2011 RVL Playoff Recap

January 29, 2012

RVL Finals
Game 1: Cinnaminson 2, Vincentown 1
Game 2: Cinnaminson 13, Vincentown 8
Game 3: Vincentown 7, Cinnaminson 6
Game 4: Cinnaminson 13, Vincentown 3
(Cinnaminson wins series 3-1)

Game 1: Cinnaminson 5, Burlington 4
Game 2: Burlington 3, Cinnaminson 2
Game 3: Cinnaminson 1, Burlington 0
(Cinnaminson wins series 2-1)

Game 1: Delran 4, Vincentown 3
Game 2: Vincentown 2, Delran 1
Game 3: Vincentown 7, Delran 1
(Vincentown wins series 2-1)

First Round
Game 1: Cinnaminson 2, Mt. Laurel 1 (9 innings)
Game 2: Cinnaminson 12, Mt. Laurel 0
(Cinnaminson wins series 2-0)

Game 1: Delran 13 , Pemberton 0
Game 2: Delran 10 , Pemberton 0
(Delran wins series 2-0)

Game 1: Burlington 3, Riverside 1
Game 2: Burlington 9, Riverside 8
(Burlington wins series 2-0)

Game 1: Vincentown 8, Willingboro 7
Game 2:Vincentown 10, Willingboro 2
(Vincentown wins series 2-0)

RVL Season Set to Begin May 14, 2012

The Rancocas Valley League (RVL) baseball season is set to begin on May 14, 2012 and will feature a 32-game schedule to end July 31, 2012. Franchises from Burlington, Cinnaminson, Delran, Mount Laurel, Pemberton, Riverside, Vincentown, and Willingboro will return. In addition, a new franchise from Burlington Township will join the league. The traditional 8 team playoff format will commence on Saturday, August 4th at Southampton Memorial Park. On Wednesday, August 1st, the 8th and 9th seeds will compete in a single-elimination play-in game. Schedule development is currently in progress and will be released shortly.

2012 RVL Schedule Released

April 20, 2012

It's official! The 2012 Rancocas Valley League baseball schedule has been finalized and released. Mark Monday, May 14th on the calendar as "Opening Night 2012" with two games on the schedule. Willingboro travels to Burlington for their recently developed traditional season opener while new comers Burlington Township travel to the friendly confines of Southampton Memorial Park.

And for the true RVL fan, at least one game is scheduled for every night of the opening week (Monday through Friday). Check the schedule link for times and locations.

Harry W. Thompson Field

April 21, 2012

For many years, RVL players have jokingly referred to Southampton Memorial Field as Harry Thompson Field. This was probably not so much of a joke as it was foreshadowing that one day the long-time manager of the Vincentown Merchants would one day have his name adorned on the outfield scoreboard. That day will come on May 28, 2012, in a ceremony prior to the Burlington-Vincentown game on Memorial Day. More details will be available as the date nears but the RVL and Southampton Township hope for a great showing of support.

RVL NOTEBOOK - Burlington County Times

May 14, 2012

Courtesy of: Bruce Johnson, Burlington County Times

Expanded baseball league kicks off Monday

The 115th consecutive summer of semipro baseball in Burlington County kicks off Monday evening with two games: Willingboro taking on the Burlington Mets in a 6:15 start at Life Center Academy, and league newcomer Burlington Township visits Vincentown for an 8 p.m. start.

The B.T. Pirates have been added as the ninth team in the league, meaning each team will play a 32-game schedule, facing each opponent twice at home and twice on the road. Rounding out the teams are defending league champion Cinnaminson, Vincentown, defending regular-season champion Delran, Riverside, Mount Laurel and the Pine Barren Phantoms (formerly Pemberton).

The regular season is scheduled to end July 31, with the playoffs to follow. The eighth- and ninth-place teams will meet in a one-game playoff on Aug. 1, with the winner advancing to the quarterfinals that start Aug. 4.

This is the 66th year of the Rancocas Valley League, which started in 1947. Burlington County?s first organized league was in 1898 ? around the time of the Spanish-American War ? lasted through the 1951 season, after which it merged with the RVL in 1952.

Home fields
Burlington: Life Center Academy, Florence
Burlington Township: Burlington Township High School; Pinewald Field (Sundays)
Cinnaminson: Memorial Field, Cinnaminson
Delran: Notre Dame Field, Delran
Mount Laurel: Hainesport Recreation Field
Pemberton: Pemberton Babe Ruth Field
Riverside: Bob Kenney Field, Riverside
Vincentown: Southampton Memorial Field, Vincentown
Willingboro: J.F. Kennedy Recreation Center Field, Willingboro

Making it official
For years teams have half-considered Southampton Memorial Field was really Harry Thompson Field. After all, the 82-year-old Thompson has been part of the Vincentown Merchants since 1947, the year the RVL opened. But on May 28, the change will become official. If that wasn?t enough reason for a big crowd to head to the league?s mecca, that night?s game will be against the Burlington Mets.

The name game
The Burlington Mets and Vincentown Merchants were the only RVL teams with nicknames last year. This year that has changed, with Cinnaminson (Reds, named after former coach Red Herron), Riverside (Patriots), Pemberton (now the Pine Barren Phantoms, named after the planes coach Gerry Lamola used to fly) and the B.T. Pirates. Hopefully, Delran, Mount Laurel and Willingboro will join the nickname club.

Look who's back
Ryan Mingin will be playing for the Cinnaminson Reds until early-mid June, when he will leave to coach a team in the Myrtle Beach Summer League. Mingin was one of the league?s top catchers before taking a coaching position in Oklahoma last year.

This and that
The Cinnaminson entry in the RVL will hold a season-opening Beef ?n? Beer fundraiser Saturday, 7-11 p.m., at the Jug Handle Inn's outside bar. For information, contact Brett Miller at 609-238-3430.

Willingboro will hold its fourth Alvin Townsend Memorial Beef and Beer Scholarship Fundraiser on June 2, 6-9 p.m., at the Cool Cricket in Fieldsboro. The cost is $25. The team is also selling Alvin (No.3 ) Townsend T-shirts for $20. For information, contact Mike Stumpf at 609-560-0143.

Bridgeton Invitational
The 46th Bridgeton Invitational Baseball Tournament is scheduled to run July 27 through Aug. 10. Along with the second Ms. Bridgeton Invitational Contest, each team participating in the 2012 tournament will be assigned one female contestant to represent its team. She can be no younger than 16 years old and can be single or married.

RVL NOTEBOOK - Burlington County Times

May 15, 2012

Courtesy of Bruce Conlin, Burlington County Times

It was only the opening game of a 32-game season. Way too early to see what happens when the temperature gets hot, the beach calls or the girlfriends want some company. But there certainly were some very encouraging signs.
First, there was the new name. Gone is Pemberton and in is the Pine Barrens Phantoms. Second will be the new uniforms (when they arrive). Third, home games will be played at Patty Bowker Field in Tabernacle, meaning lots of home games at night.

Manager Gerry Lamola, dressed in his National Guard fatigues after rushing to Bob Kenney Field from his job at McGuire Air Force Base, looked at his bench and saw ... a bench. With extra players on it. Seven of them, in fact. ?This is a new year, for sure,? he said, prior to Wednesday night?s 3-2 loss to the Riverside Patriots, and before Sunday?s doubleheader at Delran. ?We only have about five guys back from last year. It?s a new team. In the past I never knew who would be there. ?This year I can move guys around. We have players. Last year we?d only have nine, 10 guys show up, and we?d have five guys playing out of position, just to fill the spots. Now we have a lot of guys who want to play.?

And last year, lest we forget, produced a final record of four wins and 30 losses. (In the third-base dugout, it was the same feeling. One year removed from an 0-33 season in 2010, Riverside also has a new name ? the Patriots ? new hats with the old-fashioned ?Riverside R,? and the feeling that last year?s 12-20-3 record will be improved upon.)

Since the season started, Pine Barrens has dropped four players ? Greg Cinelli, Greg and Matt Hunt and Mike Jewell ? and added nine: Bob Antoniewicz, Connor Arsenault, Matt Baer, Josh Brown, Matt Carr, John Diamond, Dylan Johannink, Dan Lawrence and Shane Lynch.

Ronnie Krankowski notices the change, too. Even if he doesn?t know all the names that go with the faces yet. ?It was pretty bad last year. We?d have me, Mike (Kondrath), a couple guys from Pemberton and whoever Gerry could get from the base,? Krankowski said. ?This year we?ve got some guys who have played ball in college, high school. I just have to learn their names now.?

Chris DelleMonache, Krankowski, John Perinelli and Nick Henderson did the pitching Wednesday, allowing just four hits in eight innings and losing on an unearned run. Kondrath, whose job prevents him from playing in weekday games, was scheduled to pitch one of Sunday?s two games against Delran.
Frank Canuso gives the staff a catcher who can, well, catch. Buddy Brooks is solid at third base. And that doesn?t even include a half-dozen players who weren?t there Wednesday. ?You didn?t see my whole team yet,? Lamola said. ?We were a little rusty swinging the bat, but that will come around. That was a good game. I think both teams will compete with the top four better this year.?

Making moves
Vincentown released veterans Al Roach, Owen Boles and Ryan Walter (who was added by Delran) and added Matt Dolon.

Cinnaminson released veteran Gary Herron and added Chris McManus.

This and that
The anticipated All-Star Game between the Rancocas Valley League and Pennsylvania?s Blue Mountain League will not be happening ... at least not in 2012. Look for another River vs. Country matchup of RVL talent. It?s too bad, because Limeport?s Fegely Field would be quite a place to play.

Max Newill, when he?s not pitching for the Delran team in the RVL, is the varsity baseball coach at Bridgewater-Raritan High School. His Panthers reached the title game of the Somerset County Tournament, but fell 4-3 to Hillsborough.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Burlington 7, Willingboro 6:
The Mets overcame a 6-4 deficit after they were down to their last out with no one on base. Pedro Perez hit a pinch-hit home run Shaun Babula then singled and stole second base, before Zach Skidmore followed with a home run. Skidmore, who went deep twice, finished with four RBIs. Jon Wetzel and Matt Moceri homered for Willingboro.

Vincentown 10, Burlington Township 3:
The Merchants scored eight runs in the first two innings and won their season opener behind 10 strikeouts by winning pitcher Zeke Boren. It was the debut for first-year franchise Burlington Township.

Courtesy of Burlington County Times

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Delran 1, Burlington Township 0:
Eric Gertie struck out nine in a four-hitter to win his pitching duel with Ken Brock. Kyle Ballay singled the run home, scoring Ryan McFadden, who?d reached base on a bunt single, then stole second.

Burlington 5, Willingboro 4:
Shaun Babula recorded a strikeout with two Willingboro runners on base to nail down the win. Babula went the distance and struck out 10. Pedro Perez hit a home run and Garrett Mull had two RBIs for Burlington. Matt Moceri batted in two runs for Willingboro.

Courtesy of Burlington County Times

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Riverside 3, Pine Barrens 2:
Riverside won in the bottom of the eighth inning when Brendon Griffin was hit by a pitch with bases loaded. Winning pitcher Justin Ely worked all eight frames and struck out eight.

Courtesy of Burlington County Times

Friday, May 18, 2012

Burlington 5, Riverside 0:
James Chambers and Sean McNeil combined on a four-hit shutout. Pedro Perez had three hits and Paul Guerrieri added two. Brendan Griffin and Justin Ely led Riverside with two hits.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Delran takes two from Pine Barrens
Delran took both ends of a Rancocas Valley League doubleheader Sunday at Notre Dame Field, sweeping the Pine Barrens Phantoms 4-3 and 11-0.
Mark Wickersham needed last-out relief help from Jason Ronca to win the opener over Matt Baer. Kevin McMeniman and Rex Workman each had two hits for Delran. Matt Carr went 2-for-3 for the Phantoms. Chris Maull (5 innings) and Matt Ulmer (2 innings) earned the shutout in the nightcap. McMeniman had two more hits and two runs, and Bobby Isopi was 2-for-3.

Willingboro 13, Burlington Township 1:
Dan Hill was 4-for-4 and teammates Mike Loffredo and Jamie Schwantes each added three hits for Willingboro. Tyler Bayley earned the win in relief.

Burlington 6, Riverside 3:
John Harvey pitched a complete game, allowing no earned runs. Dan Graham, Paul Guerrieri and Scott Hauber each had two hits for the winners. Losing pitcher Brett Knazek had two RBIs and brother Joe Knazek was 2-for-4.

Courtesy of Burlington County Times

Monday, May 21, 2012

Burlington 5, Mount Laurel 2:
Jeff Vitale was 3-for-3, leading the support for winning pitcher Sean McNeill (eight strikeouts). Josh Limon had two RBIs and Dan Torres scored two runs as the Mets improved to 5-0.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Riverside 4, Delran 1:
Justin Ely went the distance for the win, Buey Garofalo batted in two runs and Joe Knazek had two hits.

Cinnaminson 11, Burlington Township 1:
Ryan Mingin?s three hits and three RBIs led the attack that supported winning pitcher Ryan Varga (11 strikeouts).

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Willingboro 5, Riverside 1:
Dan Hill pitched a no-hitter and struck out seven. Dan Sieracki had two hits and Matt Moceri had a run-scoring triple.

Cinnaminson 10, Burlington Township 0:
Jim Goodwin worked four innings for the win, striking out five, and Corey Mingin had eight Ks in the final three innings. Matt Cann and Frank Sirolli each had two hits and one RBI.

Mount Laurel 11, Vincentown 5:
Andrew Schaefer threw a complete game for Mount Laurel and Szukics had three hits and two doubles. Kevin Diamond had two singles and a two-run homer.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Mount Laurel 11, Pine Barrens 3:
Mike Tobia had four hits and four RBIs, and Brandon Barnes, Matt Szukics and John Burns added two hits each for the winners. Pine Barrens was led by Dylan Johannink and Rich Powelson with two hits apiece.

Delran 8, Burlington Township 0:
Chris Maull gave up one hit and struck out 10. Kevin McMenamin was 3-for-4 with a three-run homer.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Burlington 2, Vincentown 2:
The game was called after nine innings because of darkness, ending a mound duel between Burlington?s Shawn Babula and Vincentown?s Joe Argow. Zach Skidmore had three hits for Burlington, whose runs were batted in by Vinny James and Matt Fischer. Greg Miller and Zeke Boren had the Vincentown RBIs.

RVL Notebook

May 28, 2012

Courtesy of Bruce Johnson, Burlington County Times

Thompson honored

The main field at Vincentown's Southampton Memorial Park will be renamed Harry W. Thompson Field on Monday night prior to the Merchants' game against the Burlington Mets. Thompson has been with the Rancocas Valley League since it started in 1947. His Merchants are 16 wins short of 1,000 for his managing career. His teams started winning RVL titles in 1967 and they've won 10 times. He is a legend, babe.

"It's nice and I really appreciate it, but I'm sort of embarrassed a little, too," Thompson said. "I played and coached baseball because I love it. But it's quite an honor, babe. And it's always better to be alive to get these honors."

When will Harry Thompson finally take off the Vincentown uniform for good? He seriously considered it this year. "I was thinking, you know, I am in my 80s and maybe it was time," he said. "But then I got out there on the field with the guys on Monday night for our opening game, and I was rejuvenated, babe."

No Herron in Cinnaminson

Gary Herron has stepped down as a longtime player-coach with the Cinnaminson Reds. Herron, the 50-year-old head coach at Riverside High School, spent over 30 years with Cinnaminson. His father, Red, started the team in the 1960s and was the manager of quite a few RVL champs himself during his tenure in the '70s (Midwest Emery) and '80s (Cinnaminson Liquors, Kardon Auto Mall) and into the '90s (Myles Transportation). Gary was a big part of those teams.

"Gary always played a significant role and was good to have around because he could play anywhere," Cinnaminson coach Brett Miller said. To prove that point, with injuries and people away late last summer, Herron found himself playing catcher a couple games in the final round of the playoffs, when Cinnaminson defeated Vincentown.

This season will be Cinnaminson's first without a Herron in almost half a century.

Alvin Townsend Memorial

Willingboro will hold the fourth Alvin Townsend Memorial Beef and Beer Scholarship Fundraiser on Saturday, 6-9 p.m., at the Cool Cricket in Fieldsboro. The cost is $25. The team is selling Alvin (No. 3) Townsend T-shirts for $20. Contact Mike Stumpf at 609-560-0143 for more information.

This and that

? Dan Hill, out of Cherry Hill West and Penn State-Abington, tossed the first no-hitter of the season last week as Willingboro beat the Riverside Patriots 5-1. He lost his shutout in the seventh. The big righty struck out seven.

? Mount Laurel erupted for 22 runs in wins Wednesday and Thursday over Vincentown and Pine Barrens. Mike Tobias, Matt Szuckis and Kevin Diamond were the offensive leaders.

? Ryan Mingin had three hits and three RBIs on Tuesday in his mini-return to the RVL as Cinnaminson routed Burlington Township in its opener.
? Through Friday's games, both Pine Barrens and first-year Burlington Township were still looking for their first win.

? It took 1 hour, 55 minutes to play Friday night's Vincentown at Burlington game at Life Center Academy. That's Friday night's NINE-INNING game. Joe Argow of the Merchants and the Mets' Shaun Babula were the pitchers in the eventual 2-2 tie.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Vincentown 6, Burlington 2:
Greg Miller had three hits and two RBIs as the Merchants celebrated the occasion of the field being named for longtime manager Harry Thompson. Jesse Pappler hit a two-run homer and Zeke Boren was the winning pitcher for the Merchants (2-1-1). Burlington, which fell to 5-1-1, was led by Paul Guerrieri (two hits, one RBI).

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Cinnaminson 4, Willingboro 2:
Greg Gilbert?s two-run double helped make the difference for Cinnaminson and winning pitcher Jim Goodwin. Cameron Bahr doubled twice for Cinnaminson and Jose Martinez had an RBI triple for Willingboro.

Delran 12, Riverside 1:
Rocky Petrone had three hits and Ryan McFadden had two hits for the winners. Mark Wickersham pitched a five-hitter.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Cinnaminson 5, Vincentown 4:
Greg Gilbert scored on a wild pitch in the bottom of the seventh inning to win it for the Reds, after Ryan Mingin singled the tying run home earlier in the seventh. Kevin Boswick got the win with four scoreless relief innings. Vincentown?s John Bujanowski Sr. led off the game with a home run and Greg Miller hit a two-run homer in the third inning.

Riverside 1, Delran 0:
Winning pitcher Kevin Joo went all seven innings, struck out five and allowed two hits. Jim Caparelli batted in the run on a single in the second inning. Caparelli had two of the four hits allowed by Delran pitcher Eric Gertie.

Mount Laurel 3, Pine Barrens 3:
Kevin Diamond had two hits and scored two runs for Mount Laurel in a game halted by darkness after six innings. John Burns had an RBI double for Mount Laurel. Pine Barrens received two hits each from Nick Henderson and John Perinelli.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Delran 8, Riverside 5:
Ryan Walter tripled, doubled and batted in three runs for Delran. Mike Delellis doubled twice in support of winning pitcher Chris Maull as Delran improved to 6-2. Joe Knazek doubled and singled for Riverside (3-5).

Pine Barrens 5, Willingboro 4:
The Phantoms scored four in the first and one in the second, then held on behind John Perinelli?s three shutout innings in relief of Dylan Johannick for their first win. Buddy Brooks was 2-for-3 with an RBI and run scored for Pine Barrens (1-4-1). Eddie Kaminski went 2-for-3 with a run for Willingboro (2-4), which scored all its runs in the third inning. Kevin Faber went the route and settled down after a rough start.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Burlington 6, Pine Barrens 0:
Shaun Babula struck out seven in a four-hit complete game and Paul Guerrieri hit a two-run homer as the Mets improved to 6-1-1. Zach Skidmore doubled twice and scored twice. Pine Barrens? Frank Canuso was 2-for-2.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Willingboro gets wild RVL victory
Willingboro has been on the receiving end of a lot of hard-to-believe losses over the past few years. The day after their annual Beef and Beer fundraiser for in memory of former teammate Alvin Townsend, maybe this was the baseball gods trying to give them one back. That?s about the only way to explain the ending of Sunday evening?s Rancocas Valley League game at Delanco Ball Park: Willingboro 3, Mount Laurel 2.

In the bottom of the seventh, Mount Laurel?s John Burns hit an apparent two-run game-tying home run. But Mike Tobia, who had singled, missed third base and when he went back to touch it, Burns passed him on the base paths. That?s a no-no in baseball.

?It sounds like something we would do,? said Willingboro manager Mike Stumpf, whose team (3-4) has three one-run losses and one two-run defeat this year. ?But we?ve had enough losses like that, so I?m not giving it back.?

Dan Hill struck out 11 to pick up the win, his first since a no-hitter against Riverside on May 23. Dan Sieracki hit a two-run home run and Jon Wetzel was 3-for-4, including a double. Andrew Schaefer was the tough-luck loser.

Delran 1, Burlington Township 0:
Veteran lefty Max Newill won his 2012 debut, allowing four hits and striking out 12 in a rain-shortened six-inning game at Patty Bowker Field. The second game was rained out. Delran scored in the fourth inning when Rocky Petrone had an infield hit, moved up on a passed ball and came home on Mark Wickersham?s single. They were Delran?s only hits. It was the second time winless Burlington Township has lost to first-place Delran 1-0. Zach Wallace took the loss.

Riverside 7, Cinnaminson 3:
Brett Knazek pitched a complete game victory and also hit a solo home run as the Reds lost their first game of the season, at Memorial Field. Eric Oliver had two hits for the winners, while Chaz Briggs and Jason Sabol had two RBIs. Nick Melchiorre had a triple for Cinnaminson, while Ryan Varga took the loss.

RVL Notebook

June 5, 2012

Courtesy of Bruce Johnson, Burlington County Times

First-year Burlington Township taking its lumps

The Rancocas Valley League?s schedule maker certainly hasn?t done Burlington Township any favors. in their first six games, the first-year Pirates have played five against league powers Vincentown, Delran (twice) and Cinnaminson (twice). That?s the 2011 playoff runner-up, the 2011 regular-season champion and the 2011 playoff champion, respectively. And Willingboro, the sixth opponent, is always a tough game.

