lead Delran. Max Newill was the winning pitcher. Shaun Babula, Sean Gusrang and Jeff Vitale had two hits each in the losing effort.

TriCounty Sports Online Coverage of the RVL

June 22, 2011
Mike Delellis scattered three hits over five scoreless innings as Delran defeated Riverside NJIBL 8-2. Delellis also helped his own cause at the plate with three hits and three RBIs. After pitching five scoreless innings, Delellis yielded to reliever Justin McFadden in the sixth inning. Riverside finally broke through and plated two runs in the bottom of the sixth inning. Mike Delellis was the winning pitcher for Delran. Kevin Joo took the loss for Riverside. Photo Gallery

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Delellis Shines in Unusual Role
Courtesy of Dave Zangaro, Burlington County Times

It has been a long time coming for Mike Delellis.
Delran’s catcher did a role-reversal on Wednesday evening. Instead of taking his usual spot behind the plate, the Marlton native grabbed the ball and headed out to the mound. He pitched pretty well, too.

Delellis threw five scoreless innings in Delran’s 8-2 win over Riverside in Rancocas Valley League baseball action. The last time he pitched was in March for the University of Bridgeport. Before then: “probably a couple of years,” he said. Delellis gave up only three hits in five innings and struck out six. He faced only 19 batters in his five innings and his longest innings were four batters each.

“It felt good,” Delellis said. “I was just trying to throw strikes.”
Delellis at one point shook off two signs from catcher Rex Workman. He said he has four pitches in his arsenal: a fastball, curveball, slider and changeup.

Delran, the runner-up in last year’s RVL championship, has plenty of pitchers, but if it ever needed another one, at least it knows Delellis is available. “He pitched well,” Delran player/manager Rocky Petrone said. “He’s been playing really well. He pitched in college, so he’s a good option to have if we need him to throw.”

Delran also gave Delellis plenty of run support against Riverside. It scored two in the first, one in the third and three in the fourth before he left the game. Kyle Ballay went 3-for-5 with two runs scored in the leadoff role. Petrone went 3-for-4 with a run scored and two RBIs and Delellis hit three singles and knocked in a run with each of them.

Delran has now beaten Riverside in all three of the teams’ contests this season, but it sees improvement in Riverside.
Riverside didn’t win a game last year. It went 0-33 and didn’t look good doing it. This year, it’s added some new players and already has five wins in just 14 games. “They have some real scrappy players and they’re getting better,” Delellis said.

Kevin Joo pitched 5 2/3 innings and while he got the loss, he kept his team in the game. “They’re a lot better than they were last year,” Petrone said. “Their pitcher, Joo, he’s pretty good. They’re a good and young team.”

Riverside’s Joe Knazek went 2-for-3 with a run scored and Jason Sabol also hit two singles. Delran had some extra spring in its step against Riverside on Wednesday. On Tuesday, it beat defending champs Burlington 9-0. What made that win even sweeter was that it came against Burlington pitcher Shaun Babula, who it’s struggled with in the past.

“It was the first time we beat him in a long time,” Petrone said. “We had 17 or 18 hits and they were all hit pretty hard, too. I think last year we had about 18 hits in six games against him.”

It’s the kind of momentum that the club hopes will carry them through the rest of the season. “That’s a springboard to our season,” Delellis said.

Cinnaminson 3, Mt. Laurel 1:Cinnaminson scored all three of its runs in the bottom of the fifth inning on its way to a 3-1 win over Mount Laurel in Rancocas Valley League baseball action. Tyler Powell hit an RBI bunt single. The next batter, Mike Osborne, hit a two-run double for the winning runs.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Cinnaminson 5, Vincentown 4: Cinnaminson moved to within a half-point of first place on Sunday night with a come-from-behind 5-4 victory over Vincentown in the Rancocas Valley League. The loss ended an eight-game win streak for the Merchants (13-2). Cinnaminson (14-6) got the win in the bottom of the seventh when Mike Wasco singled home Geoff Gilbert, who had led off the inning with a single. Wasco also had a solo home run in the first inning. Mike Ferrara and Jesse Pappler had RBI singles in Vincentown’s three-run fifth against starter Bob Diepold. But Cinnaminson regained the lead in the bottom of the sixth on a two-run homer by Diepold off Alan Hasher. Pappler then re-tied the game with a solo home run off Jeff Singer, who earned the win with three innings of relief.

Willingboro 8, Burlington 7 (11): Mike Gulli’s safety squeeze bunt scored Ed Kaminski, who had walked, in the bottom of the 11th inning to lift the Boro (8-13) over the defending champion Mets (11-7). Jared Turner went the first five innings for Willingboro, striking out seven. Former Met pitcher Ace Robinson threw the last six to earn the win. Mark Stumpf and Jon Wetzel each collected three hits for the winners, while Justin Edge and Kyle Semmel had two hits apiece for the Mets.

RVL Notebook

June 27, 2011
Courtesy of Bruce Johnson, Burlington County Times

Delran: Win over Mets' ace 'just one game'

The Delran bats were on fire last Tuesday at Life Center Field, lighting up nemesis Shaun Babula of the Burlington Mets for 18 hits in a 9-0 victory.
“It’s just one game,” Delran player-coach Rocky Petrone said. “The thing with Shaun is, he’s such a good pitcher and he’s such a competitor . . . you know he’s gonna get you back. It’s nice to get a win against him, since he’s pretty much owned us lately.

“But we know he’s gonna come back. This game was just fuel for his fire.”
Ironically, the winning pitcher last Tuesday was Max Newill, who had been on the losing end of a 12-0 game against Babula and the Mets last July. “Two of the most competitive pitchers around, but also with a lot of respect for each other,” Petrone said.

A year ago, Babula was 4-0 against Delran during the regular season, with four complete games (26 innings; one five-inning win) and allowing just 11 total hits and one unearned run. In the playoffs, he was 2-0 against Delran, allowing a three-run home run to Mike Delellis (who also had a three-run HR last Tuesday) and then throwing 14 blanks in the other innings. For the entire 2010 season against Delran, Babula’s line was: 42 innings, 26 hits, 3 earned runs, 9 walks, 38 strikeouts and an 0.50 ERA.
Kyle Ballay started things for Delran last Tuesday with a triple on an 0-2 pitch, opening the flood gates. Ballay finished with a double and two triples, Delellis added a double and four RBIs, while lefty Ryan McFadden chipped in with three hits. Eight of Delran’s nine batters joined in the fun.

“I can’t remember being hit like that, consistently through the game, since high school,” Babula said. “I guess they were due against me.”

Memory lane
Getting back to Herb Anderson and his 21-strikeout game back in 1948 (see story on C1). It came in Chatsworth’s 4-1 victory over visiting Vincentown.
The 6-foot-4, 240-pound right-hander had spent several years in the minor league system of the Washington Senators during the Second World War. When he was demoted in 1945, he decided it was time to come back home, get a real job and pitch in the county league. His 21 k’s broke the old county league record of 19 set by Harold Vansciver, Al Diffenbaugh and Len Baker.
And the Vincentown lineup he faced that day was pretty good:
Mutt Worrell cf; Al Netzer p; Howard Scott 2b; Ed Haines 3b; Bill Netzer lf; Warren Harris rf; John Githens 1b; Hen Moore ss; Ken Nixon c
Bill Haines lf and Bob Taylor ss each entered the game midway through and got two at-bats.

Anderson was touched for eight hits, but helped his cause with a two-run first-inning homer. Losing pitcher Netzer struck out five times.

Mount Laurel made a nice pickup last week in Jeff McGarry. The recent Lenape graduate hit .500 with 33 RBIs and eight home runs and was 7-3 as a pitcher, earning first team all-county honors.

Willingboro dropped pitcher Dave Caruso, who beat defending league champion Burlington in this season’s opener, and added Matt Moceri of Florence. Moceri is a solid all-around guy who will help offensively, defensively and on the mound, now that he’s recovered from Tommy John surgery. In 27 games last summer, Moceri hit .338 with a team-high seven home runs. The Boro also dropped Matt McCallister and added Kyle Reed.

Already deep in pitchers, Cinnaminson added all-county first-team selection Jeff Singer of Holy Cross. Singer, who was 9-2 and hit .476 with 35 RBIs and seven home runs, joins a staff that includes Bob Diepold, Jim Goodwin, John Meadus, Nick Melchiorre, Brett Miller, Corey Mingin and Ryan Varga.
Vincentown, knee deep in infielders, released Dan Hayduk, who was immediately picked up by Pemberton.

Games of the week
Monday: Pemberton heads to Hainesport to take on Mount Laurel, each team looking to escape eighth place.

Thursday: Cinnaminson visits Vincentown. The Millers could use a W if they want to make a run at first place, while the Merchants look to improve the league’s best record.


June 27, 2011
Courtesy of Bruce Johnson, Burlington County Times

n his varsity debut back in 2005, Damon Valloreo struck out 13 batters. Striking people out became a habit. But even Valloreo was a bit surprised by what he did last Thursday night at Southampton Memorial Park.

The lefty made history when he struck out 20 batters in Vincentown’s 11-0 Rancocas Valley League win over Pemberton. What made it even more unbelievable is that he recorded the first 20 outs via strikeouts! Thirteen went down swinging and seven took a third strike.

It was an RVL one-game record, and it was just one strikeout short of the county semipro record of 21, set on May 2, 1948 by Herb Anderson of the Chatsworth club in the old Burlington County League. Valloreo’s effort was a county record for strikeouts in a seven-inning game. Where the RVL plays seven innings, the old county league had nine-inning games.

“The only time I can remember more strikeouts was (Shawnee’s Sean) Doolittle had 23, I think, in a high school game a couple years ago,” Vincentown manager Harry Thompson said.

Oddly, the 80-year-old Thompson was a teenage member of the 1948 Vincentown team that was victimized by Anderson. Two other Merchants that year were Rodney Sagers, Valloreo’s grandfather, and Henry Scott, his grand uncle. Sagers, as always, was in the stands Thursday night watching his grandson and the Merchants.

A former Seneca High School and Burlington County College ace, Valloreo was one K from 21 in a row before Vince Gares, the No. 8 hitter, lifted a fly ball to right fielder John Bujanowski Sr. for the only putout not recorded by catcher Owen Boles. Valloreo settled for a two-hit shutout, with two walks and one hit batter.

“I tried not to think about the strikeouts, as much as possible,” Valloreo said. “I just wanted to keep putting up zeroes. We have a really potent lineup, one through nine, so that really helps my confidence, knowing they’re going to score runs.”

Valloreo, who lives in Vincentown, is happy to be on the Merchants and contributing to the 13-1 squad. He has a 3-0 record, with 38 strikeouts in 25 innings, and a 0.28 ERA. “Harry has been trying to bring me on board for a while,” he said. “We have some really good arms. I’m lucky enough to fit in with Zeke (Boren), Alan (Hasher) and (Chris) Murray.”

Every team Valloreo has played on — Seneca, the Protocole Starz of the ACBBL, Burlington County College and now Vincentown — has been a winner. Coincidence? Maybe. Maybe not.

“When I was at Seneca we won the state Group 3 championship in my junior year (2007),” he said. “That was a really special team. I got to play with Dan Grovatt and Ryan Doolittle, who both play professionally now.” Last summer he helped the Protocall Starz win the Atlantic Baseball Confederation Collegiate League. The winning continued at Burlington County College. This past spring Valloreo was 7-0 with a 1.53 ERA as the Barons finished 34-20, won the Garden State Conference and were undefeated in New Jersey. Now it’s on to the next level of college.

“I’m still deciding on a school, but I’ve got a few offers to choose from,” he said. One of those offers is from Millersville, whose coach was in Vincentown on Thursday night. “He was there to watch Damon,” Thompson said. “He had a (radar) gun and got him at a consistent 85, 86 miles per hour.”

While contemplating the college offers, Valloreo will soon be heading to upstate New York, where he will pitch for the Albany Dutchmen in the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League. “I’m hoping it will be a good chance to get in front of some professional scouts,” he said. “That’s why you play. I have a dream and I’m going to chase it.”

But when early August comes, you can expect to see Valloreo back in Vincentown for the RVL playoffs. Vincentown last won the league title in 2003. “Absolutely, I’ll be back,” he said. “These guys are awesome. I want to be there with them to win it for Harry.

TriCounty Sports Online RVL Coverage

June 27, 2011
Willingboro and Burlington needed extra innings to settle this classic RVL contest. Willingboro jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the third inning, but the Mets clawed their way back into this game and sent it into extra innings with two runs in the seventh inning. Each team scored one run in the eighth inning. Willingboro eventually won this game when Mike Gulli's bunt single scored Ed Kaminski in the bottom of the eleventh inning. Ace Robinson, who pitched the last six innings in relief, picked up the win for Willingboro. Shaun Babula, pitching in relief of Burlington starter Carl Taylor since the ninth inning, suffered the loss. Photo Gallery

Monday, June 27, 2011

Willingboro 4, Burlington 4: Jose Martinez doubled home a run and Jaime Schwantes singled home two more as Willingboro scored three runs in the top of the seventh to force extra innings in an eventual 4-4 Rancocas Valley League tie with Burlington on Monday.

Jon Reiner had a two-run double and Shaun Babula stole home for Burlington (11-7-1). Willingboro is 8-13-1. Neither team could push accross another run before the game was called due to darkness after eight innings.

Mount Laurel 9, Pemberton 1: Winning pitcher Bret Jenkins went 2-for-4, driving in four runs to help his own cause in the win. Dan Rella doubled and scored twice for Mount Laurel (3-11-1), while Brandon Barnes had a pair of hits and scored twice. Kyle Brown doubled for Pemberton (2-17).

TriCounty Sports Online RVL Coverage

June 28, 2011
Bret Jenkins allowed one run over five innings as Mount Laurel defeated Pemberton 9-1. Mount Laurel broke open a scoreless game with four runs in the second inning. After Kyle Brown walked in the first two runs, Jenkins helped his own cause with a two-run single. Mount Laurel went on to score four more runs in the third inning and one in the fifth. Pemberton's lone run came in the top of the fifth inning. Dave Smith came in for Mount Laurel to start the sixth inning and pitched two scoreless innings. Bret Jenkins picked up the win while Kyle Brown was tagged with the loss. Photo Gallery

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Cinnaminson takes over first place
Ryan Varga struck out six and allowed just one run as Cinnaminson took over first place in the Rancocas Valley League standings with a 5-1 win over Delran. Tyler Powell and Mike Wasco each drove in runs and Bob Osborne doubled twice to lead the Cinnaminson attack. Delran’s run came on an RBI single by Rocky Petrone.

Burlington 18, Mount Laurel 0: John Harvey struck out 10 in a one-hit complete game win. Dave Jost had a pair of triples and drove in five runs. Pedro Perez drove in a pair with three hits including a home run. Vinnie James doubled twice and had three RBIs in the Mets offensive explosion. Kevin Diamond had Mount Laurel’s lone hit.

Riverside shows it's serious

June 28, 2011
Courtesy of Dave Zangaro, Burlington County Times

RIVERSIDE— No one’s laughing. Not anymore.
Last season, Riverside struggled through its first season in the Rancocas Valley League, and that’s an understatement. The team played hard in 33 games and emerged with exactly zero wins.

They were the laughingstock of the league. Not anymore.

Through 19 games this season, Riverside has amassed a 5-12-2 record, which includes their 6-6 tie against Vincentown (13-2-1) on Tuesday night.
The game was called due to darkness. “It’s a lot more fun in every game,” said Donnie Strain, who acted as the team’s player/manager last season. “Even the games we don’t win, it’s close and that makes it more fun.”

What has made this team different is the addition of several guys. Strain said there are about 10 new players on the team, which includes what last year’s squad desperately needed: a new pitching staff. Riverside brought in pitchers Kevin Joo, Jake Still and Dan Koneschusky.

“We have a whole different attitude this year,” Strain said. “A whole different swag.” That swag was pretty evident on Tuesday. In the top of the seventh inning, the Merchants scored two runs, both walked in by Riverside closer Mike Hiem to take a 6-5 lead.

Last year, that would have been the end of the game, another tally mark in the ever-growing Riverside loss column. But not this year. This team has swag. In the bottom of the seventh inning, with one out, Brett Knazek hit an opposite-field single, and after advancing on a wild pitch, was driven in by six-hole hitter Jason Sabol’s RBI single.

“Last year we probably don’t even get a man on,” Strain said.
While Riverside has shown they’re not the same team from last season, first-year manager Gabe Mastrangelo Sr. said his squad still has a ways to go.

Vincentown took a 4-3 lead in the sixth inning on RBI singles from Zeke Boren and Andrew Lydon, but Riverside responded in the bottom of the inning. With a man on, eight-hole batter David Sorrentino blasted a home run to center field that gave Riverside a lead, a lead it wasn’t able to hold. Sorrentino went 3-for-3, while Knazek went 2-for-4 with a runs scored and two RBIs.

“It’s a little frustrating,” Mastrangelo said. “When we have a team like that on the ropes, we need to win those games. We’re just not experienced enough yet to put those games away.”
Mastrangelo was approached by Jim Capparelli during the winter and was asked if he wanted to coach. Mastrangelo had attended every game last year to watch his son, Gabe Jr., play. “He came to every game last year,” Strain said, “so he might as well manage.”

“It wasn’t a hard decision to coach these guys,” Mastrangelo said. “I’ve coached most of them since they were 6 or 7.”

“I said I would coach before I thought about the all the abuse and stuff I would take throughout a 35-game schedule,” he said jokingly, “But I love coaching.”

And Riverside loves having him. Last year Strain was forced to be a player/manager for the club, which he admitted was hard.

“It’s a lot of weight off my shoulders,” Strain said. “It was hard last year, to coach my friends and to yell at my friends. This year, I can just focus on playing and leave the coaching up to him.”

Riverside has still never beaten Vincentown since joining the league last year, but will get another crack tonight. The two teams will play again at 6:15 at Bob Kenney Field in Riverside.

Mastrangelo said that there’s still plenty of room for improvement this year, and Strain agrees.

“Hopefully, we’ll keep getting better and hit our peak when the playoffs come around,” Strain said.

When the playoffs do arrive, Riverside will be ready to play, and no one will be laughing.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Delran recaptures first place in RVL
A sixth-inning run made the difference for Delran in a 1-0 victory over Cinnaminson in Rancocas Valley League baseball Wednesday. Matt Ulmer singled, scoring Mike DeLellis to help Eric Gertie win his pitching duel with Nick Melchiorre. The victory boosts Delran’s record to 16-4, good for 34 points as Delran moved back into first place ahead of Cinnaminson (15-7, 33.5 points). ?DeLellis reached base on a single, then advanced to third on Ryan McFadden’s double to set the stage for Ulmer. Gertie went the distance and struck out seven. Melchiorre fanned 10 in 6 1/3 innings.

Vincentown 15, Riverside 9: John Bujanowski Sr. was 5-for-6, with two triples, and had five RBIs as the Merchants (14-2-1) won a slugfest. Ryan Walters was 4-for-4 with two RBIs and Damon Valloreo was 4-for-5 with three RBIs. Walters pitched the first four innings for the win and Kevin Carty worked the last three frames. Riverside highlights featured two-run triples by Brett Knazek and John Mongon.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Riverside 7, Willingboro 6: Justin Ely and Brett Knazek batted in two runs apiece, supporting winning pitcher Jake Still as Riverside built a 7-1 lead. Willingboro scored five runs in the top of the seventh inning, aided by home runs from Mark Stumpf and Evan Plys, before Riverside reliever Mike Hynes ended it with a strikeout.

