PREVIOUS BATTERS: Preseason All-Blue Division selections by position, Red Division team-by-team outlooks, White Division team-by-team outlooks, preseason All-Red Division selections by position and preseason All-White Division selections by position.
ON DECK: We’ll soon be posting team-by-team outlooks for the Gold Division, as well as our preseason Top 10 rankings, preseason notebook, preseason cover story, GMC schedules and much more.
Coach: Scott Runkel, 32nd season (404-253).
Last year: 10-9 overall, 5-6 division.
Key losses: Hunter Llerena-Rodriguez, Mike Kelly, Matt Stavropoulos, Paul Gabriel.
Probable lineup: V.J. Makris (Sr., C); Jimmy Mesaros (Sr., DH); Anthony Porchetta (Sr., INF); Matt Spielman (Sr., RF); Donny Fackina (Jr., 3B); John Sheedy (Jr., SS); Corey Ciszek (Jr., 2B-OF); Mickey Mesaros (Jr., OF-1B); Andrew Brazicki (So., OF-C).
Pitchers: Jimmy Mesaros (Sr., RH); Anthony Porchetta (Sr., RH), V.J. Makris (Sr., RH); Donny Fackina (Jr., RH); Mickey Mesaros (Jr., LH); Connor De Voe (Jr., LH).
Top reserves: Andrew Tuzzo (Jr., INF); Joe Risoli (Jr., 1B); Alex Cardoza (Jr., C); Sean Flynn (Fr., P-OF); Rich Albrecht (Fr., P-3B); Mike Medvetz (Fr., 1B-OF-P).
Outlook: Bishop Ahr graduated its top offensive players and ace Gabriel (4-1, 2.89) opted to forgo the 2015 campaign. The bats of Llerena-Rodriguez (.443), Kelly (.413) and Stavropoulos (.400) will be missed. Makris (.394, 18 RBI), Mesaros (.350) and Brazicki (.305) are Bishop Ahr’s top returning hitters. Brazicki, Fackina (.270) and Sheedy (.250) are the program’s most improved players. Mesaros (3-1, 3.97) and Fackina (2-2, 3.25) combined to throw 53 innings last season.
Coach: Mark Domashinski, 5th season (28-75).
Last year: 14-12 overall, 6-6 division.
Key losses: Isaaiah Northington (3B-P), Anthony Spinelli (1B), Anthony Flores (LHP), Mihir Desai (LHP), Louie Golino (CF).
Probable lineup: Lloyd Padmore (Jr., C-LF); Winston Gonzalez (Sr., C-DH); Mike App (So., 3B); Alex Slawinski (Jr., SS); Tim Irving (Sr., 2B); Matt Merz (Sr., 1B); James Hart (So., CF); Franchel Duran (Jr., RF); Angel Lorenzi (Jr., LF).
Pitchers: Mike App (So., RH); Billy Motika (So., RH); Will Sitar (Jr., RH); Justin Colon (Jr., RH); Rialdy Almonte (So., RH); Josh Baez (Fr., RH).
Top reserves: Nelson Baez (Sr., LF); Will Sitar (Jr., OF); Josh Pena (Jr., 1B); Josh Baez (Fr., IF).
Outlook: The Ramblers enjoyed a remarkable turnaround, winning as many games last season as they did in three previous years combined, a span in which Carteret posted a 14-63 record. With the graduation of Home News Tribune first-team All-Area third baseman Northington (.487, 38 hits, 26 RBI) and All-Division first baseman Spinelli (.369, 31 hits, 26 RBI), the Ramblers must replace their corner infielders. In their absence, middle infielders Slawinski (.313) and Irving (.333) will be counted upon offensively. Golino (.326, 28 hits) will also be missed. App (1-0, 0.91 ERA, 16 IP) is the lone hurler with varsity experience as Carteret graduated 152 innings pitched from a staff that compiled a 4.83 ERA. Carteret’s steady improvement on defense has factored into the team’s success. After averaging 63 errors the previous three seasons, the Ramblers committed just 42 defensive miscues last spring.
Coach: Leo Danik, 5th season (63-38-1).
Last year: 12-12 overall, 8-3 division.
Key Losses: Andrew Walters (C), Mike Redshaw (P-OF), Chris Micek (OF), Peter Hopke (1B), Brian Jeney (2B), Dan Di Benedetto (SS), Thomas Brennan (3B), John Vasile (1B), Brian Eustace (OF-P), Pax Sherman-Kaplan (P), Paul Rhoades (OF).
