"Perfecta" at RVL Fund Raiser

March 12, 2014

On Tuesday, March 11th, the RVL held a drawing for its preseason 50/50 fund raiser.  And to the surprise our everyone, one lucky winner claimed the top two prizes.  Anna Ghassemi, won both the top prize ($1250) and the second prize ($800).  Lou Sordino, took home the third prize of $250 while Emma Williams and Brian Kinigney won the fourth and fifth place prizes of $100 each.  Monies raised from the preseason fund raiser will directly benefit the 2014 RVL Scholarship Fund which will be awarded to two RVL players that are attending college during the Fall semester.  Applications will be available starting June 1st and winners will be announced prior to the beginning of the RVL playoff tournament.  

The RVL is planning to hold another 50/50 fundraiser during the season so contact your favorite manager or player for additional information.  

Flashback: RVL All-Stars vs. Tri-County All-Stars - July 1987

April 5, 2014

The below article was kindly provided by resident league historian and researcher, Keith Babula, manager of the Burlington Mets baseball club and previews an all-star game between the RVL and Tri-County Leagues back in 1987. 

Diamond Luster Baseball Stars To Come Out Friday In Battle Between Leagues

By Marc Narducci, Special to The Inquirer

Posted: July 15, 1987

Baseball bragging rights will be at stake Friday when the the Tri-County League and the Rancocas Valley League meet in their first annual all-star game.

The all-stars will represent the two men's amateur baseball leagues in the Camden, Gloucester and Burlington County area.

The game will be played at Burlington Memorial Field in Burlington City and will begin at 7:30 p.m. The game originally was set for June 27th but was postponed because of rain.

There are 11 teams in the Rancocas Valley League, including nine from Burlington County. The two others are from Cherry Hill and Northampton, Pa. The Tri-County League consists of 10 teams - seven from Camden County, two

from Gloucester County and one, Delran, from Burlington County.

Most of the participants were high school stars. Many are either playing

college baseball or had successful college careers. And a select few use the leagues to display their skills to major-league scouts.

But the majority of the competitors are involved for a simple reason: a love of baseball.

"I wasn't ready to pick up the softball bat when I retired from pro ball," said Pete Dempsey, 30, of Pennsauken, a star in the Rancocas Valley League who will play Friday. "This still gives me a chance to enjoy the game. I won't get extra pumped-up for the all-star game because I enjoy playing any game, but I think it's good for baseball in South Jersey to have this event."

Dempsey, whose Cinnaminson team is sponsored by the Kardon Auto Mall, is a 1975 graduate of Pennsauken High School who played three years for Temple before signing with the Phillies in 1978. He played in the Phillies organization for three years - 2 1/2 in Reading and a half-season in Oklahoma City. His final two years were spent in the Toronto Blue Jays' minor-league system.

Dempsey has been playing in the Rancocas Valley League for the last five years, since his retirement in 1982.

The league is considered a notch above the Tri-County League. It is a league that is dotted with numerous players who went through the rigors of professional baseball in the minor leagues. The all-star game is a showcase for the upstart Tri-County League, which hopes to demonstrate that the talent gap between the leagues is being closed.

If anybody has a handle on the strengths of the two leagues, it would be catcher Rick Santarone. The former New York Yankees minor leaguer plays in both leagues - for Vincentown in the Rancocas Valley League, and for Cherry Hill in the Tri-County League (the rules permit players to participate in both leagues). Santarone, a star at Cherry Hill High School East and Camden County

College, played in the Yankees organization for two years before suffering a career-ending elbow injury.

It is not unusual for the 27-year-old Santarone, who lives in Mount Laurel, to play five games a week in the two leagues. He says the Rancocas Valley League is his top priority, and he will represent Vincentown in the all-star game.

"I think both leagues are pretty competitive," said Santarone, who is an assistant baseball coach at the University of Pennsylvania. "The pitching in the Rancocas Valley League is a little better. The defense is basically the same, but the RVL has more depth in pitching and power hitting."

The top Tri-County all-stars include Tom Troost, 22, of Cherry Hill, and Fred Bianculli, 21, of Washington Township, former star infielders at Glassboro State College. Tim Walsh, 22, of Voorhees, an Eastern High graduate who recently graduated from Colgate, leads the pitching staff.

Besides Santarone and Dempsey, the Rancocas Valley League's roster includes two accomplished pitchers, Mike Behrend, 26, of Willingboro, formerly of the St. Louis Cardinals system, and Jeff Gyamarti, 25, of Princeton, who played in the Milwaukee Brewers organization. Gyamarti was reported to be unable to play in the game, however, because of a shoulder injury.

Both rosters were chosen by league managers.


Kardon Auto Mall - 1b, Pete Dempsey; 3b, Tak Upshar; ss Rich Damush; outfield, Jim Filotti; outfield, Bruce Carter; c, Todd Powell; p, Kevin Fynan; p, Mike Behrend; p, Don Enoch; p, Jeff Gyamarti; p, Larry Lewis.

All Star Sports - 1b, Steve Eager; dh, Lou DiPietro; p, Al Collins.

Burlington - 2b Bob Osborne; p, Darrin Kotch; p, Sanvo Porto.

Northampton - 2b, Scott Csaszar; outfield, Jeff DiPiano; outfield, Tom Rockhill; c, Rob Ricciani; p, Dink Burkhead; p, Mike Wieczorek.

Delran - 3b, Bob Gaskill; outfield, John Siemanowski; p, J.D. Paternoster.

Maple Shade - ss, Joe Catalino; p, Mike Brady.

Vincentown - outfield, Ansley Jessup; c, Rick Santarone; dh, Rick Lombardi; p, Steve Praino.


Bellmawr - c, Walt Dzierzgowski; 2b, Tom Troost; 3b, Fred Bianculli; ss, Bob Cleaver; outfield, Mike Basara; p, Steve Mondile; p, Buddy Blackiston.

Cherry Hill - outfield, Joe Davis; outfield, Steve Grizer.

Delran - ss, Mike Kean; infield, Jay Tiziani; p, Cory Satterfield.

Haddonfield - c, Ted Frangos; 2b Lee Deloach; ss, Bill Kohut; outfield, Nick Caputi.

Heights Blue Jays - 1b, Mike Malloy; infield, Juan Mandizabel; outfield, Bill Grubb; p, Glenn Leary; p, Bill Reese.

Hardenbergh - 1b, Mike Leise; outfield, Bill Hunt; dh, John Gardiner; p, Doug Whilley; p, Ron Arons; p, Ted Bickel.

J.D. Stars - dh, Pete Gwason.

Miller's All-Stars - c, Mark Masterson; 1b, Gary Madrack; 3b, Mike McLaughlin; outfield, Mike McKeever; dh, Joe Spinuzza; p, Tim Walsh; p, Lance Hudak.

West Deptford - p, Jim DeLucas.

Greg Miller Makes the Team

April 24, 2014

Courtesy of: Joe Tordy, Riversharks News (www.riversharks.com)
Official Website Of The Camden Riversharks
The Riversharks roster, like any other in the Atlantic League, combines players with MLB experience, former first-round draft picks, AAA veterans, and independent league studs. Like many other teams, they also hold an open tryout every season to give local, undiscovered talent an opportunity to pursue their pro baseball dreams. It is a long shot, but every so often a player shines in the tryout, makes the team, and becomes a contributor on the Atlantic League club. 

A season ago, Villanova product and ex-Phillies farmhand Jordan Ellis made the team from the open tryout and had a strong season for the Riversharks. This year, another righthanded reliever has made the team after a strong tryout, and he will try to follow in Ellis’s footsteps. 

Greg Miller, 27, is a local pitcher who was born in Shamong, NJ. Originally a 10th-round draft pick out of Seton Hall in 2008, Miller spent one season in Milwaukee’s minor-league system. The Hammonton High product earned the invite on his second try; he tried out for the Riversharks last season as well. 

“I think I was a lot less prepared last winter. I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do,” Miller said. “But this year, it helped me work harder to get back and be more prepared mentally and physically for the workout this year.” 

Miller impressed the coaches with some private bullpen sessions before standing out in the tryouts. He was strong throughout spring training, and ultimately made the Riversharks Opening Day Roster. 

“Greg is a player who has done all of the right things on the field, and he has such a great attitude off of it,” says Riversharks pitching coach Chris Widger (CHW WS ’05). “It is awesome to see a local guy fight for and ultimately earn his chance to pitch for us, and I am excited to see how he contributes to our championship run this year.”


RVL Notebook

April 28, 2014
Courtesy of Bruce Johnson and the Burlington County Times
Delran drops out of the league

Fourteen days until the 68th season of the Rancocas Valley Baseball League opens ...

For the first time in over 30 years, there will be no Delran entry in the Rancocas Valley Baseball League this summer.

Delran captured eight RVL titles — five as the Delran Diamonds in 1977, 1978, 1981, 1984 and 1993, and the last three as Delran, in 2002, 2007 and 2008.  In addition to those titles, Delran lost in the 2010 and 2012 finals, and in 2011 it captured the regular-season title.  

The recent retirement of core players like Mike Delellis, Dave Kittle and Rocky Petrone over the past few years, and injuries to Kyle Ballay and Matt Ulmer, among others, took their toll.  The announcement came via a text message from 2013 player-coach Mark Wickersham to league president Ric Babula during an organizational meeting at the Oneida Boat Club.  “Delran has been one of the top clubs in the league for a long time,” Babula said. “It’s a shame. But I’m not surprised. All their 2013 players are now free agents, and can sign with anybody.”  Among the top players available are Ryan and Justin McFadden, Dan George, Rex Workman, Bobby Isopi and Wickersham. Jason Ronca, Eric Gertie and Max Newill can all still pitch, although age and family obligations have entered the picture.

Miller a Rivershark

Greg Miller made a big impression on the Camden Riversharks at their tryout camp in late March, and recently signed with the Atlantic League independent team.  Miller, 27, has been among the RVL’s best hitters and relief pitchers the last four years for the Vincentown Merchants.  It was his second tryout with the Riversharks, the first coming last year. Miller was a 10th-round draft pick of the Milwaukee Brewers in 2008 out of Seton Hall University.

The Shamong native graduated from Hammonton High School, where his father was the principal.  “I think I was a lot less prepared last winter. I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do,” Miller said. “But this year, it helped me work harder to get back and be more prepared mentally and physically for the workout.”

Pitching coach Chris Widger is happy to have Miller on board.  “Greg is a player who has done all of the right things on the field, and he has such a great attitude off of it,” Widger said. “It is awesome to see a local guy fight for and ultimately earn his chance to pitch for us. I’m excited to see how he contributes to our championship run this year.”

The Riversharks dropped their first two games this season to the York (Pa.) Revolution. Miller was the losing pitcher Saturday night, allowing a run and two hits in the bottom of the eighth.

No Gilder Field in ’14

The Bordentown Koenig Oilers were a league power in the 1960s, playing their home games on Gilder Field, just off Route 206. While the Oilers are long gone, Gilder has been refurbished and is still used by Bordentown Post 26 American Legion.  Mike Stumpf tried to schedule some games there this summer for his Willingboro team in the RVL, but that was shot down.  “The mayor wouldn’t sign off on us playing there,” he said. “He said the field is over-used. There’s an NJIBL team that plays there Sunday mornings. That’s it. I think there are 18 games scheduled. Maybe next year.”

Some of my favorite baseball memories involve a Fourth of July baseball tournament between N.J. legion powerhouses Bordentown, Brooklawn, Hamilton and Westfield (my hometown). There’d be games all day, and back then there was a picnic area in center field. So a couple six-packs, a couple of subs equaled a beautiful day.

All-Star Game

The RVL will face Pennsylvania’s Pen-Del League this summer in an all-star game matching leagues that opened in 1947.  The game will take place on Saturday, July 19, at Harry Thompson Field in Vincentown. Game time is 5 p.m.

The Pen-Del League includes teams from Glenside, Horsham, Northampton, Northeast Philadelphia, Plymouth, Upper Moreland and Warminster.

Opening night

The 2014 RVL season starts May 12 when Riverside visits Vincentown for an 8 p.m. first pitch at Harry Thompson Field.

Seven of the eight teams play their first games by May 16. The last team to open up is Mount Laurel, which doesn’t start until May 20 against the Burlington Mets at the Field of Spleens.  Each team plays 28 games, with the regular-season ending on Tuesday, July 29.  All playoff games will be at Vincentown — “August in V-town” — starting Saturday, Aug. 2, with a quadruple-header involving all eight teams.


RVL Notebook

May 5, 2014
Courtesy of Bruce Johnson and the Burlington County Times
A season of change in RVL

Seven days until the 68th season of the Rancocas Valley League starts.

Nothing will be official until Tuesday night’s roster meeting at the Oneida Boat Club, on the shores of the Delaware River in Burlington, but, after getting several rosters via email, one thing has become crystal clear: There’s going to be a lot of new looks and a lot of old familiar faces missing when the 68th season of the Rancocas Valley Baseball League starts next Monday night.  

Although there are many longtime names still on the Burlington Mets roster, gone are veterans Jeff Vitale, Dan Graham and Dan Torres. That’s 45 some years of experience, with Vitale having been around since 1990. Also gone is the very talented Mike Kerns, off to an independent league.  In their place is Max Newill (and no jokes that he makes up for the 45 years experience all by himself). The veteran lefty pitcher was signed after Delran dropped out of the league. That means there will be no 70-minute, seven-inning pitching duels between Newill and Shaun Babula this summer.  This year will be the 50th anniversary of the Burlington Mets being known as the Mets.

And there were some wholesale changes on the Cinnaminson Reds. Gone are veterans Bob and Mike Osborne, Corey and Ryan Mingin, and pitcher Nick Melchiorre. Replacing them are Vitale, former Delran pitcher Eric Gertie and former Red John Dockins, who didn’t play in the RVL last summer.  Coach Brett Miller may have lost two brother combinations, but he still has three others: Geoff and Greg Gilbert, Frank and Joe Sirolli, and Mike and Tim Wasco. And he’s got some newcomers he expects big-time help from.

At Pine Barrens, coach Gerry Lamola returns a mostly veteran lineup, including perennial Ronnie Krankowski, whose arm problems may limit him to DHing this year. Cameron Bahr was signed after getting released by Cinnaminson.

NJAC playoffs

The RVL was well represented this week in the New Jersey Athletic Conference tournament.

Top-seeded Rutgers-Camden had Connor Hall (Mount Laurel) at first base. He started all 35 regular-season games and hit .348, with a slugging percentage of .588. Among his hits were 10 doubles and seven home runs, and his 42 RBIs were second on the team.

Rowan had seven RVLers, four of them current or former members of the Pine Barrens Phantoms — Nick Henderson, Dylan Johannink, Rich Powelson and Eric Sellitto. Ryan Williams (Vincentown), Kevin McMenamin (formerly Delran) and Tyler Bayley (Willingboro) were the others.

And The College of New Jersey’s roster included Justin Ely (Mount Laurel) and Josh Limon (formerly Burlington).

Blue Mountain expands

In Pennsylvania, the Blue Mountain League has added three teams, two from the late Tri-County League, which folded at the end of the 2013 season after a 63-year run.  Added to the eight BML teams — defending champ Martin’s Creek Creekers, Berlinsville Braves, Blue Mountain Hawks, Easton Falcons, Hellertown Royals, Limeport Dodgers, MetLife Orioles and Northampton Giants — were the defending Tri-County champ Northern Yankees of Allentown, and Limeport Bulls. (The more games at Limeport Stadium, the better!) Also new to the BML are the Roseto Bandits.  The league opens play May 15 and will play one 11-team division. The top six teams qualify for the playoffs in late July/early August.

RVL Notebook

May 12, 2014

Courtesy of Bruce Johnson, Burlington County Times

RVL Notebook: It's 'Play ball" for RVL's 68th season

The long and winding road to “August in V-town” — the Rancocas Valley League playoffs — begins Monday night when Riverside travels east for an 8 p.m. game against the Vincentown Merchants.  This will be the 68th season of the RVL, and the 117th consecutive summer of organized semipro baseball in Burlington County.  Of course, winning the regular season and winning the playoffs have not been a match recently. In fact, over the last five summers, only the Burlington Mets in 2010 have won both titles in the same year. Vincentown and Burlington finished 1-2 in the regular season last year, then flip-flopped in the playoffs with Burlington beating Vincentown.  The regular season ends July 29 and the playoffs are scheduled to start Aug. 2, when four games Saturday and four more Sunday start things with a bang.  Here are the rosters, in order of last year’s regular-season finish, with comments.


Manager: Harry Thompson

Home field: Harry Thompson Field, Vincentown

Roster: Joe Argow, Zeke Boren, Jack Bujanowski, John Bujanowski, Kevin Carty, Mike Ferrara, Troy Foster, Adam Goldstein, Greg Miller, Jon Morrow, Jesse Pappler, Sam Pepper, Vern Powell, Eric Shugars, Al Smith, Bryce Sonberg, Dave Stieg, Ian Thomas, Billy Thompson, Harry Thompson, Damon Valloreo, Danny Williams, Ryan Williams, Rex Workman.