Skidmore finds a place to play in Burlington

July 1, 2011
Courtesy of Bruce Johnson, Burlington County Times

FLORENCE - One day a couple years ago, Shaun Babula walked intoa Center City real estate offi ce. He was looking for a place to rent in downtown Philadelphia. There were several agents available, but Babula ended up with a young guy named Zach Skidmore. At some point in the conversation the talk turned to baseball.

Babula was back in New Jersey after an 11-year minor league career, playing for the Burlington Mets. Skidmore was a former player at Eastern Illinois University, looking for a local team to hook up with.
Bingo. He hasn't played too often for the Mets - two games last summer - he was in the lineup Thursday night as the Mets posted a 12-7 Rancocas Valley League victory over Mount Laurel.

Skidmore was 3-for-4 with three runs scored and two RBIs, including a mammoth solo home run, to lead the winners' attack. "It just sorta worked out," Skidmore said. "Shaun was looking for a place, I was looking for a team. This is only the third game I've played, counting the two last year. It's gonna be hit-and-miss a lot, but I'm hoping to get in enough games to be eligible for the playoffs."

It didn't look like there would be a game ... until Kevin Diamond arrived as Mount Laurel's ninth player. Nobody was happier than Brandon Elliott, who hadn't pitched since June 16 - a five-inning scoreless stint against Pemberton. Elliott was to start last Friday, but Riverside only had eight players in uniform.

Elliott became the winner after his team scored four runs in the second. Singles by Vinnie James, Skidmore, Dan Torres, a two-run triple by Justin Edge and an RBI single by Babula provided a lead Mount Laurel would threaten, but never catch.
Skidmore's home run started a four-run fourth for the Mets. And earned him a free night out.

"We had a pool, everybody put in $5 and the money went to the first guy to hit a home run," Skidmore said. "That will be for the beer later."

Skidmore was a third baseman at Eastern Illinois, but was in the lineup at second base Thursday night. "I have a torn labrum, so third base was out of the question," he said. "I thought they'd put me at DH, but I looked at the lineup and it said 4 (second base)."

With veteran Jeff Vitale sitting out a third straight game (pulled hamstring), Torres filled in at third and had an RBI single, while stealing three bases and scoring three runs. "It was an ugly win, but it was a win," Mets coach Ric Babula said.

Bret Jenkins relieved Mount Laurel starter Dave Smith with the bases loaded and none out in the fourth. Two pitches later - a double play grounder and a fly ball to left - he was out of the inning.... For Mount Laurel, Mike Cooper had two RBIs, Sean McNeil two hits and Mark McCouch scored twice. ... Babula, Dan Graham, Skidmore and Edge each had two RBIs for Burlington.

RVL Notebook

July 5, 2011
Courtesy of Bruce Johnson, Burlington County Times

‘River’ vs. ‘Country’ in All-Star Game
The Rancocas Valley League’s rumored allstar game this summer is no longer a rumor. League president Ric Babula sent out emails to the league’s managers early Monday morning telling them that there is going to be an all-star game, and it will be this Saturday.
If Vincentown’s field is available, which won’t be known until sometime today, the game will there, starting at 7 p.m. If Vincentown’s field is not available, the game will be held at Life Center Academy, Florence, at 4 p.m.

There will be a Home Run Derby, at 4 p.m. if the game’s in Vincentown, 2 p.m. if it’s at LCA.

The format will be “River” teams versus “Country” teams with Burlington, Cinnaminson, Riverside and Willingboro comprising the River team, and Delran, Mount Laurel, Pemberton and Vincentown forming the Country nine.
That’s also the 3-4-5-6 teams vs. the 1-2-7-8 teams in the current standings.

Stay tuned for official word on the site and rosters.

Merchants always a handful
Pity Harry Thompson. The veteran manager of the Vincentown Merchants, the team with the best won-lost record in the Rancocas Valley League, only had nine players for Thursday’s game at Riverside. Luckily, Zeke Boren canceled plans to attend a concert in Philadelphia that night, so that the Merchants would have nine uniformed players that did NOT include the 80-year-old Thompson, who had to play one inning in left field and bat in a Sunday game last summer at Willingboro.

Still, you almost had to feel sorry for ol’ Harry as he noted the players who would not be in his lineup that night: ss Stefan Kancylarz, 3b Chris Murray, lf Al Roach, 1b Jesse Pappler, 2b Greg Miller. That’s the 2-3-4- 5-6 hitters in what most people feel is the league’s best offensive lineup.
So he patches a lineup together featuring Ryan Walters on the mound, standout pitcher Damon Valloreo in left, and an infi eld of 1b Mike Ferrara, 2b Boren, 3b Andrew Lydon and ss Kevin Carty. The only regulars were catcher Owen Boles and regular outfielders John Bujanowski’s, Jr. and Sr. And this against resurgent Riverside and its best pitcher, lefty Kevin Joo.

What happens? The Merchants pound out almost 20 hits — fi ve by Bujanowski Sr., and four each by Valloreo and Walters, in the Nos. 8 and 9 slots. The result was a 15-9 victory that improved Vincentown’s record to 14-2-1. For Valloreo, it was the first time he had hit in a game since he was at Seneca High School.

“We’re gonna be losing Damon (to a collegiate league in New York) for about a month,” Thompson said. “But we’ve got a couple of guys we’re gonna add to help with the pitching. We’ll see how it goes, babe. We’re going to be all right, I think.”

(The next night, with most of its regulars back in the lineup, V-town put up 19 against Cinnaminson.)

Duel in the dusk
How about the pitchers’ duel on Wednesday evening out at Memorial Field in Cinnaminson? Delran’s Eric Gertie vs. Cinanminson’s Nick Melchiorre in a battle of the 1-2 teams in the standings. It ended up a 1-0 victory for the Dooks.

Gertie struck out seven, while Melchiorre whiffed 10. The only run came in the top of the sixth, on a three-hit barrage (Mike Delellis single, Ryan McFadden double, Matt Ulmer single) by the lower half of Delran’s order.
Delran had another nail-biter the following night, with Chris Maull winning over Pemberton’s Ron Krankowski after Delran pushed over two runs in the last of the seventh to win 3-2.

Here’s the catch
The revolving door of catchers with the Burlington Mets continued last week with current Burlington City High School player Justin Edge taking his turn. Edge, entering his senior year, is the eighth Met to take a turn behind the plate.

Matt Fischer caught 19 games last summer, plus most of the playoffs, and hit .288. But the big guy hasn’t crossed the Burlington- Bristol Bridge this summer.

Lefty Dave Caruso is back on the Willingboro roster, with outfielder Aaron Csik being released. Cinnaminson released Ryan Mingin and added Tim Borek. In the final move before the rosters were frozen on Sunday at midnight, Vincentown brought Joe Argow onto its roster.

End of days
The RVL regular season is scheduled to end on Tuesday, Aug. 2. That game has Vincentown (currently 15-2-1) facing Delran (17-4) at Notre Dame Field, a matchup of the two teams currently with the best records.

Best nickname EVER!
There have been a lot of good nicknames for New Jersey semipro teams over the years. The Netcong Circus was certainly a very good one. And there were the Parsippany Tomahawks (as opposed to Parsippany High School’s Redskins) along with the New Egypt Cornhuskers. And let’s not forget the Alpha S.I.M. team that won the 1937 Tri-County League. S.I.M. stood for Society of Independent Marchegianos (Italians with blue eyes, I’ve been told).

But the best ever has to be the Whippany team that won three straight Dover Major Twilight League titles up in Morris County from 1955 through 1957. Their nickname: the Vamps. The Whippany Vamps!

No, it was not a team of women who tried to seduce or beguile their opponent. In this case, Vamps stood for Volunteer Army of Manuel Pumpers; i.e., it was the Whippany Fire Company.

Games of the week
Wherever Vincentown is playing. The Merchants will be home tonight against first-place Delran, then close out the week with games on Thursday and Friday against defending champion Burlington at Life Center Academy’s Field of Spleens.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Mt. Laurel 6, Willingboro 5: Dan Rella singled the tying and winning runs home in the bottom half of the seventh inning, lifting Mount Laurel to a 6-5 win over Willingboro in Rancocas Valley League baseball Tuesday. Rella’s hit capped a four-run rally for Mount Laurel. Rella and Bret Jenkins had two hits each in support of winning pitcher Sean McNeill. Willingboro received two hits apiece from Ed Kaminski, Evan Plys and Jared Turner.

Delran 6, Vincentown 4: Mike Delellis hit a grand slam in the top half of the eighth inning, lifting the league leaders (18-4) to victory. Singles by Rocky Petrone and Mark Wickersham, and a walk to Dave Kittle loaded the bases.
Jason Ronca pitched all eight innings for the win, holding on after a two-run single by John Bujanowski Sr. in the bottom of the eighth. Kittle’s two-run single in the sixth gave Delran a 2-1 lead before Vincentown (15-3-1) forced extra innings on Mike Ferrara’s two-out RBI single in the seventh.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Cinnaminson 12, Pemberton 1: Joe Sirolli was 4-for-4, scored three runs and batted in one for Cinnaminson in a 12-1 victory over Pemberton in Rancocas Valley League baseball Wednesday. Mike Wasco (2-for-2) contributed a home run, double and three RBIs as second-place Cinnaminson improved to 16-8. John Meadus was the winning pitcher.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Cinnaminson 6, Delran 1: Cinnaminson crept closer to first place with a 6-1 win over Delran in Rancocas Valley League baseball Thursday.
Nick Melchiorre pitched six scoreless innings, allowing three hits and recording six strikeouts. Cinnaminson is 17-8 for 38 points in the standings, a half-point behind Delran (18-5, 38.5). Bob Osborne doubled twice and batted in two runs, Frank Sirolli had an RBI double, and Mike Osborne and Tim Borek contributed RBIs.

Mount Laurel 10, Riverside 1: Mount Laurel capped a good week with its second straight win and improved to 5-13-1 overall.

Babula Tosses a Beauty

July 7, 2011
Courtesy of Tim Rimback, Burlington County Times

FLORENCE — A big part of the appeal of Rancocas Valley League baseball is its consistency. Year after year, familiar faces line up wearing familiar colors and battle over every pitch. Two of the RVL’s most stable franchises did just that Thursday in Burlington’s 4-0 win over Vincentown. Shaun Babula allowed just two hits to earn the win.

“This is the best I’ve felt all season, by far,” Babula said. “We’re a little bit behind (in the standings) but it always makes it better when we’re all bunched up at the end. We always get pumped up to face the better teams.”

Burlington (15-7-1 record) and Vincentown (15-4-1) trail only Cinnaminson and Delran in the eight-team summer semi-pro circuit. The teams meet again today before the RVL All-Star game Saturday. The RVL playoffs are just over three weeks away.

“We’re missing a few guys from last year,” Babula said. “We’ve got a lot of young guys that are stepping up. Josh Limon got a big hit for us. (Vince) Corbi was on base a couple of times. We’ll be all right.”

Limon drove home the second run with a fourth-inning double. Earlier in the inning, Jon Reiner singled home Dave Jost who had stolen a base and took third on a throwing error. The names on both rosters haven’t changed much over the years. The only real differences are welcome ones. Some of the best high school players in the county are starting to work their way into the lineups.

“We call it our farm system, the Burlington Mets farm system,” Babula said. “We’ve got six or seven high schoolers. They’re all good ball players that are going on to play college. It’s kind of what we like the league to be made up of, college players, ex-college players and guys like us that have been in the league for a while.”

Kyle Semmel scored in the seventh on a double steal when a throw to second got away. Babula drove in Limon to give himself one more run to work with. He wouldn’t need it.

“Shaun’s a great pitcher,” Vincentown’s John Bujanowski Sr. said. “In this league, he’s dominant when he’s on. He pitches quick and he challenges you. We knew that.

“We’ve faced the best two pitchers in the league back-to-back. We’re better than we’ve appeared in the last two games. I hope it puts a fire in everyone’s belly.”

RVL Finals Schedule

All games will be played at Southampton Memorial Field

Monday, Aug 9
Delran 3 Burlington 4 (8 innings) Burlington leads 1-0

Tuesday, Aug 10
Delran 10 Burlington 7 Series tied 1-1

Wednesday, Aug 11

Thursday, Aug 12
Burlington 5 Delran 7 Delran leads series 2-1

Friday, Aug 13
Burlington 6 Delran 0 Series tied 2-2

Saturday, Aug 14

Sunday, Aug 15
Delran 3 Burlington 10 Burlington wins 3-2

TriCounty Sports Online RVL Coverage

July 7, 2011
Mount Laurel broke open a scoreless game with four runs in the second inning. Brian Black hit a two-run single to highlight the inning. Rich Leadbeater added a two-run home run for Mount Laurel in the third inning. Mount Laurel went on to add single runs in the fourth and sixth innings, and two more runs in the seventh inning. Riverside broke up the shutout with Jim Capparelli's RBI single in the seventh inning. Mike Cooper pitched a complete game to pick up the win for Mount Laurel. Dan Koneschusky took the loss for Riverside. Photo Gallery

McFadden, Murray help 'Country' knock off 'River' in all-star game

July 9, 2011
Courtesy of Kevin Kolodziej, Burlington County Times

SOUTHAMPTON — The best of the best from the Rancocas Valley League faced-off against each other in an inter-league all-star game Saturday night at Southampton Memorial Park.

The Country squad defeated the River squad 5-3. The Country team was made up of players from Delran, Mount Laurel, Pemberton and Vincentown; the River included players from Burlington, Cinnaminson, Riverside and Willingboro.

Chris Murray earned the win, pitching two shutout innings to start the game. “It’s a good time being able to do this — being able to come out and get all the teams together,” Murray said. “It’s just fun messing around with everybody.” Murray, who plays for the Vincentown Merchants, is currently batting .444, and hit a two-RBI triple in the top of the sixth to give the Country squad its fourth and fifth runs.

Delran’s Ryan McFadden, who is hitting .317, went 4-for-4 with three RBIs for the winners. “There’s no pressure at all in a game like this,” McFadden said. “It’s all about just coming out here, playing baseball, and having fun. “This is my first year doing it. Usually, they’ll play against Tri-County — but this is my first time since being in this league that we’ve played (an all-star game) against the other (RVL) teams.”

McFadden’s Delran teammate, Mike Delellis, was a workhorse for the Country team. Delellis played the first three innings behind the plate, then chalked up three strikeouts as he pitched the fifth and sixth innings. On the offensive, he had one hit, scored a run, and was walked once.
Delellis currently leads Delran in home runs with three, and is third on his team with a .386 average. “I think there’s a little bit more pressure in an all-star game (compared to a regular-season game),” Delellis said. “You want to do good, and you definitely don’t want to lose. Playoffs is what it’s all about, though. That’s where your pride’s on the line.”

Babula home run king

Before the game, the RVL held a home run derby which ended in a swing-off between two Burlington Mets. Shaun Babula, who currently leads the RVL with a .508 average but has no regular-season homers, defeated Garrett Mull.
Mull, who leads Burlington in home runs, had two hits in the game. “The home run derby’s cool because you get a bunch of guys getting together swinging the bats,” Mull said. “I feel like it makes the league better. We should have started this years ago. Since I’ve been in the league, we haven’t done it. We’ve played other leagues before, but this is the first time we split up the teams. It’s a lot of fun because everyone knows each other. “(This all-star game) was a lot of fun because you’re yelling at guys on the other team that you know. Nobody really cares who wins the game. I mean, it’s competitive, but at the end of the day, you just really hope that no one gets hurt.”

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Delran 7, Burlington 3:Leadoff hitter Kyle Ballay was 2-for-2 with two walks and four runs scored to spark first-place Delran to a 7-3 Rancocas Valley League victory over the Burlington Mets Sunday at Notre Dame Field. The win, the seventh in the last nine games for Delran (19-5), avenged a June 19 shutout loss to Mets starter Carl Taylor. It also ended a four-game unbeaten streak (3-0-1) for the defending league champs (15-8-1). Taylor pitched a complete game Sunday. ?Eric Gertie earned the win with a seven-inning, four-hit effort. He allowed two runs in the top of the first, but only two more the rest of the way. Shaun Babula had two hits and scored for the Mets.

Cinnaminson 2, Vincentown 1: Ryan Varga outdueled Zeke Boren as Cinnaminson (18-8) stayed a half-point back of Delran with a win over slumping Vincentown (15-5-1). Varga allowed a third-inning run when Shaun Flynn singled and scored on a single by Stefan Kancylarz. But Cinnaminson took the lead on Gary Herron’s two-run single with the bases loaded in the bottom of the fourth. The winners are 3-0 since a 19-7 loss to Vincentown last week, while the Merchants have lost five of their last seven games, since Damon Valloreo’s 20-strikeout game.

Willingboro 2, Mount Laurel 1: Kellen Peter had RBI singles in the third and fifth innings to back the solid pitching of Nick Bernarducci (5 innings) and Mike Loffredo (2). Willingboro, which had two one-run losses and a tie in its last three games, improved to 9-15-1. Mike Oliver was the tough-luck loser for the Laurels (5-14-1), who had a two-game win streak ended.

TriCounty Sports Online RVL Coverage

July 10, 2011
Delran starter Eric Gertie settled down after allowing two runs in the top of the first inning. Gertie allowed only one more run over the final six innings as Delran defeated the Burlington Mets 7-3. After trimming Burlington's lead to 2-1 with a run in their half of the first, Delran took the lead for good in the third inning with a run scored on an errant throw and a Dave Kittle RBI single. Delran added another run in the fifth and added some insurance with three runs in the sixth inning. Eric Gertie pitched a complete game to pick up the win while Carl Taylor took the loss for Burlington. Photo Gallery

RVL Notebook

July 11, 2011
Courtesy of Bruce Johnson, Burlington County Times

With 92 games down and 48 left, let’s clear out the notebook ...

In the most recent Sports Illustrated, there is a “Where Are They Now” article on Michelle Akers, the original best woman’s soccer player in the world, and star of the 1999 U.S. team that captured the World Cup. Akers is now a mom, living in Georgia, and she talks in the article about going to watch her son’s Little League team play in its championship game. “It was just pure,” she says. “It’s the purity of competing.”

If you think about it, that’s what a league like the Rancocas Valley League is also all about: the purity of competition. Of course, some of the words that come out of the players’ mouths might not always be pure, but it’s the competition we’re talking about here, and it is pure. Why else would a bunch of 20- and 30-somethings (sometimes younger, sometimes older) suit up four, five, six, seven times a week and play . . . for no money? (Truth be told, the players actually pay to play, with their fee being used to cover league and team expenses.) Team members collect the bases and rake out the pitchers’ mound after a game; sometimes you will see an entire team spending an hour or more sweeping water off a field to make it playable.
Once upon a time, leagues like the RVL were everywhere. In the 1930s and ‘40s, even into the ‘50s, very few towns in the country, no matter how small, didn’t have a “town team” to represent them. But time — and television — changes everything. There are still plenty of leagues for 20- and 30-somethings to play in, but most of them are age-oriented: 18-and-over, 25-and-over, 35-and-over, etc. Leagues like the RVL, where high school phenoms can play alongside current college stars or former pro players, are few and far between.