Probable lineup: Kyle Harry (So., C); Ken Harry (Sr., 1B); Matt Volpe (Fr., 1B); Mike Plunkett (Jr., 2B); Zack Fortuna (Sr. 2B); Alex Brooks (So., SS); Sean Rivera (Jr., 3B); Brendan Smith (So., 3B); Joe Cammarano (Sr., OF); Jordan Kessler (Sr., OF); Cory Longville (Sr., OF).
Pitchers: Zach Fortuna (Sr., RH); Ken Harry (Sr. RH); Alex Brooks (So., RH); Sean Rivera (Jr., RH); Tom Annarumma(Jr., LH); Mark Mastromonaco (So., LH); John Szpara (So., RH); Matt Volpe (Fr., RH).
Top reserves: Tom Annarumma (Jr., OF); Owen Krause (Jr., OF); Joe Hronich (Jr., C); John Szpara (So., SS); Matt Coscia (So., 2B).
Outlook: With the possible exception of Woodbridge, which graduated 13 seniors, no team in the entire conference has more players to replace. The Bulldogs return just 12 of their 205 hits from a year ago with Kessler, Harry and Cammarano combining to bat .160 (12 for 75) last season. Fortuna (1-4, 4.55) is the lone hurler with significant varsity experience, pitching 27-plus innings including three complete games last spring. Harry (0-2, 6.42) made two starts on the mound, and went the distance once. Many newcomers will be called upon to step up and play fundamental baseball. The senior group of Harry, Cammarano, Kessler and Longville will be counted on to hold the fort until the rest of the young Bulldogs grow.
Coach: Justin Nastasi, 1st season.
Last year: 15-8 overall, 7-3 division.
Key losses: Anthony Keri (P), Mike Phillips (P), Emilio Gonzalez-DeOlio (OF), Brandon Bollin (3B).
Probable lineup: Stewart Lester (Sr., 2B); Dom Lampasona (Sr., CF); Mike Lavenia (Sr., C); Matt Carovillano (SO., RF); Tristan O’Connor (Sr., 1B); Mike Salerno (SO., DH-1B); Tyler Dymond (Fr., 3B); Quincy West (So., 3B); Tony DiMaggio (Jr., SS); Nick DiNizo (Sr., LF).
Pitchers: Joe DiNizio (Sr., RH); Tristan O’Connor (Sr., LH); Stewart Lester (Sr., RH); Mike Lavenia (Jr., RH). Dom Lampasona (Sr., LH).
Top reserves: Nick DiMaggio (So., OF); Brian Gyeski (Sr., 2B-3B); Josh Palazzi (Sr., OF); Quincy West (So., 3B); Tyler Dymond (Fr., 3B).
Outlook: Despite graduating Keri, who won 25 career games, and Phillips, another front-line pitcher, the five-time defending division champion Blue Jays will remain a favorite to repeat. The rapid development of Joe DiNizio (1-2 3.59) and O’Connor (0-1 4.20), who are both looking to have a breakout year, is paramount to the team’s chances. Slugging outfielder Gonzalez-DeOlio and team leader Bollin will be missed. The lineup will be a mix of experience and youth. Lester (.367), an incumbent Home News Tribune first-team All-Area selection, returns to second base. Lampasona (.397) is the club’s top returning hitter. Lavenia (.366), Nick DiNizo (.317) and Tristan O’Connor (.304) also hit for average. Newcomers Tony DiMaggio, West, Salerno and Dymond will help the Blue Jays compete in the division and in Group I.
Coach: Michael Spirito, 3rd season.
Last year: 8-14 overall, 0-10 division.
Key losses: Jose Cerda (RHP-1B), Kelvin Duran (SS), Andy Torres (OF, 2B), Wilson Torres (OF), Anthony Luna (1B).
Probable lineup: Alex De La Cruz (Sr., SS); Gage Torres (Sr., 2B); Enrique Jaquez (Jr., OF); Victor Collado (Jr., 1B-C); David Rosario (Jr., 3B); Jonathan Torres (So., C); Yoscar Diaz (Jr., OF); Yaurys Mendez (Jr., OF); Kalbin Rodriguez (So., P); Gage Torres (Sr., 2B).
Pitchers: Norberto Estrella (Sr., RH); Enrique Jaquez (Jr., LH); Kalbin Rodriguez (So., RH); Andrew Luna (Jr., RH); Jonathan Torres (So., RH); Yaurys Mendez (Jr., RH).
Top reserves: Andrew Luna (Jr., P-OF); Carlos Ortiz (Jr., 1B); Anthony Peralta (So., 2B); Leonel Duran (So., OF).
Outlook: De La Cruz and Jaquez are back after missing last season and many of the young talented players are beginning to mature and play more polished baseball. New Brunswick has a deeper pitching staff this season which includes transfer Estrella and returner Rodriguez, who had a strong freshman year. The Zebras are sure to be more competitive this season.
