Middlesex, Essex shine in NJ Quad-County Underclass Games

By Bob Behre | June 30, 2021

Middlesex defeated Hudson, 9-1, in the NJ Quad County Underclassmen All Star Games.

Sal Della Fave of Edison gave the crowd a peek at his electric bat speed and subsequent power during an impressive performance in the pre-game Home Run Derby. Then Della Fave unleashed the beast in his final at bat in the NJ Quad County Underclassmen All Star Game.

Della Fave didn’t win the home run derby but made sure he and his Middlesex County teammates would go home winners when he unleashed a long grand slam home run over the fence in left field in the bottom of the eighth inning to boost his team’s lead to 9-1 over Hudson County.

“I got a fastball up and in and I turned on it,” said Della Fave. “I was just trying to go gap-to-gap with the bases loaded and try to get us a couple runs.”

Della Fave got Middlesex four runs all at once to send his team to a 9-1 victory. Essex County outpaced Union County, 14-7, on the adjacent field at North Brunswick Community Park.

The NJ Quad County Games were, once again, a resounding success with a big crowd, strong attendance by scouts and outstanding play by the underclassmen in both games.

Essex County defeated Union County, 14-7, to improve to 9-2-1 in the NJ Quad County Underclass All Star Games.

Junior righthander Andrew Goldan of St. Joseph’s (Met.), a Rutgers commit, pitched two scoreless innings, allowing two hits, striking out four and walking two to get Middlesex out of the gate clean. Goldan also came to bat twice and cashed in with an RBI single in the middle of Middlesex’s six-run bottom of the eighth that put the game away.

C.J. Wisniewski of Monroe put forth the most impressive display of offense with one swing of the bat. Wisniewski, a 6-0, 195 junior outfielder, latched onto a fastball from Ryan Rzepinski of St. Peter’s Prep and launched it well over the fence in straightaway center field. The home run with one out in the fifth inning tied the game at 1-1 and seemed to finally open the floodgates for a Middlesex offense that had been no-hit to that point.

Ty Nicolay of Middlesex High replaced Edison’s Sal Della Fave in the lineup in the fifth inning and quickly delivered an RBI single through the middle to cap a three-run bottom of the fifth inning that staked Middlesex County to a 3-1 lead. Nicolay put himself in the running for the Most Outstanding Player award when he doubled over third base in his next at bat. But Della Fave re-entered in the eighth and hit a grand slam to end any claim Nicolay had on the award. The Della Fave/Nicolay spot in the MIddlesex order went 3-for-4, scored a run and drove in five runs.

Sophomore D’Angelo Ponce of Ferris slashed a single to center field leading off the game in the top of the first inning and drew a walk in his second at bat. He stole second each time he was aboard and scored Hudson County’s only run on a single by catcher Robert Geisler of Bayonne in the third. The single gave Hudson a 1-0 lead. Geisler also drew walks in his other two trips to the plate.

Middlesex County pitching held Hudson County to five hits. Randy Cruz of Hudson Catholic, Miguel David Cabral of North Bergen and Matt Corwin of St. Peter’s Prep each had a single for Hudson.

Sal Della Fave of Edison receives the Outstanding (Middlesex) Player Award from Bob Smorol.

Most Outstanding Players

There were many terrific performances in the two games, so choosing the ones that stand out for each team and honoring those players with the Most Outstanding Player trophy can be challenging. This year’s honorees were impressive.

Marcus Monroe of Ferris is the honoree from Hudson County for his dominant performance on the mound. Monroe, a 6-2, 220 junior, started and no-hit the potent Middlesex lineup in four shutout innings, striking out six, walking one and hitting a batter.

Sal Della Fave of Edison received the honor for Middlesex County after tossing one scoreless inning then hitting a grand slam in the bottom of the eighth inning to turn a 5-1 lead into a 9-1 rout. 

Marcus Monroe of Ferris receives Outstanding (Hudson) Player award from Bob Smorol
Zach DeGeorge (Union), left, of New Providence and John Cerwinski (Essex) of Seton Hall Prep won the Outstanding Player awards at the NJ Quad County Underclassmen All-Star Games.

Zack DeGeorge, the lefty hitting leadoff hitter for New Providence, had a double and a single and scored a run to earn the award for the Union County team.