But thankfully, some of those leagues still exist. In New Jersey there are six other such leagues:

Atlantic County: Absecon, Egg Harbor City, Hammonton, Margate Green Wave, Margate Hurricanes, Northfield, Ventnor.

Jersey Shore: Barnegat Blue Jays, Colts Neck Braves, East Coast Construction, Howell Spartans, LA Dodgers, Lacey White Sox, Monmouth Brewers, Point Merchants, Point Pirates, Toms River Tigers, Wall Angels.

Morris County Majors: Andover Fightin’ Wizards, Chester Eagles, Hanover Orioles, Hopatcong Hornets, Jefferson, Mendham Pastime A’s, Montville Shamrocks, Morristown Naturals, Parsippany Trojans, Sussex.

North Jersey Met: Belleville Rays, Hackensack Troasts, Meadowlands A’s, New Jersey Spartans, North Haledon Reds, Ramapo Valley Giants, South Bergen Bullets, Teaneck Bruins, Wayne Wolfback.

Salem County: Buena Forest Grove Athletics, Buena Vista Tomahawks, Elmer Aces, Gloucester Township, Joyce’s Stars, Max’s Baseball Club, Pitman Pride, Seabrook Storm, Southern Cape, South Jersey Senators, UTEK, Vineland Garton’s Riggings.

Tri-County: Bellmawr, Camden, Cherry Hill, Cherry Hill West, Deptford, Golden Nugget, Mack Ice, Muddogs, Pat’s Steaks, Roughriders, West Deptford.

All-Star games
In addition to the RVL All-Star Game, there were two other semi-local all-star games scheduled this weekend, both across the Delaware River. Saturday night, the Perkiomen Twilight League defeated the Pendel League 6-2 at Masons Mill Park, Upper Moreland.

The Blue Mountain League’s game with the Tri-County League at fabled Limeport Stadium in Lehigh County was rained out on Friday and has not been rescheduled.

Although the RVL’s River vs. Country format was nice and was popular with the players, the feeling here is that it would even better if the RVL could find a similar league to play against next summer. The Jersey Shore League comes to mind. It’s a quality league and it’s close.

Ronca roll
Jason Ronca hadn’t pitched in a while, and the righty was obviously well-rested for Tuesday’s big showdown against Vincentown. The Merchants came into the game having scored 15 and 19 runs in their last two games. But Ronca slowed down the Mashers on just four singles over eight innings. Thankfully, nobody in the RVL keeps those idiotic pitch counts, but Ronca struck out 15 and also walked seven. No confirmation yet on whether catcher Mike Delellis — whose grand slam in the top of the eighth provided the difference — started the game with a new glove and it was completely broken in by the time the game ended. Ronca was that “on”.

Speaking of pitchers, Vincentown started Joe Argow, playing in his first RVL game, and the young righty acquitted himself well. He threw five shutout innings before allowing a two-run single by Dave Kittle, just out of the reach of third baseman Greg Miller, in the sixth. He allowed three hits and fanned five in the six innings. “I never saw him before, but (Stefan) Kancylarz recommended him, so we added him, babe,” Merchants manager Harry Thompson said.

Mount Laurel’s Mike Cooper was sharp in a win over Riverside last week, allowing just two hits and striking out 12.

Old York robbery
Friday’s BCT contained a photo on page C3 of Vincentown left fielder Al Roach making a spectacular catch in the trees at Life Center Academy. What the caption did not say is who Roach robbed of a home run with the grab. It was Burlington’s Dave Jost.

Sneaking in just before the roster freeze, Vincentown added former Seneca High School star Shaun Flynn. He saw action in that July 5 game with Delran, playing third base when Miller relieved Argow. Then he played second base Thursday against Burlington.

Pemberton added Brad Caruso and Chris DelleMonache to its roster, but still forfeited its second game of the season on July 5.

Games of the week
Tuesday and Thursday it’s Delran vs. Burlington at the Field of Spleens (Life Center Academy). Also Thursday night, Vincentown will be at Cinnaminson.

TriCounty Sports Online RVL Coverage

July 11, 2011
Willingboro came out of the gate with five runs in the top of the first inning and went on to defeat Mount Laurel 10-4 in a game shortened to five innings due to darkness. Matt Moceri had a two run single as part of that first inning. Mount Laurel chipped away with a run in the third inning and three runs in the fourth, but Mark Stumpf's two run double and Mike Loffredo's three run home run in the fifth inning gave Willingboro a 10-4 lead just before the game was called. Ace Robinson picked up the win for Willingboro. Robinson yielded to Neil Demarco with one out in the fourth inning. Dave Smith took the loss for Mount Laurel. Photo Gallery

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Delran 3, Burlington 0: Jason Ronca pitched the shutout in Delran’s 3-0 victory over Burlington in Rancocas Valley League baseball Tuesday. Ronca allowed three hits and struck out nine for league leader Delran (20-5). Burlington pitcher John Harvey may have been just as good, with seven strikeouts and three hits allowed. Delran’s two runs in the fourth inning were unearned.

Riverside 6, Pemberton 2: Riverside clinched the victory with a 2-3-1 double play. On the throw that retired the batter on a dropped third strike, a Pemberton runner attempted to score but Riverside pitcher Mike Hynes covered home plate and tagged the runner for the final out. Hynes worked the seventh after Kevin Joo went the first six innings, allowing two unearned runs in the first. Donnie Strain had two hits and one RBI, and home runs by Justin Ely and Jason Sabol provided insurance in the top of the seventh.

Vincentown 6, Willingboro 5: The Merchants pulled it out in the bottom of the seventh inning when Shaun Flynn walked with the bases loaded, sending Al Roach home with the winning run. Roach had led off with a double. John Bujanowski Sr. had put Vincentown ahead with a grand slam in the sixth inning but Willingboro tied it in the top of the seventh on Matt Moceri’s home run.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Cinnaminson 3, Riverside 0: Jeff Singer, in his first start, pitched a shutout in Cinnaminson’s 3-0 victory over Riverside in Rancocas Valley League baseball Wednesday. Singer pitched all seven innings, allowed two hits, struck out three batters and walked three. The June graduate of Holy Cross High School had pitched in relief. Cinnaminson gave Singer a run to work with in the second inning, when Joe Sirolli’s single scored Mike Wasco. In the fifth, Matt Cann’s first RVL home run provided two insurance runs. Dennis O’Hanlen singled with two outs to give Cann his chance. The win raises Cinnaminson’s record to 19-8, good for 42 points in the standings and keeps Cinnaminson on the heels of leader Delran (20-5, 42.5). Riverside pitcher Jake Still allowed five hits and struck out seven.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Pemberton 9, Riverside 4: Ron Krankowski and Bobby Henderson led the attack for Pemberton in a 9-4 win over Riverside in Rancocas Valley League baseball Thursday. Krankowski was 3-for-3, scored two runs and batted in two as Pemberton (3-22) won for the first time since Krankowski's 2-0 victory over Willingboro on June 5. Henderson tripled, singled and also had two RBIs. Frank Pierce was the winning pitcher with Chris DelleMonache working the final two innings to halt a 13-game losing streak. Riverside (8-16-2) highlights included a triple by Brett Knazek, and doubles by Gabe Mastrangelo Jr. and Jim Capparelli.

Cinnaminson 11, Vincentown 7: A two-run double by Casey Donahue was the centerpiece of a six-run second inning that propelled Cinnaminson into first place. Cinnaminson is 20-8 for 44 points, one more than Delran.
Winning pitcher Bob Diepold went five innings and allowed two earned runs.
Vincentown (16-6-1) got a three-run homer from Greg Miller.

The spark they need?

July 15, 2011
Courtesy of Dave Zingaro, Burlington County Times

It didn’t matter how it happened, Burlington was just happy to get a win. It’s been a tough season so far for the Burlington Mets. They entered Thursday in fourth place in the eight-team Rancocas Valley League and had lost their last two games, both to Delran. In fact, after Burlington beat Delran in their first matchup of the year, Delran had taken the last three. Finally on Thursday, the Mets topped Delran 3-2 in the fifth and final regular-season game between last season’s league playoff finalists.

They won, but it wasn’t pretty. The Mets entered the bottom of the seventh inning with the game tied at 2. After loading the bases, Garrett Mull walked on five pitches to bring the winning run home just as the sun faded behind the left-field tree line at the Life Center Academy Field. It wasn’t pretty, but they’ll take it. “It’s nice to get a win, period,” Burlington coach Keith Babula said. “We haven’t played well all year. We just have to win at this point.”

Last season, Burlington finished the regular season in first place and sailed through the first two rounds of the playoffs and then knocked off Delran in the fifth game of the best-of-5 series. This season, the team is struggling to find its mojo. “We’ve struggled at the plate this year, but our pitching has been pretty good,” Babula said. “I hope we get going eventually. We have to get hot sooner or later.”

The pitching for the Mets was strong again on Thursday. Shaun Babula pitched a complete game, gave up only two runs and struck out eight batters. He also hit a two-run single in the fifth inning to tie it up at 2. For most of the game, Delran starter Mark Wickersham was able to match Babula inning for inning. In the seventh, he gave up a bunt single to Babula but walked three. “You have to give Wick some credit,” Delran player/coach Rocky Petrone said. “He pitched a really good game.”

In the end, however, it was Burlington’s Babula who earned the win. “Shaun pitched a great game and we were able to pull it out,” first-year Mets shortstop Vince Corbi said.

It was Corbi who scored the second run on Babula’s RBI single. He used his speed and scored easily from second. Corbi — batting leadoff for the first time, with Babula dropped to No. 3 — went 2-for-3 with a walk and a run scored. “I feel good. It’s been a real fun time,” said Corbi, a June graduate of Shawnee High School. “I love playing with these guys and I’m learning a lot.”

He’s been learning a lot, but one thing he didn’t need to be taught was the importance of getting a win against Delran, which entered the day first in the standings. “We wanted to come out strong, this was like a must-win for us,” Corbi said. “We definitely didn’t want them to sweep us.”

On Tuesday, the Mets lost to Delran 3-0 and wasted a strong outing by pitcher John Harvey, who gave up only three hits and one earned run.
“Harvey pitched a great game the last time, but we lost that game,” Corbi said, “so it’s good that we were able to get a win with Shaun on the mound.”

The last time Babula faced Delran, he was lit up for nine runs on 17 hits.
“That was a fluke the last time,” Petrone said. “That might be a once-in-a-lifetime thing for him. His slider was really working tonight.”

For Delran, Aaron Mackenzie went 3-for-3 with two doubles and Andrew Priece went 2-for-3 with a double and an RBI. Babula got the win, but it still wasn’t his best performance. He gave up eight hits and even balked in a run in the fifth inning. It’s the kind of thing that has plagued Burlington all season. According to Keith Babula, they need a spark, they just don’t know from where it’s going to come. Perhaps a far-from-pretty walkoff walk against the league’s top team? “We’ll absolutely take the win,” Corbi said. “We just needed a win. We’re going to catch fire.”

TriCounty Sports Online RVL Coverage

July 15, 2011
Pemberton and Riverside swapped the lead several times over the first three innings. After a scoreless fourth inning, Pemberton took the lead for good with a five-run fifth inning. Pemberton starting pitcher Frank Pierce helped himself with an RBI single as part of that fifth inning and Pierce came around to score later that same inning. Pemberton added another run in the sixth inning. Frank Pierce pitched four innings to pick up the win for Pemberton. Bobby Henderson came on in the fifth inning to pitch two scoreless innings, and Seneca High product Chris DelleMonache pitched the seventh inning for Pemberton. Jason Sabol took the loss for Riverside. Photo Gallery

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Willingboro 3, Vincentown 2: Lefty Nick Beranducci was the winning pitcher, in a taut duel with V-town veteran Zeke Boren. Jared Turner went the final 1 1/3 innings to earn the save. Mark Stumpf and Evan Plys each had two hits for Willingboro (11-16-1), while Andrew Lydon had three hits for Vincentown (16-7-1), which only had eight players show up, forcing 80-year-old player-manager Harry Thompson to handle right field. The Merchants have lost four of their last five.

Delran 10, Pemberton 1: Eric Gertie pitched a complete game and struck out 10 as Delran (21-6) rolled. Kyle Ballay, Chris Garrett and Drew Priece had doubles, with Garrett knocking in three runs. Pemberton’s Ronnie Krankowski continued his hot hitting, going 2-for-3 with an RBI.

Burlington 5, Mount Laurel 2: The Mets (17-9-1) broke open a scoreless game with five runs in the fifth, two scoring on a double by Dave Jost and another on a single by Garrett Mull. Carl Taylor took a no-hitter into the sixth before tiring. Shaun Babula earned the save. Ernie Covington had an RBI single for Mount Laurel (5-16-1).

Cinnaminson 16, Mount Laurel 3: Ryan Varga threw four innings of one-hit shutout ball as Cinnaminson (21-8) remained a point ahead of Delran in the battle for first place. Matt Cann had three hits for the winners, while Tyler Powell had a single and double.

RVL Notebook

July 18, 2011
Courtesy of Bruce Johnson, Burlington County Times

?With 105 games down and just 35 to go, the season is at the three-quarter pole and turning for home ...

Most veteran followers of the Rancocas Valley League have Delran tabbed as the team to beat when the playoffs start on Aug. 6. And why not? The 2007 and 2008 RVL champs have a veteran group of 12, 13 guys who show up every evening, play the game the right way and have lots of talent, at every position.

But the reason most people are on the Delran bandwagon is its pitching. With Jason Ronca, Eric Gertie and Max Newill, few teams can match them. But did you know this? The winningest pitcher on the staff is none of the above-mentioned.

According to the league statistics on its website (www.rvlbaseball.com), the league’s top winner is Chris Maull (tied with Cinnaminson’s Ryan Varga). The Delran right-hander had six starts, six complete games and six wins.

And if you think defending champion Burlington should be considered because of its powerful 1-2 pitching punch of Carl Taylor and Shaun Babula, consider that the Mets also have the league’s strikeout leader: big John Harvey.

With that in mind, what better time to take a look at the statistical leaders — offensive and pitching — as the season winds down? The stats are not 100 percent official, since not all the coaches have reported all their boxscores to the website. But this is the top five, plus ties, based on what’s been reported.

Batting average (minimum 40 at-bats): Shaun Babula (Burlington) .494, Mike Ferrara (Vincentown) .475, Dan Graham (Burlington) .435, John Bujanowski Jr. (Vincentown) .415, Rocky Petrone (Delran) .403.

At-bats: John Bujanowski Sr. (Vincentown) 87, (tie) Babula and Petrone 77, Mark Wickersham (Delran) 73, Mike Osborne (Cinnaminson) 70.

Runs: Babula 25, Kyle Ballay (Delran) 22, (tie) Bujanowski Sr. and Bujanowski Jr. 20, Frank Sirolli (Cinnaminson) 18.

Hits: Babula 38, Bujanowski Sr. 32, Petrone 31, (tie) Ferrara and Osborne 28.

Doubles: (tie) Dave Jost (Burlington), John Montemurro (Mount Laurel) and F. Sirolli 8, (tie) Bujanowski Jr. and Joe Knazek (Riverside) 7.

Triples: Bujanowski Sr. 3, (tie) Ballay, Owen Boles (Vincentown), Justin Ely (Riverside), Jost, Mike Loffredo (Willingboro), Greg Miller (Vincentown), Kellen Peter (Willingboro) 2.

Home runs: (tie) Mike Cooper (Mount Laurel), Justin Ely (Riverside), Miller and Mike Wasco (Cinnaminson) 4, (tie) Mike Delellis (Delran), Jesse Pappler (Vincentown), Al Roach (Vincentown) 3.

RBIs: Delellis 23, M. Wasco 20, Miller 19, Jost 18, M. Osborne 17.
Walks: Dan Graham (Burlington) 23, Ballay 19, Roach 16, (tie) Babula, Dave Kittle (Delan) and F. Sirolli 14.

Strikeouts: Ian McCleaf (Pemberton) 25, Donnie Strain (Riverside) 20, Bobbie Henderson (Pemberton) 19, (tie) Mike Juckett (Willingboro), Gabe Mastrangelo Jr. (Riverside) and Roach 18.

Stolen bases: Babula 25, (tie) Pedro Perez (Burlington) and Kyle Semmel (Burlington) 9, (tie) Mike Lamola (Pemberton) and Strain (Riverside) 6.

Hit by pitch: Ed Kaminski (Willingboro) 5, (tie) Kittle, Lamola, Evan Plys (Willingboro) 4, (tie) Greg Gilbert (Cinnaminson), Juckett, Matt Mann (Riverside), F. Sirolli, Jared Turner (Willingboro) and M. Wasco 3.

Slugging percentage (minimum 40 at-bats): Miller .687, Ely .655, Roach .646, M. Wasco .638, Loffredo .603.

Pitching wins: (tie) Chris Maull (Delran) and Ryan Varga (Cinnaminson) 6, (tie) Eric Gertie (Delran) and Carl Taylor (Burlington) 5, (tie) John Harvey (Burlington) and Jason Ronca (Delran) 4.

Pitching innings: Taylor 48.1, (tie) Ronnie Krankowski (Pemberton) and Varga 47.2, Gertie 46.1, Babula 44.2.

Pitching strikeouts: Harvey 52, Ronca 47, Krankowski 46, Kevin Joo (Riverside) 45, Babula 43.

Pitching ERA (minimum 20 innings): Damon Valloreo (Vincentown) 0.26, Zeke Boren (Vincentown) 0.36, Varga 0.44, Nick Melchiorre (Cinnaminson) 0.94, Ronca 1.04.

The season of ... 1911
The old Burlington County League turned 14 years old in 1911, a year that saw the births of Josh Gibson, Sid Gillman, L. Ron Hubbard, Hubert Humphrey, Robert Johnson, Marshall McLuhan, Mitch Miller, Buck O’Neill, Maureen O’Sullivan, Vincent Price, Ronald Reagan, Ginger Rogers, Roy Rogers, Jack Ruby, Phil Silvers, Big Joe Turner, Tennessee Williams and Babe Didrickson Zaharias.

Florence R.D. Wood won the Burlington County League and then defeated Delaware River League champion Riverside two games to one in a best-of-three playoff for county supremacy. Florence played the entire series without the services of Jack Sweeney, who had broken a leg playing in Tullytown, Pa., the week prior to the series.

In the decisive third game, Doug Rhubart pitched a three-hit shutout for a 4-0 victory in the Pipemakers’ clinching game, while Charlie Peacock went 4-for-4 and scored three times, including twice on steals of home.
(Next week: The season of ... 1944.)

Games of the week
This is a big week for Willingboro if the Boro Boys want to break into the Top Four. Mike Stumpf’s club travels to Pemberton tonight, visits Cinnaminson Wednesday night, hosts Delran on Thursday and finishes the week with a trip to Delran on Sunday evening. Going into Sunday’s games, Willingboro was 11-16-1 and trailed fourth-place Vincentown by 5.5 points.