Outlook: Losing Greg Miller to the independent Camden Riversharks leaves a monster hole at third base and the cleanup spot. But Harry Thompson returns the rest of his lineup — with Rex Workman, formerly of Delran, replacing Jesse Pappler at first.


Manager: Ric Babula, Keith Babula

Home field: Life Center Academy, Florence

Roster: Keith Babula, Shaun Babula, Ryan Bell, Brandon Elliott, Matt Fischer, Dominic Gallone, Ronnie Grant, Paul Guerrieri, Kevin Gunter, Marshall Harden, John Harvey, Vinny James, Matt Jolly, Garrett Mull, Max Newill, Anthony Perez, Pedro Perez, Jon Reiner, Kyle Semmel, Zach Skidmore, Carl Taylor, Dave Viselli, Jon Wilkins.

Outlook: Mike Kerns opted for independent baseball and Jeff Vitale is now with Cinnaminson, but Burlington’s deep pitching staff — Shaun Babula, John Harvey, Carl Taylor, Pedro Perez, Jon Wilkins and Kevin Gunter — got deeper with the additions of Max Newill (Delran) and Marshall Harden.


Manager: Mike Stumpf

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

Roster: Tyler Bayley, Bryan Bessinger, Justin Binder, Brian Camp, Fran Caruso, Kevin Faber, Kazon Godwin, Mike Gulli, Dan Hill, Mike Juckett, Jose Martinez, Wilbert Martinez, Connor McFarlane, Matt Moceri, Pat Moran, Sam Nocito, Craig Ricks, Jamie Schwantes, Matt Speckman, Rich Stronski, Mark Stumpf, Mike Stumpf, John Trotman, John Walls, Jon Wetzel.

Outlook: With slugger Matt Moceri back in the lineup and most of last year’s third-place team returning, this could be a big year for coach Mike Stumpf.


Manager: Dean Johnson

Home field: Babe Ruth Field, Delanco

Roster: Brandon Barnes, Brian Black, Kurtis Burnett, John Burns, Niko Celia, Mike Cooper, Ryan Derry, Kevin Diamond, William Di Curcio, Justin Ely, Ben Fadool, Connor Hall, Dean Johnson, Ken Kraft, Rich Leadbeater, Ryan McFadden, Jeff McGarry, Paul Meagher, Austin Papp, Cole Pewor, Andrew Shaefer, Trevor Sotell, Matt Szukics, Mike Tobia.

Outlook: Coach Dean Johnson might have his best team since 2007, when it lost in the playoff finals. Everybody is back, and it added speedy center fielder Ryan McFadden when Delran folded. It improved to 7-21-2 in 2012 to 15-12 last year.


Manager: Mike Hynes

Home field: Kenney Field, Riverside

Roster: Jeff Briggs, Frank Cerami, Dan Coughlin, Tyler DiPascale, Jesse Fante, Tyler Freeman, Joe Gutowski, Pat Hayduk, Dan Horniak, Alex Humes, Tim Kemmerle, Dante Keys, Brett Knazek, Joe Knazek, Matt Leith, Kevin Lovitte, Matt Mann, Kevin McAdams, Jonnie McGugan, Eric Oliver, Jason Sabol, Josh Sabol, Donnie Strain, Tyler Wolf.

Outlook: Another team that made a huge improvement, from 12-20-3 in 2012 to 13-16-1 last year. All the key players return, along with former player-coach Donnie Strain.


Manager: Gerry Lamola

Home field: Patty Bowker Field, Tabernacle

Roster: Mason Anderson, Matt Baer, Cameron Bahr, Alex Campbell, Anthony Coniglio, Matt Curry, Mike Follet, Jerry Gares, Vince Gares, Nick Henderson, Bryan Henry, Tyler Kaiser, Mike Kondrath, Ronnie Krankowski, Ryan Krupa, Gerry Lamola, Mike Lamola, Alec Marconi, Shane Pastore, Eric Sellito, Phil Shallenberger, Brandon Triantos, JT Triantos.

Outlook: The team went 4-30 in 2012 as Pemberton, then changed their name and went 10-19-1 last year. There was a massive roster overhaul, but many key guys — Nick Henderson, Bryan Henry, Mike Kondrath, Ron Krankowski, Eric Sellitto, JT Triantos — will be in Tabernacle.


Manager: Brett Miller

Home field: Memorial Park, Cinnaminson

Roster: Craig Carrol, John Dockins, Bill Dove, Dan Gavlik, Eric Gertie, Geoff Gilbert, Greg Gilbert, Jim Goodwin, Antonio Guido, Clinton Hart, Kyle Higgins, Matt Janulis, Chris McManus, John Meadus, Brett Miller, Dennis O’Hanlan, Christian Rahman, Alan Sanky, Greg Santora, Frank Sirolli, Joe Sirolli, Ryan Varga, Jeff Vitale, Tim Wasco, Mike Wasco.

Outlook: The Reds went from 25-10 in 2012 to 11-15 last year, finishing eighth and playing in the play-in game. There were some major roster losses, but manager Brett Miller expects to be in title contention.


Manager: Ed Eifert

Home field: Viereck Field, Burlington Township.

Roster: Kyle Batie, Ken Brock, Ian Buluck, Dan Callahan, Nick Cancelliere, Joey Dash, Phil Dunbar, Brian Eifert, Eddie Eifert, Ed Eifert Sr., Wayne Feret, Zach Gould, Jazz Hendrick, Eddie Hoffman, Aaron Jones, Lucas Jones, Matt Klish, Charlie Lavin, CJ McNutt, Ryan Murtaugh, Joe Parzyck, Giancarlo Regni, Ace Robinson, Mike Zier.

Outlook: It was another long summer for manager Ed Eifert, but he has added a couple of veteran arms — Jazz Hendrick and Ace Robinson — to help Nick Cancelliere. Wayne Feret is solid. 

Monday, May 12, 2014

Riverside starts off with a victory

Josh Sabol’s home run was the key hit in a five-run fourth inning that propelled Riverside to an 8-7 win over Vincentown.  The game at Southampton Memorial Park launched the 68th season of RVL baseball. Sabol’s home run was a two-run blast and Sam Pepper hit a two-run shot for Vincentown. 

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Riverside's Hornyak tosses a no-hitter

Dan Hornyak pitched a no-hitter Thursday as Riverside posted a five-inning 6-1 victory over Burlington Township.  Hornyak, a Northern Burlington High grad, struck out seven as Riverside improved to 3-0. Dante Keys drove in three runs and Joe Knazek added a two-run double.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Riverside knocks off BT Pirates

Kevin Lovett went five innings to earn the win, and Jonnie McGuggan, Jeff Griggs, Tyler Wolfe and Frank Cerami each knocked in two runs as Riverside defeated Burlington Township 11-7.  Brett Knazek was 2-for-2 with a double and Tim Kemmerlee was 2-for-4. Jason Sabol pitched the last two innings as Riverside won its second straight.

RVL Notebook

May 19, 2014

B-Mets' Kerns lands in Roswell

Mike Kerns had himself a whale of a summer in 2013, helping the Burlington Mets capture the Rancocas Valley League playoff title. After enjoying an outstanding senior year at Penn State-Abington, the talented 21-year-old signed a contract recently with the Roswell (New Mexico) Invaders of the independent Pecos League. The league also has teams in Texas, Colorado and Arizona.

In three seasons at Abington, Kerns had a .363 batting average and earned first team all-NEAC as a senior catcher. He batted .401 as a senior, collecting 14 doubles, 34 RBIs, a home run and scoring 26 runs. Kerns posted .977 field percentage from behind the plate, picking off 15 runners from stealing bases. The Invaders opened their season May 14 starting a three-game set with the White Sands Pupfish. He joins Dan Hennigan and Sean Gusrang as B-Mets playing in the independent leagues.

Miller in the house

When the 68th RVL season kicked off last Monday at Harry Thompson Field, there was a familiar face renewing acquaintances in the Vincentown dugout. Greg Miller, who starred for the Merchants the past four summers as a hitter, third baseman and relief pitcher, had a night off from the independent Atlantic League and took in the 8-7 loss to Riverside. Miller signed recently as a relief pitcher with the Camden Riversharks.

Where's the time go?

Zeke Boren earned the start for Vincentown last Monday, but the veteran couldn't believe he was still in the RVL.

"This is my 15th year in the league," he said, proudly. "And it's the first one with no Delran team in it. Delran is where I started, as a 17-year-old catcher." Boren took the loss, although most of the runs he gave up were unearned.

New look to Thompson Field

There were some pleasant additions to Vincentown's Harry Thompson Field over the winter: screens in front of the dugouts (much safer) and new lights, or maybe just new bulbs (you can see all the action in right field now). "Amazing," said Thompson, the veteran manager.

Tough stretch

Did Burlington Township manager Ed Eifert do something to upset Steve Kolwicz, who makes up the league's schedule? In the space of a little over 50 hours this week, the Pirates will take on Vincentown (Tuesday), Cinnaminson (Wednesday) and the Burlington Mets (Thursday) — the winners of the past three playoff titles. With Memorial Day weekend open, the highlight game is Monday when the B-Mets take on Vincentown in a rematch of last summer's playoff finals. Game time is 7 p.m. at Thompson Field.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Cinnaminson walks past Vincentown

Cinnaminson managed just one hit Sunday night but took advantage of 12 walks to post a 9-1 win over Vincentown. Tim Wasco's RBI single in the fifth inning was the lone hit. Christian Rahman went four innings to get the win, allowing one hit, no runs and striking out six. Jim Goodwin, Eric Gertie and Alex Sankey each pitched one inning.

Willingboro 6, Burlington Township 4:

Tyler Bayley (seven in five innings) and Dan Hill (two) combined for nine strikeouts for Willingboro (1-1). Rich Stronski had a two-run double for the winners. Mike Gulli added two hits and a pair of RBIs, and Jon Wetzel drew three walks, stole two bases and scored twice. Joey Dash had a two-run triple for the Pirates (0-3).

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

B-Mets open with win over Mount Laurel

The Burlington Mets scored four runs in their first at-bat of the season and coasted to a 9-0 win over Mount Laurel.. Paul Guerrieri had two hits, including a two-run single in the first. Garrett Mull also had two hits, while Marshall Harden had a two-run double.  Shaun Babula pitched a two-hitter, both by Paul Meagher, and struck out eight.

Willingboro 4, Riverside 3:

Willingboro squeezed out a narrow win at Kenney Field, handing Riverside its first loss.  Jesse Fante had an RBI for Riverside.

Vincentown 16, Burlington Township 2: 

Sam Pepper had three hits, including his second home run of the season, and Jack Bujanowski also had three hits in support of winning pitcher Joe Argow.


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Cinnaminson wins third straight

Bill Dove hit a two-run double Wednesday to launch Cinnaminson to a 5-0 win over Burlington Township.  Dove's two-bagger in the first inning benefitted winning pitcher Jim Goodwin, who worked the first three frames of the victory that boosted Cinnaminson's record to 3-0. Geoff Gilbert later hit a run-scoring double, and Tim Wasco had an RBI single.

Eric Gertie pitched the fourth and fifth, and Clinton Hart got the remaining six outs. The three moundsmen combined for 10 strikeouts.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Riverside's Lovitt blanks Vincentown

Kevin Lovitt allowed two hits as Riverside topped Vincentown 9-0 in a rain-shortened five-inning game.  Eddie Stiles was 2-for-3 with a two-run home run, and Eric Oliver and Jason Sabol each knocked in a pair of runs. Riverside is 4-1, while the Merchants fell to 0-3.


Burlington 7, Burlington Township 0:

John Harvey, Jon Wilkins and Ryan Bell combined on a one-hitter as the Burlington Mets (2-0) beat the Pirates (0-6).  Shaun Babula was 3-for-3 with three runs scored and five stolen bases. Marshall Harden contributed a two-run double to the attack.

RVL Notebook

May 26, 2014
Courtesy of Bruce Johnson, Burlington County Times
Pine Barrens still a week from opening game
After the first two weeks of the Rancocas Valley Baseball League season, a casual fan might wonder if it’s a seven-team league this summer.
Fair question. In the first 14 days, only seven teams have seen action. And that will be the case for another week.
June 2 is when the Pine Barrens Phantoms will open their season at Riverside. They are scheduled for 15 games in June (12 away, three home) and 13 games in July (two away, 11 home), concluding with a July 29 game vs. Riverside at Patty Bowker Field.
When they do take the field, coach Gerry Lamola’s team will have quite a few new faces. More than half the roster this summer will be different, although standbys Ronnie Krankowski, Mike Kondrath, Nick Henderson, Bryan Henry and Eric Sellitto return.
“A good percentage of the players didn’t want to come back, or they couldn’t,” Lamola said. “Most of our guys are new players from college, so that’s why I didn’t want to start until June.”
Krankowski’s pitching status is day-to-day, due to an arm injury. But, Lamola notes, he’ll be in the lineup every day.
“Ronnie, (Bryan) Henry and (Eric) Sellitto could be a very nice 3-4-5, and (Ryan) Krupa or (Nick) Henderson could be leadoff,” Lamola said. “I’ve heard (Rich) Powelson wants to come back; he’d be a good No. 2 hitter.”
Cameron Bahr and Vince Gares joined the team after playing for Cinnaminson.
“One thing that’s different,” Lamola said, “is there will be plenty of pitching ... if Ronnie is healthy, with veterans Matt Baer, Kondrath and Henderson. It should be another interesting summer of RVL baseball.”
Back with a bang!
The annual Memorial Day fireworks game at Vincentown’s Harry Thompson Field will be played Monday night at 7.
The opponent is Burlington, in a matchup of last summer’s playoff finals, won by the Mets 3-1. The Mets are 2-0 while the Merchants are struggling at 1-3.
Hall is all-Region
Connor Hall, a junior from Rutgers Camden University who plays in the RVL for Mount Laurel, was named first team all-Mid Atlantic Region this spring.  The Delran native hit .356, tying the school record with nine home runs and finishing with 52 RBIs, one short of the school mark.
Vincentown shortstop Ryan Williams, a junior at Rowan, was named second team shortstop.
Willingboro’s Kevin Faber, a senior at Penn State-Abington, was named third team.
A couple of former RVLers — Mount Laurel’s John Burns (Gwynedd-Mercy) and Pine Barrens’ Dylan Johannink (Rowan) — earned first and second team honors, respectively.
Tom Potts, a senior pitcher at Rutgers-Camden and former Bordentown High star, was on the second team. He was 7-2 with a 2.10 ERA in 60 innings. (Why hasn’t some RVL team scooped him up?)
Plays of the week
Sometimes you can actually hit the ball too hard, just ask Zach Skidmore. Last Tuesday the Burlington Mets slugger lined a laser to right field, where a fast-charging Mike Cooper (playing a bit shallow for a lefty like Skidmore) fielded the ball cleanly. The Mount Laurel veteran came up throwing to first baseman Connor Hall and got a rare 9-3 assist.
In the same game, with runners on first and second, the Mets’ Paul Guerrieri hit a sky-high fly ball to left field, where Brandon Barnes tracked it down near the line and made the catch ... or did he? The ball bounced from his glove before the umpires called Guerrieri out and by the time the play was over Mount Laurel had achieved a rare 7-5-4 double play, from Barnes to third baseman Mike Tobia to second baseman Cole Pewor.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Burlington wins battle of unbeatens

Shaun Babula drew a balk in the process of trying to steal home and scored the run that lifted Burlington to a 3-2 win over Cinnaminson.  Vinny James' home run provided the first two runs for Burlington in a meeting of teams that came in with 3-0 records. Ryan Bell was the winning pitcher.  Kyle Higgins had two hits and batted in a run for Cinnaminson.

Vincentown 10, Burlington Township 1: 

Sam Pepper ignited the Merchants after drawing a walk in the first inning. Pepper stole second base and was attempting to steal third when he drew an errant throw that allowed him to score.  Vincentown added another run in the first and held a 2-1 lead before a two-run single by Vern Powell in the fifth gave the Merchants some cushion.  Damon Valloreo, recently recovered from arm surgery, pitched the first four innings for the win and Jonathan Morrow got the remaining nine outs.

Willingboro 8, Riverside 3: 

Rich Stronski had three hits and scored three runs in support of winning pitcher Kevin Faber, who pitched five innings and allowed two hits. Jason Kellmer was 2-for-2, including a home run, and had four RBIs for 'Boro.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Babula, Harden lead Burlington Mets to victory

Winning pitcher Shaun Babula allowed no earned runs and aided the attack Monday night in the Burlington Mets’ 8-3 win at Vincentown.  Babula had three hits and scored three runs as defending champion Burlington boosted its record to 3-0. Marshall Harden’s two hits featured a grand slam on his way to five RBIs. Matt Jolly had two hits and one RBI.