The Pirates have faced pitchers Zeke Boren, Eric Gertie, Ryan Derry, Ryan Varga, Jim Goodwin and Chris Maull. That?s some of the best the RVL has to offer, and it doesn?t include another game against Vincentown that was rained out. The result: Burlington Township is 0-6.

?We knew it wasn?t going to be easy,? said manager Ed Eifert, who coached the township?s Senior Babe Ruth team the last three years. ?We had a lot of guys who were away at college, but who hadn?t played any ball this year. Only Ace Rivera, my son Brian (both Burlington County College) and Wayne Feret (Rutgers-Camden) played this spring. So we knew it would take time.
?But we?ve got some talented players and I?m hoping things will work out. We didn?t expect to come in and dominate. This league is a step up in competition for everybody.?
Burlington Township High School had a really good baseball team this spring. But those kids can play Senior Babe Ruth. What happens after that is the blanks that Eifert was trying to fill in. ?The township has a lot of good players, and I wanted the slightly older boys, the 19- to 22-year-olds and up, to have a place to play,? he said. ?Last year a lot of our guys played on a Sunday league team, but if the game was rained out, you missed two weeks. This was a necessary move.?

Since his son Eddie ? one of three former RVL players on the team, along with Ryan Murtaugh and Zach Wallace ? had played on the 2010 champion Burlington Mets, Eifert called Mets coach Ric Babula, who doubles as the league president, and started the process of getting into the league.
Eifert had players (12 of the 20 had played Senior Babe Ruth for him, and 15 of the 20 are from the township), Lucas Auto Group bought the uniforms and the township provided the high school field and Viereck Field. He also got help from recreation commissioner Gene Camm and recreation director James Craig, who takes care of the fields.

Everything is in place ... now if the schedule maker would help out a little. ?Actually, we?ve had a 10-day break in the schedule. I told the guys that we had the first six games as a warm-up, then the break, and now the season begins Sunday against Delran,? Eifert said, before Sunday?s 1-0 loss. ?There?s a lot of talent on the team. Hopefully we?ll start playing to our capabilities.?

Brian Eifert, for one, has been loving the experience. ?It?s definitely a step up, especially the pitching,? he said. ?Every pitcher we?ve faced just about would?ve been an ace in college. But everybody is having fun and happy to be out there. Of course, we want to win, but it?s still been fun. Everybody seems upbeat.?

This and that
We?re told that Vincentown did quite a nice job on Memorial Day with its ceremony to rename its field as Harry W. Thompson Field. Thompson has been the face of the Vincentown Merchants since 1964, when he took over as manager. And he?s been part of the team since 1947, when the RVL opened.

Mount Laurel has made historic Delanco Ball Field (a.k.a. the Delanco Babe Ruth Field) its permanent home field. It?s really a beautiful field, with fences ? at different distances (always cool) ? all around, a flag pole in the outfield, and lots of trees for shade. In 1924 it was the site of a Babe Ruth home run in an exhibition game before 5,000 fans. The home run was hit off Jack Sweeney, voted the best pitcher from the first 50 years of the old Burlington County League. There?s a plaque there to prove it.

Talk about taking it down to the final swing, lefty Kevin Joo escaped a bases-loaded, two-out, 3-1 count to get the dangerous Matt Ulmer to ground to third base, preserving Riverside?s 1-0 victory over Delran on Wednesday at Bob Kenney Field. The game took just 1:25 to play. Eric Gertie was the tough-luck loser.

Speaking of games played in 1:25, add Friday?s Burlington vs. Pine Barrens game ? a 6-0 Mets? win ? to the list.

Play of the week
Pine Barrens shortstop Nick Henderson made a great diving stop on Friday of Dan Graham?s potential hit up the middle, scrambled to his knees and made a strong throw to Ron Krankowski to nip Graham in a bang-bang play.
Henderson, a Pemberton High School graduate who spent two years at Ocean County College, is now attending Rowan and hopes to make the Profs? roster this year.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Guerreri spark for Burlington
Paul Guerreri was 3-for-3 and led Burlington to a 7-4 win over Vincentown. John Harvey was the winning pitcher as the Mets improved to 7-1-1. Shaun Babula hit a two-run home run, Vinny James batted in two runs and Guerreri contributed one RBI. Vincentown (2-3-1) received two RBIs from Kevin Carty and Greg Miller had a triple and one RBI.

Mount Laurel 9, Riverside 4:
Brandon Barnes and Ben Fadool combined for five RBIs for the winners. Barnes had three hits, and Connor Hall and Andrew Schaefer added two apiece in support of pitcher Mike Cooper. Eric Oliver had two hits and Joe Knazek had two RBIs for Riverside.

Pine Barrens 3, Cinnaminson 2:
Pinch-hitter Shane Lynch walked, moved up on Nick Henderson sacrifice bunt and scored on a wild throw on Buddy Brooks? single in the bottom of the seventh. Ronnie Krankowski went all seven innings and fanned six for the win, allowing two hits to Cameron Bahr and Greg Gilbert?s RBI double in the top of the seventh. Brett Miller took the loss, in relief of John Meadus.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Burlington 4, Vincentown 1:
Zach Skidmore went 4-for-4, including two doubles, and batted in two runs for the winners (8-1-1). Garrett Mull added an RBI and Shaun Babula struck out six for the win. Alan Hasher took the loss and had the Merchants? RBI.

Willingboro 12, Burlington Township 4:
Mike Loffredo and Mark Stumpf had two hits apiece, and Tyler Bayley was the winning pitcher. Township?s Matt Klish had three hits and three RBIs, and Ace Rivera had two hits.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Delran moves into first place
Eric Gertie pitched the shutout and Delran defeated Cinnaminson 3-0. Gertie struck out six and allowed three hits in a win that boosted Delran?s record to 9-2 for 19 points in the standings. Delran moved into first place ahead of idle Burlington (8-1-1, 17.5 points). Delran?s Rocky Petrone and Ryan Walter combined for five hits. It was Delran?s second well-pitched game in two nights. Chris Maull fired a two-hitter Tuesday in a 2-1 win over Mount Laurel.

Riverside 2, Pine Barrens 1:
Joe Knazek had two hits and one RBI for the winners (5-6). Gabe Mastrangelo Sr. pitched six innings for the win and Matt Leith pitched the seventh to save it. Pine Barrens had two runners on base with one out before Riverside turned a double play to end it.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Burlington 8, Delran 3:
The Mets (9-1-1) moved into a tie for first place with a victory behind winning pitcher Sean McNeil. Jeff Vitale was 2-for-2, and Vinny James and Jon Reiner also had two hits each. Delran (9-3) received RBIs from Jason Ronca and Rex Workman. Burlington and Delran each have 19.5 points in the standings.

Mount Laurel 9, Riverside 0:
Matt Szukics struck out five in a five-hitter and contributed two RBIs. Brandon Barnes had two hits and scored twice, and Anthony Arnao scored two runs. Buey Garafolo had two hits for Riverside.

Willingboro 10, Burlington Township 4:
Ed Kaminski had two hits and winning pitcher Ryan Derry had seven strikeouts in four innings. Township?s Wayne Feret and Eddie Eifert combined for five hits.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Delran, Willingboro, Cinnaminson post RVL wins
Ryan McFadden?s speed helped Delran to a 4-3 win over Mount Laurel at Notre Dame Field. McFadden led off the bottom of the sixth with a triple, then beat the throw home on Kyle Ballay?s infield grounder. That made a winner of Max Newill (7 strikeouts) and a loser of Andrew Schaefer, who both went the route. Brandon Barnes had a leadoff double in the top of the seventh, but that was as far as he got, as Newill got a fly ball to right and two strikeouts. Rocky Petrone had three hits for Delran (10-3), including a home run, and Aaron MacKenzie was 2-for-3 with a triple. Kevin Diamond had two hits for Mount Laurel (4-4-1).

Willingboro 5, Pine Barrens 1:
Dan Hill tossed a four-hitter, walked none and struck out seven to lead Willingboro over Pine Barrens at the JFK Rec Center. Willingboro (6-4) moved into third place with the victory, sparked by Jamie Schwantes (home run) and Jon Wetzel (triple), who both had two hits. Bobby Henderson had a triple for the Phantoms (2-8-1). Eric Selitto took the pitching loss.

Cinnaminson 3, Burlington Township 1:
John Meadus (4 IP) and Brett Miller (3 IP) combined on a three-hitter, and Mike Osborne and Frank Sirolli each went 4-for-4 with a double for the Reds. Osborne had two RBIs and Sirolli scored twice. Ryan Murtaugh pitched for the Pirates.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Cinnaminson edges Riverside in RVL
Cinnaminson scored two runs in the seventh inning to pull out an 8-6 victory over Riverside. Nick Melchiorre singled the go-ahead run home to break a 6-6 tie and Tim Wasco grounded out to score an insurance run. Melchiorre then took the mound in the bottom half of the seventh and saved the ?W? for Ryan Varga. Also for the Reds (7-3), Frank Sirolli had two hits and scored two runs, and Mike Osborne batted in two runs.

Burlington 6, Delran 1:
Shaun Babula was 3-for-3 and scored three runs as the Mets (11-1-1) assumed sole posession of first place. Winning pitcher John Harvey had six strikeouts and Zach Skidmore also went 3-for-3, batting in two runs. Delran (10-4-1) got its RBI from John Iacovelli.

Vincentown 3, Mount Laurel 2:
The Merchants ended a four-game losing streak as Billy Thompson?s RBI single was the difference. Winning pitcher Alan Hasher belted a home run to aid his cause.

RVL Notebook

Courtesy Bruce Johnson, Burlington County Times
Delran surviving and thriving
Since replacing Mike Dlug as the player-coach of Delran?s entry in the Rancocas Valley Baseball League before the 2009 season, Rocky Petrone has pretty much just had to play first base and write in the same lineup as the game before ... and the game before that ...

But this summer has been much different for the 2011 regular-season champs.

Cleanup hitter Dave Kittle is no longer playing, due to a job commitment.
Mike Delellis, the No. 3 hitter/catcher, has been a part-timer due to a coaching job at the University of Bridgeport, his alma mater.
Shortstop Kyle Ballay can pretty much only play on weekends because of graduate school classes at Villanova on weeknights. Pitcher Jason Ronca had thrown just a couple innings due to working 12-hour police shifts at Rutgers-Camden.

And left fielder Andrew Priece is taking a break from baseball. Despite all that, Delran is currently 10-3 and tied for first place with Burlington, who they play on Monday night at Life Center Academy. ?I?ve been doing my best Ruben Amaro imitation,? Petrone said the other night. ?When I replaced Mike we were pretty set with our lineup. The same eight, nine guys every night at the same position, plus the pitcher would get the ball and we?d tell him, ?It?s your game.? ?It was a stressful March. There were a lot of phone calls I didn?t want to get.?

But Petrone has adjusted quite well, adding high school stars Danny George (Delran), Justin McFadden (Delran) and Bobby Isopi (Lenape). He signed veteran Ryan Walter and picked up infielder Kevin McMeniman, recently named ECAC Metro Rookie of the Year after a .381 freshman year at Rowan.
Veterans Mark Wickersham, Matt Ulmer, Aaron MacKenzie, Rex Workman, Ryan McFadden and John Iacovelli did return, along with pitchers Eric Gertie, Chris Maull and Max Newill. ?Getting Kevin was huge,? Petrone said last week. ?He?s been killing the ball. He?s hitting like it?s (lob pitch) softball.?

Defending champion Cinnaminson is in the same boat. ?Corey (Mingin), (Bob) Diepold and (Jeff) Singer is a lot of innings to not have,? player-coach Brett Miller said the other night. ?Singer was 12-1 (at Gloucester County College), but he?s playing in a college league now. And we don?t have the 4-5 hitters (Diepold and Mike Wasco). Wasco is playing up in Canada.?

The Reds made a nice pickup in first baseman Chris McManus, the former Riverside High School standout and current assistant coach.

Historic night
Last Monday at Life Center Academy was a first-ever event ... the first RVL game John Bujanowski missed since he joined the Vincentown Merchants in 1993. Figuring about 40 games per year (30 regular-season plus 10 playoff), that would put Bujanowski?s streak at around 800 consecutive games.

Bujanowski broke his left wrist May 30 sliding into first base, head-first of course, trying to beat out a hit during a 5-4 loss to Cinnaminson. ?The doctors say I?m gonna miss six to eight weeks. We?ll be all right. I?ll keep drinking lots of milk,? the 44-year-old Bujanowski said. ?It?s better to have happened now than later in the season, nearer the playoffs.?

Triple play
On May 20 at Bob Kenney Field, Riverside pulled off a triple play in the first inning against Burlington. With Shaun Babula and Pedro Perez on base, and Carl Loadenthal batting, the runners took off on a double steal. Loadenthal, a lefty batter, hit a lazer to left field, which was caught by Jason Sabol. He threw to second baseman Mark Demko for the second out, and Demko relayed it to first baseman Jim Caparelli to nip Perez.

This and that
? The incorrect pitcher was reported last Sunday for Burlington Township in its 1-0 loss to Delran. It should have been Eric McGillivray, who allowed just one hit and fanned seven.

? Riverside relief pitcher Mike Hynes had Tommy John surgery Saturday, so his season his over. He?s helping Gabe Mastrangelo Sr. handle coaching duties with the Patriots.

? Eleven of Pine Barrens? 13 remaining home games, starting Tuesday, have been rescheduled to start at 7 p.m. The only exceptions are Thursday and July 12, which will remain at 8 p.m.

Play of the week
Tuesday?s Burlington-Vincentown game ended with the ol? ?hidden ball trick.? Sam Pepper beat out an infield single to first on a bang-bang play to keep the Merchants alive. Pitcher Shaun Babula flipped the ball back to first baseman Jon Reiner, who was still on the ground, as he slowly returned to the mound. ?I kept waiting for somebody on the Vincentown bench to yell, ?Stay on the bag,? but nobody did,? Babula said. ?Pep got off the bag and Reiner tug him. Luckily (umpire) Pat (Haggerty) saw it.?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Cinnaminson wins in RVL
Matt Cann and Chris McManus batted in two runs apiece to lead Cinnaminson to a 7-2 victory over Vincentown. McManus had two hits, including a home run, and one of Cann?s two hits was a double. Winning pitcher Jim Goodwin had five strikeouts and allowed five hits as the Reds improved to 8-3. Dan Hayduk doubled twice and scored both runs for Vincentown (3-6-1) and Kevin Carty also had two doubles.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Willingboro 11, Riverside 0:
Kevin Faber fired a three-hitter, striking out six and Mark Stumpf was 5-for-5 with three runs scored for Willingboro (7-4). Ed Kaminski was 3-for-4 with a double and three RBIs and Mike Loffredo was 3-for-4 and three runs scored. Riverside fell to 5-9.

Vincentown 16, Mt. Laurel 6:
Alan Hasher was 4-for-4 with two doubles and three RBIs and Mike Ferrara was 3-for-3 with a home run and four RBIs for the Merchants win. Joe Argow was the winning pitcher.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Burlington 5, Delran 0:
Shaun Babula hurled a complete game with five strikeouts and helped himself at the plate going 3-for-4 with a double and two runs scored. Zach Skidmore was 4-for-4 with two RBIs and Paul Guerrieri 2-for-4 and two RBIs for Burlington. Kevin McMenamin was 2-for-2 with a double for Delran.

Riverside 15, Burlington Twp. 1:
Kodi Doyle (triple) and Jason Sabol (three RBIs) each went 3-for-3 while Ryan Graham was 2-for-2 with a double for the Patriots (6-9). Justin Ely went four innings to earn the win. Township?s Wayne Feret had three hits.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Burlington wins behind Taylor no-hitter
Carl Taylor pitched a no-hitter in the Burlington Mets? 4-0 win over Burlington Township. Taylor, in his season debut, worked all seven innings. He struck out eight and walked one as the first-place Mets boosted their record to 13-1-1. Shaun Babula had two hits, stole two bases and scored three runs. Zach Skidmore batted in two runs and Paul Guerrieri had a double and one RBI. The Pirates? Eric McGillivray allowed just six hits in seven innings, striking out three.

Sunday, June 17, 2011

Willingboro runs win streak to six
Willingboro ran its win streak to six games with a 9-4 victory over the Vincentown Merchants at the Kennedy Rec Center. Lefty Nick Beranducci got the win with three scoreless innings in relief of Ryan Derry. Alan Hasher took the loss. Tyler Bayley, the No. 9 hitter, was 2-for-3 with three RBIs, and Kellen Peter was 2-for-3 with a pair of ribbies. The ?Boro boys broke a 4-all tie with five runs in the bottom of the fifth. After losing its first two games this season, Willingboro improved to 8-4 and is now tied with Cinnaminson for third place. V-town fell to 4-7-1.

Burlington 7 Cinnaminson 3:
John Harvey pitched a complete game and struck out 10 at Memorial Field as the first-place Mets improved to 14-1-1. Dan Hennigan had two hits and two RBIs, Vinny James belted two doubles and drove in two, while Dan Torres was 2-for-3 with an RBI. Chris McManus slammed a three-run home run to account for the Reds? runs.

RVL Notebook -

June 18, 2012

Courtesy of Bruce Johnson, Burlington County Times

The wait is finally over for Guerrieri
Keith Babula is very happy, almost giddy, to have slugger Paul Guerrieri back in the Burlington Mets? lineup. And it?s not just because the veteran is ?hitting the hell out of the ball? either. ?If he?s not riding his quad through the mud, lighting something on fire or swinging a baseball bat, he?s not smiling,? the Mets? player-coach said. ?So the fact that he?s playing again, instead of just watching, has been good for all of us.?

It had been a long 22 months for Guerrieri, since he suffered a near-career-ending knee injury in July 2010. But when the 2012 Rancocas Valley Baseball League season started May 14, that?s how long it had been since he had played. Guerrieri was injured trying to make a catch in left field during a game at Life Center Academy against Vincentown. At the time he was hitting .437. He missed the rest of that season, which ended with Guerrieri coaching first base as the Mets won their first RVL championship since 1951. And then, while he was rehabbing the knee, he injured his back, forcing him to miss the entire 2011 campaign.

Coaching first base may be fine for some people, but it was not enough for Guerrieri. The former Pemberton High School masher was chomping at the bit to get back to playing. And when he finally returned to the lineup, he found that very little had changed. ?Surprisingly, everything felt pretty much the same ... except for being two years older,? the 33-year-old Guerrieri said recently. ?But really, everything felt just like it had before the injury. I?m having no problems seeing the ball. And I did nothing in the offseason, no cages, no nothing. Maybe I had bought into the fact that I was done.?

His first time up was his first RVL at-bat since that injury. He did get one at-bat last summer, in the postseason York Tournament. (He got a hit.)
After alternating as catcher/designated hitter with Vinny James, Guerrieri recently found the words LF next to his name on the lineup card ... at Life Center ... against Vincentown. Deja vu, anyone? ?Keith knows there?s only one spot I?m not a defensive liability,? the catcher said. ?But he knows what he?s doing. (Lefty) Shaun (Babula) was pitching, and Vincentown is mostly right-handed hitters now, so not much figured to come my way. And I?m not good at coming out of the game, even it it makes sense.?

Not only has he come back, but he?s come back better than ever. The 16-year RVL veteran (two years on Camden?s Holy Name Church team, 14 with the Mets) is currently enjoying one of his best years. Through 15 games, Guerrieri was hitting .471 (24-for-51), with four doubles, a pair of home runs and a league-best 15 RBIs into Sunday?s game. ?We haven?t had that kind of production out of the cleanup spot since he got hurt. We definitely score more runs when he?s in the lineup than when he?s laying on the operating table,? Babula said. Added Guerrieri: ?The season doesn?t really start until (August in) Vincentown.?

This and that
? Spotted at several recent Pine Barrens games was legendary high school football coach Gil Brooks. The current Camden Catholic and former St. Joseph?s Prep coach is there as a fan, and a father, watching his son Greg play. The younger Brooks is hitting .294 while playing third base and second base for the Phantoms.

? Jesse Pappler, the Merchants? popular first baseman/cleanup hitter, may have reached the end of the line. Pappler, who doubles as the baseball coach at Medford Tech, has been having major problems with his knees. Ironically, his replacement, 49-year-old Billy Thompson, injured his hamstring Wednesday night against Cinnaminson. Thursday it was pitcher Damon Valloreo?s turn at first.

And the news could have gotten a lot worse Sunday night for coach Harry Thompson?s walking wounded. Catcher Sam Pepper apparently twisted his left ankle after hitting what would have been a double, but falling immediately to the ground in the batter?s box. ?He just twisted it and said he?ll be OK,? Thompson said.

Plays of the week
? Cinnaminson executed a near-perfect 8-4-2 relay in Wednesday?s win over Vincentown. Center fielder Geoff Gilbert chased down a long double by Dan Hayduk over his head to the fence, hit second baseman John Dockins with a perfect relay throw and his throw to catcher Matt Cann nailed Mike Ferrara trying to score from first.

? Willingboro second baseman Mark Stumpf ranged far into foul territory to make a sliding grab of a popup by Vincentown?s Kevin Carty on Sunday.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Pine Barrens pitchers whiff 14 in RVL win
John Perinelli and Rich Powelson combined to strike out 14 batters as the Pine Barrens Phantoms posted a 6-2 victory over the Burlington Township Pirates at Patty Bowker Field. Perinelli went four innings to get the win, fanning seven. Ron Krankowski was 3-for-4 with a double and an RBI. Powelson and Matt Carr each contributed a double to the winners? attack.
T.J. Lovenduski pitched well for the Pirates, but took the loss.

Cinnaminson 5, Riverside 3:
Frank Sirolli tripled in the sixth inning, sending home the go-ahead run, then scored an insurance run on Mike Osborne?s single. Osborne had three hits and two RBIs for the Reds (9-4).
Nick Melchiorre pitched the seventh inning, saving the win for Brett Miller, who worked the middle three innings after John Meadus pitched the first three. Ronnie Grant hit a three-run double in the fourth inning, accounting for the Riverside (6-10) runs.

