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Jun 09, 2022

Victory is no Stranger to the Middletown South Baseball Team

By Tim Morris

Each season is an open book for Middletown High School South baseball coach Chris LeMore. Every player has the opportunity to prove themselves and earn playing time. This internal squad competition has proven quite effective for the Eagles. Not only has it produced depth and championships (Group IV state title in 2021), but a brotherhood of players who put team first.

The Eagles’ 2022 season is proving to be no exception. South is 16-7 as of press time, with wins over six Top 20-ranked teams. 

“I’m really happy with their attitude and effort,” LeMore said of this year’s squad. “They want to excel. We’re very fortunate to have a team filled with athletes and competitors. They work hard and play together.”

They’ve also experienced what it takes to win from last year’s sate championship run.

LeMore doesn’t have to think twice about what the Eagles’ strength has been all year.

“It’s our pitching,” he explained. “We’ve run out 11 different kids. I’ve been really impressed with their work ethic, drive and determination.”

Righty Ben Schild, coming off a sensational sophomore season, has responded with an even better 2022.  In one of his best performances of the year, the junior allowed just two hits throughout 8.1 innings in the Eagles’ 2-0 win over state-ranked Red Bank Catholic. Schild is averaging two strikeouts per inning (58 Ks in 29.2 innings of work) and pitching to an ERA just over one a game. LeMore noted that it was more than what Schild brings to the mound on game day that makes the junior an ace.

“It’s the work he does in between starts,” said LeMore. “He’s extremely competitive. He’s just a great leader. He wants the ball wants to be the man. He has stepped into the leadership role.”

While Schild alone would make Middletown South dangerous, it’s the depth behind him that makes the Eagles a threat.

Sophomore Brevin Bezick, junior Will Christopher and senior Brendan Roche give Middletown South four quality starters. They are pitchers who throw strikes and are the big reason Middletown South has allowed just 56 earned runs in 23 games. With four quality starters, South has depth needed to survive the postseason tournament frenzy. The Eagles are set at closer as well with senior Evan Wood who has allowed just one earned run in 17 innings.

On their way to winning the Group 4 state championship last spring, the Eagles relied on putting pressure on defenses by putting the bat on the ball and making defenses make plays rather than swinging for the fences. On bases, the running game applies pressure as well with the Eagles’ stealing.

“We want to mentally put pressure on defenses,” LeMore explained.

Just like the Eagles have depth on the mound, they have it with their lineup as well.

“We rotate a lot of kids into the lineup,” LeMore remarked.

“It has lengthened the lineup and given us a deeper lineup.”

Senior Joe Stanzione (.454), sophomore Louis D’Alessio (.421) and Wood (.473) have been South’s leading run producers. Stanzione has provided the lineup with power, racking up six home runs including the walk-off blast against RBC.

The lengthened lineup has seen 19 different players score runs and 17 drive runners in.

Middletown South has one more thing going for it as it seeks more hardware in 2022: the returning seniors.

“They want the same success as their brothers (last year’s graduated seniors),” said LeMore.