RVL Notebook

June 2, 2014
Courtesy of Bruce Johnson, Burlington County Times
Dockins fills a big hole in Cinnaminson lineup 
Losing a player like Mike Osborne from your lineup could keep a manager up at night. The veteran has been a fixture in the Cinnaminson Reds’ lineup — at either center field or shortstop — for quite a while.
But manager Brett Miller wasn’t that concerned when he learned Ozzie wouldn’t be back this summer. He knew John Dockins was returning to the Rancocas Valley League. Dockins had played three years as a part-time infielder-outfielder for the Reds before playing last summer for the Geneva (New York) Red Wings of the New York College Baseball League.  “John has been solid for us since we got him after he graduated from Cinnaminson High,” Miller said. “We moved him around all over the infield and outfield, wherever we needed him. Every year in college you could see him improving.
“Once he moved to shortstop in college (Kutztown University), we knew that with Ozzie’s days numbered we already had our long-term replacement ready.”
The 5-foot-8, 160-pound Dockins was an all-conference second baseman in high school, and again at Frederick (Maryland) Community College, where he played two years before joining Kutztown. The Golden Bears won the PSAC East this spring and advanced to last week’s regionals, where they lost in the semifinals.  So Dockins didn’t make his RVL season debut until Thursday night, going 2-for-4 and handling all his plays at shortstop.  “Dock had to earn his spot the old-school way, showing up to all the games, especially the 6:15 starts that a lot of guys with jobs have trouble making,” Miller said. “Play good off the bench for a couple years and earn a starting position.”
Dockins was a solid defensive shortstop at Kutztown (.946 and .944) and hit .309 and .260. He was the seventh toughest D2 player in the country to strike out. How does the pitching in the RVL compare to Division 2?
“That’s a hard question,” he said. “The RVL pitching is pretty good, but I’d say overall D2 pitching is a bit tougher. It’s really close.”
There are many new faces on Dockins’ old team this summer. Third baseman Jeff Vitale, second baseman Kyle Higgins, catcher Bill Dove and slugger Dan Gavlik (dh-1b-of) among them.  “We have a much improved team,” Miller said. “And now that John is back playing the most important position in the infield, I like our chances.”
It may have happened a couple of years and many baseball games ago, but Dockins remembers his part in one of the weirdest plays in recent RVL history. Burlington’s Shaun Babula was picked off first base and got in a rundown that seemed to last 10 minutes and involve every defensive player on the field. Eventually Dockins joined the rundown and tagged out the speedy Met.  “I was playing third base, right?” Dockins said. “Yeah I remember that rundown like it was yesterday.”
On Kutztown’s baseball webpage, “The Dockins File” lists his career goal as: MLB.”  The major leagues?  “I’ll just go with the flow and see what happens,” he said.
Short stuff
Burlington veteran John Harvey suffered an injury while warming up Thursday, so Ryan Bell answered the call and in his first start pitched a complete game 3-2 win over a tough Cinnaminson club.
Longtime Mets third baseman Jeff Vitale played his first game since joining the Reds last offseason. Good buddy Shaun Babula, the leadoff hitter, greeted him with a bunt single down the third-base line.
Cinnaminson’s Joe Sirolli and Burlington’s Ronnie Grant showed off strong throwing arms, with Sirolli nailing Vinnie James at the plate, and Grant nailing a runner at third for the third out in the fifth inning, a micro-second before what would have been the go-ahead run reached the plate.

Pine Barrens will finally open its season Monday night, when it visits Kenney Field to face Riverside.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Riverside rallies for victory

Riverside scored five runs in the top of the seventh inning to pull out a 7-4 victory over Cinnaminson at Memorial Field.  Riverside (5-2) used RBI singles by Joe Knazek, Jesse Fante, Jeff Briggs and a two-run single by Dante Keys in the final at-bat. Jason Sabol, in relief of Frank Cerami, threw three innings to pick up the win. Josh Sabol, Tyler Wolf and Fante each had two hits, and Brett Knazek had a double.  Catcher Bill Dove had a home run for the Reds (3-2).

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Pine Barrens tops Riverside

Nick Henderson pitched four innings and Alec Marconi finished up as Pine Barrens posted a 9-1 victory over Riverside at Kenney Field.  Henderson also contributed an RBI double for the Phantoms (2-1). Phil Shallenberger had an RBI triple, while Alex Campbell and Vince Gares added RBI doubles.

RVL Notebook

June 9, 2014

Ageless Newill still winning

Coaching the Bridgewater-Raritan High Panthers and throwing an occasional batting practice has apparently helped keep Max Newill and his arm feeling young.  The ageless lefty made his 2014 debut last Tuesday and, in his first game as a member of the Burlington Mets, shut down Mount Laurel 7-2.

Newill, of course, engaged in some memorable pitching duels when he pitched against the Mets for the now-defunct Delran entry in the Rancocas Valley League.  He struck out eight, walked two and allowed four hits while nibbling at the corners all night. He took a shutout into the bottom of the seventh.  “It was a typical Max game,” Mets manager Keith Babula said. “He works fast, throws a lot of strikes and keeps the hitters off balance. He said before the game he was happy to put on blue jersey because every other team he played for — Delran High, Baldwin-Wallace College and Delran in the RVL — wore brown.”

Newill wasn’t wearing a Mets uniform for the first time. He’s been on the team’s roster the last few years for the Labor Day weekend York Tournament in Pennsylvania.  “He’s pitched for us in York the last three years,” Babula said. “He pitched a good game in the winners’ bracket final last year against the Susquehanna Assault, who won the tournament.”

Newill’s last RVL appearance was last August, a 2-1 loss to Willingboro in the opening round.

Burlington vs. Hellertown?

It’s a dream matchup: the defending RVL champion Burlington Mets vs. the Hellertown Royals, a perennial powerhouse in Pennsylvania’s Blue Mountain League.  It’s tentatively scheduled for July 26. The Royals currently lead the BML with a 7-2 mark. They must finish either first or second in the regular season to get a playoff bye that would allow the exhibition to be played.  Hellertown, located just south of Bethlehem, has won five of the last nine BML championships, including four straight from 2009-12.

One at a time

Yes, it was only one game, but Gerry Lamola was almost giddy after the Pine Barrens Phantoms opened their season last Monday with an 8-1 win at Riverside.  Playing without veterans Nick Henderson, Bryan Henry, Mike Lamola, Rich Powelson and Eric Sellitto, he got a complete game from Rancocas Valley High senior Mason Anderson.  “These young kids were amazing,” Lamola said. “They hit the ball. And Mason Anderson threw a great game. We have a lot of arms.”

Wick’s back

Mark Wickersham has been signed by the Cinnaminson Reds. The former Delran third baseman had been thinking of retiring, or just playing in a weekend league.  After several decent seasons, “Wick” hit .466 last summer with 17 RBIs.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Mount Laurel gets first win of season

Jason Ely pitched five innings, allowing four hits and no earned runs as Mount Laurel won its first game, 4-1 over Pine Barrens at Babe Ruth Field in Delanco.  Mike Dunlap and Mike Tobia each threw one inning to finish off the victory. Cole Pewor had a single, double and two RBIs, and Brandon Barnes added two hits and two RBIs for Mount Laurel (1-4).  Ronnie Krankowski and Mike Kondreth pitched three innings each for the Phantoms (2-2).

Burlington 8, Burlington Twp. 2: 

Brandon (Twocas) Elliott became the sixth pitcher to earn a pitching win for the Mets (7-0).  He got plenty of support from the Perez brothers — Pedro had three hits, including a triple, and knocked in three runs, and Anthony had two hits and an RBI.  The Pirates (0-9) got a two-run double by Zach Gould.

Cinnaminson 5, Willingboro 2: 

Veteran Ryan Varga took a no-hitter into the seventh inning, settling for a two-hit, nine-strikeout win after allowing a double to John Trotman and a two-homer to Jamie Schwantes at Memorial Park.  Greg Gilbert had an RBI triple and Mike Wasco added a two-run single in the sixth for the Reds (5-2). Willingboro fell to 3-3.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Burlington edges Mount Laurel

Max Newill struck out eight and picked up the decision Tuesday in the Burlington Mets’ 3-2 win over Mount Laurel in the Rancocas Valley Base.  Newill worked the first six innings and John Harvey handled the seventh as the Mets boosted their record to 8-0.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Riverside edges Mount Laurel

Alex Forte, with last-inning relief help from Dan Coughlin, won a pitchers’ duel from Mike Cooper as Riverside notched a 2-1 victory over Mount Laurel.  All the scoring came in the first inning. Mount Laurel took the lead when a bases-loaded walk forced in a run, but Forte escaped further damage.

RVL Notebook

June 16, 2014

Gradual improvement proof that Riverside on course

Goals remain modest. Teams don’t enter the Rancocas Valley Baseball League and quickly become championship contenders.  The Riverside Patriots are beginning to achieve that look. The fifth-year club enters this week with a 9-4 record and appears likely to surpass the team record of 13 wins set in 2012 and matched last summer.  “The goal is .500 or just above,” manager Mike Hynes said. “Eventually we hope to be way above .500.”

Riverside hasn’t had a winning season and endured a winless first year. The team improved to 12 victories in Year 2 and the third summer saw a victory in the opener of a playoff series against Burlington. The Mets rallied to win the series.

Riverside moved up to fifth in the standings last season and was competitive in being swept by No. 4 seed Mount Laurel in the first round. Last Wednesday, the Patriots allowed a run early, responded quickly and held on for a 2-1 win over Mount Laurel. A night later, Riverside prevailed 11-9 in 10 innings at Vincentown.  “We have timely hitting this year and we’ve been pretty consistent,” said Hynes, who also credits the support of team sponsor New Jersey Diamond Academy.  “Guys see the results and want to play harder,” Hynes said. “I tell them ‘Give me two or three years and we can build something.’ A lot of them are BCC (Burlington County College) guys, either alumni or still there, so they’ve already played together.”

The attack receives contributions from Dante Keays, Jeff Briggs, Phil Stiles, the Sabols (Jason and Josh), among others. Stiles is 8-for-11 with six stolen bases in his last two games.  The pitching staff, at the moment, isn’t as deep as it may be later this season. Dan Coughlin is an effective closer who saved a win for Alex Forte against Mount Laurel and got a ‘W’ the next night by working the last three innings. Coughlin was recently joined on the roster by older brother Jimmy, who will be a nice left-handed option for Hynes.

Donnie Strain is back after serving in the Army. Strain helped keep things together the first season when he assumed the role of manager while playing. Gabe Mastrangelo Sr. became manager the next year.  Strain had two hits and two RBIs in a win Saturday over Burlington Township. His bat and leadership aren’t all he brings to the diamond. “When he comes, I play him,” Hynes said, “because he’s an amazing center fielder.”

Fadool out for season

Ben Fadool, a rising senior at Lenape High who played the last two summers for Mount Laurel, will miss the entire 2014 season.  Playing in an AAU Showcase, Fadool was involved in a collision, which saw him tear his ACL and his MCL. But being in a giant cast didn’t prevent him from attending last Sunday’s game against Pine Barrens.  “He’s a good kid ... he came to watch his teammates, and that says a lot about him,” manager Dean Johnson said. “I hope it doesn’t affect his senior year at Lenape.”

Starting ’em young

Anthony Perez, a rising ninth-grader at Burlington City High, got the start a week ago Sunday when Burlington visited Burlington Township.  With only nine players available, Mets manager Keith Babula had no qualms about playing the youngster, who displayed some nice crossover footwork defensively. And he added two hits to the attack, which was led by older brother Pedro, who will be a sophomore in college and has been playing for the Mets since his sophomore year in high school.  “Anthony played a couple innings for us last summer,” Babula said. “Hey, it was him or me, I gave him the shot.”

Hennigan back with Somerset

Dan Hennigan, who played shortstop and hit .315 for the Burlington Mets during their 2010 championship season, re-signed with the Somerset Patriots, who play out of Bridgewater.  After playing five games for the Mets in 2012, Hennigan signed with the Patriots and played 35 games, collecting 24 hits. He graduated from Franklin Pierce University (a perennial NCAA Division 2 tourney qualifier) in Rindge, New Hampshire.


BCT staff writer Phil Chappine contributed to this article.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Pine Barrens hands Burlington first loss

The Pine Barrens Phantoms passed the .500 mark in a big way Monday, doing so with a 13-4 win over Burlington. Pine Barrens raised its record to 4-3 and handed Burlington its first loss this season after eight victories.  Phil Shallenberger tripled and doubled for the Phantoms, batting in a run with each extra-base hit. He also scored two runs, as did Tyler Kaiser (double, single, two RBIs). Winning pitcher Mason Anderson worked six innings and had five strikeouts.  Vinny James had three hits and one RBI for Burlington, while Shaun Babula had two hits and scored twice for the Mets.

Mount Laurel 6, Riverside 6: 

Darkness halted proceedings before a winner could emerge. Riverside (9-4-1) was led by Dante Keays’ three hits and two RBIs, and Eric Oliver’s two hits featured a home run. Mount Laurel (1-6-1) received a home run among three hits from Connor Hall.

Cinnaminson 11, Burlington Township 0: 

Alex Sankey pitched a one-hitter and struck out seven as the Reds improved to 7-2. John Dockins hit a two-run single on his way to three RBIs and Mark Wickersham was 2-for-2 with a walk and batted in two runs.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Stiles leads Riverside to victory

Phil Stiles had four hits and batted in three runs for Riverside in a 12-1 win over Burlington Township.  Donnie Strain had two hits and two RBIs, and Joe Corbett also had two hits as Riverside improved to 9-4. Jason Sabol hit a two-run triple and Jeff Briggs tripled another run home for the Patriots. Stiles had three stolen bases.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Cinnaminson tops Pine Barrens

Greg Gilbert’s RBI double drove in the first run and Kyle Higgins’ three-run home run closed the scoring as the Cinnaminson Reds posted an 8-1 victory over the Pine Barrens Phantoms.  Frank Sirolli contributed a single, double and an RBI for Cinnaminson (6-2). Christian Rahman went the first five innings, striking out six and allowing an unearned run. Ryan Varga pitched the final two frames.  

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Burlington tops Willingboro

Shaun Babula had two hits and batted in two runs for Burlington in a 5-3 win over Willingboro.  The victory was Burlington's first of the week after two losses and a tie. The Mets are 9-2-1 overall.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Cinnaminson edges Burlington in RVL

A run in the first inning was the difference in Cinnaminson’s 1-0 victory over Burlington.  Eric Gertie prevailed in a duel with opposing pitcher Shaun Babula, each limiting the other team to four hits in a game that left both teams with 8-2-1 records.

RVL Notebook

June 23, 2014

Valloreo back on the mound

Damon Valloreo had some good outings pitching for the Vincentown Merchants during the first month of the Rancocas Valley Baseball League season.  The fact that he’s pitching at all is notable. Valloreo is a year removed from major surgery to repair injuries to his shoulder and biceps. He underwent the procedure shortly after he completed his senior season at Kutztown University in Pennsylvania.  “It happened when I was a junior,” Valloreo said. “But I kept throwing through it and I wanted to help the team when I was a senior. I became a reliever and didn’t throw as many innings.  “But after my senior year, I thought, ‘What if I want to have a catch some day with my son or daughter? What if I want to keep playing in the RVL?’ I decided to get the surgery and be healthy for the future.”

Valloreo recalled spending four to six weeks with his arm in a sling, then the rehab taking six or seven months.  “After 10 months, I was able to start really throwing and stretching it out. I’m still trying to find a groove,” said Valloreo, who pitched for Seneca High School (2008 graduate) and Burlington County College before joining Kutztown’s NCAA Division 2 program.

Vincentown held a 5-7 record through last week. Valloreo sees better days ahead for the Merchants and plans on doing his part to make it happen.  “I’m trying to help us get back on track,” he said. “We have some guys who took time off after their college seasons. Some played 50 or 60 games, and you need that time to step away and re-charge the batteries. Once we get them back, that will help. I think we’re going to find our stride pretty soon.”

Phantoms coming together?

Pine Barrens didn’t play its first game until June 2 but made up for lost time. Beginning with the season opener, the Phantoms played eight games in 17 days and came through that stretch with a 5-3 record. That’s where they stood entering the weekend.

Head coach Gerry Lamola liked what he saw in a 7-2 win over Mount Laurel last Wednesday, suggesting it may have been Pine Barrens’ best all-around effort so far. The Phantoms received effective pitching from Ron Krankowski and Nick Henderson, an offensive attack led by Krankowski and Tyler Kaiser, and errorless defense that night.

Two days earlier, Pine Barrens handed the Burlington Mets their first loss after eight wins. Recent Rancocas Valley High graduate Mason Anderson went six innings on the mound for that win, Kaiser had two hits and two RBIs, and Phil Shallenberger tripled and doubled for his two RBIs.

Bridgeton Invitational

Dallas Green, who managed the Phillies to a World Series victory in 1980, will be among the guests at this summer’s Bridgeton Invitational Tournament, which will run from Aug. 1-15.  Green and Alan Maimon recently co-authored a book titled “The Mouth That Roared” and he will be in Bridgeton on Wednesday, Aug. 13, to sign copies.