Mount Laurel 8, Willingboro 2:
Brian Black had a double, triple and two RBIs at the Delanco Babe Ruth Field as Mount Laurel snapped Willingboro?s six-game win streak. Shane Fox, Kevin Diamond, Brandon Barnes each had two hits and a pair of ribbies, while John Burns also added a pair of hits, supporting winning pitcher Andrew Schaefer. Mike Lofredo had an RBI triple and Matt Moceri an RBI double for the ?Boro.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Delran 6, Willingboro 0:
Max Newill pitched a four-hitter, struck out five and walked three in his shutout. Ryan Walter hit a two-run triple in the fourth inning and Bobby Isopi?s triple scored a run in the fifth. Rex Workman was 2-for-2 and scored two runs, and Ryan McFadden had two hits and one RBI.

Pine Barrens 6, Riverside 5:
The Phantoms, who entered this week with two wins, picked up their second victory in two nights behind winning pitcher Ron Krankowski. Justin Ely pitched for Riverside and hit an RBI double.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Babula delivers in a pinch
Burlington player/coach Keith Babula came off the bench and hit a pinch RBI single for the go-ahead run in the bottom of the sixth inning in Burlington?s 6-5 win over Cinnaminson. Kyle Semmel went 3-for-4 with two RBIs and two runs scored. Garrett Mull filled in at shortstop and added two RBIs. Shaun Babula picked up the win for Burlington (15-1-1). Cinnaminson (10-5) was led by Geoff Gilbert, who went 2-for-3 with two doubles and an RBI, and Greg Gilbert, who also knocked in two runs.

Delran 12, Willingboro 5:
Rex Workman went 2-for-3 with a triple, double and five RBIs, and Rocky Petrone hit a grand slam in the fifth for Delran (13-5). Mike Loffredo went 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI for Willingboro (8-7).

Vincentown 11, Pine Barrens 6:
Johnny Bujanowski and Dan Hayduk each hit three-run home runs as the Merchants won. Mike Ferrara had four hits for the winners.

Two doubleheaders spice up Sunday night?s action as the league reaches the halfway mark of the season. Vincentown will be at Pinewald Field to take on the first-year Lucas Auto Burlington Township Pirates at 5 p.m., with the second game to follow. Willingboro, which has lost three straight after winning six in a row, visits Memorial Park to take on the Cinnaminson Reds in a twinbill that starts at 5 p.m. The first-place Burlington Mets round out the schedule with a 7 p.m. game against Pine Barrens at Patty Bowker Field.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

B.T. Pirates notch first RVL win behind McGillivray
The wait is over for the Lucas Auto Burlington Township Pirates.
After suffering 13 losses in their debut season, coach Ed Eifert?s club finally got into the win column, posting a 6-2 victory over the Vincentown Merchants in the first game of a doubleheader at Pinewald Field. The Pirates got five-hit pitching from righty Eric McGillivray, who went the route. But he trailed 2-1 as the Pirates came up in the bottom of the sixth. A five-run outburst provided the win, with T.J. Lovenduski delivering a key two-run single, his second hit of the game. Ryan Murtaugh also had two hits and an RBI for the Pirates. Burlington Township had come close before, losing two 1-0 decisions to Delran, 3-1 to Cinnaminson, and 4-0 to the Burlington Mets. They had been shut out five times and held to one run three other times.

Vincentown 11, Burlington Twp. 3:
Veteran Zeke Boren and Sam Pepper combined pitching duties as the Merchants rebounded from losing the opener of the doubleheader at Burlington Township. Boren went the first four, then Pepper fanned eight in three innings of relief. Danny Williams delivered a long triple to dead center field.

Cinnaminson 8, Willingboro 2:
Matt Cann had a first-inning grand slam home run and finished 2-for-3 with six RBIs to spark the Reds in the opening game of a twinbill at Memorial Park. Ryan Varga went all seven innings and struck out eight. He had a shutout going until the seventh inning, when Matt Moceri drilled a two-run homer.

Cinnaminson 5, Willingboro 4:
The Reds rallied from a 4-1 deficit on Joe Sirolli?s two-run single in the fourth, then scored twice in the bottom of the seventh on Cameron Bahr?s RBI double and a sacrifice fly by Ryan Varga. Brett Miller allowed one run in four innings of relief to earn the win. Ken Hill, who was 3-for-3 at the plate, was the losing pitcher. Willingboro, which had won six in a row, has now lost five straight.

Burlington 3, Pine Barrens 0:
Carl Taylor ran his scoreless inning streak to 14 with a 10-strikeout complete game. Shaun Babula was 2-for-4 with an RBI and Vinny James had an RBI single. Rich Powelson had a single and double in four trips for the Phantoms. The win may have been costly for the Mets, who lost slugger Paul Guerrieri to a hamstring pull.

RVL Notebook

Courtesy of Bruce Johnson, Burlington County Times

10 years after: Willingboro's regular-season title
It's been 10 years since Willingboro won the regular-season title in the Rancocas Valley Baseball League. Actually, both Willingboro (23-7-1) and Delran (23-9) finished with 50.5 points, but Willingboro had the better record. And it?s also been 10 years since top-seeded Willingboro was eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by last-place Pirates Inn. The Riverside-based squad, which won the playoff championship in 2001, went 5-26 during the 2002 regular season to finish ninth. Winning their play-in game against eighth-place Palmyra, the Inn then stunned Willingboro and beat Vincentown before falling in the final to Delran.

"Most of their guys pretty much just skipped the regular season, but then they all came back for the playoffs,? Willingboro player-coach Mike Stumpf said. "Nobody said anything. They had a rule about (playing a certain number of games to be eligible) but nobody cared about it or did anything about it. We were just the new team, the young kids."

Maybe they figured they'd be back in the finals, but over the next nine years there were no first-division finishes, and there was no return to the playoff finals. Year-in and year-out Willingboro always puts a good team on the field. (This year's team took an 8-7 record into Sunday's doubleheader with Cinnaminson.)

"We were a fairly new team, maybe our second or third year in the league, but we knew Woodshed wasn?t a five-win team,? Stumpf said. ?We knew it could happen. But we thought we could win, too. We won the opener 8-1. But then they won the last two games . . . 4-3 in the third game when they got the winning run in the top of the seventh. "They ended up with more wins in the playoffs than they?d had all year."

It was a terrific Willingboro team, arguably the best in team history. The starters that year:
1b Kellen Peter .280
2b Mark Stumpf .261
3b Steve Kolwicz .147
ss Phil Marino .389
lf Jimmy Conover .218
cf Mike Stumpf .278
rf Alvin Townsend .359
c Jamie Schwantes .358
c Mike Gulli .283
dh Jay Kurtz .328
p Ryan Varga 10-1
p Brad Zerbe 5-3

Jon Wetzel, a sophomore in college, was 23-for-34 (.676!) with 15 steals in limited duty. Kurtz was 5-3 and Kolwicz 2-0 as pitchers.

?We weren?t the best team, but we did finish first,? Stumpf said. ?We won a lot of games that maybe we shouldn?t have.?

That probably explains their team motto: ?How the (fudge) did we win that one??

Ten years later, Peter, the Stumpf brothers, Schwantes, Gulli and Wetzel are all still playing for Willingboro.

"We're all friends," Stumpf said. "We'd all played (American) Legion ball together. We thought we'd be good for a long time."

This and that
When home plate umpire Paul Collins tossed Dan Graham in the bottom of the sixth inning Thursday, the Burlington Mets were down to one bench player: player-coach Keith Babula. The Mets' all-time leader in runs and in RBIs until recently passed by Paul Guerrieri, Babula hadn't played since the 2010 season. But he drilled the first pitch he saw from Kevin Boswick into left field to score Kyle Semmel with the winning run in a 6-5 win.

Plays of the week
Cinnaminson's Cameron Bahr was involved in two of them Thursday at Burlington's Field of Spleens. First the righthanded first baseman started a 3-6-2 double play, fielding a grounder and throwing to Greg Gilbert for a force out, then Gilbert fired it to catcher Chris Burns to get Paul Guerrieri trying to score from second. Later in the game, Bahr started a more traditional 3-6-3 twin killing.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Burlington 9, Mount Laurel 1: Burlington?s John Harvey threw a complete game and struck out seven. The Mets (17-1-1) were powered by a seven-run second inning. Dan Graham, Kyle Semmel and Zach Skidmore each had two RBIs and Josh Limon went 2-for-4. Mount Laurel?s John Burns went 2-for-4 with an RBI.

Burlington, which lost cleanup hitter Paul Guerrieri to a pulled hamstring on Sunday night, lost shortstop Dan Hennigan on Monday. The second baseman (his projected position) signed a professional contract with the Somerset Patriots. A senior out of Downingtown (Pa.), Hennigan hit .338 and .352 in two years at Franklin Pierce College.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Reds complete series sweep
For the third time in as many days, the Cinnaminson Reds defeated Willingboro in a Rancocas Valley Baseball League game Tuesday night.
Cinnaminson won 7-5 in six innings after taking both games of a doubleheader Sunday. Over the three games, Cinnaminson outscored Willingboro 20-11 and with a 13-5 record, the Reds have tied Delran for second place in the RVL. Jim Goodwin pitched 5 2/3 innings to earn the win Tuesday. He allowed five runs (four earned) on six hits while striking out four batters and walking five. Coming in, Goodwin was riding a six-inning hitless streak. In his last start, against Riverside, he gave up an infield single to the leadoff batter and was lights out the rest of the way. He entered this start as dynamic as he left his last.

?I had my changeup and curveball working good, so I was able to pound the zone, especially early,? said Goodwin, who held Willingboro hitless through the first four innings.

Willingboro (8-10) did manage a run in the third when Jon Wetzel reached on a fielder?s choice that scored Fran Caruso. Goodwin was unable to keep Willingboro out of the hits column for good. Mike Gulli led off the fifth inning with a single up the third base line to end the streak.

?I knew it ended after I gave up a single in the fifth,? Goodwin said. ?You just got to make the next pitch. I know my guys have my back so I can go back out and do my job.?

Cinnaminson raced out to a 6-1 lead, highlighted by a four-run fourth inning. Although its lead would be threatened, they never gave it up.
In the fifth, Mark Stumpf?s single loaded the bases for Willingboro. Mike Loffredo then crushed a one-out, bases-clearing triple to deep center field for three of his four RBIs on the day. Goodwin buckled down and got his team out of the inning holding a 6-4 lead. Both teams would tack on a run in the sixth inning before the game was called. Cinnaminson received an outstanding offensive performance from designated hitter Bob Osborne. As dialed in as he looked at the plate, he was nothing but jokes after the game.

?Just another day at the office,? he said. ?Seeing as I haven?t touched a bat in about two-and-a-half weeks, I was praying to just make contact.?

Making contact was far from a concern. He finished 4-for-4 with two singles, a double and triple, and scored two runs while driving in one.
Getting such strong production from the 8-hole was the key to the game offensively for Cinnaminson.

?I?m just trying to do my job,? Osborne said. ?I keep trying to tell (manager Brett Miller) we need some punch from the bottom of the lineup.?

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Riverside 2, Mount Laurel 0:
Donnie Bunce pitched a four-hitter and struck out nine to prevail in a duel with Mount Laurel?s Trevor Sotell, who allowed five hits. The Patriots (8-12) scored both runs in the fifth inning. Jim Capparelli singled in a run and Tom Mann doubled the other run home. Mann was 2-for-2.

Cinnaminson 6, Delran 2:
Dennis O?Hanlan went 4-for-4, including a two-run single that gave the Reds (14-5) the lead for good. That was during a six-run sixth inning in which Cameron Bahr singled the first run home. Winning pitcher Kevin Boswick struck out 11 in a two-hitter. The teams had been tied for second place coming into the game.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Cinnaminson stuck in an up cycle
Greg Gilbert achieved three-quarters of the cycle as Cinnaminson stayed hot with a 12-5 win over Mount Laurel in Rancocas Valley League baseball Thursday. Gilbert was 3-for-3 (single, double, triple) and batted in two runs, and Mike Osborne had three hits and one RBI as Cinnaminson improved to 15-5 overall. The Reds went 5-0 this week. Nick Melchiorre was the winning pitcher. Mount Laurel received a two-run homer from Connor Hall in the sixth inning.

Pine Barrens 7, Burlington Township 2: The Phantoms got two-hit, seven-strikeout pitching from Eric Sellitto to win at Pinewald Field.
Rich Powelson was 3-for-4 with two RBIs and two runs, Ronnie Krankowski had a single, double and three RBIs, and Shane Lynch added an RBI double.
Township scored in the first inning, both runs coming on Matt Klish?s single.

Vincentown 6, Willingboro 3:
The Merchants erased a 3-0 deficit with home runs by Dan Williams and Sam Pepper, both in the fifth inning. Williams? three-run blast tied the score and Pepper hit a two-run shot later in the fifth. Kevin Carty was the winning pitcher.

RVL Notebook

Courtesy of Bruce Johnson, Burlington County Times

Thompson keeps faith despite a .500 record
Harry Thompson is nothing if he?s not optimistic.
The veteran Vincentown Merchants manager has lost two of his best veteran players ? John Bujanowski (broken wrist) and Jesse Pappler (knee injury). He?s been scrambling to field nine men at almost every game (so he doesn?t have to play his 81-year-old self, which has happened). And then last Sunday night, he became the first Rancocas Valley Baseball League manager to lose to the first-year Burlington Township Pirates, who are currently 2-17.

But when he picked up the phone last Monday morning, you?d have thought he had just won the lottery. ?What are you gonna do? We?ll be back, babe,? Thompson said. ?Somebody had to be the first to lose to them. It might as well be me. We didn?t have many of our regular guys. Mike Ferrara was catching, Billy (Thompson, Harry?s 50-year-old son) was on first, my grandson (15-year-old Ian Thomas) was in right. ?What are you gonna do? But let me tell you something: We are going to be just fine. When we get some arms back, we?ll be in good shape. You just do the best you can with whoever shows up.?

Even without Bujanowski and Pappler, the Merchants? longtime Nos. 1 and 4 hitters, V-town has a frightening lineup . . . if/when they all show up. ?Greg (Miller) is up in Boston at a tryout camp, but he?ll be back Tuesday,? Thompson said. ?(Stefan) Kancylarz will be back in mid-July from his college league. (Alan) Hasher is hitting the hell out of the ball. I just have to limit his innings when he pitches. He?s great for three or four, but I try to get some extra out of him every time.?

Thompson was in such a good mood, he even had flowery things to say about the Burlington Township Pirates. ?You?ve got to give that (T.J.) Lovenduski kid a lot of credit,? he said. ?We were up 2-1 in the bottom of the sixth and Hasher had him down 0-2 in the count, and he worked it to 3-2, then he fouled off five pitches before hitting the ball down the right-field line. That was three runs there. Then we had three or four errors. But we?ll be all right, babe.?

Vincentown has already played its four games against first-place Burlington and three of its four against second-place Cinnaminson. Anhow, everybody knows it?s not how you start but how you finish. Which is why Thompson can?t help but look forward to ?August in Vincentown,? when the RVL playoffs come to Harry W. Thompson Field.

Thompson came into this season with 983 coaching wins since becoming the Merchants? manager in 1964. The current team is 8-8-1, so he?s closing in on No. 1,000 with 991.

The Merchants have won nine RVL championships, all under Thompson?s watch: 1967-69, 1973, 1997-2000 and 2003. That most recent championship season was also the last time the Merchants reached the final.

But if he can put together a lineup that looks like the one below (with current 2012 batting average), this August could be special in V-town:
Kevin Carty 2b .370
Danny Williams ss .360
Sam Pepper dh .326
Mike Ferrara 1b .354
Johnny Bujanowski cf .160
Greg Miller 3b .333
Alan Hasher rf .440
Dan Hayduk lf .333
Troy Foster c .235
(Stefan Kancylarz?)

Add starting pitchers Zeke Boren (3-0), Damon Valloreo and Joe Argow ? with Hasher, Pepper and Bujanowski in short relief ? and you can see why Thompson hasn?t given up on the ?12 season.

Thompson: ?I went up to Eddie (Eifert, the Pirates? coach) Sunday night after they won and told him, ?You should be proud. Now you?ll be able to say you beat the league champs.? And I meant it.?

Who?s on first?
Cinnaminson Reds manager Brett Miller has been scrambling to fill out his lineup card these days, too. Last Sunday, he had Cameron Bahr behind the plate, Matt Cann at first, Tim Wasco at second, Matt Janulis at third and Dennis O?Hanlon at short. Pitcher Jim Goodwin was in left, with Joe Sirolli and Chris McManus in center and right. Pitcher Ryan Varga was the designated hitter. No word on how close Miller came to suiting up scorekeepers Kaylee Donahue and Sammi Herron, whose fathers Casey and Gary were longtime Reds who retired before the season.

Earning his save
Sam Pepper got an interesting save last Tuesday night. After Johnny Bujanowski had thrown six scoreless innings, they switched positions and Pepper came in from center field to strike out the side. But not before he threw the ball deep into the right-field corner on a swinging bunt by John Perinelli, putting a runner on third with just one out. An interesting ending to a 1-0 thriller. (Pepper had another three-strikeout inning of relief on Thursday night.)

Play of the week
As anyone who has played in an 8 p.m. game at Harry Thompson Field will attest, right field is not an easy place to play. Especially when you?re not used to playing right field. But Vincentown?s Zeke Boren came up with a game-saving catch on Conner Arsenault?s drive to deep right-center last Monday to preserve a 1-0 victory over Pine Barrens.

Tri-County Sports Online Coverage of the RVL

July 2, 2012

Burlington Mets 4
Burlington Township Pirates 3

Jon Reiner's RBI single in the bottom of the sixth inning plated Matt Fischer with what proved to be the winning run as the Mets edged Burlington Township 4-3. Fischer singled and moved around to third on a passed ball and an errant throw to second base. Paul Guerrieri also knocked in a run for Burlington earlier in the game. Luke Cordonnier had an RBI double for the Pirates in the first inning. John Harvey pitched a complete game to pick up the win. Harvey limited the Pirates to four hits while striking out nine batters. T.J. Lovenduski took the loss for Burlington Township. Photo Gallery

Friday, June 29, 2012

Burlington Twp. notches second RVL win
Burlington Township earned its second win in the Rancocas Valley Baseball League with an 11-9 victory over Riverside on Friday night.
T.J. Lovenduski and Josh Johnson each had two hits and two RBIs for Township, a first-year team. Eddie Eifert (triple), Wayne Feret and Brian Eifert also had two hits apiece. Zach Wallace got the pitching win. Riverside?s Eric Oliver had three hits, including a triple, and two RBIs. Justin Ely had a pair of hits.

Tuesday, July 2, 2012

Courtesy of Dave Zingaro, Burlington County Times

Pirates gain more respect
It didn?t look like a battle between first and last place teams.
Coming into Monday night?s game against the Burlington Mets, the first-year team from Burlington Township had just two wins.
They left the Life Center Academy field with those same two wins after a 4-3 loss to the Mets in a Rancocas Valley League matchup, but they also left the field with a little more respect. ?It says that we?re not gonna quit,? Burlington Township manager Ed Eifert said. ?We have some talent and they?re gonna work hard.?

After 13 losses to open the season, the Pirates (2-18) picked up their first win on June 24. Since then, they won another game and lost two more by fewer than three runs. On Monday, they lost by a run to the best team in the league. Burlington is now 18-1-2.

The Mets took a 3-2 lead into the sixth inning but the Pirates didn?t pack it in. Instead, five-hole hitter Eddie Eifert hit a leadoff single, stole second and reached third on a fielder?s choice. Then, Brian Eifert, who had three hits on Sunday night, beat out an infield single to score the run.
The 3-3 tie lasted until the bottom of the sixth, when Matt Fischer led off with a single. He moved to second on a ball that got past catcher Ryan Murtaugh. Fischer made it to third when the throw to second ended up in the outfield. Jon Reiner knocked Fischer in with a single to break the tie and give the Mets the narrow win. Paul Guerrieri went 3-for-3 with an RBI and John Harvey threw a complete game, struck out nine and allowed just one earned run for Burlington.

?I heard the competition level was a lot more advanced, a lot more college players,? Burlington Township?s Wayne Feret said about his first season in the RVL. ?I?m enjoying it and we?re having some success.?

Feret entered Monday?s matchup with the highest average on his team (.481) and, according to the league?s website, he had the third-highest average among players with at least 20 at-bats. The leadoff hitter kept that hot pace on Monday, going 2-for-4 with a double and a run scored.
But still, it isn?t enough. ?We?re tired of just being in (games),? Feret said. ?We want to start winning more. We?re in every game.?

After scoring just 19 runs in the first 13 games, the Pirates have scored 33 in their last seven games, which started with the team?s first win. ?We?re starting to score some more runs,? coach Ed Eifert said with a smile.

T.J. Lovenduski pitched well for the Pirates on Monday. He went five innings, giving up four runs, but kept his team in the game. The pitching has been OK for Burlington Township, but hasn?t been great. The team lost Ken Brock about a month ago to Tommy John surgery and doesn?t have the dynamic pitching most other teams have.

What Burlington Township does have is defense and it was on display Monday.
First, there was a diving catch by Mike Zier in left field to rob Kyle Semmel of a hit and an RBI in the second inning. Then, there was a great play from second baseman Ace Rivera in the fifth inning. After making a tough stop on a short-hop, Rivera touched second, and with his momentum taking him toward left field, threw a laser that Luke Cordonnier scooped out of the dirt.

Finally, was the good ol? 6-4-1-9 double play to escape a second-and-third and one out in the sixth inning. After a ball was hit to Eddie Eifert, the shortstop held the runner at third and tossed it to Rivera who tagged the trailing runner for the second out. When he threw the ball to the pitcher, Semmel saw the base was open so he took off. But Eddie Hoffman came in from right field to cover the bag and get the inning-ending out.

?(Defense has) been keeping us in games,? coach Eifert said. ?You might not have the best hitters or the best pitchers but if you play defense, you?ll be in the games and you?ll get the respect from other teams.?

It seems that it?s already working.
?I didn?t know what to expect,? Burlington second baseman Josh Limon said. ?I didn?t hear great things, but I was impressed.?

