Shore Regional is becoming the poster child for how the NJSIAA’s decision of several years ago to let teams with under .500 records into the state tournament can pay dividends for some teams.
The Blue Devils, who were 7-14 when the state tournament began and 3-14 on May 7, are now three wins away from winning the NJSIAA Group I championship after a 5-1 win over New Egypt on Wednesday in a Central Group I semifinal.
Shore (11-14), which has won eight straight and is the No. 11 seed in Central I, will play at No. 1 seed Middlesex (23-4) on Friday in the Central I championship game.
The Blue Devils are trying to win a sectional championship for the first time since 2009.
Shore broke a 1-1 tie with a four-run rally in the sixth that began with two out and nobody on. Clayton Coffey and James Kelly drew walks. Andrew Schultz’s single drove in Coffey with the go-ahead run. Matt Cosentino’s single scored Kelly. Schultz and Cosentino both scored on wild pitches.
Mike Blaney, who was the winning pitcher in Shore’s first two state tournament games and will likely be the starter on Friday, slugged a solo homer in the second.
Senior left-hander Chris Vaccaro pitched a complete-game five-hitter. He struck out six and walked one. The run New Egypt (19-7) scored was unearned.
MONMOUTH 5, A.L. JOHNSON 1: Matt Vincenti broke a 1-1 tie with a two-run double to left in the top of the seventh and Jon Bonczyk added a two-run triple to right center later in the inning as the No. 8 seed Falcons (16-9) scored four times in the seventh and defeated the No. 5 seed Crusaders (16-10) in a Central II semifinal.
Senior right-hander Tom Broyles pitched a complete-game four-hitter to improve to 8-0. Broyles, who is 2-0 in the state tournament, struck out nine and walked one. The run A.L. Johnson scored was the first one Broyles had allowed in a start since April 23. He had pitched three straight shutouts.
Tyler Colonnelli led off the seventh with a single. Jeff Farrah reached on a bunt single to make it first and second before Vincenti’s double. Brian Quinn, who had belted a homer in the first, was intentionally walked before Bonczyk’s triple.
Monmouth will play at No. 7 seed Ewing on Friday in the Central II championship game.
WALL 6, HAMILTON WEST 3: Dan Wondrack had a two-run double in the first Jack Gifford a two-out, two-run single in the third as the No. 2 seed Crimson Knights (22-5) built a 6-0 lead after four innings and held on for the win over the No. 3 seed Hornets in a Central III semifinal.
Senior left-hander Luke Malone pitched 5 1⁄3 innings of five-hit ball to improve to 8-3 and Vin Amato pitched a scorless seventh to pick up the save.
Chris Barcas went 3-for-4 with an RBI single in the fourth.
Wall will play at No. 1 seed Northern Burlington on Friday in the Central III championship game.
OCEAN CITY 6, CENTRAL 3: Kieran Tracey’s two-run double that trickled off the left fielder’s glove with two out in the bottom of the fourth started a four-run rally that broke a scoreless tie as the No. 3 seed Red Raiders (22-3) defeated the No. 10 seed Golden Eagles (13-11) in a South III semifinal.
Central, which was in the South III semifinal for the fourth straight season, had its chances. It had the bases-loaded in the seventh when the game ended and left eight runners in scoring position.
RUTGERS PREP 6, MATER DEI 5: Anthony Brocato led off the top of the seventh with a home run, his seventh of the season, to tie the game, Spencer Diggins scored the go-ahead run on a throwing error on a sacrifice bunt and P.J. Strahm’s sacrifice fly plated what turned out to be the winning run as the No. 5 seed Argonauts (14-11) scored three times in the seventh and held on for the win over the No. 5 seed Seraphs (11-13) in a Non-Public South B quarterfinal.
MIDDLESEX 11, POINT BEACH 1: Brenden Price went 3-for-3 with four RBI, including a two-run homer, as the Blue Jays defeated the No. 5 seed Garnet Gulls (12-10) in a Central I semifinal.
HUNTERDON CENT. 11, MARLBORO 1: Matt Toke went 3-for-4 with four RBI and Brett McManus drove in two runs and scored two as the No. 9 seed Red Devils defeated the No. 12 seed Mustangs (13-12) in a Central IV semifinal for their 11th straight win.
ROSELLE CATH. 9, ST. ROSE 2: Ryan Sheekey struck out 12 walked two and pitched a five-hitter to lead the No. 9 seed Lions to the win over the No. 1 seed Purple Roses (19-6) in a Non-Public South B quarterfinal.