GMC BASEBALL PREVIEW: Red Division team-by-team outlooks

PREVIOUS BATTER: Check out our preseason All-Red Division selections by position, our White Division team-by-team outlooks and our preseason All-White Division selections by position.

ON DECK: We’ll soon be posting team-by-team outlooks for the White, Blue and Gold divisions, as well as our preseason Top 10 rankings, preseason notebook, preseason cover story, GMC schedules and much more.

STAY IN THE GAME: Follow Greg Tufaro on Twitter all season long for story links, live game coverage and insight


Coach: Chris Kenney, 4th season (43-33).

Last year: 18-9 overall, 12-4 division.

Key losses: Cody Burnham (P-1B), James Choy (SS), Yoji Fujimoto (2B), Mike Ng (RF), Gregory Sampson (3B).

Probable lineup: Tyler McNamara (Sr., C); Victor Dudka (Sr., 1B); Nick Clemente (Jr., INF); Chris Cap (Jr., LF); Tyler Burnham (So., 1B); Brandon Chaskes (Sr., 3B); Danny Iannarone (Jr., SS); Juan Ganzoroli (Jr., 1B-RF); Nick Smutko (Sr., CF).

Pitchers: Victor Dudka (Sr., LH); James Tagerty (Sr., LH); Ryan Murphy (Sr., RH); Brandon Chaskes (Sr., RH); Chris Cap (JR., RH); Nick Clemente (Jr., RH); Ryan Cumber (Jr., RH); Sanjay Mangroo (Jr., RH); Jared Deszkiewicz (So., RH); Tyler Burnham (So., LH).

Top reserves: Gerard Pepe (Jr., 2B-LF); Ryan Cumber (Jr., LF); Jay Marchese (So., C-3B); Christian Shelley (So., 1B); Mat Bartus (So., C).

Victor Dudka

Victor Dudka

Outlook: The defending division champions return six players who combined for 75 RBI, 76 runs and a .356 batting average. McNamara (.368), Smutko (.370) and incumbent All-Red Division selection Ganzoroli (.423) pace a balanced lineup. Dudka, an All-Conference selection who posted a 9-0 record with a 1.80 ERA last spring after missing his sophomore campaign with an injury, is the quintessential crafty lefthander. He fanned 51 batters and walked just 18 while allowing 15 earned runs. Dudka has committed to NJIT. Cap and Tagerty return to the mound, while a trio of newcomers must help replace All-Red Division pick Cody Burnham (4-4, 2.69 ERA). Burnham was among the state’s leaders a year ago with 72 strikeouts in 54-plus innings pitched. He is now playing for Florida State College at Jacksonville. East Brunswick’s infield is relatively untested, but rookies Iannarone and Clemente should solidify the middle.


Coach: Vinnie Abene, 13th season (185-130).

Last year: 10-16 overall, 8-8 division.

Key losses: Anthony Hernandez (P-2B), T.J. Polito (P-1B), John High (OF), Jordan Smith (P-1B), Manny Gonzalez (C), Jordan Rosenhouse (OF), Matt Ryan (2B).

Probable lineup: John Zanfordino (Jr., 3B); Lenin Gomez (Jr., C); Nick Peterson (Jr., OF); Santos Cruz (Jr., OF); Brandon Radd (Jr., OF); Kyle Telesnick (Jr., OF); Brett Douches (Jr., INF-OF); Mike Fogarty (Jr., INF); Gregg Toro (Sr., 1B); Justin Hernandez (Jr., INF).

Pitchers: Luis Sanchez (Sr., RH); Justin Hernandez (Jr., RH); Nick Peterson (Jr., RH); Nick Clausen (Sr., RH).

Top reserves: Stephen Coneo (Sr., 3B); Saif Siamwalla (Sr., OF); Matt Daniels (Sr., RHP); Christian DeCastro (Jr., RHP); Yogash Patel (Sr., RHP); Javier Urquia (Jr., OF); John Redman (Jr., RHP).

