Reviewing the 2008 scholastic baseball season, ABC style.
A is for
Junior shortstop Steve Bruno transferred from Philadelphia's St. Joseph's Prep to Gloucester Catholic during the season and promptly hit .541 with 12 extra-base hits and 15 RBIs in 11 games, helping the Rams make a late-season charge. Gloucester Catholic went 10-1 with Bruno - who has made an oral commitment to Virginia - and reached the NJSIAA South Jersey Non-Public A final.
B is for
Eastern freshman outfielder Matt Lawson, in the first varsity at-bat of his career, homered off Timber Creek's Jim Schramm in the teams' April 1 opener.
It also was Lawson's last extra-base hit of the season.
Schramm turned into one of South Jersey's top pitchers.
Shawnee freshman Dylan Johannick slugged a grand slam in his first varsity at-bat, sparking the Renegades to a 14-11 win over defending Group 3 state champion Seneca on May 8 and depriving the Golden Eagles of a playoff berth.
Junior Jake Still, in his varsity pitching debut, hurled a five-inning no-hitter as Cinnaminson blanked Westampton Tech, 10-0, on April 10.
Shawnee sophomore Eric "Moose" Sellitto, in his first-ever varsity at-bat, hit a pinch-hit, two-run homer to tie the game in the sixth and helped the Renegades rally to beat Pennsauken, 4-3, on April 10.
"I actually felt bad because it was my brother [Anthony, a senior] I was batting for and I don't want to take his spot," Eric Sellitto said after the game. "But I had to do what I had to do."
C is for
Comparative Score Theory
Buena defeated Sacred Heart.
Gloucester Catholic defeated Buena.
Overbrook defeated Gloucester Catholic.
Triton defeated Overbrook.
Therefore, using our comparative-score magic, Triton should have been better than Sacred Heart.
Uh, one problem: Sacred Heart finished 25-3 and has been ranked No. 1 in South Jersey by The Inquirer since May 5.
Triton finished 4-14.
Oh, well. Never mind.
D is for
, of course.
There wasn't a bigger momentum-changing defensive gem than the 9-3-6 triple play turned by Sacred Heart against Shawnee in the Joe Hartmann Diamond Classic final. With Shawnee runners breaking, rightfielder J.T. Triantos caught a fly ball and fired to first baseman Chet Godfrey for the second out. Godfrey threw to shortstop Josh Moren to complete the first triple play in the Diamond's 35-year history.
Sacred Heart faced a 4-0, fourth-inning deficit at the time.
Final: Sacred Heart 6, Shawnee 5.
E is for
Buena, the eventual champion, escaped with a 3-2 win over Gateway in a South Jersey Group 2 semifinal in a game that ended on an infield single.
Gateway's Rob Flem rapped a grounder between third and short that would have tied the game, but the ball hit a base runner. Flem was credited with a single, but the runner was out. Buena had survived.
F is for Lenape coach
, who had the unusual distinction of helping two teams reach their respective NJSIAA sectional finals.
Lenape lost to Toms River North in the South Jersey Group 4 final.
Timber Creek, the team Fiore coached last year, defeated Clearview in the South Jersey Group 3 final.
G is for
Take a bow, Zach Schultice.
The Riverside senior had worn No. 7 his entire career in baseball and football and decided to give it up for a better cause - to honor a former Ram, Jason Siddell, who died in an industrial accident in January. Siddell had worn No. 7.
Schultice took it upon himself to go to the coaching staff to give up the number.
H is for
Penns Grove junior outfielder/pitcher Don Haines hit four home runs in a doubleheader on April 19; he finished with an area-high 12 homers.
At one point in the season, Haines homered in six of seven games.
Who does he think he is? Chase Utley?
I is for
No team made more strides than Maple Shade, which had 10 more wins than last year - going from 8-11 to 18-5 and winning the South Jersey Group 1 title.
Wildwood had nine more wins than last year, improving from 5-15 to 14-11.
Other teams that showed marked improvement: Lenape (12-10 last year to 20-5 this season); Atlantic City (1-19 to 8-12); and Clearview (8-14 to 14-10).
J is for
As in Dom DePasquale.
The Gateway junior played all nine positions in the Gators' 12-7 conquest of Woodbury on May 15. For oldtimers, it conjured memories of Cookie Rojas and Bert "Campy" Campaneris.
By the way, playing so many different positions didn't hurt DePasquale's hitting. He went 3 for 5 with a homer, triple and three RBIs in the game.
K is for
, of course.
In the best single-game pitching performance of the season, Millville's Mike Trout threw an 18-strikeout no-hitter as the Thunderbolts defeated Egg Harbor Township, 6-0, on April 7.
Trout, a 6-foot-1, 190-pound junior, should be the region's most heavily recruited player next year and will be a strong candidate to be an early-round draft selection. He batted over .500 this season and was so respected that Cherry Hill East walked him intentionally three times in a game - once with the bases loaded.
L is for
, the 6-foot-7, 220-pound Mainland senior who had a sensational all-around season. Law, who was drafted by the Phillies in the 44th round Friday, went 5-0 with a 0.66 ERA on the mound and hit .394 with a .608 on-base percentage.