TriCounty Sports Online RVL Coverage

July 18, 2011
Willingboro broke up a 1-1 tie with two runs in the bottom of the fourth inning. The first of those two runs crossed home plate when Vincentown failed to tag out a runner caught in a rundown between third base and home. A Vincentown rally in the sixth inning scored one, but the Merchants came up one run short. Nick Berranducci picked up the win for Willingboro. Jared Turner, who came on in relief of Berranducci with two outs in the sixth inning, picked up the save. Zeke Boren took the loss for Vincentown. Eighty year old Harry Thompson, manager of the Merchants, had to insert himself into the lineup and play right field when only eight Vincentown players showed up for the game. Photo Gallery

Monday, July 18, 2011

Cinnaminson 11, Mount Laurel 1: Cinnaminson pitchers Nick Melchiorre and Jeff Singer combined for a four-hitter and nine strikeouts, helping their team maintain first place. The game was scoreless until Gary Herron singled in the fourth inning, scoring two runs. Cinnaminson (22-8) put it out of reach with the help of Matt Cann, whose home runs in the sixth and seventh accounted for five runs.

Willingboro 11, Pemberton 3: Jose Martinez, Jared Turner and Matt Moceri hit home runs as the Boro Boys (12-16-1) crept within 3 1/2 points of fourth-place Vincentown. Martinez had three hits, and Turner four RBIs to back the pitching of Neil DeMarco. Mike Lamola had two hits for Pemberton.

TriCounty Sports Online RVL Coverage

July 19, 2011
Gary Herron's two-run double in the fourth inning turned out to be the only offense Cinnaminson would need as Nick Melchiorre and Jeff Singer combined to shut out Mount Laurel. Cinnaminson would go on to defeat Mount Laurel 11-0. Matt Cann hit two home runs: a two-run homer in the sixth inning and a three-run shot in the seventh. Cann's second home run was part of a six-run Cinnaminson seventh inning. Nick Melchiorre picked up the win for Cinnaminson. Jeff Singer, who entered the game in the fifth inning, picked up the save. Mount Laurel's Jim Turner was tagged with the loss. Photo Gallery

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Burlington 4, Riverside 1: Shaun Babula pitched a four-hitter and led Burlington to a 4-1 victory over Riverside in Rancocas Valley League baseball Wednesday. Babula struck out three and walked one (Riverside run was unearned) as the Mets improved to 18-9-1. Dave Jost tripled and doubled, John Harvey also had two hits, and both joined Babula with one RBI apiece.

?Cinnaminson 8, Willingboro 2: The league leaders scored four runs in the fourth inning, two on Jeff Singer’s double, and improved to 23-8.
Mike Osborne’s two-run single was the centerpiece of a four-run sixth inning. Winning pitcher Corey Mingin struck out six in a five-hitter.

Bujanowski leaves post for a win

July 21, 2011
Courtesy of Dave Zangaro, Burlington County Times

PEMBERTON — Before the bottom of the first inning, John Bujanowski Jr. trotted out to center field. For the most part, that’s his home for the Vincentown Merchants. But after he watched starting pitcher Matt Viarengo get taken out after facing Pemberton’s first batter and Ryan Walter get pulled after facing the second Pemberton batter, Bujanowski Jr. got the call ... sort of.

As manager Harry Thompson walked out to the mound he yelled out for veteran pitcher Zeke Boren, who was in left field, but instead decided to bring in Bujanowksi Jr. from his post in center. “We decided to pitch Viarengo, because we’re trying to get him playoff eligible,” Thompson said. “Walters had arm trouble, and when he started to pitch it hurt him.”

So, in came Bujanowski, who hadn’t pitched in about three years and it wasn’t pretty, but he got the win in Vincentown’s 15-6 five-inning win over Pemberton in Rancocas Valley League action Wednesday. “I had no idea I was going to pitch today,” Bujanowski Jr. said. “It’s probably the first time I’ve thrown in about three years. I remember throwing a couple of RVL games back then. I didn’t mind it at all, it was kind of fun.”

Bujanowski Jr. said it was actually infielder Andrew Lydon’s idea to put him on the mound. Five of Pemberton’s runs were charged to Bujanowski, but after allowing two in both the second and third inning, he threw a scoreless fourth and fifth for Vincentown (17-7-1). “I was just trying to throw strikes, not do too much,” he said. “I figured I’d let them try to hit me.”

Bujanowski Jr. was able to challenge the Pemberton bats to hit him because before the first half of the first inning was over, the Merchants had scored six runs. Pemberton starter Frank Pierce allowed a double to John Bujanowski Sr., but also recorded two quick outs and could have been out of the inning. Bujanowski Jr. hit a soaring pop up that landed in shallow center field and scored his father. It also started the six-run rally with two outs. “We should have gotten out of that first inning,” Pemberton manager Gerry Lamola said. “They scored six runs in that inning, if you take away those runs, it’s a different game and we’re in it. That also gets a pitcher more relaxed, if we got out of that inning.”

Pemberton (3-25-0) has struggled this season, but they have some talented recent graduates from Seneca High School who have been bright spots.
One of them, Rich Powelson, came in after the third inning and allowed only three runs in his two innings of work and Chris Dellemonache had a single, double and an RBI. For Pemberton, eight of its nine spots in the order reached base and for Vincentown, all nine spots in the order scored a run and eight of the nine spots recorded a hit.

In addition to getting the win, Bujanowski Jr. reached base in all four plate appearances. He also hit a two-run homer in the third inning. Bujanowski Sr. had two singles, a double and scored three times. “When we’re all here, we’re gonna be all right,” Bujanowski Sr. said. “We hit the ball pretty well today, and that’s with a few guys missing. We were just out of arms today.”

Luckily Vincentown had one more; he just normally stands in center field.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Burlington 1, Riverside 0: The Mets scored in the fourth inning, helping John Harvey win his pitching duel with Jake Still. Harvey had nine strikeouts, one walk and allowed three hits. Still yielded two hits, struck out five and walked two. One of the Burlington hits was a single by Shaun Babula in the fourth. He stole second base, then swiped third. Jon Reiner sent him home with a sacrifice fly. The Mets are 19-9-1.

Newill stays cool in the heat

July 22, 2011
Courtesy of Dave Zangaro, Burlington County Times

WILLINGBORO — It was hot, but Max Newill didn't sweat.

Newill has been around for about 15 years in the Rancocas Valley League and, while he isn't the same dominating pitcher he was back in the early 1990s for Delran High School, he's now as poised as they come. That poise paid off for Delran's RVL team on Thursday. Newill gave up seven hits and allowed three runs, but came out on the winning end in Delran's 5-3 win over Willingboro in a five-inning game played in scorching 90-degree heat. Delran (23-6) moved within one point (50-49) of first-place Cinnaminson.

In the bottom of the fourth inning, Newill allowed two infield hits to start the inning and then gave up an RBI single to Jared Turner. After that, he induced an infield popup, made a nice play in the field to get Mike Loffredo at home and struck out Mike Stumpf to get out of the inning. Turner went 2-for-3 with three RBIs. "They got some baserunners, they started to get a few infield hits," Newill said. "It's just important to stay composed when that happens."

Newill found himself in trouble again in the fifth inning. After getting the first out, he gave up two singles and with two outs, gave up a two-run double to Turner. But Newill didn't start to sweat, at least not more than normal on a muggy 90-plus degree day, he simply settled down and struck out Evan Plys to retire the side. "I don't have dominating stuff anymore, I just have to pitch the way I can," Newill said. "Part of that is being able to pitch out of trouble."

Unbeknownst to Newill at the time, his strikeout against Plys was the last out he needed. Plys was ejected for arguing balls and strikes. Since Willingboro dressed only nine guys, the game was over. "Normally, we have 20 guys," Willingboro player/manager Mike Stumpf said. "Today we only have nine and it came back to bite us."

But make no mistake, the game was frustrating for Willingboro far before the shortened finish. Willingboro (12-18-1) committed several errors and wasted another great pitching performance from Ryan Derry, who gave up only two hits. Last week Derry pitched five shutout innings at Vincentown before losing. "It's frustrating that we lose with Derry on the mound," Stumpf said. "He was dealing today. We just made him work that much more."

The only guy who was able to touch Derry was cleanup hitter Dave Kittle, who knocked in runs with a double in the third and a single in the fifth. "Derry always seems to have good stuff against us," Kittle said. "He struck me out in the first at-bat, so I had to adjust. Against him, you always have to stay back. He's one of the most underrated pitchers in this league."

In the beginning of the game, Newill matched Derry inning for inning, but after giving up only one hit through the first three innings, he gave up three in each of the fourth and fifth innings. "We were starting to get to him toward the end," Stumpf said. "We were all starting to wear down in the heat. When it's that hot out there, it's hard to stay focused."

While Willingboro was committing errors and letting their tempers get the best of them, Newill was working, just like he has been for a decade and a half in the RVL. "Whether we hit for him or not, (Newill) always has a good game," Kittle said. "He attacks the strike zone and that's why he wins so much."

The 35-year-old Newill was just happy to get a win. What made this one even sweeter, is that he did it in front of his parents, Darlene and Bill, who are moving to North Carolina next week. Bill has been helping with the team for years and will be in New Jersey until September and will be around for the playoffs. "It's always nice to pitch in front of them," Newill said. "He'll be sticking around here and will be here for the playoffs. She'll probably come up for a game sometime to see me pitch."

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Delran holds off 'Boro, takes lead in RVL
Delran moved into first place in the Rancocas Valley League on Sunday with a down-to-the-wire 3-2 victory over Willingboro at Notre Dame Field. Delran (24-6) improved to 51 points. Cinnaminson (23-8), which had its game with Burlington rained out, is now second with 50 points. Eric Gertie went the distance for Delran, allowing six hits. Lefty Nick Bernaducci was the tough-luck loser, allowing three unearned runs.

Delran broke through against Bernaducci in the fifth inning. With two outs, Rocky Petrone got an infield hit and Mike Delellis singled him to second. An error on Dave Kittle’s grounder loaded the bases and Mark Wickersham singled in the first run. Two more runs scored on another infield error.

Limited to two hits through six innings, Willingboro bunched four hits into the seventh inning. Jared Turner doubled and Kellen Peter singled. Evan Plys’ single scored Turner and, after a fielder’s choice, Mike Loffredo’s single made it 3-2. But, with runners on second and third and one out, Gertie managed to get the dangerous Mark Stumpf and Jon Wetzel on infield grounders to end the game.

Sunday’s doubleheader at Southampton Memorial Park — Mount Laurel vs. Pemberton and Mount Laurel vs. Vincentown — was rained out. No reschedule dates were announced.

The Burlington at Cinnaminson game Sunday night was also washed out and will be replayed next Sunday as a doubleheader starting at 5.

RVL Notebook

July 25, 2011
Courtesy of Bruce Johnson, Burlington County Times

The 113th summer of organized semipro baseball in Burlington County is winding down to the final week, and all of the Rancocas Valley Baseball League’s top four playoff positions are still up for grabs.
With all of the top three teams playing each other multiple times, the final week of what has been a wild regular season figures to get even wilder.

Before Sunday’s rainout, the league leader was Cinnaminson, which has just four games left: three at home against defending champion Burlington, and one at Vincentown. Delran, which took over the lead with a 3-2 win over Willingboro, currently has the fewest losses (6). The Dooks have five games left, two with Mount Laurel, one with Riverside and a pair with Vincentown, which has the second fewest losses (7).

The regular season will end Aug. 3. The playoffs start the following weekend with quarterfinal quadruple-headers Aug. 5-6 at Southampton Memorial Park. Here is how the teams stand heading into the final nine days of the regular season, with points, games played and scheduled games remaining (note: it’s possible that other postponed games will be rescheduled; this is the schedule of games as of late Sunday night):

51: Delran 30 games played, 5 scheduled games left: Mount Laurel (2), Riverside, Vincentown (2).

50: Cinnaminson 31 games played, 4 scheduled games left: Burlington (3), Vincentown.

43.5: Burlington 29 scheduled games played, 6 games left: Cinnaminson (3), Mount Laurel, Riverside, Vincentown.

38.5: Vincentown 26 games played, 7 scheduled games left: Burlington, Cinnaminson, Delran (2), Mount Laurel (2), Pemberton.

34.5: Willingboro 32 games played, 2 scheduled games left: Pemberton, Riverside.

27: Riverside 29 games played, 4 scheduled games left: Burlington, Delran, Mount Laurel, Willingboro.

20: Mount Laurel 24 games played, 7 scheduled games left: Burlington, Delran (2), Pemberton, Riverside, Vincentown (2).

17.5: Pemberton 29 games played, 3 scheduled games left: Mount Laurel, Vincentown, Willingboro.

Youth being served
The thought of the RVL being a league for people just short of joing the Old Folks Home has been shattered this summer. There are no less than 19 young men rostered who either graduated this past June or still have high school eligibility. And quite a few of them are playing prominant roles. Leading the way is defending RVL champion Burlington. The Mets have seven youngsters on what is basically a very veteran roster. Only Riverside, which is a very young team anyhow, has no high schoolers.

Burlington (7): Anthony Coniglio (Burlington City ‘12), Vince Corbi (Shawnee ‘11), Justin Edge (Burlington City ‘12), Jimmy Graham (Rancocas Valley ‘13), Josh Limon (Rancocas Valley ‘11), Pedro Perez (Burlington City ‘13), Kyle Semmel (Holy Cross ‘11).

Cinnaminson (3): Tim Borek (Riverside ‘11), Lars Sailor (Cinnaminson ‘11), Jeff Singer (Holy Cross ‘11).

Delran (1): Justin McFadden (Delran ‘13)

Mount Laurel (2): Jeff McGarry (Lenape ‘11), Paul Meagher (Lenape ‘11).

Pemberton (3): Chris DelleMonache (Seneca ‘11), Rich Powelson (Seneca ‘11), Gabe Santone (Seneca ‘11).

Riverside: none

Vincentown (1): Stefan Kacylarz (Lenape ‘11).

Willingboro (3): Devon Hedgepeth (Rancocas Valley ‘11), Ed Kaminski (Rancocas Valley ‘11), Jose Martinez (Pemberton ‘12).

The season of ... 1944
The Burlington County League was 47 years old this summer, and would only have another seven seasons of existence, before merging with the Rancocas Valley League in 1952.

The year of 1944 saw the births of Rick Barry, Jeff Beck, Gary Busey, Steve Carlton, Stockard Channing, Jill Clayburgh, Joe Cocker, Roger Daltry, Angela Davis, Dave Davies, Danny DeVito, Michael Douglas, Shelly Fabares, Dennis Farina, Richard Ford, Dennis Franz, Joe Frazier, Richie Furay, Bobby (The Brain) Heenan, Booker T. Jones, Brenda Lee, Gladys Knight, Patti LaBelle, Tony LaRussa, George Lucas, Earl (Goat) Manigault, Denny McLain, Al Michaels, Jimmy Page, Diana Ross, John Sebastian, Boz Skaggs, Johnny Winter.

Riverton won its only Burlington County League title this year, and did it in style. After winning the regular-season title, Riverton beat Mount Holly in two straight in the semifinals, then outlasted defending champion Medford 4-0 in the best-of-three championship final. The game, played before 1,500 in an Oct. 15 game at Riverton’s Memorial Park, was made even more memorable by the no-hit pitching of Lonnie Heisler.

The lefty pitched all three games in the best-of-three finals. He struck out 11 in the title game against a Medford lineup that included sluggers Mutt Worrell, Carl Bowker, Leon Clevenger and Bill Haines.
(Next week: The season of ... 1977)

Bridgeton Invitational
The 45th Bridgeton Invitational Tournament kicks off Friday and runs through Aug. 15. The 15-team field will play nightly doubleheaders, starting at 6:30 weeknights and 5 on weekends. Guest appearances are scheduled by, among others, the Phillie Phanatic (Aug. 1), Marty Bystrom (Aug. 3), Milt Thompson (Aug. 9), Ricky Bottalico (Aug. 10), John Mayberry (Aug. 14) and Kyle Kendrick (Aug. 15).

Games of the week
Thursday night at Southampton Memorial Park, when first-place Cinnaminson takes on the Vincentown Merchants. Although it could be Sunday, when Delran hosts Vincentown at Notre Dame Field. Or either Wednesday (one game) or Sunday (doubleheader) evenings at Memorial Field, when Burlington visits Cinnaminson. (So many great games, so little time.)

Monday, July 25, 2011

Mt. Laurel 2, Riverside 2: Joe Knazek had a two-run, two-out, fifth-inning single for Riverside to force a 2-2 deadlock against Mount Laurel in Monday’s only scheduled Rancocas Valley League game. The teams completed the fifth before fading light ended the game without a winner. Rich Leadbeater had an RBI single in Mount Laurel’s two-run second inning. Mike Cooper allowed just two hits, to Donnie Strain and Knazek’s.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Vincentown 4, Pemberton 3: Mike Ferrara’s seventh-inning RBI was the difference for the Merchants. Jesse Pappler homered and had a two-run double to account for the rest of the offense. Vincentown turned a 4-6-3 line drive triple play in the first inning. Mike Kondrath struck out 10 in the loss.

Delran 8, Mount Laurel 3: Aaron MacKenzie kept up his hot pace for Delran by going 3-for-3 with a walk and a run scored in a six-inning game. Chris Maull went the distance and struck out seven.

Riverside 3, Willingboro 0: Kevin Joo scattered seven hits in pitching the Monday’s shutout, and ex-Boro player Matt Mann had two hits and an RBI. Don Strain also had an RBI single.

TriCounty Sports Online RVL Coverage

July 27, 2011
Kevin Joo pitched a complete game shutout as Riverside blanked Willingboro 3-0. Joo received the only run support he needed in the top of the second inning when Matt Mann knocked in a pair of runs with his two-run single. Riverside added another run in the fourth inning on Donnie Strain's RBI single. Kevin Joo picked up the win for Riverside. Mike Loffredo, the first of three Willingboro pitchers, took the loss. Photo Gallery

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Riverside 5, Delran 4: Gabe Senior tied the game with a two-run sixth-inning triple and scored the game-winner on a squeeze bunt by Dave Sorrentino. Dave Kittle’s two-run home run staked Delran to a first-inning lead.

Burlington 4, Cinnaminson 2: Garrett Mull put the Mets up for good with an RBI double and John Harvey went the distance to earn the win. Shaun Babula had a pair of hits for the Mets. Bobby Diepold singled home Cinnaminson’s only earned run.

Mount Laurel 8, Pemberton 0: Trevor Sotell struck out six in a six-inning, two-hit shutout. John Montemurro doubles twice and drove in a pair of runs. Brandon Barnes tripled and scored twice. Mike Kondrath and Bobby Henderson had singles for Pemberton.

TriCounty Sports Online RVL Coverage

July 28, 2011
The first seven Mount Laurel batters reached base safely and Mount Laurel enjoyed a 4-0 lead before the first out of the game was recorded. Mount Laurel went on to score a total of six runs in the first inning and added two more in the sixth to defeat Pemberton 8-0 in a game shortened to six innings due to darkness. Trevor Sotell pitched six scoreless innings to pick up the win for Mount Laurel. Pemberton starting pitcher Chris DelleMonache, who went five innings, took the loss. Photo Gallery

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Delran 6, Mount Laurel 2: Max Newill struck out six as first-place Delran (26-7) rallied from a two-run deficit to score four in the fifth inning and two more an inning later. With just nine players, Delran had three starting pitchers in the field. Bret Jenkins had a pair of hits including and RBI double for Mount Laurel (6-20-2).

