Colts have three shots at glory this week

first_img BY GEORGE ALBANOStaff Writer Above, CBA’s Mike Galeotafiore slides safely into home to beat the throw before Camden Catholic catcher Dan Angelo can reel it in during the Colts’ sectional title win on Friday in Middletown. Below, CBAplayers celebrate their championship win, something they hope to do a lot more of this week. With his CBA baseball team scheduled to play five pressure-cooker games in a span of six days, how did head coach Marty Kenney decide to spend his one day off? “I cut the grass,” the veteran coach said Sunday night. “I figured I better cut it before it rains. So I cut grass and trimmed some limbs on trees. I was trying to catch up, to tell you the truth.” Kenney could be excused if his yard was starting to look a little neglected. You see, he’s been pretty busy lately trying to steer the Colts toward not one, not two, but three tournament championships this week. CBA was coming off a four-games-in-five-days stretch last week, all of them wins, including a 5-1 victory over Camden Catholic Friday in the NJSIAA South Jersey Non-Public A semifinals in Lincroft. PHOTOS BY JEFFGRANIT staff Then on Saturday, the Colts edged St. John Vianney 2-1 in the Shore Conference tournament semifinals, also in Lincroft. After Sunday’s off day, CBA, 24-4, was scheduled to return to action on Monday against Wall High School in the finals of the Monmouth County Tournament. Then on Tuesday, they were to take on St. Joseph of Metuchen for the South Jersey sectional title at Mercer County Park in West Windsor. And tonight, the Colts face Colts Neck for the Shore Conference crown at FirstEnergy Park in Lakewood. Of course, CBA could find itself getting another “off day” because of the weather early this week. But at some point the Colts will have to play those three games. What’s more, if they win the South Jersey title, they would play again on Saturday for the Non-Public A state championship against the winner of the North Jersey final between Seton Hall Prep, the No. 1 team in the country, and Immaculata. Looks like Kenney’s grass could be growing long again. “It’s difficult, no question,” the CBA coach said, now in his 34th season. “Every game is a pressure game. I think it’s more emotionally draining than it is physically draining. That’s what kind of drains on you, the mental part of it. “The kids even wanted to practice today [Sunday], but I said no. We pretty much played every day this past week. We played Tuesday and Wednesday, we were off on Thursday, and then we played Friday and Saturday. And now we have three more games in a row, so I told the kids to get away from it for one day.” While playing in three different tournaments simultaneously has been exciting for the Colts, Kenney admits some games are indeed bigger than others. “It’s tough because they’re still all tournament games. You can’t concentrate on just one,” he explained. “It doesn’t really affect the hitting or the defense, but it can stretch your pitching. “The state tournament takes priority,” Kenney added. “We’ve got it to the point where our No. 1 pitcher, Kyle Slate, is starting the state tournament games. Last week he was splitting games with another pitcher (Dave Laufer), one going four innings and the other three. But now he’s had proper rest so he can just concentrate on the state tournament, and he’ll start Tuesday. “And Dave Laufer can concentrate on the Shore Conference games. He’ll get the start Wednesday. In the county tournament [on Monday], we’ll go with a couple of other guys. If they can give us two, three innings each, that’s fine. That’s what we did against Jackson in the quarterfinals. We had three guys each go two or three innings. A lot depends on the score, too. If we get a big lead, we could pull the starter just to limit the pitch count. That’s what our goal is now.” In the 5-1 sectional semifinal win over Camden Catholic, Slate fired a five-hitter, struck out 10 and walked only two as he ran his record to a perfect 11-0. “And they’re a very good hitting team,” Kenney said of Camden Catholic, which came into the game 20-8. “So Kyle threw well. He limited them to just five singles and gave up one earned run. That’s only the third earned run he’s given up all year and he’s pitched almost 70 innings. So he’s had an outstanding year.” Slate, who’s committed to the University of Maine, also contributed a key RBI single on offense during a three-run second inning as CBA jumped out to a 4-0 lead. Camden Catholic scored its only run in the top of the third, but CBA got that run back in the bottom of the inning to make it 5-1 and close out the scoring. Marc Sansevere and Steve McSherry also had RBI singles for the Colts. McSherry was the star of CBA’s Shore Conference semifinal win over St. John Vianney (19-8). His diving catch in the fifth inning prevented SJV from adding to a 1-0 lead, and then McSherry doubled in the tying run in the top of the sixth and eventually came around to score the go-ahead run on a wild pitch. “There was a man on first with one out when he made that catch, so in all likelihood they would have had runners on second and third with one out and a good scoring opportunity,” Kenney said of McSherry’s defensive gem. “The kid on base was pretty quick and he possibly would have scored. “So it was a huge catch, no question. He made as good a catch as an outfielder can make. It turned out to be the defensive play of the game.” Kenney then made the strategic play of the game when he sent sophomore Zach Tanenbaum, just called up from the JV team, to pinch hit leading off the sixth. St. John starter Paul Bacigalupi, who came into the game 11-2, had silenced the CBA bats over the first five innings. “They had a lefty on the mound and normally my two pinch-hitters are lefty,” Kenney pointed out. “Zach hit .475 on JV and I thought he could handle that pitcher. He was not overpowering. He threw fastball, curveball, change-up, and he was a good pitcher, but Zach is a good hitter.” Kenney’s gamble paid off as Tanenbaum singled up the middle. After Sansevere bunted pinch-runner A.J. Szatkowski (who re-entered the game) to second base, McSherry drilled an outside pitch to deep left for a double, his second hit of the game, to knot the score. McSherry then moved to third on a balk and raced home with what proved to be the winning run when Bacigalupi uncorked a wild pitch. Laufer, who gave up a run in the first, made the one-run lead stand as he held SJV in check in the bottom of the sixth and seventh innings, finishing with a five-hitter to up his record to 7-2. He also beat St. John Vianney, 4-3, four days earlier in last Tuesday’s sectional quarterfinals. “He beat them twice in a week,” Kenney said. “He threw well in both games. He struggled a little bit with his control, but he gutted it out and managed to go the distance.” Laufer was also the winning pitcher in CBA’s two wins against Colts Neck (21-7) during the regular season and will get a third start against them tonight. “Hopefully, they don’t make too many adjustments,” Kenney laughed. “They’re a good ballclub. They can hit and they’ll throw their No. 1 pitcher against us. So we have our work cut out, no question. Plus we’re the only game they have to worry about so they’ll be well rested. Same thing with Wall High School. “But I’d rather be in our position than not be in the tournament.” Besides, a torrid stretch of games like this is nothing new for Kenney, who recorded his 600th career victory this season and led the Colts to their eighth straight A North Division title in the Shore Conference. His résumé also includes four Shore Conference league championships (the last one in 2002), five Monmouth County crowns (including last year’s), six sectional titles (the last in 2005), and a state championship in 1977. He hopes to add to all those lists this week. “In 2001, we went 29-3 and were ranked 17 in the country,” Kenney said. “We won four championships that year so it can be done. It just depends on the pitching. Pitching and defense carry you right now. Hopefully, we have enough depth to handle each tournament.” BY GEORGE ALBANO Staff Writer last_img

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