Colonials aiming for state playoffs

BY TIM MORRIS Staff Writer

Jon Block, returning for a second stint as the Freehold Borough baseball coach, has raised the bar for his 2008 Colonials.

Although they are coming off a 7-11 season, Block’s goals are to “contend for the division (B North) and qualify for the state tournament.”

It would seemto be within the Colonials’ grasp, he pointed out, because of the team’s all-around ability and veteran experience.

“We have a good combination of all four facets,” he said. “We have pretty good speed. Seven of our nine starters can run.”

Alongwith teamspeed, the Colonials can pitch, play defense and score runs. Plus, they have a number of experienced seniors. That has led to a promising 4-1 start.

“Everyone has clicked,” Block remarked.

With the team speed, the Colonials will again be very aggressive on the base path. They’ve already had one steal of home. In the first four games of the season, they had 11 stolen bases.

What gives theColonials a chance to contend and aim at the postseason is a deep pitching staff that has a legitimate ace at the top in senior right-handerMatt Yuhas.

“Matt has excellent control and good velocity,” said Block. “He is one of the best pitchers in the Shore. He will pitch our big games.”

Yuhas tossed a complete game shutout in his opener and is currently 2-0.

Brian Prisk, a righty, and lefty Mike Esola complete the starting rotation. Like Yuhas, Esola can be a strikeout pitcher.

Anthony Pira and Ryan Kresky can be used in relief or as spot starters if needed, giving Block flexibility and depth.

“Our pitching is very good,” he said.

James Frost (.538), Esola (.455), Yuhas (.429) and Joe Quinones (.333) have been swinging the hot bats early. Frost has a team-high five runs scored and Esola has eight RBIs.

Defensively, the Colonials line up with Quinones behind the plate, with Esola and Yuhas sharing first-base duties with Pira at second and Prisk at third base. Kresky is the shortstop.

Frost anchors the outfield defense in center withMattWhalen in left and Brandan Coulson in right.

“I’m very happy with the defense,” said Block.

Veterans Harold Boltan (catcher) and Jerry Plescia (second base) will contribute as the season progresses.

“We expect good things from this team,” said Block. “We have people who can do a lot of things. We feel as the season goes on, we’ll get better.”

The Colonials displayed their resiliency on Thursday when they rallied for five runs in the sixth and seventh innings to down Ocean Township, 5-2.

An RBI double by Kresky started Freehold’s four-run sixth-inning rally. A twoout, two-RBI single from Prisk gave the Colonials their first lead, 3-2. Esola’s runscoring single gave the Colonials a 4-2 lead. Quinones tacked on an RBI double in the top of the seventh.

Yuhas went 6.1 innings with Kresky getting the save.

Block has two former high school stars from the area on his staff, Matt Coulson, who starred at Freehold Borough and went on to play at Brookdale andMonmouthUniversity, andAnthony DeNicola, who starred at Freehold Township High School.