Outlook: The junior- and senior-laden Eagles graduated more than 100 innings pitched. Sanchez and Hernandez are expected to anchor the rotation. They will be counted on to help replace Polito, an at-large All-GMC selection now pitching at St. John Fisher College. Hernandez showed promise last season on the mound and in the infield, playing in the GMC Underclassmen All-Star Game. He batted .314 with seven RBI and is one of just three returning starters. Third baseman Zanfordino (.333, 25 hits, 11 RBI) and catcher Gomez (.311, 25 hits, 8 RBI) are also back.


Coach: Jimmy Freel Sr., 2nd season (19-6).

Last year: 19-6 overall, 12-4 division.

Key losses: Brandon Abdul (LHP-OF), Nick Lavecchia (OF), Kevin Howard (OF), Eugene Quirk (C), Chris Weber (OF), James Augliera (RHP).

Probable lineup: Evan Graulau (Sr., C); Jimmy Freel Jr. (Sr., 1B-2B); Zach Attianese (Jr., 1B-OF); Tyler Hopman (Sr., 2B); Luis Cruz (Jr., SS); Vin Donofrio (Sr., 3B); Brian Hulasiya (Sr., OF); Billy Layne (Sr., CF); James Gabriel (Sr., OF); Jordan Fetterman (Sr., DH).

Pitchers: Zach Attianese (Jr., LH); Billy Layne (Sr., RH); Tyler Hopman (Sr., RH/LH); Jordan Fetterman (Sr., RH); James Gabriel (Sr., RH); Nick Concepcion (Jr., RH); Luis Cruz (Jr., RH); Jake Kodros (So., RH).

Top reserves: Dan Barracato (Sr., INF); Peter Marottoli (Jr., OF); Hector Reyes (Sr., OF); Donald Dugan (Jr., C); Augie Garbellotto (Sr., OF-RHP); Sam Allen (Jr., 1B).

Old Bridge’s Jimmy Freel dives back toward second base as Edison’s Matt Ryan awaits the throw in a game last season.

Old Bridge’s Jimmy Freel dives back toward second base as Edison’s Matt Ryan awaits the throw in a game last season.

Outlook: One of the most pitching-rich teams in the state struggled to provide run support at pivotal times last season, so graduating the first four hitters in the batting order could be a factor. The same quartet (Abdul, Howard, LaVecchia and Quirk) were also dangerous on the base paths. Old Bridge’s six losses a year ago were by a total of seven runs. They included a 2-0 defeat in the GMC Tournament semifinals to South Plainfield and a 3-2 setback in the opening round of the Central Group IV Tournament to Howell. Reigning New Jersey Gatorade Player of the Year and Louisville Slugger Preseason All-America selection Attianese, who has committed to North Carolina, posted a 5-1 record with a 0.61 ERA last spring. He used a devastating curveball to fan 62 batters in 39-plus innings. Layne, a Seton Hall commit, won two games a year ago and has a cannon for an arm in centerfield. The ambidextrous Hopman, who has committed to St. Peter’s, fashioned a 5-2 mark with an ERA slightly over 3.00. Gabriel and Fetterman also won games on the mound. Donofrio (.328, 9 RBI) is the team’s top-returning hitter and Freel (.311, 20 RBI) is the club’s top-returning run-producer. Cruz, who transferred from Bayonne last year, batted .276 and flashed some leather in the infield. Attianese batted .328 with 18 RBI. Old Bridge’s is looking for a breakout year from Layne. Abdul and LaVecchia will be sorely missed. Abdul batted .381 with 25 RBI and went 5-2 with a 1.65 ERA. LaVecchia led the team with a .402 average and 29 runs. He also stole 14 bases and had a .464 on-base percentage.


Coach: Alex Perez 2nd season (4-18).

Last year: 4-18 overall, 2-14 division.

Key losses: Jose Ortiz (P), Jordy Rodriguez (SS), Randy Nunez (3B), Emmanuel Pinales (RHP), Luis Alicea (LHP).