Other special guests at the 48th annual tournament will include Phillies’ color announcer Matt Stairs, the Phillie Phanatic and former Phillies’ color announcer Chris Wheeler, who will also be signing copies of his new book, “View From the Booth.”

The Vincentown Merchants won the Bridgeton Invitational in 1968 (the event’s second year) and 1982. Cinnaminson won four times, in 1976 and 1978 as Midwest Emery, in 1986 as Cinnaminson Liquors and in 1987 as Kardon Auto Mall.

The Cecil County (Maryland) Braves won in 2013.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Willingboro rolls to RVL triumph

Willingboro scored eight runs in the first inning Thursday on the way to an 11-2 win over Burlington Township.  Tyler Bayley pitched five innings, allowed one hit and recorded the win. Dan Hill worked two hitless frames in relief and struck out four. Mark Stumpf had three hits, the biggest of which was a three-run double in the first inning. Kellen Peter doubled, singled and had one RBI. Willingboro improved to 5-7.

Babula leads Burlington past Riverside

He’s a complete player and a big reason why Burlington has been so dominant in the Rancocas Valley Baseball League in recent years.

Shaun Babula stifled Riverside with six shutout innings on the mound Thursday. The veteran left-hander had nine strikeouts, and allowed four hits and no walks in Burlington’s 5-0 victory in the Rancocas Valley Baseball League.  “We have great chemistry on this team,” the southpaw said. “We pitch well, hit well; we really just do it all. There’s not much to it. I felt good tonight and when that happens we have a good chance to win because I know the offense will score some runs.”

The win is the fourth straight for Burlington, which is 12-2-1 overall and holds first place. The Me  ts are the defending league champions.  Burlington’s offense backed up Babula’s outing with three runs in the first inning and never looked back.

In the first, Pedro Perez singled home Babula, who singled to lead off the inning and stole second base. An RBI single from Paul Guerrieri and bases-loaded walk to Dominic Gallone made the score 3-0.

After Babula struck out the side in the top of the second, the Mets posted another run in the bottom half thanks to another RBI single from Perez, who finished 3-for-4 with two RBIs.  “When we build an early lead it gives (Shaun) the comfort of knowing he can make mistakes,” Mets manager Keith Babula said of his kid brother. “Even though he doesn’t make many of them, it allows him to attack and take control of the game.”

Burlington added one more run in the fifth inning on a Shaun Babula RBI single, which plated John Harvey. Shaun went 3-for-3 with a walk, two stolen bases and two runs scored.  “He’s got all the skills out there,” said Harvey, who went 3-for-4. “Whenever Shaun is on the mound, we feel like we’re going to win the game. He also can hit, which helps out big time. I think our pitching staff is strong and that’s why we’ve had so much success. When you have a guy like Shaun leading the way, it’s going to produce some wins.”

Riverside (10-6-1) is still a growing team and looks to make progress as the season moves on. The fifth-year club has never won more than 13 games in a season.

That could change this year. Shaun Babula sees improvement in the Patriots, who share second place with Cinnaminson.  “Riverside has everything going for them,” he said. “They’re talented. They stay within themselves, and they always put up a good at-bat. That’s going to be a very tough team to beat as the years move on.  “Their offense is already good and they have pitching. If they keep adding talent, who knows where they will end up?”

RVL Notebook

June 30, 2014

Cinnaminson returns to old neighborhood

Now that’s more like it.

Cinnaminson reached the midpoint of its Rancocas Valley Baseball League schedule with an 11-2-1 record. Through 14 games last year, Cinnaminson was 5-9.  Things picked up a bit and the Reds finished the regular season at 11-15. They won the play-in game to make the eight-team playoff field, then extended eventual finalist Vincentown to a third game before bowing out in the first round.  “We struggled to get guys out on a consistent basis and we didn’t have a deep bench,” Reds manager Brett Miller said. “We made it a point to build much more depth. We knew what we had to do to get back to what we’re used to doing.”

Usually, you check the standings in late July and see Cinnaminson with 20 or more wins, and situated much higher than eighth place. While there’s been some turnover in recent years, there remains a nucleus of guys who know what it takes to be a contender.  “We still have the Wascos (Mike and Tim), Sirollis (Frank and Joe) and the Gilberts (Geoff and Greg),” Miller said. “So we had the foundation. We just had to build around it.”

Delran was unable to field a team this year and many of those players have found new homes in the RVL. Kyle Ballay, Eric Gertie and Mark Wickersham relocated to Cinnaminson.  Others who’ve helped include John Dockins, and league newcomers Bill Dove, Dan Gavlik and Kyle Higgins. RVL veterans Jeff Vitale and Matty Janulis lend leadership.

The pitching staff blends experience (Ryan Varga, Craig Carrol, Jim Goodwin) and youth (Clinton Hart, Christian Rahman, Alex Sankey). Hart, a contributor to Cinnaminson High’s state championship in 2013, pitched a no-hitter last week against Vincentown.  “It’s not just the nine guys who are out there at one time, it’s all 25,” Miller said. “We have guys who we just put in the lineup and we don’t miss a beat. We’ll see what happens in August.”

Standing target

Rich Ledbeater was 4-for-4 Wednesday night, the tough way. He was hit by a pitch all four times during Mount Laurel’s victory over Burlington Township.

Familiar foes

Kevin Faber (6-2) and Diego Melendez (4-2) were the two leading pitchers for Penn State-Abington (18-19) this spring.

Tuesday night they were rival pitchers, with Melendez and Mount Laurel defeating Faber and Willingboro 6-3. Melendez, out of Pennsauken High, just finished his freshman year, while Faber (Father Judge) just graduated.

All-Star Game still on

The all-star game between the RVL and Pennsylvania’s Pen-Del League is still a go ... scheduled for July 19 at 5 p.m.

“We’re in the process of collecting names from our managers,” RVL president Ric Babula said. “Keith (Babula) will be in charge of the team, since Burlington won the (RVL) title last summer.”

Mull a dad

Longtime Burlington Met Garrett Mull recently became a proud papa, when his wife Christina presented him with Lucas Lee.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Mount Laurel rallies past Willingboro

By Pete Innaurato Correspondent

It was time to stop playing around. Well, they still played around, they just played with a purpose: to win.  The first 10 games of the Rancocas Valley Baseball League season were not so kind to Mount Laurel, which came into Tuesday’s game with a 2-7-1 record. However, a 6-3 victory over Willingboro made game No. 11 very enjoyable.

Mount Laurel starter Diego Melendez made his first start of 2014 and was effective. He went the distance, struck out seven, walked two and allowed three runs (one earned) on just five hits.  “I felt good out there after the first inning,” said Melendez, who pitched college ball at Penn State-Abington. “I was a little nervous to start, but after the first I felt great and had command. This is my first game here with Mount Laurel so it was important for me to pitch a good game.”

Willingboro struck for all three runs in the first inning. Jose Martinez singled home Jordan Glover for the first run. An outfield error and an RBI single by Mike Gulli gave the hosts a 3-0 advantage.  “We really put ourselves behind early with some sloppy defense,” Mount Laurel manager Dean Johnson said. “We didn’t help our starter out at all in the first. But he really 

Willingboro (4-7) let an early lead slip away to a team that needed a win.

settled in and we were able to score some runs for him as the game went on.”

Mount Laurel tallied two runs in the third on a two-run double by Brandon Barnes (2-for-4, three RBIs), which scored Rich Ledbeater and Cole Pewor.  Mount Laurel took the lead with two runs in the fourth. Brian Black plated Ty Powell on an RBI double to even things at 3. Black took third on a passed ball, then came home on a sacrifice fly by Paul Meagher.

It stayed 4-3 until the seventh, when two insurance runs came across for Mount Laurel. Barnes singled home Ledbeater, who’d been hit by a pitch, to make it 5-3. An error allowed the final run to score.

Melendez tossed a 1-2-3 bottom of the seventh to wrap it up.  “He had good command and he retired 18 of the last 21 batters he faced,” said Ledbeater, his catcher. “Fastball, curveball, slider was his arsenal and mostly everything was working for him.”

Willingboro center fielder Jordan Glover, who went 2-for-4 with a stolen base, believes his team can turn things around.  “There have been a few tight games so far,” Glover said. “We need to execute the fundamentals and we’ll be alright.”





Monday, June 23, 2014

Victory puts Burlington in first place

Vinny James batted in five runs Monday and led Burlington to a 7-1 win over Vincentown.  Max Newill was the winning pitcher as Burlington boosted its record to 11-2-1 for 24 points, lifting the Mets into first place.  James had two hits, including a home run, and Zach Skidmore scored two runs and contributed one RBI. Ian Thomas batted in the run for Vincentown (5-9).

Cinnaminson 11, Riverside 1:

The Reds overcame an early deficit and took the lead for good on a two-run single by Frank Sirolli, who finished with two hits and four RBIs.  Joe Sirolli had three hits and scored three runs, helping Cinnaminson improve to 10-2-1 for 22 points. Winning pitcher Christian Rahman struck out nine in a two-hitter and the Riverside run was unearned.  Eric Oliver had both Riverside hits and scored the Patriots’ run. Riverside is 10-5-1 and holds second place with 23 points.

Monday, June 30, 2014

By Pete Innaurato Correspondent, Burlington County Times

Pine Barrens tops Burlington Twp.

Pine Barrens was hungry for a win and Burlington Township resembled a filet mignon Monday night as the Phantoms claimed a 6-1 victory in the Rancocas Valley Baseball League.

Louis Atkins was solid for the Phantoms, pitching five innings, only allowing one run while striking out two and walking five. Atkins toed the rubber for only the third time this season and impressed with his ability to mix speeds and keep the Township hitters off-balance.  “We were really happy with the way Louis pitched,” coach Gerry Lamola said. “He incorporated all of his pitches and located his fastball well. When we field well behind him, that’s when he’s at his best. He will keep us in the game and work hard.”  Atkins’ outing was backed by the sticks of the Phantoms, who posted runs in the middle innings.

Third baseman Tyler Kaiser plated Ryan Krupa in the third on a sacrifice fly to make the score 1-0.  In the fourth inning, the Phantoms extended their lead to 3-0 on a sacrifice fly from Krupa, which brought home Alex Campbell, and an infield error, which plated Mike Follett.  “We put pressure on their defense by stealing some bases early on,” Follett said. “We started slow, but something was bound to happen because we kept at it. We had to bring our ‘A’ game because we didn’t exactly dominate the competition tonight.”

Burlington Township got on the board thanks to an error, and loaded the bases with one out. But Atkins hunkered down and struck out the next two batters.

In the fifth, the Phantoms broke the game open on a three-run home run by Campbell. The hit was one that couldn’t have come at a better time considering the Pirates were making some noise in the previous inning.  “That was a big-time hit for us,” Krupa said. “We were scratching some runs across early but were waiting to break things open a bit. We had a lot of runners throughout the game; it was good to see Campbell go deep there and give our defense some room to breathe.”

Alec Marconi, who pitched the final two innings of Monday’s victory, sees great potential in a team that has surpassed the .500 mark a month into the season.  “This team has a lot of fun together and we get along,” Marconi said. “Sometimes we feed off each other’s energy and that’s why we’ve been having success lately. I have confidence in these guys, we just have to stay focused.”

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Burlington Twp. wins; no-hitter for Hart

The Burlington Township Pirates broke into the victory column with a 4-3 triumph over Pine Barrens at Viereck Field.  The Pirates had lost their first 13 games this season. But the win didn’t come easily.With two outs in the top of the seventh and two runners on base, the Phantoms’ Ronnie Krankowski lined out to second baseman Eddie Eifert.

Zach Gould went 6 2/3 innings and earned the pitching victory, with final-out relief from C.J. McNutt.  Eifert had a single, triple and an RBI, Giancarlo Regni had two singles and two RBI, Mike Zier had two hits and an RBI, while Wayne Feret had two singles and scored twice.  Krankowski had a single and triple, with one RBI.

Cinnaminson 6, Vincentown 2:

Right-hander Clinton Hart tossed a no-hitter as Cinnaminson knocked off Vincentown at Memorial Park.  Hart, a Cinnaminson High grad who pitched at Burlington County College this spring, struck out nine, walked four and hit two batters.  Bill Dove’s two-run double gave the Reds a 4-0 lead, and Mike Wasco added a two-run home run. Dan Gavlik had two hits and an RBI.  Newcomer Dave Gibson, a lefty, pitched a complete game for the Merchants (5-8).

Burlington 1, Willingboro 0:

Casey Donahue led off the top of the eighth with a walk and scored on Kyle Semmel’s single for the Mets (10-2-1).  John Harvey threw five scoreless innings and Jon Wilkins picked up the win with three more blanks, combining on a one-hitter. Connor McFarlane pitched seven shutout innings for ‘Boro (4-6). Dan Hill took the loss, allowing an unearned run.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Hill powers Willingboro to victory

Dan Hill’s three-run double was the big blow as Willingboro posted a 16-3 win over Mount Laurel.  Hill’s blow gave the Boro a 4-2 lead. Jose Martinez, Jamie Schwantes and Drew Rodriguez each had three hits for the winners (6-7).  Craig Ricks (five innings) and Connor McFarlane were the benefactors.  Brandon Barnes was 2-for-3 with a double and an RBI for Mount Laurel (4-9-1).

Pine Barrens 9, Vincentown 3:
Mason Anderson fanned 10 in five innings and Alex Campbell had two doubles, two RBIs and scored twice, as the Phantoms improved to 8-6.  Tyler Kaiser pitched the last two innings to finish off a combined four-hitter. Phil Shallenberger and Mike Follet each doubled for the winners.  Ryan Williams had a double for the Merchants (5-10).
Burlington 4, Burlington Twp. 0:
Ryan Bell tossed a four-hitter and struck out seven in a complete-game win.  Jon Wilkins was 2-for-3 with an RBI and Justin McFadden had two hits for Burlington (14-2-1).  Giancarlo Regni was 1-for-3 for the Pirates.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Storm leaves teams frustrated

By Pete Innaurato Correspondent

When the skies opened up, they ended up playing for hits and giggles.

With Vincentown leading 5-4 in the bottom of the fifth inning, Mount Laurel was threatening to take the lead with runners on first and third with one out in Wednesday night’s Rancocas Valley League game.  The baseball gods then interfered with the action taking place and the game was called two outs shy of being deemed final.

According to RVL rules, five innings of baseball must be played in order for a game to result in either a win, loss or tie. For two struggling teams, the frustration of not being able to complete Wednesday’s contest is a little irritating.  “It’s a pain that we weren’t able to finish this one out,” said Mount Laurel manager Dean Johnson, whose team is 4-9 on the year. “We felt the momentum shifting our way there at the end and we definitely had a chance to take the lead and win the game. My guys have been inconsistent this year and it was nice to see them display something there offensively. A few good innings isn’t enough for me though, we need to turn things around in back-to-back games.”

Vincentown (5-10) opened up action with a 5-0 lead thanks to a two-run dou

ble from Zeke Boron in the first, a two-RBI single from John Bujanowski Jr. and an RBI hit from Patrick Donnelly in the fourth.  Mount Laurel scored two runs in the bottom of the fourth after a two-out, two-run single from Tyler Revay to make it 5-2. In the fifth, two more runs crossed thanks to Cole Pewor, who tripled home a run and scored on a wild pitch.

For a struggling Vincentown team, the storm may have been a blessing in disguise.  “We had opportunities and failed,” said assistant coach Reg Williams. “We built a lead and almost surrendered it. We couldn’t get the leadoff man in often enough — we had ours on every inning. We’ve got to get back to playing fundamental ball in those instances.”

Burlington Twp. 5, Pine Barrens 4, suspended: 

The game was stopped in the bottom of the fifth inning.

RVL Notebook

July 7, 2014

Courtesy of Bruce Johnson, Burlington County Times

Photo courtesy of Bryan Woolston

Donahue adjusts to new role

Casey Donahue was 16 or 17 years old, a senior at Riverside High, playing with the big boys on the powerhouse Cinnaminson Myles Transportation in the Rancocas Valley Baseball League.  That was when he first noticed the “older” guy playing lights-out third base for the Burlington Mets — Jeff Vitale.

Now, 20 years later, Donahue has returned to the RVL after an injury-forced two-year absence and is playing a solid second base — for Burlington. And Vitale? The league’s Methuselah is still flashing a great-glove at the hot corner — for Cinnaminson.

“It’s crazy, me with Burlington and Vi with Cinnaminson,” Donahue said. “When I started playing in the RVL, Vi was about my age now. I’m just happy to be playing baseball again. I’m a lifer. You can’t keep me away, although the shoulder (injury) kept me out two years.”


An all-county shortstop as a high school senior, Donahue played on some strong teams at Rowan and then Camden County College, while playing regularly on Cinnaminson for his high school coach, Gary Herron.

He seemingly capped his career by helping Cinnaminson top Vincentown for the 2011 RVL championship. He hit .350 that season.