Cinnaminson 5, Vincentown 3: Ryan Varga struck out eight in a complete-game four-hitter. for second-place Cinnaminson (24-9). Joe Sirroli had a two-run single and Bob Osborne drive in a single run. Sam Pepper hit a three-run home run in the sixth for the Merchants (19-8-1), who turned a 5-4-3 triple play in the first inning, their second triple play in as many games.

Burlington 4, Riverside 3: Shaun Babula reached on a fielder’s choice (after brother Keith’s pinch-hit single), stole second and third and scored on a throwing error as the Mets (21-9-1) won in nine innings. Babula had three hits, scored twice and pitched 2 2/3s innings in relief of Matt Wilkins who gave up just one earned run in 6 1/3 innings. Donnie Stain had a pair of hits, while Gabe Mastrangelo Sr. and Mike Heim pitched well for Riverside (10-20-3), which has 2-0-1 in its previous three games.

Willingboro 4, Pemberton 0: Ryan Derry, Ace Robinson and Devon Hedgepeth combined on a two-hitter (the first two batters in the first inning) for the Boro (13-20-1). Jon Wetzel had a two-strike, two-out, two-run triple in the third inning, while Mike Juckett and Evan Plys had doubles. Ron Krankowski pitched well for Pemberton (3-29).

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Delran tops V-town, clinches regular-season title
Delran pushed across two runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to post a 5-4 victory over Vincentown on Sunday, clinching the regular-season title in the Rancocas Valley Baseball League. Ryan McFadden started the rally with a bunt single and took third on a wild throw to first on Chris Garrett’s infield hit. Rocky Petrone’s single tied the game at 4 and, after a sacrifice bunt by Mike Delellis and an intentional walk to Dave Kittle, Mark Wickersham plated the go-ahead run with a sacrifice fly to deep right.

?Jason Ronca earned the pitching win, striking out 12, including at least one in every inning. But with two outs and Troy Foster on first, he grooved one that John Bujanowski Jr. drilled to deep, deep center field, where McFadden tracked it down. Delran (27-7) had taken a 3-0 lead off Merchants ace Damon Valloreo with an unearned run in the second and two runs in the third, on a bases-loaded walk to Wickersham and a fly ball by Aaron MacKenzie that was misplayed, allowing another run.

But short-handed Vincentown (19-9-1) reached Ronca for all four runs and four of its seven hits in the fifth inning. A walk to Valloreo started the rally and, one out later, Stefan Kancylarz singled, followed by Mike Ferrera’s single. Valloreo scored on a wild throw, and the second run scored on Jesse Pappler’s double. A two-run single by Bujanowski Jr. gave V-town the lead. Valloreo, who struck out 20 earlier this summer, only managed three K’s Sunday. Garrett and Petrone each had two hits.

Cinnaminson 6, Burlington 3: Bob Diepold pitched a complete game and struck out eight as Cinnaminson (25-9) clinched second place in the regular season. Carl Taylor took the loss, despite allowing just two earned runs.
With the score tied at 3 in bottom of the fifth, Mike Osborne walked, stole second and third and scored on a passed ball.

Burlington 8, Cinnaminson 2: Shaun Babula pitched a complete game, allowing no earned runs, as the Mets took the second game of a doubleheader. Dave Jost led the winners’ attack with three hits, including two doubles, and a pair of RBIs. Dennis O’Hanlen was 2-for-2 for Cinnaminson.

Up for grabs
The top six spots in the regular season have been decided, and all that’s left is for Mount Laurel and Pemberton to finalize the Nos. 7 and 8 spots. Both are in action tonight with Mount Laurel (6-20-2, 24 points) at Burlington, and Pemberton (3-29, 19.5) hosting Riverside. They both play Tuesday and Wednesday, with Mount Laurel needing one win, or one Pemberton loss, to clinch seventh spot.

RVL Notebook

August 1, 2011
The best team doesn't always win
With the Rancocas Valley League playoffs due to start this Saturday, each of the eight teams in the league gets to start the season anew. And if history is any judge of things, that will only make things even more interesting than the wild regular season that ends Wednesday night with defending playoff champion Burlington visiting Vincentown. There is perhaps no better indicator of the “anything can happen” theory than the 1977 RVL season, when Cinnaminson Midwest Emery steamrolled through a 32-2 regular season, only to lose two of three in a stunning playoff loss to Mount Holly (see “The season of ... 1977” below), a .500 club during the season. “That was one of our best teams, maybe our best,” 82-year-old Ed (Red) Herron, the team’s manager, said last week. “We were saving some of our players for the Bridgeton Tournament, which started the next week. And then we blew it in Bridgeton, and York, too.”

Cinnaminson was a dominant team in that era, playing under various names: Midwest Emery, Kardon Auto Mall, Cinnaminson Liquors, Jay’s Elbow Room, Myles Transportation. “Anybody who would give us money, we’d use their name,” Herron said. “Kardon was a great sponsor. They gave us $10,000 one year. We had home and away uniforms.”

Among the players on those Midwest Emery teams from the late 1970s who Herron remembered were: pitchers Pete Scarpati, Darrell Brandon, Buddy Hull, Roland George, Paul Patsko, Larry Nickol and Bill Solomon; catchers Jack Don and Dale Woodward; infielders Rick Damush, Joe Damush, John Sandoz, John Brugler and Mike Dunn; first baseman Dave Thornton; and outfielders Bruce Carter, Mike McAlpin, Tom Piersanti, Greg Lorenz and Tom Walsh. The late Jack Bowen coached with Herron.

“I’m sure I’m forgetting people, but I hope not,” Herron said. “Most of these guys played in the minor leagues or in college. The only high school kid I ever kept was from Lenape, Scott Schoenweis.”

Herron, who says he coached Cinnaminson to over 600 of its 800-plus victories, doesn’t get out to games much these days, although that might change when the playoffs start. But he has many good memories of “the old days.” “For maybe 10 years we used to play Delran every year on the Fourth of July holiday, and we’d get 1,000 fans out at Riverton Park,” Herron said. “There used to be a tree in center field at Riverton short. (Vincentown’s) Harry (Thompson) tells people he once hit one into the tree ... but he doesn’t tell them it was only about 280 feet.”

Do it again, do it again
Harry Thompson has been in the RVL since there was an RVL ... so when he says it’s been a while since he saw a triple play, you can figure it’s been a long time. And after what happened last week, the 80-year-old Vincentown Merchants was almost speechless. But that’s what seeing triple plays ... in the first inning of two straight games, with the same starting pitcher, at the same field ... will do to you. On Tuesday, Pemberton put its first two men on base against Matt Viarengo. Hard-hitting Ronnie Krankowski hit a line drive that was snagged by second baseman Zeke Boren, who flipped to shortstop Stefan Kancylarz for the second out. Kancylarz’s throw to Jesse Pappler completed the triple play, a key moment in the Merchants’ 4-3 victory.

About 48 hours later the opponent was Cinnaminson. Viarengo walked the leadoff batter, then was replaced by Boren, who gave up a hit. Up stepped Mike Osborne and he smashed a ball that third baseman Chris Murray fielded, stepped on third then flipped to Andrew Lydon covering second for the second out. Lydon’s throw to Pappler got Osborne, who was slowed down by a hamstring injury. “It’s been a while since I’ve seen one of them, and it sure came at the right time,” Thompson said Wednesday morning. “Krankowski hit it as hard as you can hit a ball ... and then zip, zip, zip. It was beautiful.”

Understandably, the 80-year-old was almost speechless on Friday after seeing a second trifecta so soon after the first.
“It’s just unbelievable ... unbelievable, babe,” was all he could say.

All-Socks Team
In honor of newest Phillie Hunter Pence, and as the self-proclaimed president of the Old School Club of Burlington County, we herewith present our 2011 All-Socks Team, for players who wear (or have worn) their pants like the players in the 1950s and ‘60s, i.e., socks showing up to their knees. Most of these guys are “old school” players, too.
n CF: Shaun Babula (Burlington)
n 1B: Rocky Petrone (Delran)
n SS: Mike Osborne (Cinnaminson)
n DH: Mike Ferrera (Vincentown)
n RF: John Bujanowski Sr. (Vincentown)
n LF: Dave Kittle (Delran)
n 2B: Dave Jost (Burlington)
n 3B: Kyle Ballay (Delran)
n C: Owen Boles (Vincentown)
n P: Ron Krankowski (Pemberton)
n Util: Zeke Boren (Vincentown)
n Bench: Bob Osborne (Cinnaminson), Gabe Mastrangelo Jr. (Riverside), Sam Pepper (Vincentown), Jason Sabol (Riverside), Justin Binder (Willingboro)

Eye-opening grabs
Mike Juckett and Jon Wetzel could’ve been on ESPN for its Top 10 Plays of the day last Sunday. The Willingboro outfielders made spectacular diving catches in left and center field, respectively, in a game at Delran’s Notre Dame Field. But, since they play in the RVL, nobody will see those grabs replayed over and over and over, ad infinitum, like they would have if the catches were made in the majors.

Horseshoes, anyone?
You can’t blame Willingboro player-coach Mike Stumpf if, a) he’s losing his hair this summer, b) his hair is turning grey, or, c) both.
Losing close games will do that do a guy. And his Boro Boys (13-20-1) have had more than their share of close losses: NINE by one run and two more by just two runs. (Reverse those decisions and they are 24-9-1.)

Do the math!
In last week’s RVL Notebook, we said it was the 113th summer of adult semipro baseball in Burlington County. Several astute mathemeticians out there emailed to let us know that 1898 to 2011 is actually 114 summers.

The season of ... 1977
The RVL turned 25 years old during a year that saw the following births: A.J. Burnett, Vince Carter, Jermaine Jackson, Shakira, Randy Moss, Stephon Marbury, Floyd Mayweather Jr., Zdeno Chara, Andruw Jones, John Cena, Carlos Beltran, Roy Halladay, Elizabeth Hasselbeck, Kanye West, Kerry Wood, Manu Ginobli, Tom Brady, Plaxico Burress, Daniel Briere, Bode Miller, Luke Donald and Laila Ali.

Cinnaminson Midwest Emery was the dominant team all year, but was upset by Mount Holly in the playoff semifinals. Delran, the regular-season runner-up, then won its first championship. There have been seven other titles for Delran, the most recent in 2007 and 2008.

For the record, lefty pitcher Max Newill is the only current Delran player who was alive in 1977.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Mount Laurel 2, Burlington 1: Doubles by Matt Szukics and Pat O’Reilly batted in the runs for Mount Laurel, which clinched the No. 7 seed in the playoffs. Kyle Semmel had two hits and stole three bases for Burlington (22-11-1, No. 3 seed). Semmel scored the run, batted in by Dan Graham. Sean McNeill pitched 6 1/3 innings for the win, with Mike Oliver getting the last two outs by strikeout. Burlington had the bases loaded when the game ended.

Riverside 10, Pemberton 6: Donnie Strain (home run) and Brett Knazek had two hits apiece, and combined for five RBIs in support of winning pitcher Matt Leith. Riverside had already clinched the No. 6 seed and Pemberton will be the No. 8 seed.

TriCounty Sports Online RVL Coverage

August 1, 2011
Mike Osborne broke up a 3-3 tie in the bottom of the fifth inning when he walked, stole second base, stole third base, and scored on a passed ball. Cinniminson added another run in the fifth inning and one more in the sixth to defeat the Mets 6-3. Bobby Diepold picked up the win for Cinnaminson while Carl Taylor took the loss for Burlington. Photo Gallery

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Riverside will take a dozen
Seven runs in the first inning propelled Riverside to a 10-4 win over Willingboro in Rancocas Valley League baseball Tuesday. The victory in Riverside’s final game of the regular season enabled the second-year team to finish with a 12-20-3 record. The team was winless last season and dropped its first three games this year. Donnie Strain had three hits and scored two runs. Mike Hynes had two hits, including a two-run double in the fourth inning to help secure the win for pitcher Justin Ely.

Pemberton 5, Mount Laurel 0: Chris DelleMonache pitched a five-hitter and struck out five for the winners. Mike Jewell had two hits and two RBIs, and Bobby Henderson also had two hits.

Vincentown 5, Delran 2: The Merchants reached 20 wins for the fourth straight year and topped Delran for the third time in five meetings this season. Delran, the regular-season champion, will take a 27-8 record into the playoffs that begin Saturday.

TriCounty Sports Online RVL Coverage

August 2, 2011
Vincentown jumped out to a 5-1 lead after three innings and then held on for a 5-2 win over Delran. John Bujanowski, Jr. had a two-run double, knocking in both runs in Vincentown's two-run third inning. Delran did not go down quietly as they brought the potential game-tying run to the plate in the bottom of the sixth inning. Matt Viarengo started for Vincentown, pitched to the first batter, and then yielded to eventual game winning pitcher Joe Argow. John Bujanowski, Jr. pitched the final two innings for the Merchants. Chris Maull took the loss for Delran. Photo Gallery

Playoff fever for the Rancocas Valley League

August 5, 2011
Courtesy of Bruce Johnson, Burlington County Times

Can Delran cap its regular-season title with a playoff championship?

Can Cinnaminson ride the league’s deepest bench and pitching staff to the title?

Can Burlington repeat as playoff champions?

Can Vincentown get its whole team to show up?

Can Willingboro, Riverside, Mount Laurel or Pemberton manage to unseat any of the “Big Four”?

Those questions will be answered over the next two weeks, when the 65th Rancocas Valley League championship playoffs are held at Southampton Memorial Park. The games start with a quadrupleheader Saturday. The opening round (quarterfinals) are best-of-three matchups, with the semifinals and finals using a best-of-five format. (Opening ceremonies, featuring a color guard and National Anthem singer from McGuire Air Force Base and a Gold Star Mom to throw out the first pitch, are at 9:30?a.m.)

Here’s a look at the matchups:

Mount Laurel (7-21-2) vs. Cinnaminson (25-10)
Saturday, 10a.m.; Sunday, noon

No team can match Cinnaminson’s pitching depth: Ryan Varga, John Meadus, Nick Melchiorre, Bob Diepold, Jim Goodwin, Corey Mingin, Jeff Singer and Brett Miller. And the team is loaded in the field, too, with Matt Cann, Mike and Bob Osborne, Frank and Joe Sirolli, Mike and Tim Wasco, Dennis O’Hanlen, John Dockins, Casey Donahue, Geoff and Greg Gilbert, Gary Herron and Tyler Powell.

Looking for its sixth championship this century, having won in 2001, 2004-05-06 and 2009.

Mount Laurel has a good team, when the whole team is there, which hasn’t been often this summer. Bret Jenkins, Matt Szukics, Pat O’Reilly, Brandon Burke, Dan Rella, Kevin Diamond and John Montemurro are all solid guys. Newcomer Paul Meagher has been solid at 2B. And Ernie Covington, Mike Cooper, Sean McNeil, Dave Smith and Trevor Sotell have all had their moments pitching.

Seeking first title after finishing second in 2006 and ‘07.

Pemberton (4-30) vs. Delran (27-8)
Saturday, 10p.m.; Sunday, 2:30p.m.

It’s been a long season for Gerry Lamola’s Greenies, and drawing the top seed doesn’t make things any easier. But when a team has pitchers like Ronnie Krankowski and Mike Kondrath, plus Kyle Brown, Chris DelleMonache and Mike Oliver, well, anything becomes possible. Bobby Henderson, Vince and Gerald Gares, Mike Lamola, Kyle Paparteys, Mike Jewell, Frank Pierce, Tyler Veterano, Ian McCleaf, Shawn Diamond and Andrew Lugo have been contributors through the long, hot summer.

Delran has four top throwers: Jason Ronca, Eric Gertie, Max Newill and Chris Maull (plus 3B Mark Wickersham and C Mike Delellis). The Dooks have been getting by without injured SS Kyle Ballay and 2B Matt Ulmer, though Aaron MacKenzie, Chris Cooper and John Iacovelli have filled in well. Defensively, 1B Rocky Petrone, CF Ryan McFadden and RF Dave Kittle are among the league’s best, and Rex Workman is a veteran DH.

Delran won back-to-back titles in 2007 and ‘08, and has won eight titles overall.

Riverside (12-20-3) vs. Burlington (22-11-1)
Saturday, 4p.m.; Sunday, 5p.m.

This could be the most intriguing opening-round matchup, despite the fact the Mets won all five regular-season games. The scores of the three most recent matchups were 4-3, 1-0 and 4-1. And Riverside was 4-1-1 in its last six games, the lone loss being in nine innings to Burlington.

Riverside has a solid catcher in Joe Knazek, which is very important when you’re playing steal-happy Burlington. It also has solid starters in Jake Still, Kevin Joo and Matt Leith, and one of the league’s top relievers in Mike Hiem. Brett Knazek, Gabe Mastrangelo Jr., Matt Mount, Justin Ely, Donnie Strain, Jim Caparelli, Jason Sabol and Dave Sorrentino have all provided big plays, on offense and defense.

Riverside teams won RVL titles in 1957, 1961 and 1963.

The Mets have three of the RVL’s best starters — Shaun Babula, John Harvey and Carl Taylor — plenty of offense with Babula, Dave Jost, Dan Graham, Garrett Mull, Vinnie James, Dan Torres, Jon Reiner, Kyle Semmel and Zach Skidmore, and returning playoff MVP Jeff Vitale anchoring an infield that could include outstanding youngsters like Vince Corbi, Josh Limon, Pedro Perez and Justin Edge.

Burlington is the defending champion, having ended a 59-year championship drought last summer.

Willingboro (13-21-1) vs. Vincentown (20-9-1)
Saturday, 7p.m.; Sunday, 7:30p.m.

This is another could-go-either-way matchup, with two usually offense-minded teams.

The Boro Boys lost a dozen heart-breakers. Though they’re known for offense, the team has strong-armed Ryan Derry, Ace Robinson, Mike Loffredo, Nick Berardinucci and Neil DeMarco. Matt Moceri, Kellen Peter and Jamie Schwantes are the lineup’s thumpers, though it’s table-setters Mark Stumpf and Jon Wetzel who figure to be key. Jose Martinez and Mike Gulli are solid backstops, and Mike Juckett and Mike Stumpf are defensive whizzes in the outfield.

Willingboro won 3-2 in the teams’ final matchup, after losing three straight by a single run.

The big question for veteran Merchants coach Harry Thompson is simple: Who will show up? The full-strength Merchants started the season 13-1, then crawled to a 7-8-1 finish as key players stopped showing up. But when John Bujanowski Sr. and Jr., Stefan Kancylarz, Mike Ferrara, Jesse Pappler, Al Roach, Greg Miller, Chris Murray, Andrew Lydon, Sam Pepper, Owen Boles and Troy Foster are all present, the lineup is almost frightening. Especially with pitchers like Damon Valloreo, Matt Viarengo, Alan Hasher, Joe Argow and Ryan Walter.

V-town, which last won in 2003, has captured 11 league titles.

This and That
After the opening weekend, the schedule calls for single games Monday through Thursday nights at 7. Doubleheaders are planned for Friday (Aug. 12), Saturday (Aug. 13) and Sunday (Aug. 14) at times to be announced, then it’s back to single games during the final week.

