Despite his heart being elsewhere, Danny Marsh managed to keep his mind on the game.
Unknown to those outside his inner circle, the senior right-hander from Monroe High School pitched the entire season while worrying about his father, Brian, who continues to fight a months-long battle with cancer.
“My dad is my role model,” said Marsh, who helped lead the Falcons to their first Greater Middlesex Conference Tournament final since 1994. “He taught me the game of baseball. He’s my rock and he’s the guy that’s in my life no matter what.
“My family is the most important thing to me. Having my dad going through what he’s going through is really tough. Baseball has been my outlet, kind of like my way of getting away from it all. I just felt like I had to do my best for him this year and really put on a performance that would make him proud.”
Marsh’s father, who was able to attend some of Monroe’s contests this season, wasn’t feeling well enough to attend Wednesday night’s GMC Senior All-Star Game at Myrtle Field.
He would have seen an uncharacteristic outing from his son on the mound, but he also would have watched Danny ignite a tide-turning rally with a rare leadoff single as the White and Blue rolled to a 11-4 victory over the Red and Gold in the 23rd annual event.
All proceeds from the game benefit Bristol-Myers Squibb Children’s Hospital at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick.
Marsh, who did not bat for the Falcons this season, singled and scored the go-ahead run in the sixth when the White and Blue rallied for four runs to snap a 4-4 deadlock. South Plainfield’s Taylor Born and Middlesex’s Tommy Marcinczyk each had an RBI single during the rally.
Spotswood’s Corey Brown gave the White and Blue a 2-1 lead with a solo homer in the fifth. Middlesex’s Walter Byleckie followed with an RBI single. Byleckie scored on a double steal for a 4-1 lead.
Marsh, who will continue his career at Wagner College on a partial baseball scholarship, entered in the ensuing frame to face the heart of the Red and Gold’s lineup. He pitched himself into trouble, issuing consecutive one-out walks to Christian Campbell (Rutgers University) and Dunellen’s Casey Wenzel (Binghamton University).
South Brunswick’s Sean Keenan (Marist) then cracked an RBI double and St. Joseph’s Matt Woody (Bryant) followed with a two-run double to make the score 4-4.
The White and Blue extended its lead to 11-4 in the seventh on a two-run single from Bishop Ahr’s Mike Bernet and an RBI single from New Brunswick’s Waldo Diaz.
The final scholastic game of the GMC seniors’ careers had special meaning, especially for Marsh, who played with a heavy heart all season.
“All-around Danny is an amazing kid,” Monroe coach Pat Geroni said. “I knew he would battle (this year), but with so much on your mind at a young age I didn’t know how he was able to get through the way he did.”
“It’s just a testament to how much of a battler and a warrior he is. I think he was out there a lot of times playing for his dad. When his dad was there, he had almost a different look in his eyes.”