But then came the surgery — a torn labrum, rotator cuff and a bone spur. He had a nice job with PSE&G, and got his baseball fix by helping Herron and Chris McManus coach at Riverside.  It looked like his playing days were behind him. But his wife Lindsey and daughter Kaylee (who turns 20 Monday) kept pestering him. “They were like, ‘You can still play. You should go back.’ “

During the high school season, Donahue started taking swings during batting practice, and fielding grounders. He was getting the itch.  It was after a Merle Haggard concert (or was it Rascal Flatts?) that Donahue and Mets manager Keith Babula stopped to have a couple beers.  “We were just talking, about baseball and the RVL, and the bartender was listening and said I should play, that it seemed like that’s what I really wanted to do,” Donahue said. “I’m at an age where it’s nice having your summers off. But she made me bet Keith that if he chugged a 40-ounce beer in less than two minutes ... well, he did it. And that’s how this came about, although Keith never held a gun to my head to play.  “I told Keith, if you have a spot for me, fine. But your younger kids, the college kids, they have to play.”

Donahue wasn’t on the Mets’ original roster, but was signed May 16. He made his first start on June 2 against Mount Laurel and was 1-for-2 with two walks. And he’s been in the lineup ever since.  “Me and Max (Newill) both had our first starts for the Mets in the same game,” Donahue said. “It was a typical Max game, over in an hour and a half. It felt comfy.”

The Mets (14-2-1), who swept the RVL regular-season and playoff titles in 2013, have a nice blend of veterans and youth this summer.  And as the league passed the midway point, Donahue, who turns 37 next month, is holding up. He’s played second base, third base and DH’d, and is usually in the No. 2 or 3 hole. He’s hitting .303 in 11 games, all starts.

Any chance he’ll still be playing in his 50s, like Vitale, or Herron, his mentor at Riverside and Cinnaminson?  “Hey, the good Lord willing and the creek don’t rise, I’ll keep playing as long as they make bats,” Donahue said. “I know my role. I’m just happy to be out there around all the young guys. Once the playoffs come it’s their time. It’s not my time anymore. That ship’s come and gone.”

Guerrieri out for season

Burlington’s Paul Guerrieri will miss the rest of the 2014 season following recent season-ending surgery on his right hip.  Guerrieri, one of the league’s most feared hitters, was hitting .303 with five RBIs in nine starts this summer. He hit .437 with 15 doubles and three homers during the Mets’ 2010 championship season, and led the RVL in hitting (.487) in 2012.  The former Pemberton High star came into the season ranked among the Mets’ all-time leaders in at bats (third), runs (fourth), hits (third), doubles (first), home runs (third) and runs batted in (first).

Reelin’ in the years

Dan Hill’s bases-clearing double last Tuesday put Willingboro ahead of Mount Laurel, en route to a 16-3 win. The interesting part of the blast was that it scored Jamie Schwantes (39 years old), Jon Wetzel (32) and Kellen Peter (35), the latter all the way from first. That’s 106 years coming around the bases — with none out!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Cinnaminson downs Vincentown

Bill Dove was 4-for-4 with three RBIs and Kyle Higgins added a pair of doubles and scored three times as Cinnaminson posted an 8-2 victory over Vincentown at Thompson Field.  Jim Goodwin was the benefactor of the big bats, throwing six innings and allowing no earned runs, while walking none and striking out five.  Ryan Williams was 3-for-3 for the Merchants, including two doubles.

RVL Notebook

July 14, 2014
Courtesy of Bruce Johnson, Burlington County Times
The Rancocas Valley Baseball League will take on the Pendel League in an all-star game this coming Saturday, 5 p.m., at Vincentown’s Harry Thompson Field.  
The RVL’s starting lineup is: ss Pedro Perez, cf Frank Sirolli, rf Matt Speckman, dh Zach Skidmore, 1b Dan Gavlik, 3b Marshall Harden, lf Brandon Barnes, c Joe Knazek, 2b Eddie Stiles, p Shaun Babula.
The RVL pitching staff is loaded, and (with ERA’s through Friday’s games) features Burlington’s Babula (0.00), John Harvey (3.30) and Max Newill (2.96), Cinnaminson’s Christian Rahman (2.07), Pine Barrens’ Ronnie Krankowski (2.62) and Mason Anderson (2.46), Willingboro’s Connor McFarlane (2.25), Vincentown’s Damon Valloreo (1.72) and Burlington Township’s CJ McNutt (1.40).
Some players were voted to the team — Vinny James, Greg Gilbert, Kyle Higgins, Eric Gertie, Mike Tobia — but are unable to attend. Other players were voted to the team as position players — Babula and Ronnie Krankowski — but chose to be pitchers.
Here are the rosters for both teams:
* voted by RVL managers as a starter
# unavailable to play
(r) added as replacement
(p) voted as a starter but chose to pitch



*# Vinny James (Burlington)

Joe Knazek (Riverside)

(r) Bill Dove (Cinnaminson)

First base

* Dan Gavlik (Cinnaminson)

Connor Hall (Mount Laurel)


* Eddie Stiles (Riverside)

# Kyle Higgins (Cinnaminson)

(r) Mark Stumpf (Willingboro)

* Marshall Harden (Burlington)

Tyler Kaiser (Pine Barrens)

* Pedro Perez (Burlington)

John Dockins (Cinnaminson)


* Brandon Barnes (Mount Laurel)

(p) Ron Krankowski (Pine Barrens)

(r) Jon Wetzel (Cinnaminson)

* (p) Shaun Babula (Burlington)

Frank Sirolli (Cinnaminson)

(r) Brian Black (Mount Laurel)

* # Geoff Gilbert (Cinnaminson)

Matt Speckman (Willingboro)

(r) Dante Keys (Riverside)

Designated hitter

* Zach Skidmore (Burlington)

Jack Bujanowski (Vincentown)


Shaun Babula (Burlington)

John Harvey (Burlington)

Max Newill (Burlington)

Ron Krankowski (Pine Barrens)

Christian Rahman (Cinnaminson)

# Eric Gertie (Cinnaminson)

# Mike Tobia (Mount Laurel)

Damon Valloreo (Vincentown)

CJ McNutt (Burlington Twp.)

(r) Connor McFarlane (Willingboro)

(r) Mason Anderson (Pine Barrens)




Casey Rothwell (Huntington Valley)

Dave McInerney (Upper Moreland)

First base

Mike Janas (Upper Moreland)

Anthony Pletscher (Glenside)


Bobby Argeros (Warminster)

Mark Woltemate (LOMA)

Steve Sable (Warminster)

Brandon Roman (Warminster)

Pat Brady (Huntington Valley)

Bryan Wilde (Hunterdon Valley)

Sean Byles (Northampton)


Darnell Muse (Huntington Valley)

Dustin Kology (LOMA)

Jesse Goldstein (Horsham)

Sean Welsh (Warminster)

Alex Bragin (Warminster)

Brady McNab (Horsham)


Drew Gerhardt (Northampton)

Andrew Lihotz (Warminster)

Sean McCloskey (Horsham)

Ray Malagon (Horsham)

Rob Andris (Huntington Valley)

Tom Hellwarth (LOMA)

Tom Miller (LOMA)

Kyle Waler (Upper Moreland)

Dalton Smoot (Upper Moreland)


Youth movement
Harry Thompson has seen just about every possible situtation during his almost 70 years in the RVL. The Vincentown Merchants manager simply rolls with the punches.  “We’ve gone from one of the elite teams to . . . ” Thompson said, of his 7-13 team. “But when you take the 2-3-4-5 hitters out of the lineup, that’s going to happen. We’re playing six, seven high school kids now, and I’ll tell you what, I like them. They come to play.”
The Merchants, who won the RVL in 2012 and were runner-up in 2013, are without Sam Pepper, Greg Miller, Jesse Pappler and Troy Foster, who were huge parts of that success.  “We’ll be OK, babe,” Thompson said. “I like this kid at catcher, Brandon Kay. He’s got a gun. And when the Williams boys, Ryan and Dan, are here, we’re a pretty good team still.”
7 p.m. in V-town
The league announced that Vincentown’s remaining home games will start at 7 p.m., rather than the normal 8 p.m.
Semipro book in the Hall
“Covered Wooden Grandstands,” a book about semipro baseball in New Jersey, has been selected for inclusion in the library at the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. The book is in ABNER (American Baseball Network for Electronic Research), the Hall’s online library catalog.  Among the many outstanding New Jersey sports writers contributing to the book were Bruce Johnson and Joe Mason of the BCT (the late Jeff Offord passed away before completing his story), former BCT writer Dave Zangaro, and Phil Anastasia of the Philadelphia Inquirer.  There are four stories involving the RVL — on Shaun Babula, Jack Bujanowski, Rocky Petrone and Harry Thompson — plus stories from every county in New Jersey, and some from six other states.
Exhibition still on
The Mets’ July 26 exhibition game with the Hellertown Royals of Pennsylvania’s Blue Mountain League is still on . . . “tentatively,” according to Mets’ manager Keith Babula.  The Royals are currently in first place in the BML, which means they would get a first-round bye in the playoffs and could play the Mets.  “I don’t know if we’ll have enough players to field a team,” Babula said. “Hopefully, we will.”

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Vincentown 8, Burlington 6:
Ryan Williams and Johnny Bujanowski delivered their own fireworks, helping the Merchants surprise the first-place Mets in their annual Fireworks Game (which ended at 12:45 a.m. Sunday).  Williams was 3-for-3, including a three-run homer, while “Little Booj” was 2-for-3 with a solo dinger. Danny Williams also contributed three hits.  Damon Valloreo went four innings for the win, with Dave Gibson finishing up.  Marshall Harden (double), Matt Fischer (double) and John Harvey each had three hits for the Mets. Ryan Bell added a triple.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Pine Barrens, Willingboro split a pair at Bowker Field
Pine Barrens and Willingboro played a couple of one-run games Sunday night at steamy Patty Bowker Field, the Phantoms winning the opener 4-3 and the ’Boro Boys taking the nightcap 5-4.  Dan Hill was the winning pitcher in the second game, striking out six in 4 2/3 innings. Mike Juckett got the save with 2 1/3 innings of relief.  Jordan Glover had a single and double, and Tyler Bayley contributed two hits.
In the opener, Mike Kondrath pitched four solid innings, but Matt Curry got the win and Anthony Coniglio earned the save.
Ryan Krupa drove in two runs with a double and a sac fly, Alex Campbell had two hits and Cameron Bahr doubled.
Mark Stumpf had three hits and two RBIs for Willingboro, Drew Rodriguez had a double and triple and scored twice, and Jordan Glover and Jon Wetzel both doubled.
Pine Barrens (10-7-1) is fourth in the league with 24.5 points, while Willingboro (8-10-0) is fifth with 21.
Cinnaminson 9, Vincentown 7:
Trailing 6-2 when this game was suspended on July 8, the Reds rallied to tie and then broke a 6-all tie with three in the top of the seventh.  One run scored on an error on Kyle Ballay’s hit, another scored on Joe Sirolli’s fielder’s choice grounder, and the last scored on Frank Sirolli’s single.  Jim Goodwin pitched five innings, allowing two hits and one unearned run for the win.
Matty Janulis’ RBI single, Joe Sirolli’s two-run single and Geoff Gilbert’s sacrifice fly helped the Reds battle back to tie the game.
The Reds (16-4-1) stayed on the heels of Burlington (17-3-1), while sixth-place Vincentown fell to 7-13-0, 20.5 points.
Burlington 4, Burlington Twp. 2:
Brandon Elliott struck out six in five innings to earn the win. Matt Hill had a single and double for the Mets, while Vinny James added two hits and an RBI.  Nick Cancelliere pitched a complete game for the Pirates, allowing two earned runs. Giancarlo Regni had two hits and Mike Zier drove in a run.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Anderson sharp for Pine Barrens

Mason Anderson pitched a four-hitter for Pine Barrens in a 3-1 win over Mount Laurel.  Anderson, who graduated last month from Rancocas Valley High, worked all seven innings and struck out eight in raising his record to 6-0.

Pine Barrens is 11-7-1 for 26.5 points, one point behind Riverside (11-9-1, 27.5) for third place, heading into Friday’s 7 p.m. makeup game at Vincentown.  Ronnie Krankowski had two hits and batted in two runs for Pine Barrens. Phil Shallenberger had a double and one RBI, and Tyler Kaiser doubled and scored a run.  Cole Pewor tripled, then scored the Mount Laurel (6-12-2) run when Paul Meagher hit into a fielder’s choice.

Burlington 5, Willingboro 2:

Garrett Mull was 4-for-4 with an RBI and Marshall Harden had two hits (home run, double) and two RBIs as the Mets improved to 18-3-1.  Max Newill worked the first six innings for his fourth win, recording five strikeouts. Jon Wilkins struck out the side in the seventh to save it.  Willingboro (8-12) received two doubles from Mark Stumpf.

Cinnaminson 11, Riverside 4:

The Reds scored five times in the fourth inning to seize a 7-3 lead on the way to victory. Kyle Ballay’s two-run double was the biggest hit, while Bill Dove contributed an RBI double and John Dockins had an RBI single.  Dockins went 4-for-5 and scored four runs, and Dove finished with two doubles and three RBIs. Eric Gertie got the mound decision for the Reds (18-4-1).


July 19, 2014

Connor Hughes Correspondent

It’s been an up-and-down summer for Frank Sirolli. At times, the baseball seems the size of a beach ball for the Cinnaminson Reds outfielder; other times, it’s more like a Ping-Pong ball.


After going 2-for-6 with two RBIs Saturday for the Rancocas Valley League all-stars in a 7-7 tie with Pennsylvania’s Pendel League all-stars, Sirolli hopes it’s only up from here on out.  “When you get some hits it gets you rolling. That’s all it is,” Sirolli said. “It’s about getting confidence, seeing some good pitches and putting a swing in there. I did that today.”

Sirolli is hitting .250 with five games to play in the RVL’s regular season. Despite his self-diagnosed “mediocre” performance, Cinnaminson is 18-4-1 and battling Burlington (18-3-1) for first place. The playoffs begin in two weeks.  “Our team has been playing really well,” Sirolli said. “We’re positioned well atop the leaderboard. It’s all about the team and hopefully getting that No. 1 seed.”

Sirolli was one of 56 athletes to participate in the game at Harry W. Thompson Field in Southampton Memorial Park. The Pendel is an established, well-respected league based in the Philadelphia suburbs.  “It was a pretty good experience and a great atmosphere,” Sirolli said. “It was fun to be a part of this because they don’t do it every year. It certainly was a good experience for everyone.”

After Pendel jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the third inning, the RVL fought back with six unanswered runs. Joe Knazek (Riverside) and Sirolli each hit two-run singles to highlight the scoring.  Pendel quickly fought back, scoring five runs in the seventh. Bobby Argeros hit an RBI single to tie and Mike Kortzer hit a sacrifice fly to bring home the go-ahead run.  “We had that one bad inning where we gave up a five-spot and the lead,” RVL manager Ric Babula said. “If we don’t kick the ball around that inning, this outcome is completely different.”

The RVL tied the game in the bottom of the ninth on an RBI single by Ronnie Krankowski (Pine Barrens). The teams then gathered and agreed to play one more inning in an attempt to break the tie. When the 10th frame came and went without a run, the game was called.  “No one wants to tie. It’s not good,” Sirolli said, laughing. “I guess it’s part of semipro baseball, but this kind of (stinks).”

Wedneesday, July 9, 2014

Burlington takes ownership of first place

By Pete Innaurato Correspondent

There’s a difference between good, very good and great.  If you’ve watched Shaun Babula pitch this season in the Rancocas Valley Baseball League, you’d know exactly what that means.  Once again, Babula tossed a complete game, allowing only one run (unearned) on five hits and no walks Wednesday, while striking out eight in a 7-1 win over Cinnaminson. In doing so, Babula continued his streak of not allowing an earned run in 2014.

There isn’t too much to be asked from the Burlington offense when Babula toes the hill. However, there is one thing Babula asks of his teammates: take nothing for granted.  “I’ve been really lucky so far early on this year,” said Babula, whose team improved to 16-2-1 and took sole possession of first place.  “I throw it over the plate and hope good things happen,” the veteran left-hander said. “Some things have bounced my way and I’ve been fortunate to have had this success early on here. We can’t take anything for granted, though, because you’re beatable each night out. As the season comes to an end and the playoffs begin, we have to remain focused.”

Burlington essentially put things away early on as the Mets posted a three-spot in the second inning. An RBI single from Pedro Perez plated Matt Fischer to opening the scoring. An RBI groundout from Kyle Semmel and an RBI single from Matt Jolly wrapped up the scoring in that inning.

Cinnaminson (15-3-1) got on the board in the bottom of the third thanks to an infield error. However, that’s all the Reds would get.

With the score 3-1 in the bottom of the fifth, Babula struck out the side and continued to stifle the Reds’ bats.  “He was on point all night long,” Mets manager Keith Babula said. “We weren’t doing anything offensively in the middle innings, so we needed Shaun to pitch well and he did.”

