Brookdale baseball GSAC champions

BCC defends Region title this weekend in Lincroft

BY TIM MORRIS Staff Writer

You might say that the Brookdale Community College baseball team powered its way to another Garden State Athletic Conference championship.

Johnny Johnson’s Jersey Blues used a .384 batting average to slug their way to a 16-2 conference mark in 2008 and the top seed for the Region XIX tournament. Overall, the team finished the regular season 31-11 and ranked No. 6 in the country.

“This is the best hitting team all around I’ve had in quite some time,” said Johnson. “They’ve all been hitting the ball, one through nine.

“We have speed and we have pop,” he added.

Sophomores Ryan Smyth of River Edge (.423) and Rob Troy of Middletown (.398) rank eighth and 13th in the country in hitting. Monroe’s Nick Albrino (.333), Long Island, N.Y.’s Julian Medina (.325) and Middletown’s Chris Sadecjy (.371), veterans from last year who finished third at the national championships, have been stinging the ball.

The Blues have been getting some big contributions from freshmen like Keith Weinkofsky of Ocean Township, the alltime home run king in the Shore Conference. He is batting .360 with a team-high six home runs.

Ivan Rodriquez of Newark (.390), East Orange’s Gabe Torres (.306) and Queens, N.Y.’s Andy Vega (.409) all carry healthy batting averages.

Smyth (catcher/first base) has been swinging the bat well throughout the season, and that was especially important in March and early April.

“He carried us until the freshmen came around,” said Johnson.

Johnson pointed out that he has speed at the top and bottom of the lineup to set the table for his RBI guys in the middle. Because of this balance, teams have found it extremely difficult to hold the Blues down for nine innings.

“I’mreal proud of our hitters,” said Johnson. “They’ve been battling every game.”

While it has been veterans with nice support from the freshmen who have carried the offense, it’s been a pair of freshman aces doing the job on the mound.

While Johnson “expected a little more” from the BCC hurlers, two have really stood out, Jeff Frost of Freehold Township (right-handed) and Westwood’s Dylan Cacciola (left-handed) have been real aces. Both are 6-0 and have earned-run averages below 1.00.

“They’ve been thoroughly dominant,” said Johnson. “They’re very impressive.

“Jeff Frost is the leader [of the staff],” he added. “He fears nothing.”

Brian Perez (Freehold Township), who is coming off Tommy John elbow surgery, has been doing a fine job in the closer role.

Ryan Casey (Manchester), Matt Padgett (Toms River) and sophomore JayWilson (Brick) have provided the depth that Johnson and the Blues will need now that it is tournament time.

Brookdale is hosting the Region XIX finals this weekend (Friday through Sunday). The Blues began defense of their title last weekend in the first round. The Blues beat Union two games to one to advance to the semifinals. They won the first game 11-0, lost the second 9-7, and then turned it up a notch with their offense, winning the decisive third game 19-4.

The Region XIX champion moves on to the National Junior College Division III World Series in Tyler, Texas, May 17-23. The Blues are looking for their fourth straight World Series appearance. Last year, Brookdale finished third.