RVL Playoffs: Round 1, Game 1

August 6, 2011
Best of Three Series

Cinnaminson 2, Mt. Laurel 1 (9 innings) (Cinnaminson leads 1-0)
Delran 13 , Pemberton 0 (Delran leads 1-0)
Burlington 3, Riverside 1 (Burlington leads 1-0
Vincentown 8, Willingboro 7 (Vincentown leads 1-0

Gertie gives Delran a near-perfect start

August 7, 2011
Courtesy of Tim Godfrey, Burlington County Times

SOUTHAMPTON — The toughest out to get in a ballgame is usually the last one, the one that ends the game and puts it in the win or loss column.
For Delran’s Eric Gertie, the opposite was true Saturday.

After getting the first batter of the game, Pemberton’s Tyler Veterano, to ground out to second base on the 10th pitch of the at-bat, Gertie cruised the rest of the way. He retired the first 11 hitters he faced as Delran beat Pemberton 13-0 in the first game of their best-of-three Rancocas Valley League quarterfinal series. “It’s a three-game series, so you never know,” Gertie said. “It’s always tough, so you’re just trying to get ahead and make them hit your pitch. That’s what I worked on and it worked well.”

Worked well it did, as Gertie did not allow Pemberton’s first hit until the top of the sixth inning, when Gerry Gares singled up the middle to break up the no-hitter. Gertie’s day was done after that hit. He finished the day with five-plus innings pitched, four strikeouts and that lone hit on 57 pitches. Kyle Ballay went the final two innings. “Eric is one of the best pitchers in the league,” Delran third baseman Mark Wickersham said. “He’s tough to hit. He throws a good changeup and keeps the batters off balance.”

Wickersham, who finished the day 3-for-3 with a walk, two doubles, three runs batted in and two runs scored, and the rest of the Delran lineup provided more than enough offense. The regular-season champs scored three runs in the first inning and five in the third to put the game out of reach quickly. “I’ve been struggling a lot lately, so I was just trying to square the barrel up and it worked well,” Wickersham said. “I wasn’t getting anything on the barrel, I wasn’t driving the ball, so I went out and worked on it, tried to hit the ball on the barrel.”

“Can’t ask for anything more than that,” Gertie said. “Scoring three in the first takes some pressure off of you. Like I said, in a three-game series one game means a lot. Coming out and scoring early and scoring a lot takes the pressure off the pitcher. It’s a good way to start the series.”

Mike Delellis knocked in a pair of runs, while leadoff hitter Ballay scored three runs despite going 0-for-4 with a walk. “Ronnie (Krankowski) is really good normally; for some reason today we were able to hit him,” Wickersham said. “He’s shut us down before, so we went in with the approach that we were just going to try and go the other way, and our hitters did a good job doing that.”

Rocky Petrone was 4-for-4 with two runs scored, while Chris Garrett and Ryan McFadden each had two hits for Delran. . . . Kyle Paparteys had Pemberton’s only other hit. . . . Mike Kondrath is expected to pitch for Pemberton today, while Delran can choose among Max Newill, Jason Ronca and Chris Maull.

Cinnaminson rallies past Mount Laurel; Vincentown tops Willingboro

August 7, 2011
Courtesy of Bruce Johnson, Burlington County Times

Down to its final out, Cinnaminson rallied to push across the tying run in the bottom of the seventh, then scored in the bottom of the ninth to pull out a 2-1 victory over Mount Laurel Saturday morning in an opening-round game of the Rancocas Valley League playoffs at Southampton Memorial Park.
Mount Laurel took a 1-0 lead into the bottom of the seventh behind pitcher Mike Cooper (a Cinnaminson High School graduate). With one out, Geoff Gilbert lined a drive to deep center field. Looking into the sun, center fielder Pat O’Reilly froze for a second and when he recovered it was too late and the ball was over his head for a double. Cooper recovered to get the dangerous Mike Osborne to fly out to center, as Gilbert tagged and took third. Bob Diepold then delivered a game-tying single.

In the ninth, with O’Reilly on for his second inning of relief, Frank Sirolli drew a leadoff walk and was credited with a stolen base when he was picked off but beat the throw to second. Gilbert then walked before Osborne grounded a single into left field, just out of Bret Jenkins’ reach, with Sirolli racing home. Mount Laurel had taken a 1-0 lead in the fourth when O’Reilly led off with a double down the right-field line — the only hit the Laurels would get off Ryan Varga in nine solid innings. O’Reilly moved up on Jenkins’ grounder and scored when Dan Rella grounded out to first.

Varga went all nine, allowing the one hit, walking four, hitting one and striking out nine. Cooper went seven, allowing six hits. Cinnaminson loaded the bases in the sixth, but Cooper fanned pinch-hitter Matt Cann.

Vincentown 8, Willingboro 7: The pregame expectations for a wild game were easily fulfilled, as the Merchants tied the game on a sixth-inning home run by John Bujanowski Sr., then pushed over the winner on a bases-loaded walk in the last of the seventh.

The game was tied at 2 after four innings, with Willingboro’s Matt Moceri and V-town’s Greg Miller belting two-run home runs in the first and fourth innings, respectively. Vincentown took a 5-2 lead with three runs in the fifth, two scoring on Chris Murray’s single. But Willingboro came right back with five runs, including Kellen Peter’s three-run home run, to take a 7-5 lead. The Merchants tied the game in the bottom of the sixth when John Bujanowski Jr. walked, prior to a two-run homer by John Bujanowski Sr.

Vincentown, which has won four of the five straight one-run battles with the Boro Boys, won in the last of the seventh. Al Roach singled and moved to third on a wild pitch and a long fly ball. After two intentional walks to set up a force, Owen Boles drew a walk to force in the winning run.
Damon Valloreo and Murray pitched for the winners, while Willingboro used Dan Hill, Ace Robinson and Mike Loffredo.

RVL scholarships
The RVL’s annual $500 college scholarships were awarded to Burlington’s Kyle Semmel and Vincentown’s Stefan Kancylarz. Semmel will be attending Susquehanna University in Selinsgrove, Pa., while Kancylarz is bound for St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia.

Taylor helps Burlington take first step in title defense

August 7, 2011
Courtesy of Tim Godfrey, Burlington County Times

SOUTHAMPTON — Until that point, both pitchers had given up a combined total of just five hits. Until that point only two runners had advanced past second base, and both had scored.

Until that point Burlington’s Carl Taylor and Riverside’s Kevin Joo were locked in a classic pitchers’ duel.

Until Burlington’s Pedro Perez blooped a base hit into no-man’s land over the first baseman’s head and in front of the right fielder to start the sixth inning. The Mets scored two runs in that inning, breaking a 1-1 tie and taking a 3-1 lead, which would prove to be the final score as they took the first game of their best-of-three Rancocas Valley Baseball League playoff series. “It’s usually how baseball happens, one little bloop single just to get us going,” said Mets second baseman Dave Jost, who knocked in Perez to break the tie and put the defending champs ahead for good. “We really struggled at the plate today, but anything to get us started.”

Jost finished 2-for-3 with two RBIs and a run scored. “First pitch curveball, just trying to put something in play with the infield up, honestly,” Jost said of his go-ahead RBI.

Jost came around to score two batters later when Kyle Semmel’s infield single brought home an insurance run. That was all Taylor needed, as he came out in the top of the seventh and finished off his complete game.
“Carl threw a hell of a game today,” Jost said. “One bad mistake and the kid (Brett Knazek) put it over the fence. He’s a good hitter, but Carl was awesome today.” “This season I struggled a little bit, I wasn’t challenging guys enough with my fastball, which is probably my best pitch,” Taylor said. “First round of the playoffs, I figured I’d just challenge them with my fastball until they proved they can hit it and they didn’t all game. That’s all I really did was throw fastballs.”

Taylor only surrendered two hits, both to Knazek, who singled and homered. Taylor needed 105 pitchers to strike out eight, walk one and pick up the win. “Honestly, when (Carl’s) throwing his fastball well, I don’t think anyone that’s here is going to catch up to it,” Jost said. “You saw one kid catch up to it today and that was a 3-1 count and he kind of knew a fastball was coming and the kid put a good poke on it.”

Joo also deserved to win with how well he pitched, tossing six innings and holding the Mets at bay through five innings.

RVL Playoffs: Round 1, Game 2

August 7, 2011
Best of Three Series

Cinnaminson 12, Mt. Laurel 0 (Cinnaminson wins series 2-0)
Delran 10 , Pemberton 0 (Delran wins series 2-0)
Burlington 9, Riverside 8 (Burlington wins series 2-0)
Vincentown 10, Willingboro 2 (Vincentown wins series 2-0)

Burlington wins a thriller over Riverside

August 7, 2011
Courtesy of Dave Zangaro, Burlington County Times

SOUTHAMPTON — Before the start of this Rancocas Valley League baseball season, if you told someone that Riverside would give Burlington, the defending champions, a run for its money in the first round of the playoffs, they would’ve called you crazy. They might even have gotten the men in the white coats to come and take you away.

But there was Riverside, which didn’t win a game during the entire 2010 season and was 12-20-3 this summer, on Sunday night at Southampton Memorial Park, heading into the final inning of game two of their best-of-three quarterfinal series with a one-run lead. Burlington scored two runs in the top of the seventh inning to pull out a 9-8 win and advance to the semifinals. But it was close. Really, really close. “It was a great game to be a part of,” said Burlington’s Garrett Mull, who scored the game-winning run.

Heading into the sixth inning, Burlington had a 7-3 lead, but starter John Harvey — the league’s regular-season strikeout leader — started to lose control. Eventually, Burlington called in ace Shaun Babula from center field with the bases loaded. Babula walked in one run and gave up an RBI single to Brett Knazek. “As much as it’s great to see (Babula) come in, he didn’t want to come in,” Mull said. “He wanted Harvey to finish that game. But it is nice to have him there.”

With Burlington down a run, Kyle Semmel beat out a bunt to start the top of the seventh, but was picked off. Zack Skidmore followed with a single and raced to third on a wild pickoff attempt. Mull’s single scored Skidmore and Mull eventually came around to score the winning run on Jeff Vitale’s fielder’s choice grounder.

After Babula allowed a leadoff runner in the bottom of the seventh, he settled down and retired the side to push the Mets into the second round. Their opponent will be Cinnaminson, which beat Burlington two games to one in the best-of-three 2009 playoff final. “It was flip a coin this season,” Mull said about the Cinnaminson matchup. “Whatever team plays defense and pitches well will win.”

While the Mets start preparing for Cinnaminson — Burlington won the season-series 3-2 — they won’t soon forget the battle they had against Riverside. “With the way (Riverside) played last year, it’s great to see them go out like that,” Mull said. “They earned a lot of respect this year.”

The kudos from the other teams are nice, but they only cushion the pain of knowing how close Riverside was against one of the RVL’s premier clubs. Although Riverside was 0-7 against Burlington this summer, four of those losses were by two or fewer runs. “We’re young, but we made huge strides this year,” Riverside manager Gabe Mastrangelo Sr. said. “We accomplished all of our goals but this one. We wanted to win a playoff game.”

Riverside may have fallen short of its last goal, but they werethisclose to making it happen. Next season, with all their new-found and well-earned respect, there’s a good chance they’ll accomplish that goal. There’s also a good chance that, if you predict it happening, no one will call you crazy.

Mingin leaves a lasting impression

August 7, 2011
Courtesy of Dave Zangaro, Burlington County Times

SOUTHAMPTON — Corey Mingin just wanted to give his club one more solid start. The lefty is leaving the state Tuesday for Oklahoma Panhandle State University, along with his brother Ryan, who was in attendance Sunday and is an assistant baseball coach at the school.

Mingin is heading to Oklahoma Panhandle to pitch for the Aggies, but on Sunday he left a lasting impression with five scoreless innings in Cinnaminson’s 12-0 rout of Mount Laurel in the quarterfinals of the Rancocas Valley League playoffs at Southampton Memorial Park. Cinnaminson took the first two games to win the best-of-three series and will face defending champion Burlington in the semifinal round later in the week.
They’ll do so, however, without Mingin, who allowed only two hits, struck out six and retired the last 10 batters he faced before leaving after the fifth inning. “Yeah, he gave us a real good game,” right fielder Geoff Gilbert said. “He’s been on the team for a while, so it’s nice to see him throw that game. But he has to do what’s best for him, which is going to Oklahoma.”

Gilbert was one of the reasons Mingin cruised to a win against Mount Laurel. He went 3-for-5 with two runs scored and two RBIs. His RBI single was a part of a three-run top of the first inning for Cinnaminson. “We came out swinging a little better and we hit them pretty good today,” Gilbert said.

“It’s a great feeling knowing you haven’t even pitched yet and you have three or four runs,” Mingin said. “We jumped out to an early lead I just let them hit it. I didn’t need to do too much.”

Sunday’s win was in stark contrast to Saturday’s, when Cinnaminson trailed until the bottom of the seventh inning. After scratching out a run to tie the game and force extra innings, they eventually won in the bottom of the ninth inning on a single by Mike Osborne.

In the second game of the series Cinnaminson didn’t need extra innings or a walkoff hit. The team just needed an early lead and a strong pitching performance and they got both. Osborne scored three runs and Bobby Diepold went 2-for-3 with a double, two runs scored and two RBIs. “We didn’t do what we wanted to do (Saturday),” Mingin said. “Today, we wanted to jump on them early and we did. It kind of deflated their sails.”

Mount Laurel was able to muster only four hits in the game and brought ended up with only 26 at-bats. “It was a typical Cinnaminson game,” Mount Laurel manager Dean Johnson said. “When we went down early, our veteran guys were trying to keep everyone’s heads in it, but they’re a real good team.”

Cinnaminson, who won the championship two years ago, will now take on the Burlington Mets, who boast a strong 1-2-3 starting pitching punch of Shaun Babula, Carl Taylor and John Harvey. “We match up well against them,” Gilbert said. “We both have some good pitchers and some really good bats.”

For now, Cinnaminson is just happy to get past the first round with a little momentum. “That’s a great game to head into the next round with,” Mingin said. “Our sticks came through and our pitching will be there.”
But of course Mingin will not. He did his part, though, and he’ll be in Oklahoma wishing his team all the best.

Vincentown, Delran advance to semifinals

August 7, 2011
Vincentown 10, Willingboro 2: Zeke Boren has been pitching some of the best baseball of his life. Handed the ball on Sunday night in the Vincentown Merchants’ big Rancocas Valley League playoff game with Willingboro, the veteran right-hander did it again. Boren, whose 0.82 was second best in the league to Cinnaminson ace Ryan Varga’s 0.72, shut down the big Boro bats and pitched V-town to a 10-2 victory.

The win gave the Merchants a two-game sweep of the best-of-three quarterfinal and advanced them to a semifinal showdown with regular-season champ Delran later this week. V-town and the Boro Boys had belted two home runs each in Saturday’s sometimes testy opening game, won 9-8 by Vincentown.

But Sunday night’s game was dominated by Boren’s pitching, and the inability of the Boro pitchers to throw strikes. First Ryan Derry, then Jared Turner, then Devon Hedgepeth took the ball for Boro, but the score went from 4-0 in the second to 5-0 in the third, to 9-0 in the fourth. Jamie Schwantes’ two-run home run provided Willingboro’s first runs, in the sixth inning.

Vincentown beat Delran 3-2 in the season-series, including a 5-2 victory in the final game. Delran had clinched the regular-season title with a 5-4 win in the previous meeting.

Delran 10, Pemberton 0: Ryan McFadden was 5-for-5 while Chris Maull and Rocky Petrone combined on a four-hit shutout as the regular-season champs swept Pemberton to advance to the semifinals later in the week. Maull pitched six innings, allowing three hits, walking three and striking out five.

McFadden had two doubles among his hits, while Kyle Ballay was 4-for-6 with two runs and Dave Kittle was 3-for-3 with four RBIs, including a bases-clearing double in a five-run fifth inning that put the game out of reach.
After Delran stranded five runners in the first two innings, they finally broke through against righty Mike Kondrath. Singles by Mike Delellis and Kittle, plus Kittle’s steal, put runners on second and third with none out. Kondrath got a ground out and a strikeout, but a walk to Andrew Priece on a 3-2 pitch loaded the bases, and was followed by RBI infield singles by Rex Workman and McFadden.

Delran had five doubles among its 16 hits, with Aaron McKenzie and Petrone each collecting one. Tyler Veterano had two of Pemberton’s four hits; Mike Lamola and Gerry Gales had the others. Kondrath (six in 5 1-3 innings) and Bobbie Henderson (three in 1 2-3 innings) combined to strike out nine Delran hitters.

RVL Playoffs: Semi-Finals, Game 1

August 9, 2011
Both games have been postponed and rescheduled for Wednesday, August 10, 2011.

RVL Notebook

August 8, 2011
Courtesy of Bruce Johnson, Burlington County Times

A military appreciation for opening ceremonies

Saturday morning’s opening ceremonies for the 65th Rancocas Valley League playoffs went off beautifully, thanks to the efforts of Pemberton manager Gerry Lamola and Mount Laurel manager Dean Johnson. They wanted to thank the military for protecting Americans and allowing leagues like the RVL to be able to play baseball. From the McGuire Air Force Base color guard, to the singing of the National Anthem by Master Sergeant Lisel White, to the throwing out of the first ball by Gold Star Mom Vicki Baker of Pemberton, who lost her son Ryan in 2003 during the Iraq war, it was a day to honor our troops.

Several Cinnaminson players and the entire Mount Laurel team went out and shook hands with them, along with six other local veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars who attended the ceremonies in support of Mrs. Baker.
After that it was like “old home night” for the Cinnaminson team. First to arrive was former standout catcher Ryan Mingin, who left the team last summer for a college baseball coaching position at Oklahoma Panhandle State University. His surprise appearance led to a hug-a-thon as his former teammates came over to greet him. Later, 80-year-old Ed (Red) Herron came to watch the team he coached to county and state prominence, along with more than 600 victories, during the 1970s and ‘80s. Both were in attendance again Sunday, as Cinnaminson finished its sweep of Mount Laurel.

Timing is everything
The opening game Saturday, a tremendous pitchers’ duel between Cinnaminson’s Ryan Varga and Mount Laurel’s Mike Cooper, took two hours and five minutes to play nine innings! (The first seven went by in just 1:35.) Check the length of play for all the major league games in today’s box scores ... 2:05 is f-a-s-t!

Game 2 on Saturday took 1:55 to play seven innings.

Playoff beards
While Delran’s Mike Delellis and Burlington’s Jon Reiner have some good stuff growing, the easy winner for Best Playoff Beard has to go to Pemberton’s Frank Pierce. His growth is worthy of a spot on the old House of David barnstorming team.

Robbing the robber
Pemberton’s Ronnie Krankowski made a spectacular catch of Mike Delellis’ long line drive to deep left field in the bottom of the fifth inning Saturday. Then R.K. was robbed himself when Delran first baseman Rocky Petrone (who was 4-for-4) leaped high to snag his bases-loaded line drive in the top of the sixth.

Delran’s Andrew Priece also made a nice diving grab of Dan Hayduk’s line drive in the fourth, keeping alive Eric Gertie’s no-hit attempt.
While we’re talking about great grabs, the catch made by Mount Laurel first baseman Pat O’Reilly on Mike Osborne’s foul pop up waaaaayyyy down the right-field line was quite an eye-opener.

