Sports Roundup

Hem Returns to Lineup, Boosts Southern Boys Volleyball Team in Super Six Showcase

By DAVID BIGGY | May 15, 2019

Surf City — The first two times the Southern Regional boys volleyball team played Fair Lawn, the Rams fell short of knocking off the Cutters, both resulting in 2-1 defeats. Those are the Rams’ only two losses of the season thus far. But there was one thing to note about those first two contests: Southern was without its best hitter, senior Zack Hem, who had been recovering from a severe ankle injury.

Well, Zack was back on Saturday for the Super Six Showcase, and even though the matches don’t count toward the participating teams’ records, Southern proved to be a different team with him in the lineup. This time, the Rams beat Fair Lawn, 25-22, 23-25, 25-20, and Hem was solid, delivering 15 kills and a block to go along with an ace, as the Rams went 4-0 in the showcase event featuring six of the state’s best programs. Matt Maxwell gave out 29 assists, while Logan Lipositz mustered 19 digs and Jack Healy scored five blocks.

But, without a doubt, the win against Fair Lawn now sets up the potential for a great state final when the season gets to that point. Southern on Monday was awarded the top seed for the NJSIAA South Jersey sectional tournament, and Fair Lawn was given the top seed for the North Section I tourney. Two years ago, the Rams beat the Cutters to win the state championship.

Also in the Super Six, the Rams knocked off Bridgewater-Raritan, 25-21, 25-13, bounced East Brunswick, 25-18, 25-18, and smashed St. Joseph-Metuchen, 25-15, 25-13. Against Bridgewater-Raritan, Anthony LeBlanc and Hem each swatted six kills and Maxwell gave away 15 assists. Against the Bears, Hem hammered 11 kills and added three blocks and five digs, while Lipositz contributed 11 digs and Maxwell had 25 assists. Against St. Joseph, Justin Kean led the way with seven kills and five digs.

Earlier in the week, on May 9, Southern put the finishing touches on winning the Shore Conference Class A South division with a 25-10, 25-20 victory over Lacey. Hem had nine kills, while Maxwell dished out 18 assists, and Kean delivered four aces. Drew Wilgus also banged down six kills.

Southern Baseball Team

Ousted in OCT Semifinals

The Southern Regional baseball team reached the Ocean County Tournament semifinals for the second time in three seasons last week, ultimately getting bounced from the tourney by Jackson Liberty in a 7-5 contest on May 11. As the 14th seed, the Rams knocked off Lacey, 10-8, in the quarterfinals on May 9 to earn their place against the second-seeded Lions.

With sophomore catcher Mike Gallaro back in the lineup after being sidelined due to a concussion, the Rams took a 2-0 lead in the first when Gallaro, who went 3-for-4, swatted a two-run single. The Lions chipped away at the lead by scoring in each of the next two innings, before Southern struck again. An infield single, bunt for a hit and an error loaded the bases for Frank Pelligrino. He whacked a full-count pitch into left field to bring in two runs as part of a three-run top of the fourth, giving the Rams a 5-2 lead.

Liberty scored four runs to take the lead in the bottom of the fourth, then added a run in the sixth to seal their 18th straight victory. Cole Markley took the loss on the mound for Southern.

In a wild contest against Lacey’s Lions two days earlier, