With two-thirds of the baseball season in the books, Brookdale Community College Coach Johnny Johnson has formed a pretty good idea about the 2022 Jersey Blues.
“We’re very talented,” said Johnson, now in his 24th year as the Blues skipper. “We can hit and field with anyone. The pitching is coming around. This team could be very special.”
Brookdale is winning two of every three games (18-9) thanks to a lineup that has been consistent throughout the spring.
“One through nine can run and bunt, and we have power guys, although we’re more in-the-gap doubles hitters,” Johnson pointed out, adding that everyone is contributing to the team averaging nine runs an outing. “We don’t have the same guys carrying us.”
One player who has been standing out is former Red Bank Catholic standout Jack Scrivanic, who was recently named the Garden State Athletic Conference Division III Player of the Week. During that week (ending March 27), BCC went 4-0 and the ex-Casey batted .384 with 11 RBI, seven runs scored and three home runs. Scrivanic, a sophomore, is batting .329 on the season and leads the Blues with 12 home runs, 33 runs scored and 34 RBI.
“He’s a great kid who is playing at a high level,” Johnson said of his first baseman. “He’s showing sophomore leadership.”
Johnson also noted that sophomores Matt Granato (Freehold Borough) and Christian Bauman (Shore Regional) are also displaying experienced leadership as well as leading with their play. Granato is bating .417 with 32 runs scored and 17 RBI. He has a .559 on base percentage and leads the team in stolen bases with nine. Bauman is hitting .391with 26 RBI and 24 runs scored. He is slugging a remarkable .724 with 17 extra base hits (eight doubles, six triples and three home runs).
Also having big seasons are Alex Ungar (Connetquot, New York) and Marcus Johnson (Cranford). Ungar, a sophomore, is hitting .414 and has scored 24 runs and driven in 15. Johnson, a freshman, has scored 29 runs and driven in 17 while batting at a .367 clip. Defensively, Ungar is part of an outfield with Bauman and Johnson that has received high praise from its coach.
“We have three of the best outfielders in Division III,” said Coach Johnson. “They’re all Division I players.”
The infield has been solid all around as well led by Granato, Joe Lomangino (Fr., Marlboro), Caleb Carter (Fr., Paramus), Darius Troche (Fr., Shillington, Pennsylvania) and Nicholas Papageorge (Fr., Old Westbury, New York).
The Blues’ pitching staff is young, and Coach Johnson has been encouraged by the progress of its many freshmen. Middle relief has been an issue, but he sees that turning around. Brendan Williams has been the ace. He is 5-1 with two complete games to go along with a 3.57 ERA. The freshman with a blazing fastball has averaged 13.75 strikeouts per nine innings. Bryan Bernard (Howell), a sophomore, has started 3-1 with a 4.42 ERA. He has also been fanning batters at a 13.75 clip per nine innings.
With an eye toward the postseason and the Region 19 tournament, Coach Johnson set up a difficult early season schedule in Florida to prepare his team for the Region in May.
“We’re a young team. I put them through the fire early to be tested,” he said.
Brookdale is 8-2 in GSAC and Region 19 play which bodes well for the post-season where home field could be important.
Coach Johnson is seeking his eighth Region crown at Brookdale.