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Courtesy of Dave Zangaro, Burlington County Times

Mt. Laurel snaps streak
Maybe it?s just what Mount Laurel needed. It was staring at its fourth straight Rancocas Valley League loss. Another loss in a so-far disappointing season. It went through five innings and mustered just three hits off of Cinnaminson ace Ryan Varga. It was just another one of those days.

But as the sun began to set just foul of left field at Delanco?s Babe Ruth Field and with Mount Laurel?s chances going with it, Mount Laurel got a hit. Then another one. Then another one. Then another one. Before the sixth inning was over, it took a lead and was able to hold on to beat second-place Cinnaminson 2-1 in a regular season RVL game on Thursday night. ?Yeah, once you get some hits, you get momentum,? Mount Laurel center fielder Brian Black said. ?That?s what we needed.?

After Matt Szukics led off the sixth with a single, Black (the three-hole hitter) put down a bunt directly in front of home plate. He beat the throw to first. ?I saw it hit the dirt and stop,? Black said. ?It?s like a beach out there.?

Mike Tobia, after failing to put down a sacrifice bunt, hit an RBI single to score Szukics. Black then scored the go-ahead run after Tobia was picked off and caught at second in a rundown. Tobia beat Greg Gilbert?s throw with a head-first dive. Not that it would have mattered. The next batter, Kevin (Meat) Diamond, mashed his second double of the day, which would have scored Black anyway.

That was four straight hits. Before the sixth inning, they had just three hits (all in different innings) against Varga. ?We?ve seen (Varga) a lot,? Mount Laurel manager Dean Johnson said. ?You know what a guy like that is going to be throwing. We?re a pretty good hitting team. I rely on our hitting a lot.?

It?s just a regular-season win almost a month away from the start of the playoffs, but for Mount Laurel, it was an important one. They came into the game with just one win in their last seven games, while Cinnaminson was riding a five-game winning streak. ?I hope we can get a little winning streak going now,? Black said.

Mount Laurel won the game, but Cinnaminson made it interesting in the top of the seventh. With a man on first and second with one out, two-hole hitter John Dockins lined a single to right field that looked like it would score the tying run. But Mount Laurel right fielder Andrew Schaefer threw a bullet to home to get Tim Wasco. ?I was telling him to shoot it and he did,? Black said. ?It was a bullet.?

Dockins and Mike Osborne each had two hits for Cinnaminson. Catcher Chris Burns had a hit and scored the team?s only run on a wild pitch in the fourth inning.

Cinnaminson is still in second place and Mount Laurel is still next to last. But maybe Thursday night?s win was enough to start the turnaround for the home team. ?I sure hope so,? Johnson said.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Workman, Petrone spark Delran in RVL

Rex Workman?s grand-slam home run sparked Delran to an 11-1 victory over Vincentown. Workman, having a career year, was 2-for-4 with five RBIs. Rocky Petrone was 3-for-4 with three RBIs and two runs scored, while Nick McMeniman added two hits. Jason Ronca went five innings, allowing three hits, no earned runs and striking out eight, in his first start of the RVL season. Chris Maull finished up. Andy Robertson was 2-for-3 for the Merchants, who used veteran Brian Carter on the mound.

Tri-County Sports Online Coverage of the RVL

July 8, 2012

Delran 10
Vincentown Merchants 3

Eric Gertie pitched a complete game and struck out five batters along the way as Delran defeated Vincentown 10-3. Gertie received all the run support he needed when Delran scored three runs in the first inning and one more in the second. Delran went on to add two more runs in the fourth inning and four more in the fifth. Kyle Ballay, Rocky Petrone, Aaron MacKenzie, and Bobby Isopi all had multiple hits for Delran with Ballay collecting three hits. Vincentown's Zeke Boren was tagged with the loss in this game. Photo Gallery

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Pine Barrens upsets Burlington 2-1 in RVL
The hottest team in the Rancocas Valley League is the Pine Barrens Phantoms. And Sunday night at Patty Bowker Field, the Phantoms won their fourth in a row as they stunned the league-leading Burlington Mets 2-1 behind the pitching of Matt Baer. The Phantoms got the winning run in the bottom of the seventh off Carl Taylor. Rob McCabe walked and took second on Ronnie Krankowski?s single. After McCabe stole third, Mike Lamola?s infield hit brought in McCabe. Lamola was 2-for-2 and also scored the other run.
Burlington had taken a 1-0 lead in the second on Sean McNeil?s RBI hit. Vince Corbi was 3-for-3 for the Mets. It was the first win for the left-handed Baer, after four losses. And it was Pine Barrens? first win over Burlington, after three losses. The loss dropped the Mets to 18-2-2. They brought a 14-game unbeaten streak (13-0-1) into the game since losing to Vincentown on May 8. Pine Barrens (8-12-1) was coming off a 3-2 upset over Delran and faces Cinnaminson on Monday night back at Patty Bowker Field.

Delran 10, Vincentown 2:
Eric Gertie pitched all seven innings, spacing 11 hits to lead Delran at Notre Dame Field. Gertie fanned five. Kyle Ballay had three hits and scored twice for Delran (15-8), which moved into second place with the win. Rocky Petrone added two hits, as did Bobby Isoldi. Rex Workman had a two-run double for the winners. Jesse Pappler had three hits, while Danny Williams and Greg Miller each had two hits for Vincentown (10-10-1).

Willingboro 3, Riverside 2:
Kevin Faber earned the win, with help from Dan Hill, who got the final two outs for the save at the J.F. Kennedy Rec Center. Willingboro (10-11) won its third in a row; Riverside (8-16) dropped its fifth straight. Fran Caruso was 2-for-3 with a double and an RBI for the winners, and Hill also went 2-for-3.

RVL Notebook

July 9, 2012

Courtesy of Bruce Johnson, Burlington County Times
Life has been one decision after another for Ryan Varga, ever since he graduated from Burlington City High School in 1998.
Where to go to college? The then-catcher picked Methodist University in North Carolina, where Tom Austin had put together the winningest Division 3 program in the country.

Change positions? With an All-American catcher and a redshirt sophomore ahead of him, he agreed with Austin?s decision to become a relief pitcher.
Relieve or start? After disagreeing with Austin?s decision that he would never be a starting pitcher ? ?He told me with my arm angle (delivery), I?d never last more than two innings? ? he decided to change colleges.

Where to transfer? He picked Lock Haven (Pa.), because of its special education program, which is what he was looking for in his longterm goals. That, and the fact that coach Paul Stoner actually came to a Rancocas Valley League game to see him pitch. ?It was at Vincentown, and Harry Thompson put in a good word for me afterward,? Varga said.

Pros or real life? After a ?close encounter? at a Phillies tryout camp at Bucknell, he was ready to be offered a contract to play in Batavia, N.Y., on a Monday. But the scout who was going to sign him was fired on Sunday, and the deal never happened. He then had to choose between a teaching job for $40,000 and living the potentially migrant life of Independent League player. ?It was tough to turn down that teaching position,? Varga said the other night. ?I could?ve bounced around, probably played three or four years of independent ball. But it didn?t seem worth it.?

In an ironic twist, he took his eighth graders down to Baltimore one day to see an Orioles game and in the ?Please Touch Museum? outside Camden Yards there was a jersey that had the name ?Babula? on the back. It was the former Delmarva Shorebirds jersey of Shaun Babula, a former Orioles minor leaguer who also happened to be a former Burlington City and current RVL player. ?Shaun is a way different case from me,? Varga said. ?He had elite status. He had been a 16th-round draft pick. He?d played at Triple A a couple times before his injuries. There?s Shaun, and then maybe on the next tier down there was me, maybe two tiers down. He had some major accolades, and that?s why he pushed himself (to make the bigs) like he did.?

Now, all these years later, Babula and Varga are, arguably, the two best pitchers in the RVL. ?I?ve enjoyed playing in the RVL,? Varga said. ?I give Harry a lot of credit, for taking me down to play when Vincentown went to the Bridgeton Tournament. And (Mike) Dlug and (Joe) Olivo, for adding me to Delran when they went to the York (Pa.) Tournament. They not only made me feel part of their team, but they made my wife, Shelby, feel part of it, too.?

Back then Varga was playing for Willingboro, where in 2002 he set a team record with 10 wins. ?After college, I wanted to play for the (Burlington) Mets, or Gary Herron at Cinnaminson. I contacted them, but they told me no, they weren?t interested. Bob LePage was starting a team at Willingboro, so that?s where I went. I?d still be there probably, but it looked like they weren?t gonna stay together (in 2008), so that?s when I switched to Cinnaminson.?

He has gone 6-1, 7-3 and 10-1 the past three years, winning the Most Valuable Player in 2011, when Cinnaminson won the title and he had a 1.17 ERA. ?Without a doubt, we don?t win last year without him,? Cinnaminson player-coach Brett Miller said. ?He won 10 games, saved a couple of others and his performance in the playoffs was huge for us.?

So, how much longer for Varga, who also has a landscaping business (Lawncare 101) in addition to his teaching job at Ridgeway School in Edgewater Park (of course, he doubles as the baseball coach), playing in the RVL and being a dad. ?My wife hasn?t pushed me about retiring, even though we now have two little kids (Adilyn and Lucas),? Varga said. ?But it?s been a challenge this year (he is currently 3-3 with an ERA over 3.30). I don?t think I?m giving the team the best I can. The numbers aren?t there yet. Hopefully by mid-July they?ll be better.?

He has given up playing fall baseball, but he has no plans right now for giving up his ?summer job.? ?As long as I can compete, I?ll keep playing in the RVL,? he said. ?I want to become a (school) principal, and I?ve got some things working on that front. One job possibility, it?s very good money and it?s a 10-month job ... with July and August off.?

Plays of the week
The Burlington Township Pirates put on quite a defensive show last Monday against the first-place Burlington Mets. First there was a spectacular diving catch in left field by Mike Zier. Then an amazing double play started by second baseman Ace Rivera, who fielded a grounder up the middle, stepped on second and made a tough across-the-body throw to nip Pedro Perez by a step. First baseman Luke Cordonnier also had a slick backhanded pickup for the final out of an Eddie Eifert-to-Rivera-to-Cordonnier 6-4-3 twin killing.

Vincentown?s Greg Miller made a nice bare-handed pickup of Aaron MacKenzie?s swinging bunt down the third-base line and threw him out, with first baseman Jesse Pappler adding a back-handed scoop.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Courtesy of Dave Zangaro, Burlington County Times

Finally for Riverside
Eric Oliver knew what he had to do.
The Riverside leadoff hitter poked a bloop hit just over first base with two outs in the fifth inning. Until that point, Willingboro pitcher Ryan Derry had held Riverside to just three hits. So, Oliver stood on first and waited. Then, he took off, stealing second and putting himself in scoring position with two outs. And, two-hole hitter Gabe Mastrangelo hit a hard liner that went through the shortstop. The error allowed Oliver to score from second, and ultimately gave Riverside a 5-4 win over Willingboro in a Rancocas Valley League baseball game Tuesday night. ?I knew anything could happen with two outs,? Oliver said.

And, it wasn?t pretty. Riverside (9-16) scored the game-winning run on an error. But it?ll take it. Before Tuesday?s win, Riverside had lost all three previous matchups against Willingboro. ?It feels like ?finally!? ? Oliver said. And it felt like ?finally? Riverside got a win all together. It had lost its previous four games and seven of the nine before the win over Willingboro (10-12) on Tuesday. ?It?s a big step in momentum,? winning pitcher Jade Hendrick said. ?We can hopefully get turned around.

The four losses put us in a hole. We fought today and got the win.?
Hendrick gave up two runs on three hits in the first inning and faced eight batters. After a 1-2-3 inning in the second, he gave up another two in the third inning. Then, he settled in. He retired the last seven batters he faced and retired Willingboro in order in the fourth and fifth innings. He struck out four and gave up a total of five hits. ?I just kept pitching until I felt comfortable,? Hendrick said. ?I finally got into a zone.?
?Jade threw well. He did what he needed to do,? Oliver said. ?He got ahead of the batters.?

For Willingboro, Mike Loffredo went 2-for-3 with a double, a walk and two RBIs. Dan Hill hit an RBI double and pitched the final three innings in relief. Hill inherited a bases-loaded jam in the fifth and got the next three outs. He allowed just one baserunner in the last two innings.
But Willingboro wasn?t able to tie the game. After Hendrick left the game, Matt Leith worked his way out of a jam for a scoreless sixth and Bryan Bessinger threw a scoreless seventh to seal the game. ?It was a real good game,? Hendrick said. ?We fought and fought.?

And, eventually, Oliver, a first-year player with the third-year team, was able to scratch out a run in fifth inning to give Riverside the win.
"Eric is a real good player,? Hendrick said. ?He hits and he uses his speed on the bases. He did his job. He did what he needed to do and gave us a chance to win.

Vincentown 16, Burlington Township 2:
The Merchants were led by Zeke Boren?s three hits with Johnny Bujanowski, Mike Ferrara and Sam Pepper combining for six more. Kevin Carty recorded the win. Burlington Township received two hits apiece from Wayne Feret and Mike Zier (one RBI).

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Pine Barrens boosts RVL win streak to six
Pine Barrens combined a five-run third inning with solid pitching by John Veterano and Chris Delle Monache to hand Willingboro a 7-3 loss. It was the sixth straight victory for the Phantoms (10-12-1), who moved into fifth place with 27 points. In the very tight battle for fourth through eighth place, Vincentown has 28, Willingboro 26.5, Riverside (which visits Pine Barrens Thursday night) 26 and Mount Laurel 21.5. Ronnie Krankowski and Mike Lamola each had two hits and one RBI for Pine Barrens, with Krankowski also scoring twice. Mark Stumpf and Dan Hill had a pair of hits and an RBI for Willingboro (10-13).

Newill gives Delran edge against Mount Laurel

July 11, 2012

Courtesy of Gary Horvath, Burlington County Times

Age triumphed over youth on Thursday night as Delran defeated Mount Laurel 4-3 in a Rancocas Valley League baseball game. Thirty-six-year-old starting pitcher Max Newill pitched all seven innings for Delran to outduel Austin Papp, his 16-year-old counterpart.

When they?re not on the mound, Newill spends his time as a teacher and baseball coach for Bridgewater-Raritan High School in Somerset County, and Papp as a student at Bordentown High School. ?I?m the elder statesman on the team,? said Newill, who gave up three runs on six hits while striking out eight and walking four.

Newill was glad that on this day he wasn?t the only veteran on the field for Delran. Mark Wickersham played a rare game at catcher. ?Wick?s been with us for a while, too,? Newill said. ?It was a lot of fun to throw to him. It?s funny, the guy I usually throw to, we just realized he was born the year I graduated college.?

Although the 20-year age gap between Newill and Papp was apparent from the stands, it wasn?t from the box score. Papp stepped up to fill a need for his team and pitched four innings, allowing four runs off six hits. He struck out two batters and walked three before Mike Cooper took over. ?He didn?t know he was starting,? said Dean Johnson, the Mount Laurel manager. ?At 16 years old, I?d say he did admirably. He was my relief tonight but that?s how it works.?

Cooper, who pitched three hitless innings in relief, was scheduled to start the game but when he didn?t arrive on time, Papp was called on. Both starting pitchers had their rough spots. It took Papp an inning to settle in, giving up two runs in the first inning, but he only allowed two hits over the next three.

Newill ran into trouble in the third. After serving up a one-out solo home run to Matt Szukics, John Burns doubled to deep left, scoring two more runs and tying the game at 3. ?The home run was a fastball down the middle of the plate and the double was a hanging curveball,? Newill said. ?I know I just need to avoid going down the middle.?

Kyle Ballay led off the fourth inning with a double and scored two batters later on a single by Wickersham. Delran is now in second place at 16-9 after the win. Mount Laurel falls to 7-11-2 for the year. Delran manager Rocky Petrone thinks his team?s playoff chances will rest on the shoulders of their younger players. ?We?re right behind Burlington,? Petrone said. ?We need to keep hitting though. We?ve been a little inconsistent on offense all year. Our young guys, and we have a lot of them, need to step up.?

Johnson thinks that his team?s record does not accurately show what they?re capable of. ?Eleven of our 20 games have been tied or decided by one run. That leads me to believe we can compete with any team we face,? he said. ?We?re young but confident and they?re gelling pretty well now.?

The young Mount Laurel team was one hit away from winning the game. Brian Black, who earlier doubled, had a chance to give his team the lead in the sixth inning, but flew out to center with the bases loaded to end the inning. Ballay?s double in the fourth was the only extra-base hit for Delran. He also scored two runs.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Deuces wild for Burns
John Burns had two doubles, scored twice and drove in a pair of runs in Mount Laurel?s 12-1 win over Burlington Township. Trevor Sotell got the win as three pitchers combined for a two-hitter. Brian Black added a pair of hits and scored two runs in the win. Mount Laurel, wrapping up a stretch in which it played on four consecutive nights, went 2-2 for the week and is 8-11-2 overall. Zach Wallace batted in the Burlington Township run with a sacrifice fly and Eddie Eifert tripled for the first-year Pirates.

Vincentown 3, Cinnaminson 2:
Sam Pepper had two hits and scored two runs as the Merchants held off the Reds. Joe Argow worked six innings for the win. Nick Melchiorre led off the Cinnaminson seventh with a home run to make it a one-run game. Greg Miller relieved Argow and got the final three outs to save it.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Willingboro beats V-town, tightens up RVL race
Willingboro got plenty of help from Vincentown in tightening up the already tight Rancocas Valley League standings. The Merchants made seven errors in the first three innings and the ?Boro boys jumped all over them for a 12-5 victory at J.F. Kennedy Rec Center field. That puts Willingboro sixth in the standings at 11-13 (28.5 points) and Vincentown fourth at 12-11-1 (30.5). Pine Barrens (11-12-1), which visits Vincentown Tuesday night, is fifth with 29 points. Rick Stronski led the ?Boro with a single, double and triple, two RBIs and two runs. Tyler Bayley also had two hits and a pair of ribbies. Anthony DiVincenzo went 4+ innings to earn his first win. Three relievers finished up. Johnny Bujanowski had his league-best fourth home run for the Merchants.

Mount Laurel 11, Burlington Township 10:
Branden Barnes tied the game in the top of the seventh inning with a two-run single and Mike Tobia won it with another single, then pitched a shutout bottom of the seventh at Pinewald Field. Mount Laurel (9-11-2, 25.5 points) led 8-2 after 4, behind Barnes (three hits), Tobia (three hits) and Conner Hall (two hits and two RBIs). Burlington Township (2-22) took advantage of some walks and errors to take a 10-8 lead into the seventh. Brian Eifert, Eddie Eifert and Chris Liberatore each had a pair of hits. Matt Klish had a two-run double in the fourth. Liberatore drove in three runs and Ryan Murtaugh scored three times.

Burlington 7, Cinnaminson 4:
In a game limited to six innings by rain, Carl Taylor pitched a complete game with six strikeouts as the Mets won at Memorial Field. Zach Skidmore was 3-for-4 with a double, three runs scored and two RBIs. Vinny James was 3-for-4 with two RBIs and Pedro Perez was 2-for-4 with two RBIs. Matt Cann was 2-for-2 with a pair of ribbies for the Reds.

RVL Notebook

July 16, 2012

Courtesy of Bruce Johnson, Burlington County Times

Like most in the RVL, Harvey finishes what he starts
John Harvey has been a big part of the Burlington Mets? success the past few years. The big guy, a former standout at Burlington Township High School, Burlington County College and a recent Rowan University graduate, takes the ball once, sometimes twice, a week ... and he completes the game. Usually it?s a win. He got the ball for Tuesday night?s game against Mount Laurel at the Delanco Babe Ruth Field. When he finally escaped a bases-loaded jam in the darkness-shortened six-inning game by getting Kevin Diamond to sky out to third base, the final out in a 6-1 victory, these were his stats: 6 innings, 3 singles, 1 earned run, 11 walks, 4 strikeouts.
Mount Laurel had at least two runners on base in every inning. But the 6-foot-5, 220-pound Harvey persevered and improved to 7-1 on the season, with seven complete games in nine starts. His loss was May 28 at Vincentown. He leads the league with 57.2 innings pitched. ?I don?t know how many pitches he threw, somewhere around eight thousand,? player-coach Keith Babula said. ?We ran out of fingers and toes on the bench trying to keep count. Seriously, he started and this is the RVL, so it was his game to finish.?

That?s sort of the mantra of the RVL, and old-schoolers will say thankfully so. In a modern world designed to create five- or six-inning starting pitchers out of everybody, the league remains a place where you?re actually expected to finish what you start. Harvey, 24, has evolved into a tri-No. 1 on the Mets? staff, along with Shaun Babula and Carl Taylor. During his three years full-time with the Mets, he?s gone 5-1, 6-5 and currently 7-1, with ERAs of 2.70, 2.34 and 1.42, respectively. In 173.1 innings, he has struck out 182, including a league-best 76 in 2011.

But, back to those 11 walks ... had he ever walked that many in a game?
?Never,? Harvey said. ?It was just one of those rough ones. Everybody has them. I had some issues with the mound. It had to be a lot of pitches, probably 120, maybe more. ?But my arm felt fine, even late in the game. I was able to make the pitches I needed to make with runners on base.?

Games remaining
The regular season is winding down, with the real season, the playoffs, starting Aug. 4. Here are the games remaining for all nine teams (in their current standings order):
Burlington (7): Cinnaminson, Willingboro, Willingboro, Burlington Township, Riverside, Riverside, Delran.
Delran (7): Willingboro, Vincentown, Burlington Township, Vincentown, Cinnaminson, Cinnaminson, Burlington.
Cinnaminson (8): Burlington, Mount Laurel, Pine Barrens, Delran, Mount Laurel, Delran, Burlington Township, Pine Barrens.
Vincentown (8): Pine Barrens, Delran, Delran, Pine Barrens, Mount Laurel, Riverside, Riverside, plus one other still to be rescheduled.
Pine Barrens (8): Vincentown, Burlington Township, Cinnaminson, Mount Laurel, Vincentown, Willingboro, Cinnaminson, Mount Laurel.
Willingboro (8): Delran, Burlington, Burlington, Mount Laurel, Burlington Township, Pine Barrens, Mount Laurel, plus one other still to be rescheduled.
Riverside (7): Mount Laurel, Burlington Township, Burlington, Burlington, Riverside, Vincentown, plus one other still to be rescheduled.
Mount Laurel (10): Burlington Township, Burlington Township, Cinnaminson, Riverside, Pine Barrens, Willingboro, Cinnaminson, Vincentown, Willingboro, Pine Barrens.
Burlington Township (8): Mount Laurel, Mount Laurel, Pine Barrens, Delran, Riverside, Burlington, Willingboro, plus one other still to be rescheduled.

