LAKEWOOD – Wall Township catcher Dan Wondrack hit his fair share of home runs this past season. Nine of them to be precise.
The College of Charleston commit has launched long balls that landed delicately on patches of green turf and mammoth blasts that bounced violently off blotches of blacktop. Each one counted just the same.
However, on Tuesday at FirstEnergy Park in Lakewood, Wondrack witnessed the sort of damage he could really do to a baseball – and a big league ballpark’s surrounding features – by clubbing 11 dingers, including two that clanged and ricocheted around the picnic area beyond the left-center field fence, to win the home run derby championship at the 2015 Shore Conference Senior All-Star Game.
“I work hard all off season and even during the season just to be able to continue to play and stay healthy. But to come out here and see how far the ball travels (as a result of that work), it’s a lot of fun,” Wondrack said.
The senior backstop belted three home runs in the first around, another six in the second round, and two more in the finals to out-slug Toms River South’s Jake Ryan, who delivered three of his own on the night.
“In the beginning I just wanted to come out and hit a few,” Wondrack said. “By the end you’re just looking to build on as much as you can.”
Wondrack, who participated in the 2014 event but fell short of a title, spoke about the comeptative nature of this 2015 power display, and the potential ribbing from classmates a loss would have carried.
“Last year I came up short, but it was all fun and games, so I wasn’t too upset. But I spoke to a few of the guys on both teams a couple of days before this and it was big competition between all of us this time around.”
“I’m happy I won though. I had a bunch of people in school telling me not to come in tomorrow if I didn’t win tonight. I wasn’t sure if they were serious or not, but either way, I don’t have to worry about it now.”
Monmouth and Ocean tie: You might not picture an all-star game coming down to pitching and defense but that was the case on Tuesday, as Monmouth and Ocean County played to a 2-2 tie in the Shore Conference Senior All-Star Game.
“I thought we were going to see some shots tonight, multiple home runs,” said Point Boro’s Quinn Hornish. “But that wasn’t the case. It was defense, and stolen bases, and pitching. All the little things that can decide a game.”
Hornish delivered one of the game’s two RBI when the Panthers outfielder punched a two-out line drive up the middle to plate Jon Meola (Toms River East) in the bottom of the second inning.
“Driving guys in with two outs is something you talk about all year,” Hornish said. “That’s what I was looking to do when I came up. And I was happy I could drive in a run in that situation.”
The Monmouth County club knotted the game at 1-1 in the top of the fifth when TJ Vivian (Middletown North) reached on a leadoff walk, before swiping second base, moving to third on a Rob Napolitano single, and scoring on a Robert Hila (Keyport) sacrifice fly.
Monmouth grabbed a one-run advantage in its half of the sixth when Nick Gugliara (St. John Vianney) led off with a single, before stealing second base, and moving to third on fly out to right field by Sam Devitis (Colts Neck). He eventually scored on an error on a batted ball by Justin Halper (Shore)
Ocean answered in the seventh when Sean Connor (Point Boro) started the inning with a single, moved to second on past ball, and scored on a pair of wild pitches.
Anthony Arneth (Central) started for the Ocean County squad and led a staff that included Seamus Brazil (Barnegat), Brett Hyers (Toms River North), Kevin Brown (Toms River East), Zack Mason (Southern), Ray Hughes (Lacey), John Corbett (Barnegat), Doug Molnar (Toms River North), and Ryan Takacs (Jackson Memorial).
Nick Serra (Manalapan) made the start for Monmouth and threw two innings, fronting a rotation that featured Morgan Maguire (Rumson-Fair Haven), Dante Cuzzolino (Freehold), Kyle Fenton (Freehold Township), Nick Smith (Matawan), TJ Vivian (Middletown North), and Sal Swain (Asbury Park), and Ashwin Jain (Holmdel).