On the mound, he struck out 66, walked 11 and allowed 27 hits - only four for extra bases - in 42 innings.
Law is expected to turn down the Phils' offer and attend Rutgers.
M is for
Delran's Rich Bender became the fourth baseball coach in South Jersey history to reach the 500-win plateau as the Bears trounced Willingboro, 15-1, on May 13. Dan Luber and Shawn Ballay homered for the Bears.
Bender, the only coach in Delran's 33-year history, has coached 10 sets of fathers and their sons.
N is for
In one of the season's best all-around performances, Gateway's Nick Alloway pitched a 14-strikeout one-hitter and delivered four hits - including two home runs - as the Gators defeated Woodbury, 12-0, on April 23.
O is for
Wildwood scored in every inning of a doubleheader sweep of Salem on April 12, beating the Rams by 13-3 and 21-11.
P is for
Gloucester Catholic started its season with a stunning 7-6 loss to Overbrook. A little more than five weeks later, Gloucester Catholic overcame an 8-0 deficit and avenged that defeat with a 12-11 comeback win. Bill Donovan hit two homers to spark the rally.
Q is for
Shawnee's Quinton Miller, who pitched in front of a slew of major-league scouts each game, put together a terrific season (6-3, 2.13 ERA) and struck out 85 in 522/3 innings. He was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 20th round Friday but is expected to attend North Carolina.
(For trivia buffs, Quinton is actually Miller's middle name. Most of his friends don't know that his real first name is Robert.)
R is for
Take a bow, Dan Sieracki.
You, too, Rob Harrington.
After tearing his ACL in January and undergoing knee surgery, Bishop Eustace's Sieracki returned to the lineup late in his senior season and slugged four homers in 23 at-bats - including a grand slam in a stunning NJSIAA tourney win over top-ranked Sacred Heart - and batted .391 with nine RBIs.
Harrington, a Haddon Township senior, tore cartilage in his shoulder as a sophomore, and the surgery prevented him from pitching as a junior. This year, he returned to the mound and went 6-0 to help the Hawks win a share of the Colonial Conference title.
S is for
Pennsville's remarkable run in the NJSIAA tourney came to an end as it lost to Pitman, 3-1, in a South Jersey Group 1 semifinal.
Pennsville had won six consecutive sectional titles - one shy of the area record, set by Cherry Hill West from 1987 to 1993.
T is for
South Jersey's sectional champions were Maple Shade in Group 1, Buena in Group 2, Timber Creek in Group 3, Toms River North in Group 4, Christian Brothers Academy in Non-Public A, and St. Rose of Belmar in Non-Public B.
Timber Creek and Buena won their first-ever sectional titles.
League champs were as follows:
Burlco Liberty - Northern Burlington; Burlco Patriot - Delran; Burlco Freedom - Maple Shade; Colonial - West Deptford and Haddon Township; Olympic American - Lenape; Olympic Patriot - Shawnee; Olympic National - Bishop Eustace; Tri-County Classic - Pennsville; Tri-County Diamond - Gloucester Catholic and Overbrook; Tri-County Royal - Williamstown; Cape-Atlantic American I - Millville; Cape American II - Mainland; Cape National I - St. Augustine; Cape National II - Sacred Heart.
U is for
, the senior catcher who became the first player in Camden County Tech's history to collect 100 career hits. Fittingly, hit No. 100 was a three-run homer, which he delivered against Camden Catholic.
V is for
Sacred Heart, which took over the No. 1 spot from Shawnee in The Inquirer's South Jersey rankings on May 5, finished with the most wins in the area. The Lions went 25-3.
W is for
Deptford allowed 16 walks April 9 - and won, defeating Bishop Eustace, 8-7.
Trailing by 12-3, Riverside scored 12 runs in the top of the seventh to defeat Florence, 15-12, on April 18.
Williamstown scored three runs in the bottom of the seventh to outslug Highland, 16-15, on April 30.
Gloucester scored a 15-13 win over Penns Grove and the teams combined for 30 hits in their Group 1 quarterfinal May 23.
X is for
That's the place Triton coach Frank Marciano must have thought he had visited after his Mustangs shocked Overbrook twice during the season, 12-5 and 7-0. Overbrook is coached by Marciano's father, Chuck.
The thing is, Overbrook (13-8) was one of the area's most pleasant surprises this year, while Triton (4-14) struggled for wins.
Yet half of Triton's four wins were against talented Overbrook.
Y is for
Based on the fact they had such young teams this season, look for Bishop Eustace and Gloucester Catholic to battle for the No. 1 spot in South Jersey next year.
Both teams reached their respective sectional finals this year. Eustace had just two senior starters; Gloucester Catholic had two freshmen starters, along with a handful of juniors, and used several freshmen pitchers.
Millville also will be a strong contender for No. 1 next year.
Z is for
. That's how many South Jersey teams reached a state final. It marked the first time since the statewide tourney started in 1971 that an area team failed to play for a state championship.
With so much young talent in South Jersey this season, however, don't be surprised if area teams are dominant in next year's tournament.
Just think, only about nine more months until the 2009 scholastic baseball season begins.