All-lefty outfields
We have long been a fan of all-lefty defensive outfields, and we saw two of them last week. First on Sunday, Delran had Ryan Walter, Ryan McFadden and Rocky Petrone, and Tuesday it was Burlington with Dan Graham, Shaun Babula and Jimmy Graham.

Play(s) of the week
Both were by Matt Szukics, Mount Laurel?s outstanding infielder, in Tuesday?s 6-1 loss to Burlington. Playing second base, he went out into center field to make an inning-ending catch of a difficult pop up. He later combined with pitcher Brian Black on a 4-1 when first baseman Connor Hall went for Jimmy Graham?s grounder and the base was momentarily uncovered.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Hall helps Mount Laurel break it open
Connor Hall?s home run in the fifth inning gave Mount Laurel breathing room in an 11-1 win over Burlington Township. The three-run blast made it a 6-1 lead for winning pitcher Austin Papp, who worked five innings for his first RVL win before Hall finished up on the mound. John Burns also had a three-run homer and Kevin Diamond had two hits as Mount Laurel (10-11-2) moved into seventh place. Mike Zier had two hits and batted in the Burlington Township run.

CINNAMINSON 5, BURLINGTON 2 - Monday, July 16, 2012

Courtesy of Dave Zangaro, Burlington County Times

Hello Old Friend
It wasn?t a hard decision. When Ryan Mingin got home from an already long summer of coaching, he received a text message from his father. Cinnaminson was playing Burlington at 6:15 the next day. Of course, Mingin would be there. The veteran catcher, now an assistant coach at Oklahoma Panhandle State University, quickly told Cinnaminson coach Brett Miller that he was in town after finishing up coaching the Reef Raiders in the Beach League in Myrtle Beach, S.C. Miller told him to come to Life Center and throw on the catcher?s gear.

Mingin, who played in four games earlier in the RVL season before heading south, went 2-for-3 with two doubles and an RBI for Cinnaminson in its 5-2 win over Burlington on Monday night. Mingin was impressive with the bat, but what was even more impressive was the way he played ? and coached ? from behind the plate. ?I figured I?ve been coaching all year, it?s time for me to have some fun,? Mingin said. ?I?ve always been a catcher, that?s what has made me a good coach, I think. When you?re a catcher, you?re almost like a coach on the field.?

With Mingin talking him through the whole way, Cinnaminson rookie and recent Shawnee High School graduate Kevin Boswick took a no-hitter into the sixth inning. With one out in the sixth, he gave up his first hit and the shutout went shortly after. But after a shaky start, Boswick was in control for most of Monday?s game. ?He?s the best catcher that?s ever caught me,? Boswick said. ?It?s like having a pitching coach behind the plate.?
Boswick, 18, is heading to Lehigh University next season. He?ll be on their baseball team and thinks his first foray into the RVL will be beneficial at the next level. ?I love it,? Boswick said. ?It?s giving me great experience, going up against hitters at this level.?

After giving up the first hit of the ballgame in the sixth, Boswick gave up just three more. They were all singles. Only Zach Skidmore from Burlington had two. John Harvey took the loss for the Mets. He gave up four runs in six innings.

Cinnaminson's Frank Sirolli had three hits, including a two-run single in the sixth inning, which ended up scoring the game-winning runs.
With the win, the Reds (16-9-0) pulled back into a tie with Delran for second place in the standings. They still trail Burlington (21-3-2), which has held first place for most of the season. ?I think we (Cinnaminson) are in a good spot for the playoffs,? Boswick said.

And he?s probably right. Cinnaminson is the defending champion and having another typical year. But, they?ll have to do it without Mingin again.
While he said he?ll play for the Reds over the next week and he?ll even gain eligibility for the playoffs, he won?t be able to play in the postseason. Instead, it?s back to Oklahoma Panhandle State University for some more coaching. He?ll even bring little brother Corey back with him to pitch. Ryan Mingin said he hopes he?ll have a head coaching job somewhere next year.

What does that mean for his RVL career? Well, he?s not sure. One thing of which he is sure: whenever he can make it, he?ll suit up and play. ?I?ve been playing with these guys since I was 14,? Mingin said. ?It?s like my second family.?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Gertie, Wickersham spark Delran victory
It may have been a little ugly, but a win is a win and Delran will gladly take it. Delran committed six errors in the game and almost took itself out of a big inning during a rundown in the top of the fourth. After escaping the rundown, some timely hitting resulted in seven runs in the frame.

That, coupled with a solid complete game by pitcher Eric Gertie, resulted in a 9-2 six-inning win over Willingboro in Rancocas Valley League baseball Tuesday. Designated hitter Mark Wickersham led the way with five RBIs, three on a double to left center in the fourth. ?I hadn?t been hitting at all,? Wickersham said. ?I got some pitches down the middle and was able to barrel it up. The double was a fastball down the middle, thankfully.?

Delran sent 11 men to the plate in the inning, banging out five singles, including Alex Tafar?s two-run base knock. They had 10 hits overall, two each for Rocky Petrone, Kevin McMenamin and John Iacovelli. It almost didn?t happen. Earlier in the inning, Wickersham was caught in a rundown between third and home. ?I was on third, and Rex (Workman, who was on second) also came down to third,? Wickersham said. ?So we were kind of caught up. He ran back to second and I got caught in a rundown at home. But in the end everything worked out for us.?

Wickersham knocked in his other runs with sacrifice flies in the first and sixth innings. Meanwhile, Gertie used his fastball and changeup to chalk up eight strikeouts. He scattered seven hits and walked two for his fourth win of the season against three losses. Both Willingboro runs were unearned. ?I felt good,? Gertie said. ?I just wanted to throw strikes and put the ball in play. The errors happen, but if I throw strikes we?ll get the outs. I just throw the next pitch and pretend like it didn?t happen.?
Petrone, Delran?s player-manager, was pleased. ?This was a big game by Eric,? Petrone said. ?He really picked us up there. Pitching is definitely a strength. Eric?s had a couple of tough losses this year, I think three games by one run. So it?s good to get a win for him, it?s good to back him up.?

Delran improved to 17-9, good for 38.5 points and second place in the RVL behind Burlington. Cinnaminson, idle Tuesday, is 16-9. The Reds host Mount Laurel Wednesday night. ?This was a good start,? Petrone said, noting that six games remain in the regular season. ?We have a couple of games with Vincentown, a couple with Cinnaminson. We?ll probably get the bats going and we need to keep throwing like that.?

Designated hitter Dan Hill doubled in a run for Willingboro. The other run scored on an error.

Vincentown 8, Pine Barrens 2:
Sam Pepper hit a home run, tripled and batted in three runs for the victorious Merchants late Tuesday. Johnny Bujanowski was 2-for-2 and Dan Williams also had two hits in support of winning pitcher Joe Argow.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Burlington 3, Willingboro 2:
Shaun Babula was the winning pitcher in relief, recording four strikeouts in three innings. Dan Graham was 1-for-1 with one RBI and Sean McNeil threw out a runner at home plate. Burlington (22-3-2) moved closer to clinching first place and the No. 1 seed in the playoffs. Jose Martinez and Ed Kaminski batted in the runs for Willingboro (11-15), which got solid pitching from Dan Hill.

Vincentown 12, Delran 4:
Johnny Bujanowski pitched the first five innings for the win and joined Zeke Boren in leading the attack that boosted the Merchants? record to 14-11-1.
Bujanowski was 3-for-3, including two doubles, and batted in three runs. Boren also was 3-for-3 and Kevin Carty pitched the final two innings to close it out.

RIVERSIDE 4, MOUNT LAUREL 3: Riverside appreciates this win

July 19, 2012

Courtesy of Dave Zangaro, Burlington County Times

Any way possible. That was the sentiment Thursday after Riverside?s 4-3 win over Mount Laurel in a Rancocas Valley League game at Babe Ruth Field.
Riverside, in its third year in the league, came into the game in eighth place of the nine-team league. It also had just one win the previous six games.

So, no, it wasn?t pretty. But that didn?t matter too much after the much-needed victory. Heading into the fifth inning, Riverside (10-17) had mustered just one hit against Mount Laurel starter Trevor Sotell. In fact, that one hit by Tom Mann was the only ball that left the infield. ?(Sotell) was doing a really good job against us,? Riverside right fielder Gabe Mastrangelo Jr. said. ?We were having trouble hitting him.?

And, in the top of the fifth inning, it looked like more of the same. Mount Laurel had a 3-0 lead and Sotell, after issuing a leadoff walk (just the third baserunner), induced a 5-4-3 double play. Two outs. No men on base. No problem. The next batter, Mann, hit another single through the left side of the infield. Still, no harm until an error in the infield put two men on. Then, nine-hole hitter Mark Demko hit an RBI single. Still, there was a chance to get out of it.

Leadoff hitter Ronnie Grant struck out but the ball got lost in the dirt with first base open. The throw from catcher John Burns hit Grant in the back of the head as he ran to first. Grant was safe. Another run scored.
That set the stage for the only big hit Riverside had (and would need) on the night. Mastrangelo crushed a two-run double to left field to score the tying and game-winning runs. ?He was pitching well all game,? Mastrangelo said. ?He was keeping the ball low. I was just waiting for him to make a mistake and I was able to get good wood on it. Any way to win, we?ll take it. Any way to win.?

Sotell pitched all seven innings for Mount Laurel (11-12-2). He gave up just four hits, three of which came in the fifth inning. All four of the runs were unearned. ?He pitched good enough to get a win,? Mount Laurel manager Dean Johnson said. ?He does that for us all the time. He should have gotten a win but his defense let him down a little bit. That one inning killed us.?

Riverside?s Justin Ely, after allowing two runs in the third and one in the fourth, finished the game with three straight scoreless innings to earn the win. But Mount Laurel wasn?t without its chances.

In the bottom of the fifth, after a walk and a Mike Tobia single, Burns ? the cleanup hitter ? came to the plate. But instead of swinging away, Burns tried to bunt and popped up. The next batter popped up. Then a walk. Then a ground-out. Inning over. Threat over. ?We had plenty of chances,? Johnson said.

Mount Laurel actually outhit Riverside 6-4, but that one inning changed the game for Mount Laurel. Riverside hopes it will change their season around too. They are trying to make a final push before the playoffs begin. ?These wins are really important now,? Mastrangelo said. ?We really want to build some confidence as we get closer to the playoffs.?

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Vincentown edges Delran on Pepper's triple
Damon Valloreo, in the game because of an injury to Zeke Boren, doubled in the top of the eighth and scored on Sam Pepper?s triple to deepest right-center field, leading Vincentown to a 4-3 win over Delran. It was the fifth win in the last six games for the Merchants (15-11-1), while it was the second straight loss to Vincentown for Delran (17-11). Greg Miller, in relief of Kevin Carty, who replaced Boren, earned the win. Danny Williams also had a triple for the winners, and Miller had an RBI single. The loser was Max Newill (5-1), who came into the game with an 0.64 ERA. He struck out three and gave up three earned runs, but was in control from the third through the seventh innings.

Burlington 13, Willingboro 1:
Carl Taylor pitched a complete game, allowing six hits and striking out six at the J.F. Kennedy Rec Center, as the Mets improved to 23-3-2. Paul Guerrieri and Vince Corbi each had three hits, including a double, with Corbi knocking in three runs. John Reiner had a three-run double for the Mets. Justin Edge also knocked in a run. The Mets can clinch the regular-season title with a win Monday night against Burlington Township. Jose Martinez had two hits for the ?Boro. Kevin Faber took the loss.

Cinnaminson 6, Mount Laurel 3:
Jim Goodwin (6-2) pitched a complete game, allowing just one earned run and striking out 10 for the Reds (17-9) in the opener of a doubleheader at Memorial Park. John Dockins was 2-for-4 with a run scored. Kevin Diamond slugged a solo home run for Mount Laurel (11-13-2).

Cinnaminson 6, Pine Barrens 5:
Ryan Varga won the nightcap as Cinnaminson (18-9) got a two-run single in the sixth from Chris Burns to move into second place. That made a winner of Ryan Varga, who went the route and allowed two earned runs. Ron Krankowski drove in four runs for the Phantoms (11-14-1), with a two-run single in the first and a two-run double in the sixth.

Riverside 5, Burlington Township 1:
Jake Still and three relievers combined on the win for the Patriots (11-17) at Viereck Field. Still went four innings, with Fred Ramos, Donny Bunce and Billy Garafalo in relief. Gabe Mastrangelo Jr. reached base four times and Eric Oliver three times. Dan Callahan went 4 1/3 innings, allowing one hit and no runs in relief of starter Eric McGillivray for the Pirates (2-25). Zach Wallace and Wayne Feret each had two hits, with Wallace driving in the run.

RVL Notebook: 'August in V-town' just around corner

July 23, 2012

Courtesy of Bruce Johnson, Burlington County Times
With the Rancocas Valley League?s regular season heading into the final nine days, that means it?s almost time for the two weeks that have become known as ?August in Vincentown.? Since Vincentown joined the RVL it has seemingly always hosted the finals. When Burlington beat Pemberton in the 1951, it was at Vincentown, which was still a member of the Burlington County League. Longtime Vincentown coach Harry Thompson said he thought it was in the early '80s, when lights were put up, that the RVL playoffs became a fixture at V-town. But Keith Babula, Burlington Mets manager, recalled playing playoff games at Wilbur Watts School.

In the event, it's almost time for the RVL playoffs to get started at Harry W. Thompson Field on Aug. 4 and Aug. 5, with four games each day. "I can't wait to see all the games in Round 1," the B-Mets' Shaun Babula said. ?I think there will be quite a few series going three games. It's gonna be interesting. The league has evened out a bit this year."

Right now, Burlington has seemingly clinched first place. Cinnaminson and Delran are likely to finish 2-3 or 3-2, although Vincentown is coming on strong. The battle for fifth through eighth place ? Pine Barrens, Mount Laurel, Willingboro and Riverside ? is quite close.

The playoffs will start Aug. 1, with a 9 (Burlington Township) vs. 8 play-in game. That winner advances to Saturday and Sunday?s quarterfinals against the top seed (Burlington). The other matchups will be 4 vs. 5, 2 vs. 7 and 3 vs. 6, all best of three. Don?t be surprised if a couple of those series goes to a third game.

The best-of-three semifinals will match the winner of 1-8 vs. 4-5 in one semifinal, and the winner of 3-6 vs. 2-7 in the other. Again, a third game is highly likely in both series. The two survivors then play for all the marbles in a best-of-five championship series. ?August in Vincentown.? Somebody should make up bumper stickers or those round decals.

Talking up a TOC
Just wondering how cool it would be if the RVL champions could meet up with the other champions of the leagues in New Jersey and nearby Pennsylvania in a Tournament of Champions, like they used to do from 1954 to 1992. The champs of the Atlantic County, Jersey Shore, Morris Majors, North Jersey Met, RVL, Salem County and Tri-County, plus Pennsylvania?s Blue Mountain, Pendel, Perkiomen Valley Twilight and Tri-County leagues, with one more team, say the RVL runner-up, to make it a 12-team single-elimination event.
You could regionalize the quarterfinals ? Blue Mountain vs. Tri-County (Pa.), Morris Majors vs. North Jersey Met would be one division; Atlantic County vs. Jersey Shore, RVL vs. Salem County would be another; Pendel vs. Perkiomen Valley Twilight, Tri-County vs. the RVL runner-up would be the other. One weekend gets it down to three teams, and the next weekend you finish things, with two, possibly three games.

Covered Wooden Grandstands
A new book called Covered Wooden Grandstands will be available soon. It is about semipro/amateur/sandlot/town/adult baseball and was written by many of the top sports writers in New Jersey. Included are the BCT?s Joe Mason and Dave Zangaro, Lowell Snare of the Hunterdon Democrat, Phil Anastasia of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Bob Klapisch of the Record of Hackensack, John Harper of the New York Daily News, Paul Franklin of the Times of Trenton, Ed Laubach of the Easton (Pa.) Express-Times, Bob Decker of the Morris County Daily Record and Keith Groller of the Allentown (Pa.) Morning Call. The book includes great players, teams and managers of the past 100-plus years in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and five other states. The cost is $25 and it?s available by emailing bj1019@aol.com. It should be available at Vincentown for the RVL playoffs.

Bridgeton Tournament
The 46th Bridgetown Invitational Tournament kicks off Friday at Alden Field and runs through Aug. 9. There are nightly doubleheaders starting at 6:30. The Cecil County (Md.) Braves were the 2011 champions.

Play(s) of the week
Cinnaminson and Burlington had several last Monday at Life Center Academy. The Reds' Joe Sirolli and Geoff Gilbert made spectacular grabs in the outfield. Jon Reiner was in on two fine plays, one an over-the-shoulder grab of a long foul pop well down the right-field line, the other a 3-1 at first with pitcher John Harvey. With runners on first and second and none out Thursday night, Willingboro?s Jon Wetzel placed a perfect sacrifice bunt up the third-base line. Reiner, normally Burlington?s first baseman, bare-handed the ball and threw off balance to Dan Graham, who made a nice scoop for the out.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Burlington clinches first place in RVL
Nine runs in the first inning propelled Burlington to a 15-4 victory over Burlington Township in Rancocas Valley League baseball Monday. The win gives the Mets a 24-3-2 record and assures them of first place for the regular season. Burlington, the 2010 league champion, will be the No. 1 seed when the playoffs commence Aug. 4. Dan Graham had three hits and four runs batted in for Burlington. Dan Torres (2-for-2) and Paul Guerrieri batted in two runs each. Vinnie James hit a home run and Sean McNeil was the winning pitcher, going all seven innings. Burlington Township was led by Mike Zier, who was 4-for-4, including a home run and a double. Luke Cordonnier hit a two-run double.

Mount Laurel 2, Pine Barrens 0:
Brian Black, Mike Tobia and Matt Szukics combined for a no-hitter. Black and Tobia also hit home runs.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Burlington 3, Riverside 1:
Pedro Perez got the win and Dan Graham saved it for the Mets (25-3-2), who?ve clinched first place and the No. 1 seed in the playoffs. Jon Reiner had an RBI for Burlington.

Pine Barrens 8, Vincentown 7:
The Phantoms pushed a run across in the bottom of the eighth inning to win it. Vincentown had recovered from 5-1 and 7-2 deficits to force the extra frame. Chris Delle Monache bunted to the first-base side and Shaun Flynn beat the throw home for the winning run. Delle Monache, who got the final out in the seventh and pitched the top of the eighth, was the winning pitcher. He?d also hit a two-run homer to help Pine Barrens to the 5-1 lead. Ron Krankowski contributed a two-run double for the winners. Rich Powelson, whose infield single loaded the bases in the eighth before Delle Monache batted, also doubled and hit a sacrifice fly. Vincentown?s Sam Pepper had three hits and scored three runs. His triple ignited a three-run seventh that tied it for the Merchants. Jesse Pappler singled Pepper home to make it 7-5 and Mike Ferrara followed with a two-run single.

Cinnaminson stays hot, holds onto second place
It?s been a season of streaks for Cinnaminson and the Reds are on another roll. Cinnaminson?s 6-4 comeback victory over Delran made it four in a row for the second-place Reds. Cinnaminson spotted third-place Delran three runs in the bottom of the first inning. The first six Delran batters reached base against righthander Nick Melchiorre.

The big blow was Mark Wickersham?s two-run double, scoring Justin McFadden and player-manager Rocky Petrone, both of whom reached on singles. Delran?s third run came courtesy of a Rex Workman single, scoring Kevin McMenamin, who reached on an error. But Melchiorre settled down after the outburst, holding Delran to a run and six hits over the next five innings. ?I struggled through the first inning a good bit,? said Melchiorre, a Holy Cross High School graduate who pitched at Fairleigh Dickinson University. ?They sat on my fastball the first few innings so I went to my off-speed stuff early and went back to the fastball to mix it up,? Melchiorre said. ?My curveball was working. Once I got the feel of those pitches I could spot my fastball better. They?re good hitters.?

Delran?s workhorse righthander, Eric Gertie, got a 1-2-3 first, but the floodgates opened in the top of the second. Ten Reds went to the plate. The first five got on base and scored. Matt Cann led off with a fly to center field. McFadden seemed to have a bead on the ball, but an apparent miscommunication with Workman in right field resulted in a two-base error. After a Dennis O?Hanlon single, Cameron Bahr drove in Cann with a double. Three singles and an error resulted in four more runs for the Reds.
Gertie, now 4-4, surrendered a run on five hits the rest of the way, striking out five and walking one.

Melchiorre improved to 2-0. He yielded the four runs, two earned, fanned four and walked four. Melchiorre has made only a few starts this season as he recovers from arthroscopic elbow surgery in February. He?ll rest until the playoffs, but said, ?The elbow felt good.? John Dockins pitched a hitless seventh to garner the save.

The teams combined for seven errors but also turned in web gems, both in the seventh. McFadden atoned for the second-inning miscue with a leaping, full arm-extending grab of a Mike Osborne fly ball to end the top of the seventh. Osborne, the Reds shortstop, returned the favor in the bottom of the seventh with a sensational, diving bare-handed grab of a Dan George hot smash in the hole between third and short. ?It?s a tough infield, hard and rocky. The ball comes up,? said Osborne, who turned and fired to brother Bob for the force at second.

Cinnaminson, 19-9 with 42.5 points, opened a little breathing space on Delran (17-12, 40). The Reds host Mount Laurel Wednesday, have a return engagement Thursday at Delran, then finish the regular season with a Sunday doubleheader at home. They?ll meet Burlington Township in the earlier game, then face Pine Barrens.