In the sixth, Burlington broke the game open with a four-spot. One-out singles from Marshall Harden and Perez, and a walk to Semmel, loaded the bases for Jolly, who roped a two-run double to left-center making the score 5-1.  Two more runs scored on a Casey Donahue groundout and a throwing error.  “I had some good opportunities to get hits,” said Jolly, who went 2-for-3 with three RBIs. “I had runners in scoring position all night and to go along with that, I felt loose at the plate. Hopefully this gets me kick-started.”

Burlington went on to close out the team with which it shared first place at the start of the night.  “We beat a really good team tonight,” Keith Babula said. “I don’t know if this was a statement game or not, but we treated it like any other game. We have to keep racking up the wins because teams can go through lulls in the year. We already faced some points in the season where we caught some lucky breaks. We have to keep playing our game and we will be fine.”

Eight-run rally lifts Mount Laurel to RVL triumph

Mount Laurel scored eight runs with two outs in the bottom of the fifth inning Wednesday night to rally for an 8-5 victory over Riverside.  Brian Black’s three-run double put Mount Laurel in the lead. Connor Hall and Paul Meagher had RBI singles in the inning, and both finished with two hits on the night.  Matt Szukics, winning pitcher Mike Dunlap and Mike Tobia combined for 11 strikeouts as Mount Laurel improved to 6-10-2.  Brett Knazek had two hits for Riverside (11-8-1)

Friday, July 18, 2014

Pine Barrens 5, Vincentown 0

Eric Sellito had two hits and a key defensive play, and Ronnie Krankowski pitched six scoreless innings as the Pine Barrens Phantoms beat the Vincentown Merchants 5-0.  Sellito’s big defensive play came in the fourth inning of a 1-0 game when the center fielder fielded Dave Gibson’s single and threw out Jack Bujanowski at the plate.

Krankowski allowed four singles and struck out six. Phil Shallenberger struck out the side in a 1-2-3 seventh.  Krankowski had two hits, including a double, while Shallenberger and Tyler Allison had RBI doubles as the Phantoms improved to 12-7-1. Bujanowski had two hits for the short-handed Merchants (8-14).

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Ballay powers Cinnaminson to victory

Kyle Ballay hit two home runs to help Cinnaminson to a 13-6 decision over Willingboro.  Ballay also doubled to finish the night with three hits and batted in five runs. His two-run shot sparked a five-run second inning that gave the Reds a 5-0 lead. Jeff Vitale and John Dockins contributed RBI singles.  Dockins totaled three hits and Cinnaminson (17-4-1) benefited from reliever Antonio Guido, who got the win with three innings and allowed one run.  Willingboro (8-11) was led by John Walls, whose three-run homer in the third inning made it a 6-3 game. Walls finished 3-for-4.

RVL Notebook

July 21, 2014

Courtesy of Bruce Johnson, Burlington County Times

July push underway for August seedings

With the Rancocas Valley Baseball League’s regular season winding down to the final eight days — meaning “August in V-town” is just around the corner — it’s a good time to take a look at where things stand.  When the playoffs start on Aug. 2, the first-place team will face the eighth-place Burlington Township Pirates.  That much we know. Who will be the first-place team? Could be the Burlington Mets, could be the Cinnaminson Reds. If they finish the season tied in points, the Mets get the edge on the head-to-head tiebreaker — having gone 2-1-1 vs. the Reds.

As far as third through seventh places, the other five teams are very tightly bunched.

If the playoffs started today, the pairings would be:

1) Cinnaminson vs. 8) Burlington Township

5) Willingboro vs. 4) Riverside

6) Vincentown vs. 3) Pine Barrens

2) Burlington vs. 7) Mount Laurel


But much of that could change over the next eight days. Here are the remaining games (weather permitting, of course) for all eight teams:


Burlington (4): Pine Barrens, Riverside, Riverside, Vincentown.

Burlington Twp. (3): Vincentown, Mount Laurel, Vincentown.

Cinnaminson (3): Mount Laurel, Riverside, Willingboro.

Mount Laurel (5): Willingboro, Cinnaminson, Willingboro, Burlington Twp., Riverside.

Pine Barrens (5): Burlington, Riverside, Willingboro (DH), Riverside.

Riverside (7): Vincentown, Pine Barrens, Burlington, Burlington, Cinnaminson, Mount Laurel, Pine Barrens.

Vincentown (4): Riverside, Burlington Twp., Burlington, Burlington Twp.

Willingboro (5): Mount Laurel, Mount Laurel, Pine Barrens (DH), Cinnaminson.


Babe’s anniversary

July 1 was the 90th anniversary of Babe Ruth’s home run in an exhibition game in Delanco. Yep, the Bambino lost one in the trees at Cooper Street Field, a.k.a. Babe Ruth Field, where Mount Laurel plays its home games.  There’s a plaque located on the third base side in foul territory commemorating the event.  The home run came on a 3-2 pitch from Jack Sweeney, who was named the best pitcher of the first 50 years of the Burlington County League (1898-1952). He is also the great-grandfather of the Burlington Mets’ Keith and Shaun Babula.


Near triple killing

In a recent Riverside at Mount Laurel game, coach Dean Johnson’s club came within a whisker of pulling off an 8-3-2 triple play. The situation:  With Jeff Briggs on third, Dante Keys on first, none out and Josh Sabol at bat, Riverside coach Mike Hynes sent Keys. Sabol smashed a lazer to center field that Brian Black caught and threw to first baseman Connor Hall for the double play. Hall’s throw home to Rich Ledbeater nearly caught the sliding Briggs.


Burlington-Hellertown off

The exhibition game planned for this Saturday between the 2013 champions of the RVL (Burlington Mets) and Pennsylvania’s Blue Mountain League (Hellertown Royals) won’t be played.  The recent rains backed up the Mets’ schedule, and they’re playing Tuesday (Pine Barrens), Thursday (Riverside), Friday (Riverside) and Monday (Vincentown).  “Maybe next year,” Mets manager Keith Babula said.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Willingboro holds off Mt. Laurel

In some baseball games, an individual stands out. Not so much Tuesday.  Willingboro defeated Mount Laurel 5-4 in a Rancocas Valley League game, which starting pitcher Craig Ricks described as the perfect team win.  “It’s a huge win,” Ricks said. “It was a great team effort (from everyone).”

All of the runs scored by Willingboro (10-12) came in the top of the third inning off of Mount Laurel starter Marty McDonald. The ‘Boro used two singles, a walk, a sacrifice fly and a passed ball.  Jon Wetzel began the inning by hitting what looked to be a routine ground ball to second baseman Cole Pewor, but the ball took a bad hop and the rally was started.  Two batters later, Wetzel became the first player to cross the plate on a RBI single by Brian Bessinger, who later scored on a bases-loaded walk to Rich Stronski.  With the bases still juiced, Matt Speckman hit a long, towering sacrifice fly to center field that drove in Mark Stumpf. Dan Hill then knocked home Stronski on a single.

John Walls, who went 2-for-2 with two singles, scored on the passed ball.  “We strung a bunch of hits together and scored,” Walls said. “We had a bunch of scoring opportunities and we got it done.”

In the bottom of the inning, the hosts used two home runs to score their four runs.  Henry Chou started the Mount Laurel third with a solo homer to left-center and that was followed by a three-run shot to right off the bat of Connor Hall, who had singled in the first inning.  “I felt pretty good out there, but I got pretty lazy there in the (third) inning,” Ricks said. “It ticked me off a little bit. I came back and we played good defense.”

Once Mount Laurel (6-15-2) tagged him for four runs, Ricks re-focused and retired nine of his final 11 batters. The two players who reached base found their way on thanks to walks.  “It made me a little angry and I started throwing harder. They didn’t get a hit after that. It pumped me up actually,” said Ricks, who scattered four hits over five innings, and recorded six strikeouts.

With daylight fading and Mount Laurel still in need of one run, Willingboro turned to Kevin Faber and Hill to deliver the knockout punch.  Faber pitched 1 inning in relief before Hill came in to close the door just as the sun drifted behind the trees.  “Dan did a great job coming in at the end. That was awesome,” Ricks said.  Hill, along with Wetzel, went 2-for-4 as Willingboro held on to fifth place, and closed within two points of fourth-place Riverside.it after that. It pumped me up actually,” said Ricks, who scattered four hits over five innings, and recorded six strikeouts.

Ferrara slam ignites Vincentown

Mike Ferrara hit a grand slam in the second inning, helping Vincentown to a 10-5 win over Riverside.  Rex Workman added a solo home run in the third inning and the Merchants improved their record 9-14. Winning pitcher Dave Gibson struck out eight and walked two, allowing seven hits.  Riverside (11-10-1) remains in fourth place, two points ahead of Willingboro and three in front of V-Town.

Burlington 5, Pine Barrens 2: 

Shaun Babula had two hits, scored two runs, stole four bases and was the winning pitcher in relief. Casey Donahue and Matt Fischer had two hits, and Donahue joined Marshall Harden, Sean McNeil and Ryan Bell with RBIs.  The victory lifted the Mets into a tie for first place with Cinnaminson. Both teams are 20-4-1 and, with Burlington’s victory Tuesday, each team is assured of at least the No. 2 seed in the league playoffs.  The Phantoms’ runs were batted in by Ronnie Krankowski (single) and Eric Sellitto (double).

Pine Barrens 10, Burlington Township 7:

The Phantoms then stopped by Viereck Field and completed a suspended game, erasing a 5-4 deficit with six runs in the fifth inning. Krankowski singled the tying run home before a three-run triple by Alex Campbell broke it open. Sellitto followed with his own three-bagger to score Campbell.  Township scored twice before Pine Barrens (14-9-1) held on.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Hornyak, Cerami lead Riverside past Burlington

Dan Hornyak’s three-run double made a winner of reliever as Riverside surprised the Burlington Mets 8-7 in the completion of a rain-shortened Rancocas Valley League game.  The win ended a five-game losing streak for Riverside (12-12-1) while snapping a three-game win streak for the Mets (21-5-1), who have one game left, Monday against Vincentown.

The second-place Cinnaminson Reds (20-4-1), with three games to play, including Sunday night against Riverside, can now capture the regular-season title by winning two out of three; they also play at Willingboro Tuesday, and have a suspended game against Mount Laurel, if needed.  The rains had come on July 14 with the Mets holding onto a 6-5 lead, but Riverside had the bases jammed. On the second pitch, Hornyak lined his double up the right-center alley for an 8-6 lead.

Cerami coasted through 3 2/3 innings before Garrett Mull’s single and Matt Fischer’s double made it 8-7. But the righty induced a hard-hit grounder to second for the final out.  Fischer was 4-for-4 with two doubles and a triple, and Shaun Babula was 2-for-3 with two stolen bases for the Mets, who led 6-1.  Jeff Briggs contributed to a two-run triple for Riverside.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Pine Barrens, Burlington split

Ryan Bell pitched a three-hitter as the Burlington Mets downed the Pine Barrens Phantoms 3-1 at Patty Bowker Field.  The Phantoms (13-8-1) won the opener 7-3.  In a scoreless game, Marshall Harden tripled in the seventh and scored on Garrett Mull’s single. Mull later scored the winning run on a balk.  Tyler Kaiser’s home run in the bottom of the seventh spoiled Bell’s shutout.

In the opener, Mike Kondrath allowed four hits in six innings to outduel Shaun Babula as the Phantoms improved to 7-1-1 in their last nine games. Phil Shallenberger worked a 1-2-3 seventh.  Kaiser had three hits, including a double, and scored twice. Ryan Krupa’s two-run single gave PB the lead, Cameron Bahr had two hits and Ronnie Krankowski added an RBI double.  Matt Hill and Harden had RBI doubles for the Mets (19-4-1).

Cinnaminson 5, Mount Laurel 0 (10),  Cinnaminson 4, Mount Laurel 1:

Craig Carrol (four innings) and Anthony Guido (three) pitched the Reds (20-4-1) to a 4-1 victory in the regularly scheduled game.  Dan Gavlik (single), John Dockins (sacrifice fly), Kyle Ballay (single) and Greg Gilbert (fielder’s choice) had RBIs against Mount Laurel’s Mike Cooper, who allowed just five hits.  Connor Hall was 3-for-3 for the Laurels (6-14-2).

In the completion of the suspended game, Cinnaminson won in 10. Carrol and ML’s Marty McDonald were the starters back on July 14 when the rains came in the fifth inning. Sunday night it was the Reds’ Jim Goodwin and Matt Szukics who continued throwing blanks.  Carrol (nine in four innings) and Goodwin (eight in six) combined for 17 strikeouts.  Cinnaminson broke through in the 10th on an RBI grounder by Dockins and two-out, two-run singles by Frank Sirolli and Mike Wasco.  Szukics was had two hits.

Willingboro 6, Burlington Twp. 0:

Mark Stumpf was 4-for-4 with three RBIs and Tyler Bayley threw a four-hit shutout as ’Boro (9-12) moved into fifth place.  Dan Hill and Rich Stronski had RBI doubles. Eddie Eifert doubled for the Pirates.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

New approach benefits Babula, Burlington

Shaun Babula usually doesn’t wait too long to make contact. But a change in his approach at the plate Thursday benefited the Burlington Mets.  Babula went 2-for-2 (two singles) with two walks, two RBIs and four stolen bases to lead the Mets to a 6-3 win over Riverside.

The leadoff hitter was able to work the count against Riverside starter Dan Hornyak in the third and fourth innings to reach base and drive in runs.  “I usually swing early,” Babula said. “Today I just wanted to see some pitches
. We saw (Hornyak) a couple weeks ago and he struggled with control a little bit.”
In the third, Babula drew a walk with a man on and no outs, and he ended up scoring on a passed ball.  It was his at-bat in the fourth that meant more, as he delivered an RBI single on a 3-2 pitch to bring home Kyle Semmel and put his team up by two runs.

The Mets entered the bottom half of the fourth tied with Riverside, which took advantage of a few errors to score three early runs.  Before Semmel crossed the plate, Casey Donahue scored on an error to hand starting pitcher Marshall Harden the lead he needed to finish off the visitors.

Harden threw 5⅔ innings on the bump, conceded three hits and struck out six batters.  “I felt all right. It was a good day for us,” Harden said. “It got a little shaky early on, but we always figure it out.”  After Harden left the mound, Brandon Elliott and Jon Wilkins came in to close out the game. They brought two different speeds with them.  “It’s real nice to have (Elliott) come in there and throw 55,” Harden said, “and then Jon goes in there and lights it up.”

Elliott finished the sixth and Wilkins closed the game out with a strikeout.  “I think our pitching is what separates us (from the pack),” Babula said. “That’s what our strength is.”

The Mets earned their sixth run in the sixth on a second RBI single by Babula, who was just fine with getting an ugly win on his team’s home turf at Life Center Academy.  “We’ve been playing good all year,” he said. “We got a deep roster, and whatever set of guys show up, we’re winning. Sometimes it’s ugly, like tonight.”

The Mets improved to 21-4-1, taking a slight edge over Cinnaminson (20-4-1) in the race for the top seed in the playoffs. Burlington travels to Riverside on Friday to resume a game suspended by weather, then completes its regular season Monday at home against Vincentown.  “Everyone’s starting to get a little more serious around here,” Harden said. “The arms are always here, but now that we’re starting to hit as a team, it’s gonna look really good for us in the playoffs.”

Riverside (11-12-1) received a triple by Dante Keys and a double by Donnie Strain. The Patriots are in fourth place and, after completing the suspended game Friday, are scheduled for Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.

Mount Laurel 3, Willingboro 2: 

Mount Laurel erased a 2-0 deficit with three runs in the bottom half of the fifth.  Mike Dunlap, Henry Chou and Cole Pewor batted in the runs after Mount Laurel (7-15-2) loaded the bases on a single by Justin Ely, double by Marty McDonald and a walk to Tom Potts.  Dunlap pitched two scoreless innings for the win in relief, with Mike Tobia saving it.  Willingboro (10-13) received two hits from Mark Stumpf.

Vincentown 4, Burlington Township 0: 

Damon Valloreo struck out six and allowed one hit in four innings and Jon Morrow worked the last three frames to complete the shutout.  The Merchants (10-14) scored three runs in the second inning, two on a Bryce Sonberg single and one on a Brandon Kay base hit. Sonberg finished with two hits.  Zeke Boren’s sacrifice fly scored Jack Bujanowski with an insurance run in the fifth. Boren had ignited the flurry in the second with a double.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Pine Barrens wins behind Anderson

Pine Barrens strengthened its hold on third place in the Rancocas Valley Baseball League with a 9-0 win over Riverside behind Mason Anderson’s pitching.  Anderson worked five hitless innings and struck out nine for his seventh win this summer. Anthony Coniglio pitched the sixth, allowed a hit, but struck out two. Rain halted the game after six innings.  Alex Campbell, Eric Sellitto and Phil Shallenberger had two hits apiece as Pine Barrens improved to 15-9-1 for 35.5 points in the standings. Shallenberger scored three runs, Sellitto batted in two and Campbell had one RBI.  Riverside slipped to 11-11-1 but holds fourth place with 28.5 points.