Junior righthander John Cerwinski of Seton Hall Prep helped get the Essex County squad off to a good start by pitching two perfect innings, striking out two and walking none, to garner the award.

Dustin McGuinness of East Brunswick was one of two freshmen in the game for Middlesex County. Righthander Jaxon Appleman of Edison was the other. All McGuinness did was strike out four of the five batters he faced. The righty struck out the side in the seventh inning around a single by Union City’s Miguel David Cabral. He then struck out the leadoff batter in the eighth and was pulled. Appleman, by the way, went two innings and allowed a run on one hit while striking out four and walking one.

The six Middlesex County pitchers combined to strike out 17 Hudson batters in the game and walked just four.

Essex remains a force

The Essex County team has now been on the winning end of this event, which began in 2010, nine times and owns a tie for an overall record of 9-2-1. One of those wins was with a combined team with Union that defeated Middlesex, 8-7, in 2017.

Mike Garlatti received the Distinguished Achievement Award at the NJ Quad County Games.

Garlatti honored

Colorado Rockies scout Mike Garlatti, a familiar face and a much respected baseball man both statewide and particularly within the Middlesex County baseball community, received the Distinguished Achievement Award.

Garlatti is the Northeast Scouting Supervisor for the Rockies but is truly a Mr. Baseball in Middlesex County, where he operates the Baseball Warehouse Instructional Academy. Mike has also been the main promoter of the annual Autism Awareness Baseball Tournament, which has grown from eight teams in its infancy to a 40-team event that attracts top teams from all over the state.

A catcher in college at the University of Tampa and Ramapo College, Garlatti also coached under the legendary Fred Hill at Rutgers University. He was inducted into the Mid-Atlantic Scouts Hall of Fame in 2018.

More importantly, Mike remains staunchly faithful in his approach to both baseball training and molding young men.

Hollender hammers away at HR Derby

The Quad-County Games kicked off festivities with a Home Run Derby that, while not approaching the fireworks of the MLB Home Run Derby, was entertaining nonetheless.

Millburn’s 6-3, 200-pound catcher Matt Hollender won the championship trophy in a tiebreaker playoff with Edison’s Sal Della Fave and Cranford’s Tony Silva.

Three players represented each of the four all-star teams and Hollender’s four home runs in the first round stood above the dozen competitors. Silva and Della Fave each hit three home runs to join Hollender in the final round.

Della Fave, a 6-0, 205 corner infielder, was down to his last of seven outs when he drilled back-to-back homers to ensure a berth in the finals. He was the 11th of the 12 entrants to bat. Silva went last and hit two homers in his first three swings. He had three outs remaining when he hit his third dinger.

Della Fave went first in the final and could manage just one home run. But Silva and Hollender followed with the same solo success to force a three-out tiebreaker.

Della Fava went down 1-2-3 and Silva hit one home run, on his second swing. But Hollender wasn’t playing. He patiently waited for a good pitch to hit and drilled home runs on his first two swings to lock up the trophy.

“I was rooting for all of the guys and just hoping to see some bombs tonight,” said Hollender. “It’s the first time I was in a home run derby on the big field. I’m just glad to come out on top.”

Anthony Mancini of Bayonne, a 6-0, 195 sophomore outfielder, hit back-to-back homers on his fourth and fifth swings in the first round. Leo Mangiamele, a 6-2, 180 infielder from Westfield, also hit two home runs in the first round and, like Mancini, just missed out on a final round berth.

A.J. Davis of Elizabeth, Luke Bickunas of South Plainfield and Joe Delanzo of Nutley each hit one home run in the contest.

Matt Hollender of Millburn won the HR Derby at the NJ Quad County Underclassmen All-Star Games.

Labor of Baseball Love

The NJ Quad-County Underclassmen Games requires the efforts of many to make it successful, but the event would not happen without the tireless and passionate efforts of Bob Smorol, the event administrator.

Under Smorol’s able direction, what originally gave birth in 2010 to the Union-Essex Underclass All-Star Game has morphed into the NJ Quad County Games. Middlesex County was first invited into the mix in 2017 and Hudson County joined the fray in 2018.

The four teams fielded rosters of between 21 and 24 players and played with the same passion as the event’s organizer.

For more details on the Essex-Union game, go to full story on Sideline Chatter.

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