Reds manager Brett Miller isn?t too concerned about whether his team finishes second or third. Playoff seedings are determined by regular-season finish. The four first-round series begin Aug. 4 with all games at Vincentown?s Harry W. Thompson Field. ?We won?t worry about who we play in the first round,? Miller said. ?It?s all about momentum at this point. Of course, we?d like to play the 1 o?clock game.?

Mount Laurel attack produces a key win
Mount Laurel slugged its way to a 10-7 win over Willingboro. The win keeps Mount Laurel (13-13-2) in sole possession of fifth place in the RVL. Three other teams, including Willingboro, are pushing for that spot.

Seven of Mount Laurel?s nine batters drove in a run, with most of the production coming from the 3-4-5 hitters. Brian Black, Mike Tobia and Kevin Diamond combined to go 7-for-11 with six RBIs and three runs scored. Tobia?s two-run single in the sixth ended up being the difference in the game. Black made perhaps the biggest splash, hitting a two-run home run in the first inning that scored Matt Szukics ahead of him. Black added a double and scored in the fifth inning. ?I?ve just been seeing some good pitches lately,? Black said. ?Getting a few good hits gives me confidence going into the playoffs.?

Trevor Sotell pitched five innings of relief to earn the win. He entered the game in the bottom of the third with a 5-3 lead, and runners on first and second after starter Austin Papp left with an injury. ?(Papp) heard something pop (in his elbow),? Mount Laurel head coach Dean Johnson said. ?He didn?t have any pain, but just felt like he should come out.?

Sotell gave up four runs (three earned) and seven hits while striking out three and walking three. Sitting for the first two innings didn?t seem to bother him at all. ?It doesn?t really make a difference to me,? Sotell said. ?I just go out there and throw. My slider was on tonight. They were out in front of it a lot ? didn?t seem like they were picking up on it much. It?s really my go-to pitch.?

Although he never gave it up, Sotell?s lead was threatened in the fifth inning. Dan Hill doubled to start the inning, then scored on Jose Martinez?s double. After Sotell got Jon Wetzel to strike out, Mike Cooper made the defensive play of the game to preserve the lead. Martinez took off running on Mike Loffredo?s single to left field but was thrown out at the plate on a one-hop throw from Cooper. ?I was hoping he would go,? Cooper said. ?From where I was, I knew I could gun him out.?

Cooper also added some punch to the bottom of the order to help his team. He scored in the second inning after driving in Connor Hall with a triple, and singled and scored in the seventh on Szukics? single. ?They seem to be stepping it up a little more now that we?re into the last games,? Johnson said. ?With a few wins they knew they could move up in the standings. ?You know it?s funny, we?re playing just as hard as we have been, but we?re playing a little smarter now.?

Tyler Bayley pitched 5 1/3 innings in the loss for Willingboro (11-17), allowing six runs on 10 hits while striking out six batters and walking three. Mark Stumpf and Rich Stronski each added two RBIs for Willingboro.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Willingboro holds off Burl. Twp. in RVL
Mike Loffredo and Jared Turner hit home runs for Willingboro in a 7-5 victory over Burlington Township. Loffredo?s blast accounted for two of the four runs Willingboro scored in the first inning. Turner also hit a two-run shot, which came in the fifth inning. Each finished the game with two hits. The victory raised Willingboro?s record to 12-17, good for 32.5 points in the RVL standings. Craig Ricks pitched the final two innings to save the win for Ryan Derry. Burlington Township had the bases loaded in the sixth after recovering from 6-0 and 7-1 deficits. Eddie Eifert had two hits and two RBIs, and Wayne Feret scored two runs for Township.

Reloaded Reds stopped by darkness
Not much can stop Cinnaminson in the Rancocas Valley League.
Score one for the darkness. After three innings of its matchup with Mt. Laurel on Wednesday evening, the game had to be called. The lights at Cinnaminson Memorial Park wouldn?t turn on. The game will be finished on Tuesday ? the last day for makeup games ? if it matters in the standings.
But it?s possible that it won?t matter. Mt. Laurel (13-13-2) came into Wednesday in fifth place and Cinnaminson (19-9) was second.

The Reds are the defending league champions but can?t earn the top spot for the playoffs. Burlington already clinched the No. 1 seed. ?It?s nice to finish first, but that?s not our goal. Our goal is to win in August,? Cinnaminson player/manager Brett Miller said. ?As long as you finish in the top four and get to play at home, that?s what really matters.?

And that has been true for the Reds. After 2005, there have been only two seasons in which the regular-season winning team didn?t win the championship ? 2011 and 2006. Both times, Cinnaminson was the team ? second-place finish and fourth-place finish ? to win the league championship. The Reds have also won four of the last eight championships. One of the reasons for the long-term success has been the steady stream of younger players mixed with veterans. This season has been no different. The Reds added three recent high school graduates ? Cameron Bahr (Seneca), Chris Burns (Holy Cross) and Kevin Boswick (Shawnee). All three were a part of Burlington County?s Carpenter Cup winning team. ?We?re young at a lot of spots,? Miller said. ?We lost a lot from last season but our young guys are really talented and they?ve stepped in and done a nice job.?

The game against Mt. Laurel made it through three innings before being called on Wednesday. Mt. Laurel took a 2-1 lead in the top of the third on a John Burns hit. If the game does need to be made up, it will start in the fourth inning on Tuesday at Mt. Laurel?s field in Delanco.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Pepper spices Vincentown attack
Sam Pepper is getting hot just before the playoffs. Pepper struck out five batters and allowed just three hits in Vincentown?s 6-1 win over Mount Laurel. Pepper has been leading the way for Vincentown (16-11-1) from the plate too and he kept it going Thursday against Mount Laurel (13-14-2). In his last 12 at-bats, Pepper has nine hits and three triples. ?Sam?s still hot,? Vincentown manager Harry Thompson said. ?I?ve never seen anything like it.?

Burlington 6, Riverside 1:
Vince Corbi went 2-for-3 with a triple, double and two runs scored for the Mets (26-3-2). Vinnie James and Jon Reiner each hit two-run homers and Shaun Babula threw a complete game five-hitter. Riverside (11-19) was led by Jason Sabol, who hit a double and scored the run.

Cinnaminson 4, Delran 0, Top 6th

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Willingboro moves into fifth place in RVL
Willingboro managed just two singles, but took advantage of nine walks and a hit batter to post a 5-3 Rancocas Valley League win over Mount Laurel. The ?Boro got a complete game from Anthony DiVincenzo, who struck out four. Dan Hill led the offense with one hit and two runs scored. Willingboro (14-17) moved into fifth place, one point ahead of Mount Laurel (13-15-2) with 35.5. Mount Laurel visits Pine Barrens Monday night at 7, and has a makeup game with Cinnaminson on Tuesday night.

There is currently some debate about what will happen with Willingboro?s game against Pine Barrens from last Thursday. It is currently in the books as a Willingboro victory; but Pine Barrens has appealed.
Pine Barrens did not have enough players at the start of the game, but it was started anyhow, and the Phantoms were batting in the top of the fifth when the game was called off. The game has a bearing on the fifth through eighth places in the standings.

Burlington 3, Delran 2:
Vince Corbi, who was celebrating his 19th birthday, delivered a two-run, two-out double in the top of the seventh at Notre Dame Field for the Mets. John Harvey, with three innings of scoreless innings, earned the pitching win, striking out four. Shaun Babula was 2-for-4, including a double, and scored twice for the Mets, whose 27-3-2 record was the RVL?s best this century. Vincentown?s 25-4 in 2009 was the previous best. Delran (17-13-1) scored both runs in the first inning when Rex Workman and Dan George had RBI singles to score Kyle Ballay and Rocky Petrone.

Cinnaminson 6, Burlington Twp. 1:
The Reds (20-9-1) clinched second place behind six shutout innings by Jim Goodwin (7-2) at Memorial Field. He allowed four hits and struck out seven.
Tim Wasco led the offense with two doubles, two runs scored and an RBI.
Al Antuzzi, Luke Cordonnier and Ryan Murtaugh had doubles for the Pirates (3-28), who will be in the play-in game against the eighth-place finisher, Wednesday, 7 p.m., at Vincentown.

Pine Barrens 4, Cinnaminson 3:
The Phantoms (13-17-1) won at Memorial Field when Ron Krankowski delivered a two-run single in the top of the seventh. It was his third hit.
Dylan Johannick was the winner, in relief of Matt Baer. Kevin Boswick pitched a complete game for the Reds (20-10-1). Frank Sirolli scored all three runs and stole two bases, and Chris Burns had two hits, including a go-ahead RBI double in the top of the sixth.

RVL Notebook

July 30, 2012

Courtesy of Bruce Johnson, Burlington County Times

Parker's legacy still alive in RVL
Paul Parker, who managed the Burlington Braves of the Rancocas Valley League in the mid-1990s, died of a heart attack Tuesday at age 63. His son Mike was a Burlington Township High School athlete (1991). Parker worked with Ric Babula, coaching an American Legion team in Burlington City. A.J. Jackson coached the Burlington Mets of the RVL at the time but had a reputation for not playing younger kids. Parker created the Braves to give his old Legion players somewhere to continue playing. One of those players was Bob Osborne, who was playing second base for Cinnaminson at Delran Tuesday evening when he got a phone call from Steve Gray telling him of Parker?s passing. ?It was tough to concentrate on the game after hearing that,? he said. ?My mind started wandering. I remembered, going back, the day I ran into Paul in the Pathmark parking lot. He asked if I wanted to play ball. I had been thinking I was done. He said he was thinking of putting together a team of Legion guys. That?s how I got started in the RVL.?

The fiery Babula replaced Jackson in 1994 and it was quite a contrast when his Mets played the Braves, coached by the more, seemingly, under-control Parker. Not so, says Osborne. ?Ric wears his heart on his sleeve; Paul, you might?ve thought he wasn?t as into it, but inside he had a heart of fire,? Osborne said. ?Games with the Mets back then were fun. You were at each other?s throats on the field, but when it was over it was over and you walked away. There were a lot of fun games.? Osborne still can?t believe that Parker is gone. ?Paul was in real good shape,? he said. ?He was still playing ball in an over-50 league. I think he had started racing go-karts. It?s really a shame.?

This and that
Vincentown?s Harry Thompson came into the season (according to his personal records) with 983 wins. The Merchants are currently 16-12-1, which means if they win either Monday at Riverside or Tuesday night at home against Riverside, Thompson will earn career win No. 1,000.

It had been six years coming, but it was worth the wait for Gerry Lamola.
After five years coaching Pemberton, he changed the team?s name to the Pine Barrens Phantoms and it finally got a win over Vincentown, the only team he had never beaten. And what a game it was, an 8-7 eight-inning game that was played at Vincentown because of a problem with the lights at Patty Bowker Field. It was won on a bunt by Chris Della Monache, who had earlier hit a home run and also picked up the win in relief. Earlier this summer Pine Barrens had a seven-game win streak, which included consecutive wins over Delran 3-2, Burlington 2-1 and Cinnaminson 1-0. Talk about perseverance, Lamola?s five Pemberton teams posted regular-season records of 1-29, 2-24, 9-19, 8-25 and 4-30 before this year?s turnaround to 12-15-1.

When Mike Zier unloaded a blast over the right-field fence at the Field of Spleens on Monday, it was the first home run by the first-year Burlington Township Pirates.

Coaches? all-stars
The RVL coaches (and media) were given a ballot and asked to select a 2012 all-star team. Here are the results:

First team
C: Vinny James (Burlington), 1b: Rocky Petrone (Delran), 2b: Kevin McMenamin (Delran), 3b: Dennis O?Hanlan (Cinnaminson), ss: Dan Williams (Vincentown), lf: Zach Skidmore (Burlington), cf: Shaun Babula (Burlington), rf: Matt Moceri (Willingboro), dh: Paul Guerrieri (Burlington), p: Shaun Babula (Burlington), John Harvey (Burlington), Max Newill (Delran).

Second Team
C: Matt Cann (Cinnaminson), 1b: Ron Krankowski (Pine Barrens), 2b: Mark Stumpf (Willingboro), 3b: Greg Miller (Vincentown), ss: Mike Osborne (Cinnaminson), lf: Brandon Barnes (Mount Laurel), cf: Frank Sirolli (Cinnaminson), rf: Geoff Gilbert (Cinnaminson), dh: Jaime Schwantes (Willingboro), p: Ron Krankowski (Pine Barrens), Ryan Varga (Cinnaminson), Dan Hill (Willingboro).

Play(s) of the week
Center fielder Ryan McFadden made a leaping grab of a line drive that he had misjudged but recovered in time for a spectacular grab.

Shortstop Mike Osborne made a bare-handed grab of a grounder in the hole and fired to his brother Bob at second base for a force out at second in the same game.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Delran 5, Burlington Twp. 1:
Kyle Ballay went 3-for-4 with a double and an RBI. Jason Ronca struck out eight batters in five innings to earn the win for Delran, which finished the regular season with an 18-13-1 record.

Vincentown 9, Riverside 2:
Johnny Bujanowski, Mike Ferrara and Stefan Kancylarz each hit doubles for Vincentown (17-12-1), which took a no-hitter into the fifth.

Mt. Laurel 6, Pine Barrens 1:
Kevin Diamond went 4-for-4 with three doubles, four RBIs and two runs scored for Mount Laurel. Mike Tobia was 2-for-4 with a triple and two runs scored. Shaun Flynn had two hits and knocked in the Pine Barrens? run.

Regular Season Ends, RVL Playoffs Begin!

August 1, 2012

The RVL playoffs schedule has been announced. All games will be played at Harry Thompson Field in Southampton, NJ.

Wednesday, August 1st
Play-in Round
#9 Burlington Twp vs. #8 Riverside 7pm

Saturday August 4th
First Round: Best of 3 series
Burlington Twp/Riverside vs. #1 Burlington 10am
#7 Pine Barrens vs. #2 Cinnaminson 1pm
#6 Willingboro vs. #3 Delran 4pm
#5 Mt. Laurel vs. #4 Vincentown 7pm

Sunday August 5th
First Round: Best of 3 series
#1 Burlington vs. Burlington Twp/Riverside 12pm
#2 Cinnaminson vs. #7 Pine Barrens 2:30pm
#3 Delran vs. #6 Willingboro 5pm
#4 Vincentown vs. #5 Mt. Laurel 7:30pm

RVL playoffs: Riverside rolls past Burlington Twp.

August 3, 2012

Courtesy of Kevin Kolodziej, Burlington County Times

With the playoffs just around the corner, it?s officially do-or-die time for the Rancocas Valley League, and eighth-seeded Riverside is prepared.
In Thursday night?s play-in game against ninth-seeded Burlington Township, Riverside came out firing and crushed the Pirates 16-3 to secure the final postseason spot on Thursday night at Harry W. Thompson Field. ?We?ve been struggling the past few games, but I feel like everything came together today and we did what we needed to do,? first baseman/pitcher Justin Ely said.

Ely was one of the key components to Riverside?s success throughout the night. Although he was just 1-for-2 on the scorecard, he had an RBI double, walked twice, was hit by a pitch and scored all four times he reached base.
He also pitched the final inning for the Patriots ? a two-hit shutout seventh. ?At the plate, I felt like I was seeing the ball real well,? Ely said. ?I swung through on the last one, but that?ll happen from time to time. On the mound, my adrenaline got the best of me in the beginning, but I just did my best to throw strikes and let my defense do the work behind me.?

Jake Still pitched a solid five innings for Riverside. During his outing, he struck out three, allowed seven hits, and no earned runs. He was the first of three pitchers for Riverside ? Township used five.
The only three runs that the Pirates scored were the result of three errors.

Fundamental mishaps were a huge factor in the Pirates? loss, though. Township threw five wild pitches which allowed Riverside base-runners to advance. All five would eventually score.

Kodi Doyle was the only Patriot to reach base after each at-bat. He went 2-for-2 with a two-run double, a single and two walks. He also scored twice. ?We knew that this was a must-win game coming in, and we left it all out on the field,? Doyle said. ?We hit the ball better than we have been the last few games, and our pitchers played well. They only let up a few runs, so that?s a bonus. ?I feel like I saw the ball well tonight, which turned into me hitting the ball well, too. I was hitting the ball where they weren?t, and I just had a good game I guess. We?re going to try to keep it going into the weekend.?

The good news for Riverside: they?ve advanced to the playoffs. The bad news is they have to go on to play the red-hot Burlington City team led by the league?s best player, Shaun Babula. During the regular season, Riverside finished with an 11-21 record. Burlington City was 27-3-2. To say the least, it?s going to be a tough series for Riverside, but that doesn?t mean that they aren?t confident. ?We haven?t beat Burlington yet this season, but we?ve been hanging in there,? Doyle said. ?I?ve got a good feeling about this time around. We?re going to have to come out firing, and we?re definitely going to try to take the first game from them on Saturday. I think we can do it.?

RVL Playoffs, Round 1

August 4, 2012

Riverside stuns Burlington in nine-inning opener
So, now we all know why they make you actually play the games, instead of deciding them on paper. Underdog Riverside, who won the play-in game Thursday night to advance to the Rancocas Valley League playoffs, pushed across a run in the top of the ninth inning then left the tying run at third base in the bottom of the frame to post a 5-4 upset of regular-season champion Burlington.

The two teams will be back in action at high noon on Sunday, with Riverside (12-21 during the regular season) expected to go with lefty Kevin Joo against John Harvey, or possibly Carl Taylor, for the Mets, whose 27-3-2 regular-season record was the league?s best in over a decade.

Gabe Mastrangelo Jr. scored the winning run on a gutty play. With one out in the ninth he singled, after striking out three straight times. He took second on a muffed pickoff attempt and then scored when Jason Sabol?s grounder was thrown away at first base. Mastrangelo kept running and used a diving fade-away slide to narrowly beat Jon Reiner?s throw from his knees to Vinny James.

In the bottom of the frame, Sean McNeill singled and moved to third on Harvey?s sacrifice and a grounder by James. Josh Limon then drilled a line drive that was speared by second baseman Mark Demko to end the game.
Riverside scored three times off Shaun Babula in the second. With one on and two outs, a single by Tom Mann and another walk filled the bases for Demko, who singled to the opposite field for a run. Two more runs scored on a muffed pop up in short right field.

Jade Hendrick threw blanks at the Mets until the bottom of the sixth, when they scored on Zach Skidmore?s single and Paul Guerrieri?s RBI double. After loading the bases, Matt Leith relieved Hendrick and escaped with just one run on Reiner?s RBI single.

The Patriots seemingly iced the game with an odd run in the top of the seventh. Mann singled with one out and Jake Still came in to run. Bryan Bessenger hit a slow foul roller down the third base line. It was foul for 89 and a half feet, then rolled fair where Matt Fischer pounced on it but threw wildly to second. That set up Demko, who again delivered an RBI single.

But the Mets rallied against Justin Ely to score twice in the bottom of the seventh. Babula singled and McNeill walked with one out. Harvey then hit a liner to second for the apparent game-ending double play, but the ball was dropped and just one out was recorded. James then followed with an RBI single and Limon?s pop up in short right was dropped as the tying run scored. Dan Torres followed with a line drive that was snagged by Jim Caparelli for the third out.

Ely gave up three hits in three innings, and just one of the two runs he gave up was earned. Babula and James each had three hits for the Mets, and Reiner had two. Babula allowed six hits in nine innings, walked two and fanned 11. Only one of the five runs he allowed was earned.

Cinnaminson 7, Pine Barrens 4
Pitching in 92-degree humidity, Ryan Varga scattered eight hits and struck out four for the defending champs. The teams will be back in action Sunday at 2:30. Pine Barrens led 3-2 into the last of the third, when the Reds scored four times. Geoff Gilbert started things with a single and took third as brother Gregg doubled. Dennis O?Hanlon delivered an 0-2 RBI single and, after veteran Bob Osborne walked, Cameron Bahr gave the Reds a 4-3 lead with a sacrifice fly. Marty Janulis added an RBI single and Frank Sirolli had a sac fly to close things. Joe and Frank Sirolli, O?Hanlon and Janulis each had two hits, all singles except for a booming triple by Frank Sirolli in the seventh. Rob McCabe, Ronnie Krankowski and Tyler Veterano all had a pair of hits for Pine Barrens, with Veterano scoring twice. Shaun Flynn?s first-inning triple scored Shane Lynch who had walked.

Turner steps in to lift Willingboro
Plan B turned out to be a winner.

With starting pitcher Dan Hill delayed, Willingboro manager Mike Stumpf handed Jared Turner the ball. Never mind that sixth-seeded Willingboro had dropped three of four regular-season games to No. 3 Delran this season. Never mind that winning the opener of any Rancocas Valley League best-of-3 quarterfinal series is crucial. Forget that Delran ace Max Newill was on the mound.

Turner was the next option and, after a stunning upset, the winning option.
?Jared?s done a good job in relief this year. He?s good for like two innings,? Stumpf said. ?I was trying to buy a couple of innings until Dan got here. But he was rolling. After the second inning, he settled down, we made the plays, he worked fast, and we kept scoring runs so that made it easier to leave him out there. ?When we went up 5-0, I felt more comfortable giving him a little more of a leash. He showed up today and pitched well.?

The teams return to Harry W. Thompson Field at 5 p.m. for Sunday?s game 2 with Jason Ronca scheduled to start for Delran against Hill. Turner went 4 1/3 innings, yielding just four hits, walking one and striking out two. Relievers Craig Ricks and Kevin Faber gave up two hits the rest of the way to preserve the shutout. The Riverside High School graduate is about to begin his senior year at King?s College in Pennsylvania, where he pitched mostly in relief this season. ?They were swinging at a lot of pitches, got themselves out,? Turner said. ?It was good. It was a hot day so it was nice to get up there and out quickly. I was very happy to stay out there as long as I did. It was nice to get into the fifth inning."

After a scoreless first inning, Willingboro sent eight men to the plate in the top of the second. After a leadoff walk to Matt Moceri, Turner hit a bad hop ground ball up the middle to put two on. Newill got the next two outs, but Mike Loffredo smacked an opposite-field double to right, scoring Moceri. Another walk loaded the bases and Newill walked Turner home make it 2-0. Delran loaded the bags in the bottom of the inning, but Turner induced John Iacovelli into a comebacker that the pitcher turned into a 1-2-3 doubleplay. That would prove to be Delran?s greatest threat the rest of the way.