Mount Laurel-Cinnaminson: 

Rain suspended play in the bottom half of the fourth inning with Cinnaminson leading 3-0. The game would be resumed next Wednesday if the result affects the final standings and seedings for the playoffs.

RVL Notebook

July 28, 2014

Pine Barrens has turned things around

The first five years of their Rancocas Valley Baseball League existence, the team was known as Pemberton. It played its games at the local high school. And its wins were few and far between.  From 2007-2011, the record was 24 wins, 127 losses. It was 1-29 that first year, followed by 2-24, 9-19, 8-25 and 4-30.

Since he joined the team in 2008, there had to be times when stick-it-out standout Ronnie Krankowski thought that maybe driving the back roads of rural Burlington County to play baseball games on hot, humid nights after working his 9-to-5 job was not the best way to spend his summers.  But that was before this year’s turnaround, which has seen Gerry Lamola’s Pine Barren Phantoms rise to third place in the Rancocas Valley League with a 15-9-1 record (before Sunday’s doubleheader).  “It’s nice to line up after games and shake your own team’s hands more than four or five times a season,” said Krankowski, who played for Tabernacle in 2007 before joining Pemberton in 2008.

Since the team changed its name to the Phantoms — after the fighter jet that Lamola worked on from 1987-91 at Fort Dix — the team has gone 22-34-2 the last two seasons.  Tabernacle’s Patty Bowker Field has become a tough place to visit. Things in the RVL haven’t been this exciting south or east of Vincentown since teams from Indian Mills (1947, 1950, 1955), Medford (1958, 1964, 1965) and Pemberton (1959) were winning early championships.

Krankowski remains the team’s top player. The 27-year-old is hitting .390 with a league-high 9 doubles and is tied for the team lead with 17 RBIs. And he’s 2-2 on the mound with a 1.91 ERA.  “We are deep in pitching, have a great lineup, and are solid at every position,” the Holy Cross High and Clemson University graduate said. “We usually only have nine or 10 guys show up for every game, but it’s always a good nine and it’s nine who want to be there. In the past we’ve had a lot of good, and bad, players acting like it was a chore to come to the games. The guys on this team all love baseball. It’s a joy to be around.”

There are a couple of guys who’ve been around recently, like pitcher Mike Kondrath, infielders Vince Gares and Ryan Krupa, and outfielders Rich Powelson and Eric Sellito.  But it’s the new guys who have really sped up the turnaround. Cameron Bahr and Alex Campbell alternate at catcher and first base. Tyler Kaiser and Phil Shallenberger form a very solid left side of the infield. And Mike Follett joins Krankowski, Sellito and Powelson in an outfield that makes every fly ball an out, not an adventure. Tyler Allison, Shane Pastore and Drew Tumbelty provide youthful exuberance and solid depth.  Pitchers Mason Anderson, Matt Curry, Louis Aikins, Alec Marconi and Anthony Coniglio give Lamola more arms than he even dreamed of coaching.

One of the key new players is Shallenberger, who travels 35 miles (each way) from Penndel, Pennsylvania, to play.  “It’s been a blast playing for the Phantoms this year, and it’s great to see the young talent on our team hold its own in the RVL,” said Shallenberger, 26, an assistant baseball coach at Cairn University in Langhorne Manor, Pennsylvania. “When I moved to the area (from near Pittsburgh) for the job, I had a friend (Matt Baer) I had played college ball with who was from New Jersey and had pitched for the Phantoms. I just wanted to keep playing ball and this was a way to do that.”  He plays shortstop and pitches in relief, providing Lamola with a steady influence and quality leadoff hitter. He’s hitting .311 with eight extra-base hits and a team-best 10 stolen bases.  “My goal next year,” he said, “is to get my college guys who don’t have a team to play for hooked up with a roster spot in the RVL.”

All-Star follow

The RVL vs. Pendel all-star game July 19 ended in a 7-7 tie.  “It was a good time, I liked it,” said RVL president Ric Babula, who helped manage the RVL team with his son Keith and Mount Laurel’s Dean Johnson. “I didn’t like what happened in the (top of the) seventh inning, when they got five runs. But otherwise, and remember, I don’t normally like all-star games, it was fun.”  Babula reported a crowd of around 200, but said the majority were there to root for the Pendel players.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Cinnaminson clinches RVL regular-season title

The Cinnaminson Reds, who finished eighth during the regular season a year ago, completed an amazing turnaround Wednesday night, beating Mount Laurel 4-0 to capture the Rancocas Valley Baseball League’s regular-season title.  The victory gave the Reds a 23-4-1 record, edging defending champion Burlington, which ended up 22-5-1. Cinnaminson, with the top seed, will open at 1 p.m. against Burlington Township on Saturday, when the 2014 playoffs start in Vincentown.

Eric Gertie pitched the first three innings, Christian Rahman one and Craig Carrol went the final three innings for the winners.  Mike Wasco’s RBI double keyed a three-run first inning, with Bill Dove and Mark Wickersham also knocking in runs. Matty Janulis doubled and scored on Frank Sirolli’s sacrifice fly in the fourth.  Geoff Gilbert had two hits for the Reds. Cole Pewor had a pair of hits for the Laurels.

Cinnaminson victory launches August in Vincentown

August 2, 2014
In the Rancocas Valley League, the first day of the playoffs is about far more than just baseball.Fans of all ages make their way to Vincentown’s Harry Thompson Field for not one, but four games as the playoffs kick off. Many RVL players refer to it as the best day of the calendar year.  Spectators watch from just about every area of the premises, filling the covered grandstand behind home plate, lining the third-base line with lawn chairs and packing the area behind the left-field fence with countless pickup trucks, coolers and tents.
Despite the postponement of the Saturday’s opening game between Burlington and Mount Laurel, fans arrived Saturday ready for playoff action between No. 1 seed Cinnaminson and No. 8 Burlington Township, a contest in which Cinnaminson was crowned victor by a final score of 9-2.  It was the opener of a best-of-three series. Game 2 is scheduled for Sunday at 2:30.
Leadoff man John Dockins got Cinnaminson started right away in the bottom of the first inning with a single that turned into a stolen base that turned into a run scored. By inning’s end, Cinnaminson had a 3-0 lead and never looked back.  “It feels pretty good to get this win,” Dockins said. “You always want to take the first game and start it off right. Everyone was hitting. We had good starting pitching (Eric Gertie) and everything was flowing for us today.  “It’s a great atmosphere here for the playoffs. It’s a great field. The guys all love it. I love it. Everyone has fun here.”
Dockins finished 3-for-4, including a two-run double, and also was hit by a pitch and scored twice.  The only other Cinnaminson player to have multiple hits was Geoff Gilbert, who went 2-for-3 with two runs scored, a walk and a solo home run to lead off the bottom of the fourth.  “I was looking for something up, saw a pitch, swung at it and it carried over the fence,” Gilbert said. “We needed to put up a couple more runs at that point of the game and I was thinking in my head that the home run was a good start.”
Indeed, it was. The Reds plated four more runs that inning to take an 8-0 lead and essentially put the game out of reach.  “We got the first win out of the way,” Gilbert said. “Now hopefully we can come back and get the second one. We want to put the series away, save some pitching and save some legs for our older guys.  “This first Saturday of playoffs is always so much fun. Everyone’s always pumped up and it’s nice to see the older guys show the younger guys how it is.”
It was a pretty rough day at the office for Burlington Township. The Pirates did not record their first hit until the top of the sixth inning and could not connect against Gertie.
Township’s three pitchers gave up 11 walks and hit five batters.  “The first day of playoffs is a lot of fun, but we have to hit tomorrow and we have to get on base,” Township coach Ed Eifert said. “They got a big lead on us. We have to do some scoring of our own. Tomorrow we want to have a big performance, if we can, because today wasn’t the best.”

Ricks in control as Willingboro takes opener

August 2, 2014
You can look at this situation two ways: Willingboro has tons of momentum, or Pine Barrens got its dismal effort out of the picture.  Whichever way you spin it, Willingboro’s 9-0 victory over the Phantoms on Saturday was one stockpiled with key hits and an incredible performance from southpaw Craig Ricks in the opening game of a best-of-three Rancocas Valley League quarterfinal series.
Ricks was masterful in his shutout and complete game, allowing only three hits and one walk, while striking out one batter.  “I hit my spots and moved in and out,” said Ricks, who put his team in a position to clinch Sunday, 5 p.m., back at Harry Thompson Field.  “I was talking with my catcher Jose (Martinez) before the game and he called it perfectly,” Ricks said. “It couldn’t have gone much better. He knew I was going to throw mostly fastballs and he set up in spots that put me in a good position.”
Ricks’ outing was backed by some early runs, which ended up coming often. The first two were plated in the second inning as veteran Jamie Schwantes singled home Rich Stronski (double) and Jon Walls (hit by pitch) to give Willingboro. Schwantes finished 3-for-4.
In the fourth, Willingboro extended its lead to 5-0, as Schwantes picked up his third RBI with a base hit to plate Wall, who reached on an error. After a Bryan Bessinger walk to load the bases, Mark Stumpf singled home Jon Wetzel, who had singled. A fielder’s choice off the bat of Martinez brought home the fifth run.  
“At this point we were feeling pretty confident,” said Willingboro manager Mike Stumpf, whose team is the No. 6 seed and brought an 11-15 record into the game.  “However, even though we had a big lead, we were trying to stay grounded. Two years ago, we won the first game of a playoff series against Delran 11-0. We then dropped the next two.”
Willingboro added to its lead in the fifth on a two-out single from Dan Hill to make it 6-0. In the seventh they plated three more runs on a two-run home run by Hill, who was 2-for-4, and an RBI double from Stronski, who had three doubles on the day, to make the score 9-0.  “I talked with my hitting coach after my first two at-bats,” Hill said. “He told me to stay closed; I ended up doing that and it worked. I struck out looking my first two at-bats, so my final two sort of made up for that.”
Pine Barrens had nothing to talk about on Saturday afternoon. The poor presence at the plate is something that needs to change quickly if the No. 3 seed hopes to keep its season going.
“This was one of the most embarrassing games I’ve ever been a part of,” Phantoms second baseman Ryan Krupa said. “We have one last chance to show up and make a stand. There is still a great chance that we can win this series. But if we play like we did today that won’t happen.”

RVL Playoffs: Game 2

August 3, 2014

Willingboro Eliminates Pine Barrens

Compared to its nine-run win Saturday, Willingboro’s Game 2 conquest of Pine Barrens was a grind.It took Willingboro until the bottom of the sixth inning to finally separate itself from Pine Barrens to win 4-2, and move on to the semifinals of the Rancocas Valley Baseball League playoffs.
After Pine Barrens pushed home a run in the top of the sixth, Willingboro put its first two runners on base in the bottom half of the frame.Jordan Glover reached on an error and Jon Wetzel singled to set up Dan Hill to drive home the winning run.  Hill, who went 1-for-2 at the plate, drove a pitch from Ron Krankowski into center field to bring home Glover.“  Second and third, nobody out, I just gotta hit a fly ball. The infield was in, I was just trying to poke something out there. He threw me a curve or slider, I’m not sure what it was, but I got a good piece and got the run in,” Hill said.
Willingboro added an insurance run on a RBI single by second baseman Mark Stumpf to hand Hill a two-run lead heading into the seventh.  That would be all Hill needed in relief of starter Connor McFarlane, as the closer retired the side in order to send his side to the semifinals.  “I knew if we got the lead, I was coming in (to pitch). That was it after that,” Hill said.
McFarlane threw six terrific innings on the bump, and he received plenty of strong defense, especially from Stumpf at second.Stumpf made two stellar plays on the right side, including a fifth-inning snag on a Vince Gares grounder, to keep his team in the game.  “Defense is key in this league. When you’re at the plate and someone makes a good play on defense it deflates you a little bit,” Stumpf said.
“I’ve never had a second baseman make the plays he does. I’m just glad he’s back there.  ”The biggest defensive play of the game came from McFarlane, who fielded a perfect bunt by Tyler Kaiser to get a runner out at third with no outs in the sixth.  
“If they’re gonna sacrifice and give us an out, we’ll take an out. To get the runner at third it takes out what they’re trying to do. That deflates the other side,” Stumpf said.  
Pine Barrens only came away with the tying run that inning, which allowed the hosts to pounce with a pair in their half of the inning.
Cinnaminson 8, Burlington Twp. 3: 
Cinnaminson advanced to the semifinals behind Clinton Hart and three relievers. Dan Gavlik homed and John Dockins scored two runs. Frank Sirolli added two doubles.
Riverside 5, Vincentown 3: 
Riverside rallied from a 3-0 deficit to advance to the semis for the first time. Josh Sabol ignited a four-run fifth inning with a solo home run. Eric Oliver had two doubles and Ed Stiles added three hits to support winning pitcher Frank Cerami, who tossed a complete game with seven strikeouts.

Burlington works OT to oust Mount Laurel

August 4, 2014

By Pete Innaurato Correspondent

There’s a reason the Burlington Mets are one of the top teams in the Rancocas Valley Baseball League. It’s tough to argue that point, especially after the 2013 RVL champions pulled out a gut-wrenching 6-3 victory in nine innings over Mount Laurel on Monday night at Harry W. Thompson Field.  It took a clutch two-run single by Zach Skidmore for the Mets to sweep the opening round of the playoffs.
The victory advances Burlington to the next round against Riverside, Tuesday night at 6:30. Cinnaminson-Willingboro will play the second game of the doubleheader after the first game ends.
Starter Max Newill was solid through seven innings, allowing three runs (two earned) on 12 hits, while walking one and striking out five. Jon Wilkins picked up the win with two shutout innings of relief.“I feature the same stuff every time out: fastball, curveball, changeup,” Newill said. “I don’t throw hard so I try to hit my spot and change speeds. Unfortunately they got to me in the sixth even though I felt like I made some good pitches. But it feels good to wrap this up.”
The offense came to work in the first inning for Burlington as Skidmore grounded an RBI single to center-field to plate Pedro Perez, who walked two batters earlier.Mount Laurel tied the game on an RBI single by Mike Tobia in the fourth to bring home Tyler Powell, who singled to lead off the frame.In the fifth, Burlington took a 2-1 lead on a two-out infield error.“The one thing that has to change next season is the amount of unearned runs we give up,”
Mount Laurel manager Dean Johnson said. “Seriously, that is one part of our game that has to improve and I think it will.”
Mount Laurel took a 3-2 lead in the bottom half of the sixth inning on four hits and a throwing error by Burlington. After singles by Powell and Brian Black, Tobia picked up a base hit to knock in Powell and tie the game. Later in the inning, a throwing error plated the Laurel’s third run.Burlington tied the game in the seventh when Shaun Babula scored from second on an infield single by Marshall Harden, eliminating the thought of a complete-game victory for Mount Laurel starter Justin Ely.  “That was a mind-lapse,” Johnson said. “We should’ve known who was running. He’s done that to us before.”Perez doubled to lead off the ninth.
After a Harden single, Skidmore, who was 2-for-4 with a walk, brought home two runs on a two-run single to left-center to give the Mets a 5-3 advantage. An RBI on a fielder’s choice by Matt Hill plated the fifth run.“They scored more runs than we wanted in that sixth inning,” Newill said. “We had some defensive lapses late, so we will have to clean that up.”

Burlington takes lead in semifinal series

August 5, 2014

Someone has to go home unhappy after a baseball game. It just seems like the Burlington Mets rarely do.  Another day in the books turned out to be another victory Tuesday for the Mets, who took down Riverside 12-4 in the opening game of their Rancocas Valley League best-of-three semifinal series.  The defending champs posted a seven-spot in the second inning and never looked back.

Starter Ryan Bell picked up the win as he hurled six innings of three-run ball, allowing five hits and three walks, while striking out four. The Mets' dominance at the plate paved the way for Bell, who attacked each hitter with fastballs.  “Always good to work with a lead,” said Bell. “I mainly only had to use my fastball and changeup because of the lead that we had. For Game 2, we’re going to have to take an early lead again. (Riverside) is a solid team so we have to play our game.”

Game 2 is Wednesday, 7 p.m., back at Harry Thompson Field. If a third game is necessary, it will be at the same site Thursday at 7.

The Tuesday night scoring outburst began in the second inning for Burlington. With the bases full and one out, Shaun Babula was hit by a pitch to force in Garrett Mull, who also had been plunked.  Pedro Perez then singled to left for the second run. The Mets then broke it open later in the inning when, with the bags still packed and still only one out, Marshall Harden unloaded on a fastball to clear the bases and make the score 6-0. Harden finished 3-for-4.  “You don’t see that many fastballs late in the year,” said Harden, who attends the University of Pennsylvania. “Whenever you get one you have to take advantage and square it up. I knew it was out off the bat so I did a little bat flip for the fans and they got a good laugh out of it.”

An RBI groundout from Matt Fischer completed the scoring in the second. The Mets added three runs in the fifth on a two-run triple by Vinny James and an RBI single by Casey Donahue.  RBI singles by Matt Hill in the sixth and Zach Skidmore in the seventh completed the scoring for Burlington.