Coach: Glenn Fredricks, 11th season (149-107).
Last year: 17-9 overall, 8-4 division.
Key losses: Jack Dalrymple (C), Kevin Surace (2B), Jeremy Corrente (RF), Matt Dwyer (P), Will Johnson (3B), Ryan Walker (CF), James Collins (3B), Tom Hagerty (P), Ricky Moore (P), CJ O’Connor (P).
Probable lineup: Mason White (Sr., C); Matt Ciaccio (So., 1B); Nick LoGatto (Sr., SS); Chase Fee (Sr., OF); Matt Krause (Jr., OF-1B); Jake Ryan (Jr., CF); Danny Newton (Jr., OF); Shawn O’Connor (Jr., 3B-2B); Nick Bascozcky (Sr., 2B); Greg Welsh (Jr., C); Tom Walker (So., 1B).
Pitchers: Matt Ciaccio (So., LH); Cooper Sisco (Sr., RH); Jake Bacchetti (Sr., RH); Brad Bacchetti (Jr., RH); Nick Vizzi (Sr., RH); Nick Mohr (So., RH).
Outlook: The Chargers, who reached last year’s conference tournament semifinals with a stunning quarterfinal upset of Red Division champion East Brunswick, hope to improve upon their win total for the fifth consecutive season. Tough to beat on their field, affectionately called “The Swamp,” Spotswood lost just two home games last season. Three-year starting catcher Dalrymple has graduated, along with 11 wins from the pitching staff including aces Dwyer and Hagerty. Home News Tribune first-team All-Area outfielder Corrente and No. 3 hitter Ryan Walker, the team’s starting center fielder, must also be replaced. Walker is playing Tier 1 USHL Junior Hockey in Iowa. Three-year starter Sisco will be the ace of a young staff. Spotswood will rely heavily upon the Bacchetti brothers on the mound as either starters or relievers. Ciaccio, who stands 6-foot-7, joins the rotation and Vizzi returns to the hill following a year off. White, a two-year veteran and senior captain, is Dalrymple’s successor. He is expected to provide power in the middle of the lineup. Slick-fielder shortstop LoGatto, who collected 36 hits, seven for extra bases, anchors the infield. Slugger Krause (.284, 5 HR, 20 RBI) moves to right field. Ryan Walker’s replacement in center is the speedy Ryan, who was used predominantly as a designated hitter a year ago. Fee, arguably the conference’s fastest player, returns to left field. He begins the season 19 stolen bases shy of the school record and is a threat to run in any situation. A variety of players are competing for time at the other vacant spots including McBride, Backoczky, Newton, O’Connor and Thomas Walker. They add a nice blend of power and defense from the bench.
Coach: Michael Lepore Jr., 18th season (176-221-1).
Last year: 13-12-1 overall, 5-7 division.
Key Loss: Hunter Wolff (P), Connor Devich (P).
Probable lineup: Nicholas Lepore (Sr., 2B); Steven Barberio (Sr., SS); Matt Leviton (Jr., CF); Tyler Higgins (Jr., P-3B) Khaliyl Everett (Jr., RF); Austin French (Sr., C); Dalton Dougherty (Jr., 3B); James Hart (Jr., LF); Kyle French (Fr., 1B); Pat Genthe (Sr., 1B); Richie Leogrande (Sr., 1B-DH).
Pitchers: Tyler Higgins (Jr., RH); Dalton Dougherty (Jr., RH); Steven Barberio (Sr., RH); RJ Fisher (Fr., RH); Brandon Szerszen (Fr., RH).
Top reserves: Michael Marino (Jr. 2B); Doug Fowler (Jr., OF).
Outlook: After advancing to the Greater Middlesex Conference Baseball Coaches Association Summer League Tournament final, the pitching-rich Rams must be considered, along with Spotswood and Middlesex, a favorite to win the division. South River boasted an impressive 2.77 team ERA and a respectable .944 fielding percentage last season. The Rams, however, must improve upon their anemic .264 team batting average. Everett (.348), Leviton (.319) and Nick Lepore (.309 with a team-leading 25 hits) were the lone batters to eclipse the .300 mark a year ago. Leogrande (.299) and Leviton paced the club with 15 RBI apiece. South River graduated 94 innings pitched but returns ace Higgins (3-2, 2.67) and Dougherty (3-0, 2.41) on the mound. Barberio completes a solid rotation. He and Nick Lepore begin their fourth season as South River’s double-play combination. Austin French is a solid defensive backstop. Everett had a slow start from an injury last year and looks to make an impact in the middle of the order. Michael Lepore Sr., the former Middlesex County College head coach, returns as an assistant with the Rams, commencing his 51st year of coaching baseball in the county.