Moceri made it 3-0 when he hammered a 1-2 fastball over the left-field fence. Willingboro tacked on a pair of runs in the fourth to lead 5-0 courtesy of RBI singles by Mark Stumpf and Jon Wetzel.

In the fifth, Newill went out to warm up, but after throwing a pitch appeared to grab his elbow. Delran player-manager Rocky Petrone took the lefthander out and Newill immediately began to ice the area. His status for the rest of the playoffs is unknown. Righthander Chris Maull came on in relief, and then came the deluge.

Willingboro sent a dozen to the plate. Moceri, who got on base five times with three hits and a pair of walks, led off with a single. When the smoke cleared, Willingboro plated six runs on four hits.
Mark Stumpf, Wetzel, and Turner had two hits apiece for Willingboro. Stumpf knocked in three runs and scored two times. Moceri scored three times, and Loffredo twice. ?They beat us three times this year but I knew with our lineup we?d score some runs,? Mike Stumpf said. ?I hoped our pitching came through and luckily it did. We had a couple of mistakes in the field, but we were able to get out of it. When we got out of the second inning, bases loaded, no outs, I felt comfortable that we?d hold onto it. ?I just kept telling them, ?Score more runs.? Every inning we just kept the pressure on, which we haven?t done this year a lot. We?d score early and fall asleep, and they?d come back. It?s good to get the win.?

On a day when Riverside stunned regular-season champion Burlington in their quarterfinal opener, Willingboro provided another reminder that the playoffs are a whole new season. ?We were missing a couple of guys during some of those (regular season) games,? Moceri said. ?Once we have the whole team here, we usually play pretty well. (We will) try to come out and do the same thing, hopefully, tomorrow. I don?t think it will be 11-0, but hopefully we can get something done, hit the ball and pitch well again.?

Vincentown 6, Mount Laurel 5 (8)
Greg Miller?s single in the bottom of the eighth inning scored Sam Pepper, who had walked, and lifted host Vincentown to an opening victory over Mount Laurel. The teams will be back in action Sunday night at 7:30.
Mount Laurel took an early 2-0 lead on a two-run home run by John Burns. The lead built up to 5-2 going to the bottom of the sixth, when V-town?s Jesse Pappler delivered a two-run double. Joe Argow was the starter for the Merchants, but reliever Kevin Carty got the victory. Mike Cooper started for Mount Laurel, with Trevor Sotell relieving and taking the loss.

RVL Playoffs, Round 1, Game 2

August 5, 2012

Burlington 2, Riverside 0

Taylor's shutout keeps Burlington's hopes alive
Carl Taylor was an unknown to many of the Riverside players. The Burlington Mets pitcher has a job these days and is not as available as he once was. But the Temple graduate was called on Sunday with Burlington facing a do-or-die game and he delivered a four-hit shutout as the Mets won 2-0 at Harry W. Thompson Field.

Because of Sunday night?s rain, the two teams will meet Tuesday night at 7:30 at Harry W. Thompson Field in the deciding third game. John Harvey should start for the Mets. For the Patriots, who were winless in 2010 before pulling one of the great upsets in RVL playoff history in Saturday?s opener, will choose from Brett Knazek, Justin Ely, Donny Bunce, Jake Still, Matt Leith and Gabe Mastrangelo Sr., or they could go back to first-game starter Jade Hendrick.

Taylor, who was 4-1 during the regular season with a 1.31 ERA, walked two and struck out five. He was matched almost pitch-for-pitch by Riverside?s Kevin Joo, who allowed just six hits, walking two and striking out two. But Burlington reached him for single runs in the fourth and fifth innings.
The first run came on a single by Paul Guerrieri, a double Vinny James and Josh Limon?s grounder, which Bryan Bessenger made a spectacular play to get the out. In the next inning Shaun Babula singled, Vince Corbi doubled and Zach Skidmore delivered a one-out sacrifice fly to deep center.

After that it was up to Taylor, who took a two-hitter into the fifth inning. A one-out error, a single by Eric Oliver (a line drive off Taylor?s arm) and a walk loaded the bases with two outs for Brett Knazek. The league?s third-leading home run hitter drilled a couple of long fouls before lining out to right fielder Garrett Mull.

But the suspense wasn?t done. Jim Caparelli lead off the seventh with a single and Still came in to run. After an out, Oliver drilled a liner to right center. Babula had been shading him toward left-center and the ball was curving away from him. But the center fielder made a diving back-handed catch, then recovered and threw out Still before he could get back to first, ending the game. ?It?s real comforting knowing (Babula) is out there in center field,? Taylor said. ?He?s so fast, it?s unbelievable. The guy is phenomenal, a freak of nature. At his age, to be that fast . . . if it?s in the air, I know he?s got it.?

Notes: Jon Reiner had two hits for the Mets. . . . Babula has been on base seven times in nine at-bats, but has no stolen bases. That?s a quiet tip of the hat to Joe Knazek, Riverside?s catcher. . . . Gabe Mastrangelo Jr. reached third in the first inning on an error and two stolen bases.


For Janulis and Cinnaminson, it's all about family
If you play for the Cinnaminson Reds, you learn early on that family matters. And veteran Matt Janulis made that message clear after his two-run home run ignited a 10-run rally that propelled the Reds to a 13-3 win over the Pine Barron Phantoms, clinching their Rancocas Valley League best-of-three quarterfinal series. ?That?s what our team is all about, it?s about family,? Janulis said. ?At yesterday?s game, we had players from 10 to 15 years ago come out and watch us play. Once you play for this team you?re a member for life.?

The Cinnaminson alums can be proud of how their current Reds grinded out Sunday?s victory, which advanced them to the semifinals later in the week.
The game was actually closer than the final score would indicate. Cinnaminson took a one-run lead in the top of the second on Matt Cann?s sacrifice fly after back-to-back singles by Greg Gilbert and Dennis O?Hanlan. But the Phantoms retaliated with their only runs of the game in the bottom of the inning.

Rich Powelson and Mike Lamola singled and, after a strikeout, Powelson scored on Connor Arsenault?s base hit. After another strikeout, Cinnaminson starter Jim Goodwin hit Rob McCabe to load the bases and then committed the Reds' only error of the game. His pickoff throw sailed away from third baseman O?Hanlan and two unearned runs scored. ?I made a bad decision, but I didn?t let it bother me,? Goodwin said. ?I just had to bare down and knew my teammates would pick me up.?

They did so in the top of the fifth. With one out, Pine Barron starter Dylan Johannick walked Joe Sirroli and John Dockins who scored to tie the game at 3 on Mike Osborne?s single and Geoff Gilbert?s sacrifice fly.
?We are a team that knows how to play and when to strike in the playoffs,? said Cinnaminson manager Brett Miller, and his team proved that point in the sixth inning.

The Reds rudely welcomed reliever Ron Krankowski, the starter on Saturday, with a single by Cameron Bahr and the home run to left by Janulis that turned the momentum completely in the Reds' favor. After another double by Sirroli, Pine Barrens manager Gerry Lamola inserted John Veterano who, after a single by Dockins, induced a run-scoring double play that made the score 6-3. It looked like the damage would end there, but a walk and an error opened the flood gates for seven more unearned runs. ?It?s a disappointing end to what was a very good season for us," Lamola said. "But we have a young team and this will definitely be a learning experience for our players.?

?My curve ball was working well and I was able to locate my fastball,? said Goodwin, who hurled a complete game and struck out four with one walk. ?But I got my second wind after Matt (Janulis) hit that home run.?
Apparently this isn?t the first time Goodwin has received assistance from Janulis.
?I?ve known Jimbo (Goodwin) a long time and I used to work with him when he was in high school,? Janulis said. ?When he was ready to play RVL, I made sure he came with us. We wanted him in the family.?

For Janulis, there?s just one more piece of business that fulfills his 5-year-old son?s request in the process. ?He asked me if I?m gonna hit a home run for him today,? a grinning Janulis said. ?I can?t wait to show the ball to him and my daughter when I get home.?

Like we said, when you play Cinnaminson baseball, family matters.

RVL Playoffs, Round 1, Game 2

August 6, 2012

Mt. Laurel 3, Vincentown 1

Mount Laurel tops V-town behind Schaefer
There?s nothing like chemistry between batterymates, especially when you?re locked in a pitcher?s duel. Mount Laurel used the formula of pitcher Andrew Schaefer and catcher John Burns to conjure up a 3-1 victory over Vincentown in Monday night?s RVL playoff quarterfinal game. ?They?re college teammates (at Gwynedd-Mercy), so they know each other so well,? said Mount Laurel manager Dean Johnson, whose team will face Vincentown again on Thursday night, 7:30, in the decisive third game. ?They don?t shake each other off; they know what?s coming and they know what to do.?

The duo soon changed their approach after a shaky start to the game. Vincentown scored first on Sam Pepper?s one-out home run that sailed over the scoreboard in right. That shot rattled the righty Schaefer, who promptly walked Johnny Bujanowski, gave up a double to Greg Miller and another walk to Jesse Pappler to load the bases. But Schaefer gained his composure by getting the next two batters on a strikeout and a fly ball to end the threat. ?They hit my fastball pretty good in the first inning and I got a few pitches up,? Schaefer said, ?so I started working backward in the count. I threw a lot of curve balls and changeups with good location on my fast ball.?

Mount Laurel got even in the bottom of the second inning. Back-to-back singles by Burns and Connor Hall, together with a sacrifice by Trevor Sotell, put two runners in scoring position. Cole Pewor?s grounder went through the legs of the first baseman, scoring Burns. But Vincentown?s Ian Thomas minimized the damage by throwing a strike from right field to nail Hall at the plate.

Mount Laurel broke the deadlock in the bottom of the sixth. After a brilliant defensive play by third baseman Greg Miller robbed Brandon Barnes of a double down the left field line, Matt Szukics countered with a ringing double off the right-field fence. Tough-luck losing pitcher Zeke Boren then issued a walk to Bryan Black and a single to Mike Tobia, loading the sacks. It appeared that Boren would get out of the inning by inducing a strike out, but Burns lofted a 1-1 curve to right field, plating two runs and sealing the win for Mount Laurel.

Both pitchers threw complete games: Boren yielded two earned runs with eight strikeouts with one walk; Schaefer had three Ks and issued five walks and the one earned run. ?We?ll come back strong on Wednesday,? Vincentown manager Harry Thompson said. ?We?re the best hitting team in the league and we had a chance to put the game away in the first inning.?

Delran 4, Willingboro 2

In the completion of Sunday?s rain-delayed quarterfinal, Delran got some clutch pitching from Eric Gertie to hold off Willingboro and square their series at one game each. The decisive game will be Wednesday night, 7:30, at Harry W. Thompson Field. The game had been suspended with Delran leading 4-1 in the bottom of the sixth, with two outs and Dan Hill on first. Jamie Schwantes and Jared Turner (RBI) had singles to score Hill, but Gertie got a strikeout to end that threat. In the last of the seventh, a two-out single by Kellen Peter brought the tying run to the plate, but Gertie again got a strikeout, to earn the save for Jason Ronca.

RVL Playoffs, Round 1, Game 3

August 7, 2012


Harvey gives Burlington a win
John Harvey didn?t mind the pressure. In fact, he quite enjoyed it.
With the series tied at one game apiece, the Burlington Mets? third pitcher took the mound in the rubber match and propelled the Mets to a 12-4 blowout win over Riverside at Harry W. Thompson Field to advance to the next round of the Rancocas Valley League playoffs. ?Yeah, I told Keith (Babula) that I?d be happy to pitch in whatever game he wanted me to go in,? Harvey said. ?I knew all the guys were counting on me.?

Harvey made it through the first four innings without giving up a hit. He allowed just two baserunners. Both reached on walks. In the fifth inning, he ran into some trouble. After Joe Knazek reached on a strikeout pitch that got away, Jason Sabol hit a big two-run homer and Riverside scored one more in the fifth and added another in the sixth. But the game was never really in doubt. In all, Harvey struck out 12 batters, 11 of which came on a swinging third strike. ?My game relies on hitting that outside corner,? Harvey said. ?I was getting that call and it went well.?

Riverside took the first game of the best-of-three series against the regular-season champion Mets. Riverside beat Burlington 5-4 in nine innings on Saturday. Burlington responded with a 2-0 win on Sunday to set up the rubber match. With Shaun Babula and Carl Taylor already used during the series, Harvey was called upon in the third game and didn?t disappoint. ?We knew we had to come to play today,? Harvey said. ?We played in two really close games and we knew we just had to play the way we were capable of.?

The Burlington pitcher got plenty of help from his offense on Tuesday night too. Babula went 2-for-4 with three runs scored. Matt Fischer went 2-for-2 with two runs scored and an RBI. Garrett Mull went 2-for-2 with two runs scored and a no-doubt-about-it homer to left field in the third inning. The Burlington offense scored 12 runs after scoring just six in the first two games. They did their damage on offense without much contribution from the league?s leading batter, Paul Guerrieri, who went 0-for-4 in the cleanup spot. Veteran third baseman Jeff Vitale went 3-for-4 with a run knocked in and Vinnie James hit a double and scored two runs.

After scoring one in the first inning, the Mets had a breakout second against Riverside starter Jake Still. After a leadoff double by James, Fischer hit a single to score him. Mull walked and Vitale knocked him in. Babula reached on a fielder?s choice and Dan Graham knocked him in with a single.

Burlington added three runs in the third inning, two in the fourth and two in the fifth. ?We hit the ball well today,? Harvey said. ?We haven?t been hitting very well, so it felt good to show what we can do.?

RVL Playoffs, Round 1, Game 3

August 8, 2012


Delran advances to RVL semifinals

It was a steep uphill climb for Delran, but they refused to shy away from the challenge. After dropping the first game of the Rancocas Valley League quarterfinals, 11-0 to Willingboro, Delran had no other option but to win the next two games if they wanted to keep their playoffs hope alive.

Delran did just that. Seeded third, Delran evened the series with a 4-2 victory Monday night, completing a game suspended Sunday by a thunderstorm. The icing on the cake was a nail-biting 6-5 win Wednesday. Delran advances to the semifinals against No. 2 seed Cinnaminson. The semis, like the first round, are best-of-three. ?I was talking to a bunch of the older guys who used to play on this team, and I don?t think that we?ve ever lost in a best-of-three in the first round before, so I was feeling a lot of pressure; especially from a managerial standpoint,? Delran player/manager Rocky Petrone said. ?The guys really responded, though, and it feels good to get the win.?

Delran also had to play catch-up from the start Wednesday. In the top of the first inning, Willingboro got out to a 2-0 lead when cleanup hitter Matt Moceri crushed a home run over the left field fence at Harry W. Thompson Field. Moceri hit two home runs in the series.

Delran responded with three runs in the bottom of the first and added another in the second to make the score 4-2 after two innings.
However, No. 6 seed Willingboro answered in the third when Jon Wetzel blasted a solo shot over the fence in right to bring his squad within one. Three batters later, center fielder Rick Stronski followed in Wetzel?s footsteps, hitting a two-run homer to give Willingboro a 5-4 lead.

Once again, Delran found itself playing from behind, but found a spark from nine-hole hitter and RVL rookie T.J. Maiorino. He tied the game at five in the bottom of the third, and later gave his team the winning run with a two-out line drive just over ?Boro shortstop Ed Kaminski?s glove. ?I?ve been in a slump the past couple of weeks, so it?s good to just hit the ball hard,? Maiorino said. ?I was hoping that last one would fall, and it did. This is my first year in the league, too, so it feels good to help these guys out and get them to the next round. ?It was a big night, not only for me, but for the team, because that first game of the series was just a bad game all around.?

Eric Gertie, who finished Monday?s win, was given the start on the hump for Delran and did not disappoint. Although he gave up all five runs on three home runs, he stepped up in the end.

After Stronski?s homer, Gertie retired the next seven batters. He wound up going the distance Wednesday and did not let up another hit. In the final inning, Gertie tallied two of his six strikeouts ? both swinging. ?After I gave up all those home runs, I feel like I really just started to settle in,? Gertie said. ?I felt good in those last few innings and just did my best to keep us in the game. Willingboro?s a tough team, and they can really hit the ball, but it?s great that we?re in the next round.?

RVL Playoffs, Round 1, Game 3

August 9, 2012

Merchants round out RVL final four

It?s not every day that a starting pitcher gets a walk-off RBI. Sam Pepper did it Thursday night. After striking out 11 in six innings, Pepper came up in the bottom of the seventh with one out and runners on first and second. The score was tied at one apiece, but not for long.

Pepper lined a single to center, scoring Zeke Boren from second to give the Vincentown Merchants a 2-1 victory over Mount Laurel in the deciding game of their best-of-three Rancocas Valley League playoff series.

Vincentown completes the field for the RVL semifinals, which are scheduled to start Saturday with a doubleheader at Harry W. Thompson Field. The Merchants will meet Burlington at 7 p.m. in the nightcap after defending champion Cinnaminson takes on Delran at 4. ?In that situation, I had a 3-1 count, got a pitch to hit and capitalized,? Pepper said. ?I?m just excited to get to the next round.?

He also claims that his nerves did not get to him during his final at-bat. ?I had no pressure on me whatsoever ? I?ve got Greg Miller hitting behind me,? Pepper said.

Miller, who hit .354 throughout the regular season, scored the first run of the game in the first on a single by Stefan Kancylarz. Miller finished 0-for-3 but relieved Pepper in the top of the seventh and earned the win with a 1-2-3 frame with three Ks. ?I?m just happy that I could come out and perform well for the team,? Miller said. ?Pepper did a great job shutting them down. We couldn?t get the bats going, but, for some reason, we?ve had that late magic, and it?s good to see it back.?

Mount Laurel scored its run in the top of the first. John Burns doubled to center, scoring Brian Black from first. From there on out, they struggled to send their men on base home, and left six on ? stranding two at second and one at third. They did get a quality start out of Matt Szukics. Although a loss was added to his resume, he pitched the entire game without walking anyone. He threw strikes and trusted his defense, something that worked out well until the final inning.

To end the fourth, right fielder Connor Hall gunned out a Vincentown runner at second. Black did the same in the sixth, from the fence in deep center.
Mount Laurel was all smiles in the dugout following the game as they congratulated each other on a good season and said their goodbyes for the summer. ?My guys battled all year, and they stepped it up tonight,? manager Dean Johnson said. ?We went up against some really good pitching, but I think if we executed a little bit better, we would?ve had a different outcome. ?That said, from the top of the lineup to the bottom of the lineup, I can?t say enough about these guys? effort.?

Vincentown moves on and will face regular-season champion Burlington. Although the Mets (29-4-2) have lost just four games all season, this is the scenario Vincentown sought. One of those losses and one of the ties was to the Merchants. ?We wanted Burlington,? Miller said. ?We?re glad we got them. Now it?s time for Vincentown to do some damage, get back into the finals, and show what we can do.?

RVL Playoffs, Semi-Finals, Game 1

August 11, 2012

RVL playoffs: Redemption sweet for Cinnaminson's Gilbert

Greg Gilbert was looking for a little redemption during a six-run rally Saturday that propelled the Cinnaminson Reds to an 11-3 win over Delran in the opening game in their Rancocas Valley League semifinal series. In the top of the third, one-out singles by Kyle Ballay and Rocky Petrone put runners on the corners for Delran. Cleanup hitter Mark Wickersham?s potential double-play ground ball went through the wickets of Gilbert, scoring Ballay, and halving the Reds? lead at that point in the game 2-1. ?Usually that?s a play I make in my sleep,? Gilbert said. ?That was a routine double play ball and I kinda just booted it.?

Cinnaminson starter Nick Melchiorre was able to work out of the jam with a fielder?s choice grounder and a strikeout. The Reds had taken the early lead with single runs in the first two innings off lefty Max Newill. Joe Sirolli walked, went to second when Mike Osborne was hit by a pitch, and scored on Geoff Gilbert?s single. Bob Osborne?s solo shot to left to open the second inning put the Reds up by a pair of runs.

But for Greg Gilbert and his next at-bat in the bottom of the fourth . . . redemption. ?Yeah, I was mad, and I had that play in the back of my mind,? said Gilbert, who launched a 2-0 fastball for a home run to left. ?I got that pitch inside and I did what I had to do. I wiped the slate clean on that (home run).?

And Cinnaminson wasn?t finished there. Dennis O?Hanlan?s single chased Newill; so the Reds rudely hammered Wickersham. After recording an out on runner interference, Matt Janulis singled and so did Chris Burns to plate O?Hanlan. A two-out double by Sirolli scored Janulis, and two more runs came in on Mike Osborne?s single.

Geoff Gilbert then recorded his second of three hits, and Greg Gilbert got his second hit of the inning that scored Osborne for an 8-1 advantage.
Cinnaminson padded its lead, after two quick outs in the sixth, by taking advantage of Wickersom?s loss of command. The righty walked in two runs and allowed an RBI single by Tim Wasco. ?We had our chances early, bases loaded in the first, if someone gets a hit there . . . ? said Delran player/manager Rocky Petrone, who was on base three out of four times with two hits and a walk. ?. . . the game could have gone differently.?

Despite the loss, Petrone is confident his team can rebound in Sunday?s second game, at 4 p.m.. ?We?re gonna throw (Jason) Ronca and, with him on the mound, I?m confident we can get back in it,? he said.
Melchiorre, who struggled early and late, needed 133 pitches to register a complete game. ?I didn?t realize I had thrown that many pitches,? Melchiorre said. ?My arm was begging for that double play ball to end the game.?

Cinnaminson manager Brett Miller was pleased with the game?s outcome, but knows this series is far from over. ?This was a game we needed cause they probably got Ronca going in Game 2,? Miller said. ?He?s one of the top pitchers in the league every year. With him throwing, you never know what?s going to happen. ?(Delran) got rolled on in Game One (of the quarterfinals) and came back to win the series, so we?re not looking past them by any means. We know we still got another game to win.?

