May 4, 2012
2012 Ed Ford Memorial Tournament Preview
Catcher Jared Ensmenger and Bayonne are the top seed in the Ed Ford Memorial Tournament (Photo: Jason Bernstein)
By Jason Bernstein Editorial Director
Ed Ford Memorial Baseball Tournament Preview
Calling anyone the favorite might be unfair given how close the top four seeds have been, but we’ll give a slight nod to top-seeded Bayonne.
The Bees (15-4) sport one of the deeper lineups in the county with sophomore Frank DiPillo, juniors Justin Guthrie and Kyle Greaves and seniors Jared Ensmenger, Charles Castellano and Joel Abreu. Castellano and Abreu are two holdovers from the 2010 County championship team.
Dave Jakubowski might be the county’s most underrated pitcher and leads a staff which features Chris Kelly, Abreu, Liam Constantine, Castellano and Guthrie.
With Gianni Zayas, A.J. Gale and Marco Hernandez North Bergen (12-5) boast a dynamic trio at the top of the rotation, with all three capable of dominating whenever they take the mound. The second-seeded Bruins have speed at the top of the order with Willie Cruz and P.J. Cardone. Hernandez and Jose Moreno help in the middle of the lineup.
St. Peter’s Prep has also had a big three in the rotation with Ryan O’Connor, Mike Doran and Anthony Pacillo. O’Connor in particular has been dominant of late, throwing a one-hitter against North Bergen. Second baseman Anthony Rinaldi and shortstop Anthony Pilovsky have excelled up the middle for Prep and lead a deep lineup which includes T.J. Ward, Jason Uliano and Brian Githens.
Not to be outdone is Marist and the one-two combination of senior Mark Peralta and sophomore Matt Littrell. Littrell has allowed just two hits over his past two starts and has 10 or more strikeouts in four of his five starts. Peralta is a savvy veteran, who pounds the bottom of the strike zone. Peralta and Littrell are part of a Royal Knights lineup which includes 1B Steve Tsugranes, Dereck Edge and Danny Mirabel.
At 7-9, seventh-seeded Kearny might not look like a dangerous team. But with wins over North Bergen and St. Peter’s Prep the Kardinals have show the ability to play with the county’s best teams. Senior Dave Bush headlines the rotation for Kearny while Nick Beachene and Ryan Michael help lead the offense. The Kardinals limp into the tournament with a four-game losing streak heading into their playoff opener with Hudson Catholic.
In a county full of strong pitchers, Hoboken’s Kenny Roder stands above the rest. The senior lefty has thrown four-straight complete game shutouts, has struck out 13 or more batters in every start this season and is capable of turning this tournament upside down. At 10-8, the fifth-seeded Red Wings have been up and down this season. A year ago, the Red Wings won the Ed Ford Memorial Tournament as a seven seed behind the pitching of Roder and fellow lefty Abe Groomes. Can lightning strike twice for Hoboken?
The Bracket Buster:
Hoboken isn’t the only team with an ace lefty capable of carrying a team to a title. Weehawken junior Sal Mendez can be downright untouchable, with 57 strikeouts in just 31.2 innings. Mendez is far from the only reason the 11th-seeded Indians have won eight of their last 10. David Strandberg gives Weehawken a more than capable No. 2 starter and J.J. Pineda, Roberto Moran and Dante Cieri join Mendez and Strandberg in the lineup.
Ed Ford Memorial Baseball Tournament
Friday, May 4
17-McNair at 16-University Charter 4:30 p.m.
18-Snyder at 15-Secaucus 4:30 p.m.
19-Lincoln at 14-Dickinson 4:30 p.m.
Friday, May 4
12-Harrison at 5-Hoboken 4:30 p.m.
13-St. Anthony at 4-Marist 7 p.m.
Saturday, May 5
16-University Charter/17-McNair winner at 1-Bayonne 2 p.m.
10-Hudson Catholic at 7-Kearny 2:30 p.m.
15-Secaucus/18-Snyder winner at 2-St. Peter’s Prep 3 p.m.
9-Ferris at 8-Union City 3:30 p.m.
11-Weehawken at 6-Memorial 4 p.m.
14-Dickinson/19-Lincoln winner at 3-North Bergen 7 p.m.