Here’s the catch
Because the team’s best catcher (John Rooney) stopped showing up weeks ago, Pemberton has had to use Krankowski in that role, when he’s not pitching. The former Holy Cross star doesn’t mind. In fact, he looked pretty good on Sunday, despite the humid, 90-degree weather. He even made a nice grab of a foul pop to end Delran’s final at-bat. “I hadn’t caught since American Legion, but I do it to help the team,” he said.

Elsewhere ...
Three semi-pro leagues have already completed their playoffs and crowned champions. The North Jersey Metropolitan League was won, again, by the Hackensack Troasts; the Wildwood Southern Cape team captured the Salem County League; the Collegeville Black Sox are champions of the Perkiomen Valley (Pa.) Twilight League.

Still playing are the Morris County Majors, Atlantic County, South Jersey Tri-County, along with Pennsylvania’s Blue Mountain, Tri-County and Pendel leagues.

Playoff semifinals start tonight in V-town

August 10, 2011
Courtesy of Bruce Johnson, Burlington County Times

It will be defending champion Burlington against 2009 champion Cinnaminson tonight at 6:30 when the Rancocas Valley League playoff semifinals begin at Southampton Memorial Park. The second game, to start 30 minutes after the completion of the opener, will feature regular-season champion Delran against the Vincentown Merchants. The semifinals are best-of-three. After the semis are completed there will be one day off, before the finals start, likely on Saturday night.

There were no upsets in the opening round over the weekend. But Cinnaminson had to survive an opening-game scare before edging Mount Laurel 2-1 in nine innings, Vincentown had to come from behind several times to knock off Willingboro 8-7 in their opener, and Burlington twice had to come from behind to eliminate feisty Riverside.

Burlington (24-11-1) vs. Cinnaminson (27-10): The Mets had a 3-2 advantage during the regular season, but that was with Dave Jost. The slick-fielding, heavy-hitting infielder suffered a broken hand in Sunday’s game when he was hit by a pitch. He is the league leader in doubles (15) and extra-base hits (18), and tied for the league lead in RBI (27).

Still, Burlington has strong solid pitching in Shaun Babula, Carl Taylor and John Harvey. Because of injuries Garrett Mull may have to catch, but the outfield is still strong with speedy Dan Graham, Kyle Semmel and Josh Limon. Jon Reimer, Pedro Perez, Vince Corbi and Jeff Vitale form an outstanding defensive infield.

Cinnaminson didn’t have to use lefty John Meadus in the quarters, so he will likely get the call tonight. Ryan Varga, the league leader in wins and ERA, went nine innings Saturday, while Nick Melchiorre, Jeff Singer or Bob Diepold are all ready to throw. With Matt Cann sidelined by an arm injury, Mike Wasco has taken over the catching duties. Diepold, Greg Gilbert, Mike Osborne and Dennis O’Hanlen are solid two-way infielders. The outfield includes Joe and Frank Sirolli, Tyler Powell and Geoff Gilbert. Casey Donahue and Bobby Osborne are designated hitters.

Vincentown (22-9-1) vs. Delran (29-8): Vincentown won the regular-season series 3-2, but that, of course, means little now. The Merchants are reportedly at full strength for the first time in a while, which means a lineup that features outfielders John Bujanowski Sr., John Bujanowski Jr. and Al Roach, infielders Jesse Pappler, Greg Miller, Stefan Kancylarz and Chris Murray, along with catchers Troy Foster and Owen Boles, plus DH Mike Ferrara. Alan Hasher could get the start tonight, with Damon Valloreo, Matt Viarengo and Zeke Boren to follow.

Delran got through the opening weekend without using Jason Ronca or Max Newill, so look for them to pitch tonight and Wednesday. That would have Eric Gertie on four full days of rest if needed for a third game Thursday (and 8-1 Chris Maull in reserve). Catcher Mike Delellis tied for the league lead in RBI (27), and the Dooks’ lineup of infielders Rocky Petrone, Aaron McKenzie, Kyle Ballay and Mark Wickersham, along with outfielders Andrew Priece, Ryan McFadden and Dave Kittle is super solid. Designated hitters are John Iacovelli and Rex Workman, while Chris Garrett fills in where needed.


August 11, 2011
Courtesy of Dave Zangaro, Burlington County Times

Never truly satisfied

Greg Gilbert was disappointed in himself.

The Cinnaminson second baseman stepped up to the plate in the bottom of the seventh inning Wednesday with the bases loaded. The game was tied with no outs and a solid single would have scored a run easily. So Gilbert settled into the batter’s box and hit a slow-rolling grounder to Burlington shortstop Vince Corbi just to the left of second base. Gilbert outran the throw to first and brother Geoff Gilbert scored to give Cinnaminson a 5-4 win in the first game of their Rancocas Valley League semifinal series at Southampton Memorial Park.

It was a game-winning hit. It put Cinnaminson up by a game and gave it a clear advantage in the best-of-three series, but Greg Gilbert still wasn’t pleased.“I just don’t want to accept that,” he said. “We won, we’ll take it.” “He wants to hit a line drive every time,” Cinnaminson manager Brett Miller said. “But we didn’t need that in that situation.”

The walkoff infield hit was a fitting end to a wild game filled with lead changes, disputed calls and a whole lot of drama. “Great game,” Burlington’s Jeff Vitale said. “I don’t know if the younger guys really understand, but the intensity in the playoffs with these four teams left is amazing. It’s great baseball.”

Burlington ace Shaun Babula trotted back onto the mound in the bottom of the seventh inning to try and close out the game for the Mets, who held a 4-3 lead. After walking No. 2-hole hitter Frank Sirolli, Babula gave up a single and a walk before giving up a single to Mike Wasco to tie the game before Gilbert’s walkoff hit. “That’s tough,” Vitale said. “Give us Shaun in the seventh with a one-run lead and we’ll take 99 out of 100, but that’s not taking anything away from Cinnaminson. They played great.”

Babula allowed the first three runs in the second inning, but shut down Cinnaminson from the third through sixth innings. In the second, he gave up only one hit, but walked two and hit two batters. It took Babula 39 pitches to finally get out of the inning down a run, but it took teammate Vinnie James only one pitch to tie the game again. James crushed the first pitch he saw in the top of the third inning over the left-field fence to tie the game, 4-4. In the fourth inning, rookie shortstop Corbi hit a solo shot to give the Mets the 4-3 lead that lasted until the seventh. Corbi went 2-for-3 with two runs scored in the nine-hole.“It’s huge, extremely huge, to come from behind against a team like that,” Gilbert said. “That was huge. We just wanted to have fun, we didn’t really know what to expect.”

It’s the second year in a row that Burlington and Cinnaminson are meeting in the semifinals. Last season, Burlington swept Cinnaminson en route to its championship. “It’s nice to get that first win, it puts them on their heels a little bit,” Miller said. “We had the right part of the order up and we got some good swings on him. It’s definitely not over. They still have two good pitchers left.”

The two teams will play again tonight at Southampton Memorial Park at 6:30.


August 11, 2011
Delran pulled out a 4-3 victory over Vincentown in the opener of their three-game semifinal series in Rancocas Valley League baseball.
Rocky Petrone hit a sacrifice fly to deep center field in the bottom half of the eighth inning late Wednesday night, scoring Andrew Priece with the winning run.

No. 1 seed Delran rallied for its 30th win in 38 games after the sudden and early departure of pitcher Jason Ronca. The veteran right-hander suffered a recurrence of a back injury in the process of retiring the first batter of the game.

Mark Wickersham relieved Ronca and pitched into the sixth inning before Mike Delellis went from behind the plate to the mound. Delellis, who retired the Merchants in order in the top half of the eighth inning, was the winning pitcher.

Chris Murray hit a home run, scoring Jesse Pappler ahead of him, to give No. 4 seed Vincentown (22-10-1) a 2-0 lead in the fourth inning. Delran replied in its half of the fourth with a sacrifice fly by Aaron McKenzie, following a triple by Dave Kittle.

Delran tied it in the fifth after loading the bases with no outs. A groundout by Delellis scored Ryan McFadden. Murray induced another groundout, issued a walk, then got out of it with a strikeout.


August 12, 2011
Courtesy of Dave Zangaro, Burlington County Times

Taylor to the rescue

SOUTHAMPTON — Pitching has been the backbone for the Burlington Mets all season. So it was no surprise it came through again on Thursday night.
Just a day after Cinnaminson was able to beat Burlington’s ace, Shaun Babula, Burlington No. 2 ace, Carl Taylor, took the mound for the Mets.
Taylor gave up just five hits and threw a complete game in Burlington’s 3-2 win over Cinnaminson in the second game of their best-of-three semifinal series in the Rancocas Valley League playoffs at Southampton Memorial Park. Game three will be tonight at 6:30. “I just placed my fastball,” Taylor said. “My velocity was good enough so I didn’t think they would get good wood on the ball, so I just threw fastballs.”

Until the seventh and final inning, Taylor cruised. He retired Cinnaminson (28-11) in order in three innings and saw only four batters three times. In the seventh, however, he got himself into a little trouble. He allowed a leadoff double to Bob Diepold and fell behind 3-0 to Mike Wasco but battled back to strike him out looking. “That was huge,” Taylor said of the strikeout. “We definitely didn’t want to have two guys on in that spot.”
Dennis O’Hanlen eventually singled in Cinnaminson’s second run, but Taylor was able to induce a flyout and another strikeout to end the game and keep his team alive in the playoffs.

For the second straight day, the two teams looked incredibly evenly matched. And for the second straight day, the score differential was only one. “It is what it is. There aren’t any surprises anymore,” Burlington manager Keith Babula said. “I love playing against Cinnaminson. It’s my 19th year in the league and they’ve always been the class of the league.”
“Yeah, it’s definitely a good matchup,” Taylor said. “Our pitching staff is what we hope can be the difference.”

Burlington (25-12-1) has ridden its three top starting pitchers all season. So even when Shaun Babula lost in the first game of the series, the team said it was still confident with Taylor on the mound. They also say they’ll be equally as confident with John Harvey on the mound in tonight’s final game of the series. “Shaun (Babula), Carl (Taylor) and (John) Harvey are the difference between us being a third-place team and a seventh-place team,” Keith Babula said. “Carl has pitched well for us the past three years in the playoffs.”

For Cinnaminson, Diepold started the game and pitched well. He gave up only three runs on five hits. Cinnaminson’s two runs came with leadoff hits, Mike Osborne’s single in the first (he scored on Geoff Gilbert’s single) and Diepold’s double in the seventh. In the five other innings, Cinnaminson’s leadoff batter was retired.

Likewise, all of Burlington’s runs came after either a leadoff walk or a leadoff hit. While Burlington third baseman Jeff Vitale didn’t make much noise offensively (0-for-3), it was the ageless wonder’s defense that turned heads on Thursday. He started a 5-4-3 double play with a diving snag in the first inning, made a tough 5-3 putout in the fifth and made a sliding catch in the sixth.“Unbelievable,” Taylor said. “He’s made some amazing plays. I hope that I can be as good as him when I’m his age.”

TriCounty Sports Online RVL Playoff Coverage

August 11, 2011
After surrendering a run in the top of the first inning, Burlington tied the game with a run in the bottom of the first inning and took the lead on an RBI ground out by Garrett Mull in the third inning. The Mets added a much needed insurance run in the fourth inning when a bases loaded walk forced in their third run. A Cinnaminson rally in the seventh, started with a double by Bobby Diepold, plated one run but Cinnaminson still fell one run short in the 3-2 loss. Carl Taylor pitched a complete game, scattering five hits, in picking up the win for Burlington. Bobby Diepold took the loss for Cinnaminson. Photo Gallery


August 12, 2011
Vincentown scored in the bottom of the sixth to beat Delran and even their best-of-three semifinal at one game each. Game three is tonight, after the Burlington-Cinnaminson game.

Jesse Pappler doubled to lead off the V-town sixth against Max Newill and scored on Mike Ferrara’s single.

Vincentown had opened the scoring in the bottom of the third when Troy Foster walked, took third on Andrew Lydon’s double and scored on Stefan Kancylarz’s single.

Delran tied things in the top of the sixth when Dave Kittle drilled a home run off Zeke Boren. Delran threatened to blow the game open when its next two runners reached second and third with one out. But reliever Damon Valloreo, after intentionally walking Andrew Priece, struck out Rex Workman and Ryan McFadden to end that threat.

Cinnaminson, Vincentown reach finals

August 13, 2011
Cinnaminson and Vincentown won the semifinal round of the Rancocas Valley League baseball playoffs on Friday night, advancing to the best-of-three championship finals which start Sunday (7 p.m.) at Southampton Memorial Park.

Cinnaminson won Friday night's opener with a 1-0 victory over defending champion Burlington. The lone run scored in the second inning when Tyler Powell was hit by a pitch and scored on Greg Gilbert's two-out single. Ryan Varga pitched the four-hit shutout while John Harvey was the hard-luck loser.

Vincentown defeated regular-season champion Delran, 7-1, in the nightcap on the four-hit pitching of Damon Valloreo, who struck out seven. Greg Miller's home run proved to be the big hit in the contest.

TriCounty Sports Online RVL Playoff Coverage

August 12, 2011
ohn Harvey pitched a gem for Burlington. Harvey limited Cinnaminson to one run on six hits. Ryan Varga pitched just a little better. Varga limited the Mets to three hits in a complete game shutout. The lone run of the game came when Tyler Powell was hit by a pitch, moved to second, and scored on Greg Gilbert's RBI single. Burlington had one last gasp in the seventh inning when Garrett Mull reached second base on a two base error. After moving to third, Mull got caught in a run down between third and home while attempting to score the tying run following Jon Reiner's fly out. Ryan Varga picked up the win for Cinnaminson while John Harvey suffered the hard luck loss for Burlington. Photo Gallery

Cinnaminson, V-Town last two standing

August 14, 2011
Courtesy of Bruce Johnson, Burlington County Times

The last time Vincentown won the Rancocas Valley League championship was in 2003. Ironically, Vincentown’s opponent in that final was Cinnaminson, and that’s the two teams that will square off tonight at 7 (weather permitting) in the opening game of the 2011 best-of-five finals at Southampton Memorial Park. The rest of the schedule calls for games Monday and Wednesday, with Thursday and Saturday for the “if necessary” games. If tonight’s game is rained out, it would be moved to Monday with Game 2 likely moving to Tuesday.

Vincentown advanced to the final with a 7-1 victory over regular-season champion Delran in Friday night’s third game of their best-of-three semifinal. Cinnaminson qualified by ousting defending champion Burlington 1-0 in the other game Friday. The finalists met five times during the regular season, with Cinnaminson winning four close games — two by one run, one by two runs — and dropping a 19-7 decision in the other.

Cinnaminson (29-11) comes in having won 14 of its last 17 games (the three losses coming against Burlington); Vincentown (24-10-1) has won eight of its last 11 (with two one-run losses to Delran, and a two-run setback against Cinnaminson).

Here’s a look at how the teams match up:

Advantage: toss-up
The Jugs have Ryan Varga, and he’s probably the best pitcher in the league right now. They also have Nick Melchiorre, Bob Diepold, Jeff Singer and John Meadus. Vincentown has lefty Damon Valloreo to match Varga, with veterans Zeke Boren and Alan Hasher very solid. For short relief, V-town manager Harry Thompson can call on Owen Boles, Jesse Pappler, Chris Murray or Greg Miller for instant smoke.
Troy Foster and Boles are both outstanding behind the plate for V-town. The Jugs will look to veteran player-coach Gary Herron to fill in for Mike Wasco, who is unavailable for this series, and Matt Cann, who is available to DH but has an injury to his right arm.

Advantage: toss-up
The Jugs normally have Diepold at first, Greg Gilbert at second, Mike Osborne at short and Dennis O’Hanlen on third. No weak spots there, offensively or defensively. The Merchants go with Pappler, Miller, Kancylarz and Murray. Again no weak spots. Maybe a slight defensive advantage to Cinnaminson, and a slight hitting edge to V-town.

Advantage: toss-up
Cinnaminson’s outfielders — Tyler Powell, Frank and Joe Sirolli, and Geoff Gilbert — can all go get the ball and rate a defensive edge over V-town’s Andrew Lydon, Sam Pepper, John Bujanowski Jr. and John Bujanowski Sr. But the Merchants have the slightly better sticks.

The last two summers have ended with a title series that went the limit: Burlington over Delran in five last year, and Cinnaminson over Burlington in three the year before. Cinnaminson has won 14 RVL championships, Vincentown has 11. Vincentown’s record four-year championship run of 1997-2000 included title victories over Cinnaminson in 1997 and ‘99.

In Friday’s semifinal games:
Cinnaminson 1, Burlington 0: Ryan Varga won a pitchers’ duel from John Harvey when the Jugs pushed over a run in the second. Tyler Powell was hit by a pitch with one out and then scored on Greg Gilbert’s two-out single.
Two batters into the game the Cinnaminson outfield had made two spectacular grabs — Frank Sirolli robbing Shaun Babula of a double, and Powell taking a sure hit away from Pedro Perez — and the Jugs’ defense never let up.
Burlington nearly took the lead in the top of third when Vince Corbi and Perez had hits to put runners at the corners with two outs. But Dan Graham’s long line drive was grabbed on the run by Joe Sirolli at the fence.

The drama continued into the seventh inning. Burlington’s Garrett Mull drilled a pitch deep left-center field, where Powell and Sirolli tried to chase it down. The ball went off the top of the fence for a leadoff double. After a grounder moved Mull to third, Jon Reiner lofted a fly to Sirolli in medium center. Mull tagged up but slipped as he started running, then lost his balance and fell down halfway to what would have been a bang-bang play/collision at home. Instead he was tagged out in a rundown.
Varga allowed just four hits, walked one and fanned three. Harvey gave up six singles, walked three (one intentionally) and whiffed two.
Vincentown 7, Delran 1: Damon Valloreo pitched five outs (four K’s) in relief late Thursday to get the series even, then pitched a four-hitter to push the Merchants into the title series. Valloreo walked one, hit one and struck out seven.

Delran took the lead in the second when Dave Kittle — who had two doubles, a triple and a home run in the series — doubled to deep right-center and scored on Andrew Priece’s two-out single. But that was it for Delran’s offense. Priece had three quality at-bats, with a line out to deep center and a double in the seventh.

V-town got the lead back in the third when Stefan Kancylarz singled, Chris Murray doubled and a Greg Miller single and a sacrifice fly by John Bujanowski Jr. made it 2-1. In the fourth, John Bujanowski Sr. singled, stole second and came home on Murray’s hit. Greg Miller’s long home run in the fifth made it 4-1, before the Merchants tagged on three runs in the seventh.

The Merchants are known as a hitting team, and they had 12 hits. But they flashed some nice defensive work, too, with shortstop Kancylarz and center fielder Bujanowski Jr. each turning in a pair of eye-openers.