Probable lineup: Sergio Ramos (So., CF); Angel Flores (Sr., 3B); Omar Jimenez (Sr., 2B); Ismael Alejandro (Sr., RF); Steven Ramos (Sr., OF-1B); Chris Brito (Fr., SS); Jordanny Nunez (Jr., 1B-DH); Jesus Acosta (Fr., C); Devin Rodriguez (So., LF); Juan Pean (Sr., C).

Pitchers: Alexis Guerra (Sr., LH); Steven Ramos (Sr., RH); Juan Pena (Sr., RH); Kyle Arias (Sr., RH); Chris Brito (Fr., RH); Daniel Urena (Sr., RH); Edwin Abreu (Sr., RH).

Top reserves: Anthony Munoz (Sr., 1B); Jonathan Perez (Sr., C); Randy Nunez (Sr.,1B); Rodney Paulino (Jr., C); Enger Jimenez (So., OF); Allan Ramos (So., P-1B).

Outlook: The Panthers look to play solid defense, which starts behind the plate with Acosta and Pena. Perth Amboy is also solidified up the middle with Brito (SS), Jimenez (2B) and the speedy Sergio Ramos (CF). Offensively, the club will be built around Alejandro, Steven Ramos, Brito, Sergio Ramos and Jimenez. Brito will serve as the team’s closer.


Coach: Scott Gleichenhaus, 1st season.

Last year: 4-20 overall, 1-15 division.

Key losses: Adam Tricarico (OF).

Probable lineup: Mike Campbell (Sr., SS-3B); Brian Jeziorski (Jr., SS); Kevin Tamsula (Jr., 3B); Charles Mitchell (Sr., 1B) George Carson (Sr., OF) Jerrid Guerra (Sr.,C-LF); John Nesler (Sr., OF); Dan Tricarico (Jr., OF); Zach Merring (Jr., 2B).

Pitchers: Kevin Tamsula (Jr., RH); Charles Mitchell (Sr., RH); Brian Jeziorski (Jr., RH); John Nesler (Sr., RH); Dan Tricarico (Jr., RH); Anthony Sawiki (Sr., LH); Jacob Vitalicio (Jr.,RH); Bryan Moll (Sr.,RH); Jason Moscowitz (So., RH).

Top reserves: Anthony Sawiki (Sr., OF-1B-P); Peter Nagy (Jr., 1B); John Delair (Jr., OF-P); Chris George (Sr., OF); Bryan Moll (Sr., 3B-P).

Charles Mitchell

Charles Mitchell

Outlook: Expect the Chiefs to be vastly improved under rookie mentor Gleichenhaus, the former Plainfield head coach and Metuchen assistant who was an outstanding infielder at South Plainfield. He earned a scholarship to LIU-Brooklyn and later transferred to Widener, where he completed his college career. Piscataway outhit teams last season, batting .287 as a club while opponents countered with a .284 average. The Chiefs problems were on the mound and on defense. They committed 63 errors and walked 111 batters in 139 innings. Piscataway must improve its 5.68 team ERA. Gleichenhaus said Piscataway “pitchers should feel confident with the defense we put out on the field behind them. As long as they pound the strike zone consistently and we make the plays behind them, we will compete with the teams” in the division. Tamsula (3-6, 4.04 ERA) and Mitchell anchor the rotation. Batterymate Guerra is promising. An All-Red Division selection, Mitchell batted .394 with 26 hits, 17 RBI and seven doubles last spring. Tamsula (.373, 28 hits, 11 RBI) and Campbell (.375, 24 hits) were the club’s other top hitters. Gleichenhaus describes his outfield as strong-armed and athletic.


Coach: Steve Bucchignano, 4th season (51-36).

Last year: 21-9 overall, 11-5 division.

Key losses: Brandon Bielak (RHP), Danny Iannaccone (OF), Yanni Vayas (RHP), Mike Mohin (3B), Mark Bobko (RHP-INF).

