South Brunswick's U-17 was unable to repeat as state champions this year, but the squad is primed for future success on the diamond.
The Gold team finished 13-5 and advanced to the Final Four in the AABC Don Mattingly New Jersey State tournament. The team went 2-2 in the tournament beating Edison (6-5) and Freehold (12-11 in the 10 inning), while losing to the eventual final two teams, South Plainfield (10-0) and champions Ocean Township (3-2).
"It was a well rounded effort. We expected more from but we lost to two tough teams," said Manager CJ Hendricks. "We ran out of gas towards the end of the season, but we have good enough personnel to come back and make some noise in the division next year."
The squad consists of players from the South Brunswick High School baseball team, though no graduating seniors from the previous school year are allowed to play.
South Brunswick has two teams in the U-17 division, with the Gold team coached by Hendricks and the Black team coached by Ryan Webb. The U-17 finished 4-9-1.
South Brunswick Gold has 15 players on the roster, 11 of whom will be seniors in the fall.
The seniors to be are Kenny Drost (catcher), Sean Keenan (SS/P), Mike Diusto (P), Rory Monaghan (OF/P), Anthony Mastindino (OF), Chris Huber (OF), TJ Perkowski (OF/P), Brian Oates (utility), Jake Izzo (INF/OF), Nick Veglia (INF) and Tommy Fisher (OF).
The upcoming juniors are Dom Boccio (catcher), Ty Robinson (1B/P), Matt Cooney (1B/P) and Dylan Olsson (P/INF).
"Off the mound one of the guys that stood out was Dylan Olsson," Hendricks said. "He was one of the guys we relied on. (Pitcher) Mike Diusto had a tough spring season (for SBHS) but was tremendous for us during the season and playoffs."
Hendricks said Sean Keenan was the team's rock, providing production and leadership on and off the field.
"Sean Keenan really stood out, leading the team in batting average, total bases, and extra base hits," he said. "He was the guy we turned to get us over the hump and give us a big play. He's a player we hope to ride next spring as one of our returning captains. You can't ask for more from production and leadership than we did of Sean this summer."
Handricks also pointed to the performances of Robinson, Drost, Perkowski, and Oates as powering the Gold team.
"Brian Oates did a tremendous job defensively," he said. "He's a player that likes to get dirty, hustling and diving. He's trying to get better and I look forward to seeing what he does next spring."
Hendricks praised the commitment of all the players for choosing to devote themselves to improving on the diamond when many young teenagers have their minds on enjoying summer fun.
"We had a good group of guys who bonded and pulled for each other," Hendricks said. "They did a great job of buying into what we're doing as a group and I'm looking forward to next summer. It's good to see what we're made of in the county and the state as well."
Hendricks, who coached the same players when they were freshmen at SBHS, said the team puts in tough hours to develop their skills at a time when distractions are many. Numerous kids on the team would come straight from working at various jobs to the games.
With the performance of the Gold and Black teams, Hendricks anticipates the SBHS squad to be ready to take their game to the next level when the spring season begins.
"Both teams did a tremendous job and I'm proud of the product we got," he added. "We want to take this and try to move in the right direction, not only during the regular season, but to take strides to be a power to be reckoned with in the postseason. It's going to be a great offseason to see where they go from here. They have the work effort and commitment to get to the next level, so we'll wait until next March and see what they come in and show us."
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