TOMS RIVER, N.J. - It took an exemplary effort by a dominating two-way player to prevent Shawnee from winning the second state baseball title in school history.
Brian Schroeder did double damage on the mound and at the plate in leading JFK-Iselin to yesterday's 5-2 win over Shawnee in the state Group 3 championship at Toms River East.
The St. Peter's recruit pitched a complete game, allowing both runs in the seventh inning while striking out 12. He was also on base four times, going 2 for 2 with a single, a home run and two intentional walks.
For Shawnee, that was too much to overcome.
"You saw how he hit, and we also had trouble with his slider all day," said Shawnee coach Brian Anderson, whose 18-7 team is ranked fifth in South Jersey by The Inquirer.
Early on, it was a pitcher's duel between Schroeder and Shawnee righthander Anthony Montefusco. Runs appeared as if they would be scarce.
That's why Anderson decided to gamble when Ed Royds led off the third inning of a scoreless game with a triple.
After a strikeout, Anderson called for a suicide squeeze. The bunt didn't get laid down, and Royds was eventually caught in a rundown.
"We hadn't done much to that point, and one run at that stage would be huge, so we went for it," Anderson said.
The tie was broken the next inning when Schroeder hit a blast over the left-field scoreboard.
Montefusco said Schroeder hit a fastball, a pitch that the Shawnee righthander was forced to rely on.
"I wasn't throwing my off-speed pitches for strikes, so I had to use my fastball more," Montefusco said.
JFK (24-4) broke the game open with three runs in the fifth inning, sparked by an RBI double by Joe Marciano, who later scored on an error.
Nick Mergel scored the fourth run on a delayed double steal. Mergel was a courtesy runner for Schroeder, who was intentionally walked.
A sacrifice fly by Alex Weinstein after Montefusco walked the bases loaded brought home the fifth run, in the seventh.
Trailing by 5-0, Shawnee showed some fight in the last inning. Vince Corbi's RBI groundout and Kevin Hickey's RBI single brought home the two runs.
Shawnee had runners on first and second and the tying run at the plate when Schroeder (12-0) ended matters by getting the dangerous John Montemurro on a groundout.
JFK-Iselin 000 130 1 - 5 7 0
Shawnee 000 000 2 - 2 5 1
WP: Brian Schroeder. LP: Anthony Montefusco. 2B: J-Joe Marciano, S-John Grady. 3B: S-Ed Royds. HR: J-Brian Schroeder.