Probable lineup: Pat Geiger (Sr., C); Brandon Warick (So., C); JT Shorter (Jr., 1B); George Favetta (Jr., 2B); Justin Willis (So., SS-2B); Travis Adams (Jr., SS-2B); Joe Weaver (Jr., 3B); Nick Loffredo (So., 3B); Nick Johnson (Sr., OF); Gabe Mejias (So., OF); CJ Connett (Jr., OF); Ross Maertz (So., OF); Jacob Lunn (Jr., OF).

Pitchers: Justin Willis (So., RH); Conner Dolan (Jr., RH); Joe Epifano (Sr., RH); Mike Farr (So., RH); Tyler Guensch (Jr., RH); Travis Adams (Jr., RH); Joe Weaver (Jr., RHP).

Justin Willis tags an Old Bridge base stealer in a game last season

Justin Willis tags an Old Bridge base stealer in a game last season

Outlook: The defending GMC Tournament champions must overcome the graduation of 2014 Home News Tribune Player of the Year Bielak, who is now pitching for Notre Dame, and the loss of team-leading hitter Bobko (.449, 40 hits, 19 runs) to Tommy John surgery. The absence of Bobko, who was arguably the league’s best defensive shortstop, as well, creates a void up the middle. Iannaccone (.444, 14 RBI, 20 runs) and Vayas, who are both playing at Rutgers Newark, will also be missed. Bucchignano said the Falcons are young and inexperienced but talented. St. Joseph will play one of the toughest regular-season schedules in the state. Shorter (.290, 10 RBI, 11 runs) plays the game with a unique hustling style that others might well emulate. He was the only player in the league to hit with a wood bat last season. Johnson batted .347 with a team-high 27 runs, while Geiger (.308) is the only other returning starter who batted over .300. Expect Willis, the sophomore from West New York who showed flashes of brilliance last season, to emerge as the team’s ace. He went 5-1 with a 3.56 ERA a year ago, including a key win in the conference tournament quarterfinals. His fastball has topped out around 90 mph and he fanned 27 batters in 30 innings last spring.


Coach: Mike Novak, 14th season (163-141-2).

Last year: 12-15 overall, 7-9 division.

Key losses: Chris Ryan (OF).

Probable lineup: Sean McDonnell (Jr., LF); Connor Johnson (Jr. P-2B); Josh Guarnera (Sr., SS); Pete Soporowski (Jr. 1B); Chris Eveigan (Sr. C); Jayson DeMild (So., RF); Brett Dzamba (Jr., CF); Chris Hauber (Jr., 1B-3B); Nolan Rivera (Sr., 3B); Dan Rodriguez (Sr., LF-DH); Mike Bertrand (Jr., 2B).

Pitchers: Connor Johnson (Jr., RHP); Pete Soporowski (Jr., LHP); Ryan Shereyka (Sr., RHP); Chris Hauber (Jr., RHP); Jayson DeMild (So., RHP); Nolan Rivera (Jr., RHP).

Top reserves: Kyle Karpinski (Sr., OF); Marc Pearson (So., OF); Josh DeJesus (So., C); Kyle Richards (Fr., C).

Mike Novak

Mike Novak

Outlook: Sayreville’s strength will be on the mound. The Bombers return virtually every inning pitched. Soporowski (3-4 1.89 ERA, 48 IP), Shereyka (5-1, 2.35 ERA, 44.2 IP) and Johnson (1-7 4.74 ERA, 48.2 IP) form a solid rotation. Soporowski, who fanned 38 batters in 48 innings, must be considered among the league’s top hurlers. Batterymate Eveigan’s arm, which is among the conference’s strongest, deters would-be base stealers. Guarnera led the team in average (.345) and hits (29). A young Sayreville club batted just .240 as a team with 192 strikeouts, but compensated walking 88 times for a .335 team on-base percentage. Gambardella batted .289 with a team-best 17 RBI and 26 hits. Ryan was the lone senior on the squad a year ago.


Coach: David Marzano, 14th season.

Last year: 14-13 overall, 9-7 division.

