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May 18, 2022

Colts Neck High School Baseball Ready to Shine on the Mound and at Bat

By Tim Morris

Under Head Coach Mike Yorke’s guidance, the Colts Neck High School baseball team has established a consistency that is the hallmark of a winning program. 

The Cougars had Shore Conference Division and postseason tournament championships to back it up. But before last spring, Colts Neck had never captured an NJSIAA state sectional title. The Cougars added that jewel to their trophy case with a 3-2 triumph over Northern Burlington in the Central Jersey Group III final.

That victory capped off a 22-8 campaign that also produced a B North Division co-championship. 

Now, in 2022 with several returning starters and a deep and talented pitching staff, Yorke expects his Cougars to be back in the championship hunt again. The Cougars are simply loaded on offense and on the mound. Colts Neck’s stellar returners include catcher Joe Cilea (Sr.), infielder Dave Cohen (Sr.), outfielder Brad Salamone (Sr.), designated hitter/infielder/pitcher Christian Rice (Sr.) and infielder/pitcher Tyler Spencer (Jr.).

Cilea batted .351 and was the team’s leading run producer with 29 RBI. Salamone was the team’s catalyst, scoring 29 runs while batting .369 and driving in 19. Rice hit .330 in ’21, scoring 16 runs and driving in 13. Spencer batted .244 but made his hits count with 20 RBI and 16 runs scored. 

Colts Neck can attack teams with the running game, putting pressure on defenses and stealing bases. Rice (13) and Salamone (11) were the leading base swipers last spring. Other returners from ’21 include infielders Nick Carell (Sr.) and Chris Scully (So.). Completing the team and competing for starting spots are infielder Ryan Tan (Jr.) and outfielders Andrew McDevitt (Sr.), Jon O’Connor (Jr.), Tosh Mancini (So.) and Casey Gardiner (So.).

The Cougars have as good a one-two at the top of the rotation as anyone in the Shore. Anthony Gubitosi and Spencer went a combined 12-3 in ’21.

Gubitosi, a senior who throws from the left side, went 6-2 with a 2.87 ERA. He was overpowering, fanning 73 batters in 46.1 innings. The right-handed Spencer went 6-1 with a low 1.61 ERA. He struck out 50 in 56.1 innings of work. The duo is backed up by Tom Diffley (So. RHP), Gianluca Varilew (Sr. RHP), Vinny Zaffarese (Jr. RHP), Cohen (LHP), Chris Scully (So. RHP) and Tosh Mancini (So. RHP).

The staff will get a shot in the arm in May when Rice, coming back from surgery, is scheduled to return to the mound. He was 3-3 last spring.

The Cougars have several players who have made their college commitments-Gubitosi to the University of Delaware, Rice to Wofford University, Salamone and Cilea both to Sacred Heart, and Cohen to Virginia Tech.

Colts Neck signaled what could potentially be a powerhouse season by beating Wall, the team the Cougars shared the B North title with in ’21, 12-2, in the season opener. Gubitosi pitched five scoreless innings for the win, and Cohen went 4-5 with a home run.