Riverside pushed across four runs on the evening thanks to an RBI single by Eric Oliver in the fifth, a two-run home run by Jonnie McGugan in the sixth, and an infield error by the Mets in the seventh.  The Patriots are in the semifinals for the first time and their 14 wins are a team record.

Even after an impressive victory, the Mets know it is important to not overlook anyone.  “They can swing it over there,” said Harden, who pitched the final inning and struck out the side. “We had confidence coming into this game because we had Ryan on the mound. But they are a tough team.”

Carrol shutout gives Cinnaminson the edge

August 5, 2014

Craig Carrol pitched a four-hitter for Cinnaminson in a 3-0 win over Willingboro in the first game of their Rancocas Valley Baseball League semifinal series Tuesday night.  Carrol struck out six and walked none. Cinnaminson scored once in the third inning and twice in the fourth.

Frank Sirolli doubled with two outs in the third, then scored on a single by Geoff Gilbert.  Bill Dove reached on an error to start the fourth and Mike Wasco walked. One out later, Matty Janulis' single scored Dove. Jeff Vitale walked to load the bases and John Dockins' sacrifice fly sent Wasco home.

Cinnaminson, the No. 1 seed, has a chance to wrap up the series Wednesday when it meets Willingboro again, 8 p.m., at Memorial Park. If necessary, Game 3 will be Thursday at 8, back at Memorial.

Jamie Schwantes was 2-for-2 for No. 6 seed Willingboro, which was coming off of a two-game sweep of No. 3 seed Pine Barrens in the quarterfinals.

Burlington returns to title series; Willingboro rally ties series

August 6, 2014

Burlington clinched a berth in the Rancocas Valley Baseball League championship series with a 9-6 win over Riverside on Wednesday night.  The defending champion Mets swept the best-of-three semifinal round in two games. Burlington advances to the RVL championship series.

Vaughn Skidmore had three hits and three RBIs, and scored two runs for Burlington. Marshall Harden was 2-for-2 and scored twice, Shaun Babula had two hits and two runs, and Matt Fischer had two RBIs.  Five runs in the top half of the fifth inning gave Burlington the lead for good. Riverside was up 5-4 after four innings, taking the lead when Dante Keys scored on a wild pitch. Josh Sabol’s slow roller resulted in an error to allow the Patriots to tie the score earlier in the inning.  Skidmore batted in the tying run for Burlington in the fifth and Fischer knocked in the go-ahead run. The Mets had the bases loaded and Vinny James cleared them with a three-run double for a 9-5 lead.

Eddie Stiles doubled to start the bottom of the fifth and later scored on a wild pitch to bring Riverside within 9-6. Stiles finished with two hits and scored two runs.

Jon Wilkins worked the final three innings for Burlington save the win for starter John Harvey. Wilkins permitted Stiles’ double, then retired the remaining nine batters he faced. Harvey went the first four frames, allowed three earned runs and was the pitcher of record when the Mets went ahead.

An active first inning ended with the teams tied at 3. The game was scoreless when Babula became involved in a rundown that resulted in an error. Skidmore followed with an RBI double and Fischer hit a sacrifice fly that would have been the third out. But it brought in the second run and Garrett Mull’s infield hit made it 3-0.

Riverside responded quickly. Sabol doubled, Jeff Briggs walked and Eric Oliver sacrificed. Stiles singled to score Sabol and Brett Knazek followed with a two-run single.

Willingboro 9, Cinnaminson 8: 

Willingboro rallied for a 9-8 win over Cinnaminson to force a deciding game Thursday, 8 p.m. at Cinnaminson.

An error allowed Mark Stumpf to score the winning run in the bottom of the seventh, capping Willingboro’s rally from an 8-2 deficit. Stumpf walked and Rich Stronski singled. Cinnaminson then turned a double play but an effort to get Stumpf resulted in an errant throw.


Cinnaminson advances to league finals

August 7, 2014
The Cinnaminson Reds clinched their Rancocas Valley Baseball League semifinal series Thursday night with a 5-2 win over Willingboro.  Winning pitcher Eric Gertie went all seven innings, struck out seven and scattered seven hits. He didn’t walk a batter as Cinnaminson won the best-of-three series 2-1.
The Reds, regular-season champions, will meet Burlington in the RVL championship series, a best-of-five event scheduled to start Saturday. All games are slated for 7 p.m. and will be held at Vincentown’s Harry Thompson Field.
Willingboro began Thursday’s game with two runs in the top half of the first inning, both scoring on Jon Walls’ double. The ‘Boro had won Wednesday’s game 9-8 on a run in the bottom of the seventh, rallying from an 8-2 deficit in tying the series. Cinnaminson responded with three runs in the bottom of the second.  Singles by Kyle Ballay and John Dockins brought in a run each, and when an outfielder overran the ball hit by Dockins, the third run scored.“It was a big hit at the time, helped us go ahead,” said Dockins, the Cinnaminson shortstop. “Offensively, we did what we had to do. I try to model my game after Jimmy Rollins.”
Dockins started a 6-4-3 double play that helped Cinnaminson protect its 3-2 edge in the top half of the fourth.“He’s the best shortstop in the league,” Gertie said. “That was a big-time play and stopped their momentum.”The Reds added two runs in the bottom of the fourth.
Dan Gavlik grounded out to first base, scoring Ballay. An errant throw back across the diamond struck runner Matty Janulis and bounced away, allowing Janulis to score.Ballay and Bill Dove finished with two hits apiece for the Reds, who hadn’t forgotten what happened the night before.  “We came into tonight not taking them lightly,” Gertie said. “I went with my fastball mostly and tried to keep them off balance with my changeup.”  
Willingboro finished the regular season in sixth place, then swept Pine Barrens (third place) in the quarterfinals. After a 3-0 loss to Cinnaminson in Game 1 of the semis, Willingboro wasn’t ready for its season to end the next night.“For 10 years, until last year, we weren’t able to get out of the first round,” manager Mike Stumpf said. “Now we’ve done it two years in a row and we were a game away from making the finals.  I think we ran out of gas.  Cinnaminson’s a good team. Things didn’t go our way tonight.”
The Reds were good enough to bounce back from an eighth-place finish last season.“These guys give 110 percent every night,” Dockins said. “I love playing for them.”  Cinnaminson is in the finals for the first time since winning the title three years ago. Now it’s on to meet the 2013 champions, who finished a close second this summer but won the season series 2-1-1. Aside from the tie, two other meetings were decided by a run.

2014 RVL Finals Begin Saturday, August 9, 2014

August 8, 2014

2014 RVL Finals: 

Cinnaminson vs. Burlington

Game 1:  Saturday, August 9, 2014

Game 2:  Sunday, August 10, 2014

Game 3:  Monday, August 11, 2014

Game 4:  Wednesday, August 14, 2014 (if necessary)

Game 5:  Thursday, August 14, 2014 (if necessary)


All Games at Harry Thompson Field @ 7PM

Cinnaminson wins championship series opener

August 9, 2014

As the old saying goes: good things come to those who wait.  The Cinnaminson Reds applied that to the game of baseball Saturday night as they defeated Burlington 8-3 in Game 1 of the Rancocas Valley League championship series with some long and selective at-bats.  A consistent approach at the plate put their batters in hitter’s counts, which enabled 16 Reds to reach via hit, walk or error. The offensive outburst against one of the top pitchers in the RVL, Shaun Babula, is something that Cinnaminson looks to continue.

Reds’ starter Jim Goodwin certainly appreciated the support. Goodwin went the distance, allowing three runs (two earned) on five hits, while striking out two and walking two.  “Shaun is one of the best pitchers in the league, if not the best,” Goodwin said. “I knew runs would be a little scarce. I pitched to contact and tried to keep us in the game. I featured a fastball, curveball and changeup.”  

In the four regular-season matchups, which Burlington had a 2-1-1 advantage, Cinnaminson scored a total of 10 runs, including a 6-6 tie.

The scoring started in the top of the first, when two errors enabled the Mets to take a 1-0 lead.  In the bottom of the inning, Cinnaminson stormed back. John Dockins, who scored three runs, led off with a double and came around to score on a Kyle Ballay hit to center field. Two batters later, Mike Wasco singled home Ballay.  After Cinnaminson turned a 6-4-3 double play to end the second, the Reds plated two more runs in the bottom half on Ballay’s two-run single to left, which plated Greg Santuro and Dockins, both of walked.  “Offensively, we were a little bit lucky,” said Ballay, who went 4-for-4 with five RBIs. “(Babula) missed the zone a couple of times and there were some missed plays in the field. But you have to get a little lucky with a pitcher like Shaun.”

Burlington crept within 4-3 in the fourth on a two-run home run by Vinny James. However, again Cinnaminson in the bottom of the inning as Ballay doubled home Dockins, who had walked.  The Reds sealed the deal with a three-spot in the bottom of the sixth. Frank Sirolli tripled home Joe Sirolli (single) to make the score 6-3. Ballay followed up with an RBI hit to plate Frank and an infield error allowed the final run to score.

A 1-0 advantage in the best-of-five series is very promising. Game 2 is scheduled for Sunday, 7 p.m., at Harry Thompson Field.  However, Dockins believes his team still has to stay focused on remaining disciplined.  “We have to get at them early again and get good pitching, like what Jimbo (Goodwin) did tonight,” Dockins said. “Good at-bats and good defense and we have to keep hitting the baseball. That’s it.”

Burlington takes lead in championship series

August 11, 2014

The Burlington Mets need one win to repeat as Rancocas Valley Baseball League champions.  Burlington’s 10-1 victory Monday night lifted the Mets into a 2-1 lead over Cinnaminson in the RVL championship series.  Game 4 is scheduled for Wednesday, 7 p.m. back at Harry Thompson Field. If necessary, Game 5 would be Thursday at the same time and site.

The series has featured timely hitting and crooked numbers, such as the Mets’ seven-run sixth inning that expanded on a 3-1 edge. The Burlington offense offered plenty of support to winning pitcher Max Newill.  “I featured a fastball, curveball and changeup,” the veteran southpaw said. “The guys did a good job and made some great defensive plays to keep the game where it was at early on; I didn’t throw my changeup for a strike the first four innings. The offense got me some runs in the fifth, so from there it was my job to throw a shutdown inning and close it out.”

Newill struck out four, walked one and scattered seven hits. He is completing his first season with Burlington, having joined the Mets when Delran did not field a team this season.  Burlington plated a run in the top half of the first inning, thanks to an RBI single from Marshall Harden. In the bottom of the first, the Mets escaped a bases-loaded jam as Newill induced a fly ball to retire the side.

The Reds would knot the score when Greg Gilbert brought home Bill Dove (walk) with a base hit. Cinnaminson, however, left the bases loaded once again and the score remained 1-1 headed to the fifth.  

“We were talking about this being the game that we needed to come out and hit the ball hard,” Burlington’s Zach Skidmore said.  That’s exactly what the doctor ordered for the Mets in the fifth and sixth innings, as nine runs crossed the plate in the two frames.

In the fifth, Matt Hill plated Pedro Perez (walk) with an RBI single to give the Mets the lead. Skidmore followed with an RBI double to left-center to cap the scoring for that inning.  In the sixth, the floodgates opened. Garrett Mull (single) and Vinny James (walk) got aboard to start the inning. A swinging bunt from Perez and a throwing error enabled Mull to score.

A walk to Casey Donahue loaded the bases and Shaun Babula walked to send James home. Two batters later, the powerhouse, Skidmore, busted it wide open with a grand slam to deep right-center field. An RBI single from Mull finished the scoring for the night.  “I’ve been hitting the ball all series,” said Skidmore, who was 4-for-4 with five RBIs. “(Mike Wasco of Cinnaminson) has caught about eight of my balls out there. It was nice to finally get one over the fence; I’ve been waiting for it.”

Cinnaminson rallies to force fifth game

August 13, 2014

There’s nothing like late-inning drama. The thrill and wonder of it all is exhausting, overwhelming and can lead to mental instability at times.  However, the end result cures those three conditions for the winning team.  Four runs in the seventh inning Wednesday night not only provided the cure for Cinnaminson in a 6-3 win over Burlington, it kept the Reds alive in the Rancocas Valley Baseball League championship series.

The teams are even at 2-2 with the deciding Game 5 scheduled for Thursday, 7 o’clock at Harry Thompson Field. The pitching matchup is a probable repeat of Game 1, Jim Goodwin for Cinnaminson and Shaun Babula for Burlington.

Wednesday’s starter for Cinnaminson, Eric Gertie, picked up the victory. Gertie worked six innings and was the pitcher of record when the Reds rallied in the top half of the seventh. Ryan Varga got the final three outs for the save.  “It’s a crazy game — that’s baseball,” Gertie said when asked if he thought he’d pick up a win. Gertie allowed seven hits, struck out three and walked two in one of the wildest RVL games this summer.  “We were down (3-2 after six innings), we left a lot of guys on, but we kept fighting and came through at the end,” Gertie said. “That’s what matters. We’re coming back for Game 5.”

Cinnaminson’s offense backed Gertie in the second inning with two runs. Walks to Mark Wickersham and Kyle Higgins, and a single from Mike Wasco loaded the bases with one out. An infield error on a pickoff play at second enabled Wickersham to score. Joe Sirolli then singled home Wasco to make it 2-0.

Burlington answered in the bottom half. Vinny James doubled home Garrett Mull (single) and Casey Donahue grounded into a fielder’s choice to tie the game. Matt Hill then hit a sharp line drive off of Gertie, the ball deflecting into left field while the go-ahead run scored for the Mets.

The Reds had the bases loaded with two outs in the fifth. Burlington starter Ryan Bell struck out Joe Sirolli to retire the side. The score remained 3-2 until the seventh, where the Reds finally broke through.  “We kept pressing in the final inning,” said Joe Sirolli. “We remained patient and got on base and finally broke the ice.”

The inning started with walks to Wasco and Higgins. One out later, Joe Sirolli was hit with an 0-2 pitch to load the bags. After Frank Sirolli struck out, Kyle Ballay was called upon to do some damage.  Ballay did just that, singling to right-center on the fourth pitch of that at-bat and plating two runs to give the Reds a 4-3 lead. Geoff Gilbert provided insurance with a two-run double.  “I was looking fastball away and I got it,” said Ballay, who was 2-for-4. “It was off the end of the bat, but I got just enough of it to sneak it into the outfield.”

Burlington repeats as champion

August 14, 2014

The hardest thing to do in sports is to repeat as a champion. Ask any athlete, coach or media member and they will agree it certainly isn’t easy.  The Burlington Mets accomplished that feat Thursday night with a 6-1 victory over Cinnaminson in Game 5 of the Rancocas Valley Baseball League championship series.

The deciding game in the best-of-five series was made necessary by a gritty last-inning comeback Wednesday night by Cinnaminson for a 6-3 win that had Burlington on its heels, to an extent.

The Mets looked to ace and Game 1 starter Shaun Babula, who turned in a remarkable effort in a pivotal situation. The veteran left-hander went the distance, allowed six hits, struck out four and walked one.  “There was an eerie feeling considering that I didn’t pitch that well in Game 1 (won by Cinnaminson),” Babula said. “Usually the guys feel like we’re ready to go when I’m on the mound and there was a weird feeling like — don’t screw it up again.”

Babula didn’t come close to screwing up anything and his offense backed him from the get-go. The Mets took a 1-0 lead in the first inning thanks to the baserunning of Babula. After he was hit by a pitch leading off, he stole second, and came around on two straight ground outs to the right side.  Burlington expanded its lead with a four-run second inning. Singles from Garrett Mull and Vinny James started the threat and they scored on an RBI double by Casey Donahue, who narrowly missed a home run.  Babula roped a two-run single down the left-field line to extend the lead to 4-0. After a stolen base and wild pitch advanced Babula to third, Matt Hill capped the scoring in the inning with an RBI groundout.

Cinnaminson scored in the bottom half of the fourth on an RBI single by Bill Dove. Burlington answered right back on a solo home run by Marshall Harden to lead off the fifth, giving the Mets their 6-1 margin of victory.  “It was an inside fastball,” said Harden, who was 2-for-3. “Elevate and celebrate. It was a real good feeling getting that win. We had a lot of confidence with Shaun going out there. Everyone stepped up.”

Cinnaminson wasn’t able to get much going against Babula, who had a game plan in place from the beginning.  “I wanted to pitch to contact tonight,” he said. “In the first game I walked a lot of guys (three) and they made me pay for it. Plan number one was no walks.”  The plan worked so well that Burlington won its second straight league title and third in five seasons.

Cinnaminson’s efforts shouldn’t go unnoticed. The Reds finished first in the regular season with a 23-4-1 record, after winning only 11 games and finishing eighth last summer. Then they forced a fifth game at Harry Thompson Field after Burlington won Games 2 and 3.  “This was a terrific year for us,” said Reds catcher Bill Dove, who completed his first RVL season. “We should get stronger for next year. I’m going to bring over a few guys that I know that can help us out. But hats off to Burlington. They played their butts off.”