Key losses: Joe Siecinski (SS), Charlie Fallon (P), Amandeep Buttar (P), Matt Minor (OF), James Corrigan (OF), Chris Ricigliano (2B).

Probable lineup: Luke Jacobi (So., C); Collin Pastor (Sr., SS); Frank Loguidice (Jr., OF); Zach Marzano (Jr., 1B); Michael Katims (Jr., OF); Dennis Cooper (Sr., 2B); Alex Zilli (Jr., 3B); Max Heskes (Sr., OF); Matt Elko (Jr., OF); Joe Pecararo (Jr., DH); Andrew Stevens (Sr., DH); Kevin Wu (Jr., 3B).

Pitchers: Frank Loguidice (Jr., LH); Mike Katims (Jr., RH); Alex Zilli (Jr., RH); Zach Marzano (Jr., LH); Dennis Cooper (Sr., RH); Matt Elko (Jr., LH); Jared Fraraccio (Jr., RH).

Top reserves: Steven Szemple (Sr., OF); Muhamed Ali Rahim (Sr., P); James Gama (Sr., OF).

Mike Katims

Mike Katims

Outlook: The Hawks, who won last summer’s Greater Middlesex Conference Baseball Association Summer League Tournament championship, return six starters. J.P. Stevens must replace All-Red Division shortstop Siecinski, who led the club with 36 hits and 24 runs. Pastor (.256, 12 runs, 12 RBI) has made a smooth transition from third base to shortstop. Loguidice, another All-Red Division selection, will pace the offense. He batted a team-leading .407 with 21 RBI and 33 hits. He accounted for the Hawks lone two home runs last season. Jacobi (.289, 19 runs, 12 RBI) and Zach Marzano (.282, 24 hits, 13 RBI, 12 runs) are J.P. Stevens’ other top hitters. If the Hawks can pitch as well as they are expected to hit, they could compete for the division title. The Hawks batted .279 as a team (.278 with runners in scoring position) and stole 31 bases in 35 attempts last season.


Coach: Timothy Sweeney, 7th season (92-49).

Last year: 16-7 overall, 12-4 division.

Key losses: Ty Robinson (P), Dom Boccio (C), Matt Cooney (1B-P), Dylan Olsson (SS-P), Scott Dunleavy (OF), Dan Giampietro (OF).

Probable lineup: Aidan Rogers (Sr., P); Andrew DelaCruz (Sr., C); Alex Pollock (So., 1B); Sean Nally (Jr., INF); Garret Byrne (Jr., INF); Ryan Moran (So., INF); Kevin Kessler (Sr., INF); John Sawyer (Sr., INF); Andrew Avots (Sr., CF); Brandon Siroki (Jr., OF-P); Jeremy Brent (Sr., P); Jeff Lombardi (Sr., P).

Pitchers: Aidan Rogers (Sr., RH); Jeremy Brent (Sr., RH); Jeff Lombardi (Sr., RH); Anthony Sjolund (Jr., RH); Will Drost (Jr. RH); Garret Byrne (Jr., RH); Brendon Zircher (Jr., LH); Abhi Gupta (Jr., RH); Alex Pollock (So., RH); Ryan Moran (So., RH).

Top reserves: Jaren Almonte (Jr., INF); Dillon Beck (Jr., OF); Mike Casillas (Jr., OF); Alex Sorge (Jr., 1B); Gavin VanDemark (Jr., C); Tom Leavy (Jr., C).

Outlook: The Vikings, who return just five of 161 hits, lost their entire starting lineup and 104 innings pitched. Graduation has similarly decimated South Brunswick in the past, but the resilient Vikings always seem to rebound. Ace Robinson (6-2, 0.90), now pitching at Northeastern, fanned 63 in 42 innings. He whiffed 14 during a no-hitter over South River in last year’s GMC Tournament. Rogers (3-1, 5.25) is the most experienced returning hurler. Brent and Lombardi combined to pitch 18 innings last season. Sweeney said South Brunswick has good team speed and he expects the lineup to be balanced.

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