August 15, 2011
Courtesy of Bruce Johnson, Burlington County Times

Talking old-time ball with a true old-timer

The first thing John Imlay said, after introducing himself on the phone, was, “How’s Harry doing out at Vincentown?” Imlay, a Realtor in Bordentown and a longtime player in the Rancocas Valley and Central Jersey baseball leagues, didn’t seem too surprised to hear that Harry Thompson is alive and well (if a little under the weather with a cold these days) and his Vincentown team is in the RVL finals again this summer. “You tell him I said hi,” Imlay said. “He’s a year older than me, and he’s still going, that sonofagun.”

Imlay, whose family roots trace back to the origin of the town that bears his family name, Imlaystown, was a second baseman for the Crosswicks team in the old Central Jersey League in the ‘40s and ‘50s, later playing for Columbus and Mount Holly in the RVL, before and after his time in the military during the Korean War.

You get the impression that spending a couple of hours with Imlay could produce an encyclopedia’s worth of information about those two leagues, one of which hasn’t existed since the early 1950s, the other (RVL) enjoying its 65th season this summer.

The stories flow out of him like the beers out at “Club Red Lion” during the playoffs at Vincentown. “I remember the old team at Medford, they had this woman Doris, who I think was a crossing guard,” Imlay said. “Well, Doris used to have names for everybody on the other teams, and when they came to bat, they’d hear about it from Doris. Anybody who played back then would remember her.”

Of course, behavior like that wasn’t limited to people “out in the country” or to eccentric women. “Fieldsboro had a guy named Ollie Reynolds, and he was the same way as Doris. Man, would he badger the opponents all game,” Imlay said.

He might have been thinking he was boring his listener, but that was far from the case. “I’ll tell you one more story. I think it was back in ‘54, and there was this umpire named Sam Cronin,” Imlay said. “We were playing a game at Indian Mills. Well, the pitcher throws the ball and it’s a 57-foot pitch. But somehow Sam goes, “strikeimissedit.” It was all like one word. StrikeImissedit. Not, strike . . . I . . . missed . . . it. “Even the batter had to laugh at that one. And the pitcher, he knew he might as well throw the next pitch into the woods, ‘cause Sam was gonna call it a ball no matter what.”

Then John Imlay, who gained a lot of fame coaching some great softball teams, like Superior Apollo, that used to tour the country and take on all comers, was done. “We’ll talk another time. I’ve got some more stories you might find interesting,” he said.

Looking forward to it, John.

No late starts
Note to the league: There should be no playoff games scheduled to start after 8 p.m. The original playoffs plan, discussed and seemingly agreed to at a league meeting on Aug. 4, was to play one semifinal and final game per night starting at 7 p.m. But by the time Saturday came around, the semifinals had been changed to doubleheaders at 6:30 p.m. and 30 minutes after that game’s end (roughly 9 p.m.).

That produced a second game that ended around 11:40 p.m., with some guys having to drive long distances to get home and get some sleep before spending a full day at work, and then coming back to play another late game (and then doing it all over again a third night). That’s just not right, for the players, or for the fans (many of whom left when it got after 10:30 or 11 o’clock).

The single games at 7 p.m., agreed to by all eight managers at the league meeting on Aug. 4, were a great idea. It ensured everybody could be home early, and that all the games could be covered (with a reporter and photographer).

If doubleheaders were necessary, the games should have either been played at two sites (Delran’s Notre Dame Field was available) or the teams should have been flipflopped, i.e., Burlington-Cinnaminson opens one night, Delran-Vincentown the next, etc.

Upping the ante
It didn’t take long last Wednesday to realize that the playoffs were here. From 6:30 p.m. until close to midnight, it seemed like every close call drew moans (or much more) from the offended team and their vocal fans, too.
Of course any Burlington-Cinnaminson matchup features several volatile guys on both sides of the field. There was hardly an inning that passed without somebody from one of the teams “discussing” things with one of the umps. Ironically, the night’s lone ejection came in the Delran-Vincentown game, when V-town designated hitter Mike Ferrara pushed plate umpire Pat Haggerty too far. (Of course, Ferrara had already been taken out of the game on a double switch.)

Some like it hot
Burlington’s Jeff Vitale and Cinnaminson’s Dennis O’Hanlon seemed to be playing a game of “Can you top this?” with their defensive plays at third base last week. And it was free, as opposed to paying good money back in the ‘60s to go to Yankee Stadium and watch the Orioles’ Brooks Robinson and the Yankees’ Clete Boyer put on a similar defensive show at the hot corner.
Maybe it’s because of his age (50), but Vitale’s plays appeared to be the more spectacular, ranging from starting a 5-4-3 double play from his knees, to making a backhand stop and throwing out a runner (O’Hanlon) — again from his knees — to making a diving one-hand grab on a pop up right in front of home plate . . . on his knees.

But O’Hanlon was no less spectacular, with two putouts, 12 assists and two double plays started, both of which killed rallies.

Guerrieri returning?
Don’t be surprised to see Paul Guerrieri back in the Burlington Mets’ lineup next summer, catching and batting in the cleanup slot. The big guy was seen taking swings in the Vincentown batting cages last week. Burlington has missed his big bat the last year and a half. He could return as soon as the York (Pa.) Tournament later this month.

Here are the winners and remaining schedules for some other semipro league tournaments:
Atlantic County: Northfield leads Margate Hurricanes 2-1 going into tonight’s fourth game in their best-of-five final
Blue Mountain: Hellertown Royals
Jersey Shore: Point Merchants vs. Wall Angels were rained out in Sunday’s winner-take-all one-game final
Lehigh Valley Tri-County: Allentown Northern Yankees
Morris County Majors: Morristown Naturals
Pen-Del: Upper Moreland leads Glenside 2-0 in their best-of-five, with a doubleheader tonight
South Jersey Tri-County: Cherry Hill

RVL Finals: Game 1, Cinnaminson 2, Vincentown 1

August 18, 2011
Courtesy of Dave Zangaro, Burlington County Times

SOUTHAMPTON — Usually when a pitcher hurls a one-hitter, his team is going to dominate. That wasn’t the case for Cinnaminson’s Nick Melchiorre on Wednesday night.

Sure, he allowed only one hit in the ballgame. It came in the second inning. The strange thing is, after that is when things got tricky in Cinnaminson’s 2-1 win over Vincentown in the first game of the best-of-five Rancocas Valley League championship finals at Southampton Memorial Park.
After facing only three Vincentown batters each in the first three innings, Melchiorre became wild, walking eight batters and hitting another. Eventually Vincentown pushed across its only run in the seventh inning after a leadoff walk, but, again, Melchiorre was able to get out of trouble and seal the win. “Eight walks and a hit batter?” Melchiorre said. “I’ll take that if I get a win any day.”

Melchiorre allowed the leadoff man to reach base in four of the seven innings, including the seventh. Three of his walks came in the seventh inning. With the Merchants down only one run in the final inning with two men on base, Melchiorre induced a groundout to end the game. “I just needed to throw strikes in that last inning,” said Melchiorre, a Holy Cross High School graduate who later pitched for NCAA Division 1 program Fairleigh Dickinson University. “I knew I had pretty good stuff, I just had no control.”

“He’s gonna battle,” Cinnaminson right fielder Geoff Gilbert said. “He’s gonna give us a good outing. He’s a warrior.”

He was wild, but whenever the Cinnaminson pitcher needed to throw a good pitch, he seemed to do so. He was also the recipient of two double plays by his infield, one of which negated the only hit he let up — a leadoff single to Jesse Pappler in the second. “We had a couple of nice double plays,” Melchiorre said. “The guys got those and they helped.”

Amazingly, both Cinnaminson runs came in the first inning. Mike Osborne led off with a single, Frank Sirolli hit a double and Gilbert knocked them both in with a single. “I expected to see a lot more runs than that,” Gilbert said. “(Vincentown starter) Zeke (Boren) has had a good year. We’ve hit him pretty well in the past, but this year something is different.”

While Boren got the loss, he did pitch well. After the first inning, he only allowed three more hits and his longest inning after the first was four batters long. “That’s the RVL playoffs, you never know what’s going to happen,” Boren said. “I asked for a mulligan for that first inning.”
Cinnaminson was led offensively by Sirolli, who went 3-for-3 with a double and a run scored. He was the only player in the game with multiple hits.
“(Sirolli) had a great game,” Gilbert said. “He hit the ball the other way . . . some real good at-bats. It’s nice to see the young guys have good games in the playoffs.”

Cinnaminson, the 2009 champion, now has a 1-0 lead in the series, which will resume at Southampton tonight at 7. “It is huge for us to win the first game,” Gilbert said.

The first game is big, but it doesn’t mean the series is over. Not even close. Vincentown fell to Delran in the first game of the three-game semifinal series and won two consecutive to move on. “Absolutely, it’s rough,” Boren said. “But we lost the first game in the last round.”

TriCounty Sports Online RVL Playoff Coverage

August 18, 2011
Nick Melchoirre allowed one hit and held Vincentown scoreless for six and one-third innings as Cinnaminson defeated the Merchants 2-1 to take the first game in this best-of-five RVL championship series. Melchoirre received all the offensive support he needed when Geoff Gilbert knocked in two runs with his RBI single in the bottom of the first inning. Vincentown pushed their only run across in the top of the seventh inning without the benefit of a hit. Nick Melchoirre picked up the win for Cinnaminson. Vincentown's Zeke Boren pitched well, but was on the losing end of a tough 2-1 decision. Photo Gallery

Game 2 of RVL championship postponed again

August 19, 2011
Friday night's scheduled Game 2 of the Rancocas Valley League best-of-five championship series was rained out for the sixth time in seven days. The game is rescheduled, weather permitting, for Saturday night at 7 p.m. at Southampton Memorial Park.

Cinnaminson, a 16-time RVL champion, won the opening game, defeating 12-time champion 2-1 on Tuesday night.

Because of the postponements, Game 3 is slated for Sunday. If needed, Game 4 and Game 5 will be played Monday and Tuesday respectively. All games at 7 p.m. in Vincentown.

Cinnaminson takes second step

August 21, 2011
Courtesy of Kevin Kolodziej, Burlington County Times

SOUTHAMPTON — Cinnaminson moved with a victory of the Rancocas Valley Baseball League title when it rallied Saturday night for a 13-8 win over Vincentown.

Cinnaminson holds a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five series. Game 3 is scheduled for tonight at 7, at Southampton Memorial Park. Games 4 and 5, if necessary, are scheduled for Monday and Tuesday. “Everyone contributed,” said winning pitcher Jeff Singer, who did his part with 3 2/3 innings of scoreless and hitless relief. “Frankie (Sirolli) had that big hit in the beginning to start us off,” Singer said. “We just stayed together and hit the ball.”

The big hit to which Singer referred was a solo home run by Sirolli, the second batter of the game. The ball just made it over the fence in left-center field to give Cinnaminson an early lead. Sirolli finished 3-for-6.
Designated hitter Casey Donahue had a big night, as well. The Cinnaminson veteran went 4-for-4 with two RBIs, one of which tied the game at 8-8 in the sixth. “When I get an opportunity, I just try to make the most of it,” Donahue said. “I do anything I can to help the team. I’ll battle with these guys any day of the year.”

Cinnaminson starter Ryan Varga went the first 3 1/3 innings. He’s the league leader in wins (10) and he came in with an 0.66 ERA, the best in the league. “Varga didn’t have his great stuff tonight, but still kept us in the ballgame,” Donahue said. “Singer came in and just shut them down (five strikeouts, one walk). “Nothing’s a lock. They’re Vincentown. I’m sure they’ve got something up their sleeve, maybe another pitcher or something. They’re not going to quit — once again, though, neither are we. “No matter if we score 16 runs or two runs, a loss is a loss. They’ll come right back tomorrow and we know that.”

Vincentown was led by Jesse Pappler, who went 3-for-3. Owen Boles, John Bujanowski Jr. and Mike Ferrara had two hits apiece. The Merchants built an 8-5 lead through five innings. “This is my first year in the league, and getting a win in the championship feels really good,” said Singer, a June graduate of Holy Cross High School headed to Gloucester County College. “My teammates just tell me that they have my back no matter what,” Singer said. “They’re teaching me a lot about the game, and have been telling me all year, every time, just to calm down and relax.”

Game 3 of RVL championship postponed

August 21, 2011
Sunday night's scheduled Game 3 of the Rancocas Valley League best-of-five championship series was rained out. The game is rescheduled for tonight at 7 at Southampton Memorial Park. Cinnaminson has won the first two games.

If needed, Game 4 and Game 5 will be played Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively.

Vincentown stays alive

August 22, 2011
Vincentown wasn’t ready for its season to be over. Not yet. Staring at a two-game hole, the Merchants were able to stave off elimination and took down Cinnaminson 7-6 in the third game of the best-of-five Rancocas Valley League championship series at Southampton Memorial Park on Monday night. “We’re better than getting swept 3-0,” Vincentown outfielder John Bujanowksi Sr. said. “Cinnaminson is a team that always comes back and that’s what scares you.”

Cinnaminson certainly gave Vincentown another scare on Monday night. After Stefan Kancylarz scored an insurance run — the Merchants’ seventh — in the top of the sixth inning, Cinnaminson answered with a two-spot in the bottom.

After Vincentown didn’t score a run in the top of the seventh, it sent starter Zeke Boren out to the mound to go for the complete game against the heart of the Cinnaminson lineup.

After allowing a leadoff walk to three-hole hitter Mike Osborne, Boren caught him in a rundown and retired the next two batters to seal the game and keep the series alive. “It feels good that we get to play another day,” Boren said, “that we didn’t get swept.”

Boren was a big reason the Merchants are still alive. Again, just like he did in Game 1 of the series, Boren struggled in the first inning. This time he gave up three runs on two hits and two walks. “I didn’t get there until 6:30, so I didn’t have the full time to warm up,” Boren said. “I had an improper warmup.”

After the first, Boren settled in. He scattered seven hits, walked four and struck out only one — it came to the second batter in the seventh inning. “He’s pitched well all year for us,” Bujanowski said. “He struggled a little bit early, but then he really started to throw strikes. We can really count on him. Without him, I don’t think we’re still playing. Tonight, we finally put some runs on the board.”

Bujanowski said that the Merchants have struggled to support Boren with runs throughout the year and it might be because they expect him to pitch so well.

The last time Boren was on the mound — in Game 1 — the Merchants lost 2-1 and had only one hit against Cinnaminson starter Nick Melchiorre. “We put pressure on ourselves in the first two games,” Bujanowski said. “One hit is not us. (Melchiorre) pitched well, but it was pathetic on our part.”

After Bujanowski walked on four pitches to lead off the game, he hit one over the fence in left field on the first pitch he saw in the second for a two-run shot. He went 2-for-3 with two runs scored.

For Cinnaminson, Bob Diepold hit a two-run double in the three-run first and tossed a complete game. “I have a lot of respect for Cinnaminson,” Bujanowski said. “I was surprised they left him in tonight, they have a lot of really good pitchers over there.”

The two teams will be back at it tonight for Game 4 at 7 again at Southampton Memorial Park but for now, Vincentown is still alive.
“That’s more of what I expected,” Boren said. “That was a battle.”

TriCounty Sports Online RVL Playoff Coverage

August 23, 2011
Vincentown remained alive in the RVL championship series by taking game #3 by the score of 7-6. Mike Ferrara broke up a 4-4 tie with his RBI single in the fifth inning. The Merchants went on to build a 7-4 lead and then held off Cinnaminson by the final score of 7-6. John Bujanokski, Sr. blasted a two-run home run for Vincentown in the second inning. Bobby Diepold knocked in two runs for Cinnaminson with his RBI double in the first inning. Zeke Boren picked up the complete game win for Vincentown while Bobby Diepold took the loss for Cinnaminson. Photo Gallery

Cinnaminson hustles way to RVL title

August 23, 2011
Courtesy of Dave Zangaro, Burlington County Times

It was a play that didn’t look like much.

Normally, it would get lost in the game, in the scorebooks. But on Tuesday, it very well could have been the difference. Cinnaminson’s Dennis O’Hanlan hit a ground ball that should have been an easy double play but he ran out the ball hard to first to extend the inning.

O’Hanlan’s play sparked a four-run second inning for Cinnaminson on its way to a 13-3 win in Game 4 of the best-of-five Rancocas Valley League championship series at Southampton Memorial Park.
Cinnaminson won the series 3-1 and is the champion for the second time in three years. “If he doesn’t hustle that ball out we don’t get that big inning,” manager Brett Miller. “It’s the little things like that. We try to play hard every out.” “It was something that you wouldn’t think would be a big play but it ended up being a key factor,” infielder Greg Gilbert said.

After O’Hanlan reached base, Cinnaminson benefited from two errors and scored four unearned runs. O’Hanlan’s play is typical of a Cinnaminson team made up of a ton of veterans. Cinnaminson knows how to win and they feel like they can do it each season. “We feel like we have a chance every year,” Miller said. “We always have a good lineup and our pitching is always good.”

Pitching was again a strong suit for Miller’s team on Tuesday. Nick Melchiorre, who tossed a one-hitter in the first game of the series, threw another gem in the finale. Melchiorre went six innings, gave up eight hits, but allowed only two unearned runs. “I’ll tell you what, when we got that lead I knew that I had to hold it and they gave me plenty of runs,” Melchiorre said.

In Game 1 of the series, Melchiorre walked eight and hit a batter. In the finale on Tuesday, he hit a guy but only had one walk. “When he’s on the mound we don’t have to do too much,” said Joe Sirroli, who went 3-for-4 with three runs scored and two RBIs in the nine-hole. “Yeah it’s a little easier to hit in the ninth spot,” Sirroli said. “Our lineup is pretty strong. Depth is our strong suit.”

Eight of Cinnaminson’s starters scored a run. Gilbert went 3-for-4 with three runs scored. Mike Osborne had three hits and knocked in four runs. Mike Wasco had a single, double and knocked in a run and Tyler Powell had an RBI. “We’re really deep,” Miller said. “There were a lot of guys that couldn’t make games throughout and our bench was great all year.”

While Cinnaminson is one of the deepest squads in the league, Vincentown is not. The Merchants, without their starting shortstop and catcher, were forced to make some adjustments that cost them in the championship finale.

“They’re a good team, but I still think we have the best team,” Vincentown manager Harry Thompson said. “You just can’t play with different lineups.”
In all, Vincentown committed five errors, Cinnaminson had two.

“Three good games and an ugly one at the end,” Miller said. “We have nothing but respect for (Vincentown).”

The championship was riddled with rainouts and postponements. Gilbert was just happy it was over and his team had the trophy. “I didn’t want to drive back here tomorrow,” Gilbert said.

Now he won’t have to.

TriCounty Sports Online RVL Playoff Coverage

August 24, 2011
Cinnaminson captured their second RVL championship in three years by defeating Vincentown 13-3 in game four. Cinnaminson took advantage of two costly Merchant errors to score four runs in the second inning. Cinnaminson added three more runs in the third inning, and then put the game away with three in the sixth and three more in the seventh. Mike Osborne had a pair of two-run doubles for Cinnaminson. Ryan Walter knocked in two Merchant runs with his RBI single in the fourth inning. Nick Melchoirre held Vincentown to two runs over six innings to pick up the win. Jim Goodwin pitched the seventh for Cinnaminson. Kevin Carty took the loss for Vincentown. Photo Gallery

Cinnaminson 2011 RVL Champs

Photo Courtesy of Mark Fletcher, TriCounty Sports Online