RVL Notebook

August 13, 2012

This one was truly a game for the ages
One coach called it ?a game for the ages.? And that wasn?t the winning coach. Others agreed, via text messages and emails, with the assessment of Saturday night?s Rancocas Valley League semifinal between the Burlington Mets and the Vincentown Merchants. The two powerhouses slugged it out for 11 innings before Vincentown scored five times in the 12th and held on for an 8-6 victory.

Veterans Shaun Babula and Zeke Boren were the starters. The finishers were Babula and Sam Pepper, with Vincentown also using Kevin Carty and Greg Miller. Miller?s two-run first-inning homer was the Merchants? only earned runs until the 12th. Zack Skidmore had two RBIs and Paul Guerrieri one, with Skidmore?s seventh-inning single extending the game to extra innings.
Vincentown threatened in the ninth when Danny Williams and Pepper reached with none out. But Babula picked off Pepper and, following a walk to Miller, Jesse Pappler drilled a shot that third baseman Jeff Vitale made a diving grab of and turned into a 5-4 double play.

The Merchants loaded the bases with one out in the 11th, and Miller lofted a fly ball to short right field. Josh Limon made a diving attempt for the catch, but the ball came out when he hit the ground. Skidmore was right there, and his throw home beat Carty, who?d gone back to tag up.
Finally in the 12th, Babula ran out of gas. Johnny Bujanowski was credited with a double and Ian Thomas walked. After a sacrifice bunt, Carty delivered the go-ahead run with a single. A walk and a fly out set up the classic Babula vs. Pepper confrontation. The count went to 3-1, then Pepper fouled off three pitches before unloaded a grand-slam homer.

Burlington threatened in its half on doubles by Skidmore and Vinny James, who scored on pinch-hitter Jon Reiner?s single. Pepper then relieved Miller, who had gone 4+ innings, and walked two to load the bases. Pedro Perez reached on an error to bring in one run, but Pepper reached back and got two strikeouts, both looking, to end the wild game.

One coach called it ?a game for the ages.? And that wasn?t the winning coach. Others agreed, via text messages and emails, with the assessment of Saturday night?s Rancocas Valley League semifinal between the Burlington Mets and the Vincentown Merchants.
The two powerhouses slugged it out for 11 innings before Vincentown scored five times in the 12th and held on for an 8-6 victory.

Veterans Shaun Babula and Zeke Boren were the starters. The finishers were Babula and Sam Pepper, with Vincentown also using Kevin Carty and Greg Miller.
Miller?s two-run first-inning homer was the Merchants? only earned runs until the 12th. Zack Skidmore had two RBIs and Paul Guerrieri one, with Skidmore?s seventh-inning single extending the game to extra innings.
Vincentown threatened in the ninth when Danny Williams and Pepper reached with none out. But Babula picked off Pepper and, following a walk to Miller, Jesse Pappler drilled a shot that third baseman Jeff Vitale made a diving grab of and turned into a 5-4 double play.
The Merchants loaded the bases with one out in the 11th, and Miller lofted a fly ball to short right field. Josh Limon made a diving attempt for the catch, but the ball came out when he hit the ground. Skidmore was right there, and his throw home beat Carty, who?d gone back to tag up.
Finally in the 12th, Babula ran out of gas. Johnny Bujanowski was credited with a double and Ian Thomas walked. After a sacrifice bunt, Carty delivered the go-ahead run with a single. A walk and a fly out set up the classic Babula vs. Pepper confrontation. The count went to 3-1, then Pepper fouled off three pitches before unloaded a grand-slam homer.
Burlington threatened in its half on doubles by Skidmore and Vinny James, who scored on pinch-hitter Jon Reiner?s single. Pepper then relieved Miller, who had gone 4+ innings, and walked two to load the bases. Pedro Perez reached on an error to bring in one run, but Pepper reached back and got two strikeouts, both looking, to end the wild game.

Surprise visitor
Hot dog sales have been brisk at Harry W. Thompson Field during the Rancocas Valley League playoffs, with well over 100 a night. So, too, have been purchases of funnel cakes, cinnamon twists and cold drinks of every kind.

The crowds have also been noticeably larger than in past years. And, sitting quietly, almost anonymously, in his folding chair behind home plate at Tuesday?s decisive third game of the Burlington-Riverside quarterfinal, was Steve (Tooter) Braun.

Braun, born in Trenton and graduated from Hopewell Valley, was a draft pick of the Minnesota Twins in 1966 and made it to the big league team in 1971. He played 15 years, and was a member of the 1982 St. Louis Cardinals team that won the World Series.

He hit .302 with 11 home runs in 1975 for the Twins and, after playing with three other teams, finished his career in St. Louis after the 1985 season with a .271 career batting average and 52 homers. He spent most of the past 27 years as a hitting coach with the Cardinals, Red Sox and Yankees. ?Jeff (Vitale of the Mets) is a good friend and does a lot of clinics and camps with me,? Braun said. ?He called me up and said if I wasn?t doing anything tonight that he had a do-or-die game. I?ve been out here before, and I love coming to these games. I brought my chair and here I am. This is a really good league, with a lot of good players. I love this.?

Braun, 64, has a special affection for Vitale. ?He?s 51 and look how he plays, diving into bases, always upbeat,? Braun said. ?When he gives his talks at my camps, it?s always one of the highlights. He?s got a million stories. Did he ever tell you the one about how he got into the Subway Series (2000, between Yankees and Mets)? I don?t want to spoil it, but ask him. It?s a classic.?

Vitale obviously wanted to show Braun that he, too, listens at the clinics when the old hitting coach talks. He banged out three hits and lined into a double play. Braun never played in the RVL, but he was a veteran of the old Tri-County League in northwest Jersey, playing for the Lambertville Indians.

RVL Playoffs, Semi-Finals, Game 2


Vincentown ousts Burlington

After the Vincentown Merchants defeated Mount Laurel to advance to the semifinals of the Rancocas Valley League playoffs, they weren?t only excited about the win. They were equally excited that they would be matched up against the Burlington Mets. It?s a little strange that they wanted to play Burlington, seeing as the Mets compiled the league?s best record this season (27-3-2), but the Merchants were confident. Rightfully so, it turns out.

Vincentown beat Burlington 17-3 Sunday night at Harry W. Thompson Field to complete a two-game sweep and advance to the RVL finals. They will face the winner of Delran and Cinnaminson, who play their third and final game Monday night. ?We played (Burlington) well in the regular season, and we were confident coming in here,? left fielder Sam Pepper said. ?We hit as a team tonight, and we really haven?t done that all year. It just goes to show that when we play as a team, good things happen. ?I expected us to play well, but I honestly did not expect to win by 14.?

Pepper went 3-for-5 with a two-RBI double, but he wasn?t the only one to get on base. In fact, every batter in Vincentown?s lineup got at least one hit. To lead off the fourth, Stefan Kancylarz crushed a solo home run to right field. Their No. 9 hitter, Zeke Boren, went 3-for-4 with a double, two ribbies and two runs scored.

Although the scorecard says he was just 2-for-2, Johnny Bujanowski reached base all five times; he walked twice, reached on an error, stole two bases, and hit a triple with the bases loaded in the third ? an inning in which the Merchants tallied 10 runs.

Greg Miller also reached base all five times he was up. He went 3-for-3 with a double, three RBIs, scored three runs and was hit by two pitches. ?We really swung the bats well and just kept on going with it,? Miller said. ?This is a huge confidence boost for us heading into the championship. We know we can come out and swing the bats. But we really need to rest some arms so we can get some guys healthy.?

Getting the start on the mound for the Merchants was Joe Argow, who pitched a complete game with two strikeouts. He gave up 10 hits, but only one of which was an extra-baser -? Matt Fischer?s two-run double in the seventh.
?Joe gave us a great outing and we really needed it,? Miller said. ?We scored runs, and he would just come out and give us shut-down innings.?
Plain and simple, it just wasn?t Burlington?s night. They did manage to keep it close early on, however, and tied the game at 1 when Fischer hit a bases-loaded infield single. But they were unable to keep it going, and left the bases loaded to end the frame.

The biggest play of the night for the Mets came on the defensive end when right fielder Garrett Mull made an all-out, full-extension diving catch in the second which saved a run from scoring, and delayed the damage that would come soon thereafter. ?It was early in the game, and I was just trying to make a play to keep some runs off of the board,? Mull said. ?It?s a tough loss and I would have liked it to be a little bit closer. But Vincentown?s a good team.?

RVL Playoffs, Semi-Finals, Game 3

August 13, 2012

Delran advances to RVL finals

It?s been a play-from-behind postseason for Delran. Monday night was no different. For the second straight series, Delran (No. 3 seed) has rallied from a loss in Game 1 to advance to the next round of the Rancocas Valley League playoffs. This time, Delran earned a spot in the RVL championship series with a convincing 10-3 victory over No. 2 seed Cinnaminson at Harry W. Thompson Field.

Delran will meet No. 4 seed Vincentown in the finals, which are best-of-five. The first round and semifinals are best-of-three.
The title series is scheduled to begin Wednesday. All games are 7:30 p.m. at Harry W. Thompson Field. ?Our guys came out and hit the ball great tonight,? Delran player/manager Rocky Petrone said. ?We had some big plays there at the end to keep the game out of reach for them. It was a lot of fun.?

One of those plays in which Petrone was referring to was when third baseman Dan George crushed a ball to deep right center for a bases-clearing, three-run triple in the seventh inning. It was his second stand-up triple of the game, both of which were hit to essentially the same spot.

It was redemption, too. In the fourth, George committed two errors, one of which eventually cost his team a run. The June graduate of Delran High School stepped up when it mattered, though, and finished 3-for-4 with three RBIs and two runs scored. ?Those were some rough plays for me early on,? George said. ?It?s great to help these guys win, because I?m a young player. I love playing with these guys, these guys are the best, and it?s great to win.?

Eric Gertie took the mound for Delran and did not disappoint. He threw all seven innings, allowed just two earned runs and struck out four, including the final out to seal Delran?s berth in the finals. ?I was pretty confident with (Eric) Gertie on the mound,? Petrone said. ?He usually pitches well against Cinnaminson for some reason. They?re a good team, but he really steps it up against them.?

Cinnaminson did get on the board first, however, when Mike Osborne singled to score Joe Sirolli in the bottom of the first. The following frame, Delran?s Rex Workman crushed the very first pitch over the fence in left center to even the score. Delran added two runs each in the third and fourth innings to extend their lead to 5-1.

Cinnaminson attempted a comeback in the bottom half of the fourth when Frank Sirolli hit an RBI single and crossed home two batters later on a Greg Gilbert single. Nonetheless, Delran proved to be too tough for the Reds in the end and scored five more in the seventh to essentially put the icing on the cake.

Red-hot Vincentown awaits. The Merchants swept No. 1 seed Burlington in their semifinal series. ?It?s going to be tough, but there?s going to be some good games,? George said. ?Hopefully we?ll have (starting pitchers) Max (Newill) and (Jason) Ronca back, and they?ll keep pitching as well as they?ve been. Hopefully we?ll be able to hit Vincentown?s pitching, too.?

RVL Finals Preview: Delran vs. Vincentown

August 15, 2012

Vincentown will be looking to win its first Rancocas Valley League championship since 2003 when it hosts Delran on Wednesday night, 7:30, at Harry W. Thompson Field.

Ironically, Vincentown finished fourth during the regular season in 2003, the same spot it held this summer. Delran finished third this season.
The finals will be best-of-five, with games Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. They?ll take Saturday off, then resume with Games 4 and 5, if necessary, Sunday and Monday. All games will be at Harry W. Thompson Field, with 7:30 starts.

The teams met four times during the regular season, each winning twice. Delran won the first two meetings 11-1 and 10-3. Vincentown then posted 12-4 and 5-3 victories.

Delran, seeking its first crown since winning successive titles in 2007-08, advanced with series victories over Willingboro and Cinnaminson. In both cases, Delran dropped Game 1 in the best-of-three before rebounding in Games 2 and 3. Delran is 22-15-1 overall.

Vincentown (22-13-1) needed a third game to eliminate Mount Laurel, then swept regular-season champion Burlington in the semifinals. The Merchants outlasted the Mets in Game 1, 8-6 in 12 innings, then earned their finals berth with a 17-3 win.

RVL FINALS: Vincentown bats come alive in win

August 15, 2012

It was only a matter of time. The Vincentown bats were virtually silent through five innings of play Wednesday. Delran veteran Max Newill held them to six hits and just two runs through those first five innings.
After Stefan Kancylarz led off the sixth with a single, Newill?s night was over and so was Delran?s.

Vincentown had six hits in the sixth inning, scored nine runs and turned a one-run deficit into a runaway victory in an 11-4 win in the first game of the best-of-five Rancocas Valley League championship series. ?Eventually,? said Zeke Boren, who picked up the win for Vincentown and even hit an RBI single in that important sixth inning. ?I was happy we were finally able to get some hits. We just started hitting the ball. It?s been happening a lot in the sixth inning.?

Delran actually had a 3-2 lead entering the top of the sixth inning before Vincentown put up the nine-spot, mostly on relief guy Mark Wickersham. Newill gutted out a nice performance even with a bone spur in his throwing elbow. ?It?s tough,? Delran player/manager Rocky Petrone said. ?I just feel like we wasted a good outing by Max.?

Boren pitched five innings, giving up five hits and three runs. He also went 2-for-4 with a run scored and an RBI. But Boren was caught up in a pitchers? duel with Newill for most of the game. ?He knows how to pitch,? Boren said of Newill. ?He just knows how to pitch.?

In the all-important sixth inning, after Kancylarz led off with a single, John Bujanowski Jr. walked. After a flyout for the first out, Kevin Carty (in the eight-hole) hit an RBI double, which was followed by Boren?s double.

Leadoff guy Dan Williams walked and was brought home on a Sam Pepper two-run triple. Later in the inning, after Vincentown had already batted around, Mike Ferrara hit another two-run double for some extra insurance.
Before the sixth inning, Vincentown had two runs on six hits. In the sixth inning, Vincentown (23-13-1) had nine runs on six hits, which included four extra-base hits.

This isn?t the first time Delran (22-16-1) has been blown out in the first game of a playoff series. In fact, it?s become all too familiar. It lost the first game in the first series 11-0 to Willingboro and came back to win the next two.

In the semifinals, Delran lost 11-3 to Cinnaminson before winning the next two games to advance to the finals. Now they?ve lost 11-4 in the first game of the championship series. Can they do it again? ?Yeah,? Petrone said. ?We?ve been there before.?

Vincentown and Delran will meet for Game 2 of the best-of-five series Thursday night, again at Harry W. Thompson field, at 7:30. Game 3 will be Friday, same time, same place.

If a Game 4 is needed, Saturday will be an off day and the series will pick up on Sunday, again at Harry W. Thompson field.

RVL FINALS: Vincentown takes 2-0 lead in RVL finals

August 16, 2012

Greg Miller couldn?t run. Stefan Kancylarz made it so he didn?t have to.
After Miller tweaked his hamstring running out an errant throw to first base just two batters before, Kancylarz smashed a no-doubt-about-it home run over the scoreboard in right field in the third inning of Vincentown?s 7-0 win over Delran in Game 2 of the Rancocas Valley League championship series Thursday night at Harry W. Thompson Field. ?I was so happy,? Miller said, laughing. ?I didn?t know if I would be able to run if he hit it in the gap.?

With the win, Vincentown took a 2-0 series lead and moved within one win of capturing its first RVL championship since 2003. The Merchants (24-13-1) will try to close it out Friday night at 7:30, back at Harry W. Thompson Field. Kancylarz?s homer was more than enough offense for Vincentown starter Sam Pepper.

Pepper was dealing. He picked up the win with a complete-game two-hit shutout. He had nine strikeouts, one walk and one hit batter. He didn?t give up his first hit until the fifth inning, when Dan George hit a line-drive single. Before that, Pepper allowed just one baserunner on a walk in the first inning. He retired the side in the second, third, fourth and sixth innings. ?Sammy always does this,? Kancylarz said. ?He?s our Superman. He does it all.?

Pepper gave up the only two hits (both singles) to George. The ball left the infield just two times ? two singles and one flyout. ?Sammy, whenever we have a big game,? Williams said. ?He wants the ball. And he pitched a great game tonight.?

Pepper got 11 outs by way of groundout, which was his plan. He said he had too many strikeouts in the first round of the playoffs and his pitch count got too high. On Thursday, he focused on getting ground balls. ?We have an All-America infield,? he said. ?I just had to give (Delran) pitches to hit and I knew my guys behind me would make the plays.?

In the third inning, Pepper hit a line-drive single with one out in the third before Miller reached on a throwing error. Miller pulled up limp on his sprint to first but stayed in the game. After Pepper scored on a sac fly, Kancylarz, the shortstop, crushed the ball deep over the right field fence. No doubt about it. ?It felt really good off the bat,? Kancylarz said. ?It was just a fastball. I knew I got it.? ?That was huge,? Pepper said of Kancylarz?s homer. ?If we can get a few runs on (Delran starter Jason Ronca) we knew it would get to him a little bit.?

Vincentown outhit Delran 7-2 on Thursday and has outhit Delran 19-8 in the first two games of the series.

Ronca pitched fairly well but a few errors and uncharacteristically misplayed balls in the outfield didn?t do him any favors. In the all-important third inning, all three Vincentown runs were unearned. In that third inning was when Williams came up limp. He played a few more innings and came out in the bottom of the sixth. He may or may not be available for Game 3. He was hobbling after the game because of the hamstring tweak.

Vincentown won Game 1 11-4, powered by a nine-run sixth inning that erased a 3-2 deficit. If Delran (22-17-1) can stave off elimination Friday, Game 4 would be Sunday night, 7:30, at Harry W. Thompson Field.

RVL FINALS: Vincentown claims RVL crown

August 18, 2012

Winning championships never gets old. And for anyone that believes otherwise, all one had to do was look at the effervescent grin on Harry Thompson?s face last night for proof. Behind a dominant outing from starter Joe Argow and another well-balanced offensive onslaught, Vincetown rolled past Delran 12-1 at Harry W. Thompson Field to sweep the best-of-five series en route to claiming the 13th title in program history and the first since 2003. ?This is just as important to me as the first one was,? Thompson, ever spry at 82 years young, said shortly after getting doused with champagne by his players. ?These are the greatest group of guys,? Thompson said. ?I couldn?t have asked for anything more from them this season. This is one of the greatest ball teams that we put together.?

Argow, who was ineligible to pitch in last season?s playoffs because he didn?t register the minimum amount of appearances, was in complete control from the outset, using both sides of the plate while mixing in his off-speed stuff well. ?They played great defense behind me,? said Argow, a Lenape High School graduate who will be a senior at Washington College (Md.) in the fall. ?I had just the two strikeouts so I relied on those guys big time tonight. My catcher Troy (Foster) called a great game behind the plate and did a great job blocking balls. It gave me a lot of confidence to throw my breaking stuff.?

Argow, as has been the case throughout the playoffs, was the beneficiary of great run support. John Bujanowski Jr. scored an unearned run in the second before the Merchants broke the game open with a six-run third inning.
Mike Ferrera led off with a single, and Dan Williams and Sam Pepper (who took home MVP honors) followed with walks. Greg Miller followed with a two-run single, Pepper scored on an error and Bujanowski put an emphatic stamp on the frame with a two-run single. ?All throughout the playoffs the offense has made my job a lot easier,? Argow, who threw 75 of 114 pitches for strikes, said. ?All I have to do is go out there and throw strikes.?

Stefan Kancylarz launched a three-run homer over the scoreboard in right field for insurance runs in the fourth and spearheaded the near-flawless defensive effort from his spot at shortstop, highlighted by a nifty 6-3 double play to end the sixth inning. ?Stef, he?s exceptional,? Thompson said. ?If you go by the series, Stef has to be the Most Valuable Player. Sammy Pepper has carried us the last four weeks. He?s hit balls up over the scoreboard and up over the trees. He?s another guy who will do anything you ask. Just one of the greatest kids we?ve ever had.?

Kancylarz added an RBI single in the sixth and Bujanowski rounded out the scoring with a sacrifice fly later in the inning. Kancylarz finished the evening 2-for-4 with four RBIs and two runs scored while Bujanowski finished with three RBIs. Williams went 2-for-3 with three runs, Miller was 2-for-4 with two RBIs and Pepper scored a pair of runs.

Vincentown?s sixth straight victory not only allowed it to atone for last season?s loss in the championship but an up-and-down regular season in which healthy bodies were hard to come by at times. The Merchants came in as the fourth seed with an 18-12-1 record but went 7-1 in the postseason to finish 25-13-1.

It also allowed them to deliver their manager his 11th league title. ?He got his 1,000th win this year so we?ve been talking about it being Harry?s year all season,? Argow said. ?We?re just happy to get it for him.?

Thompson said if the nucleus of the team stays together, he believes they have a decent shot at making a run similar to the one they strung together to close out the 1990s when they won four consecutive titles from 1997-2000. ?It?s very possible,? Thompson said. ?I?m going to stay here as long as God gives me the breath to breathe and allows me to walk out to the mound. I love it. Just the greatest bunch of guys to play with. It?s just fun being here. It gives me something to look forward to.?

Vincentown: 2012 RVL Champions

Photos Courtesy of Mark Fletcher, Tri-County Sports Online

Sam Pepper, Most Valuable Player

Covered Wooden Grandstands

December 16, 2012

Burlington County Times sports writer Bruce Johnson published a book titled “Covered Wooden Grandstands.”  The book is an homage to semipro baseball, written by Johnson and over a dozen of his longtime friends in the newspaper business. Among them are the BCT’s Joe Mason and Dave Zangaro, and veteran south Jersey writer Phil Antastasia.

While the focus of the book is on the old Tri-County League in northwest Jersey, there are clo

se to 300 pages devoted to some of the great teams, players and coaches in New Jersey.  Also included are stories on Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Virginia, Georgia and Wisconsin.

“CWG” is 363 pages and costs $25, plus $5 for shipping.  It is also available by contacting Johnson at bj1019@aol.com.

There will be a book signing for Covered Wooden Grandstands on Sunday, December 23, 1-3 p.m., at the Clinton Book Shop.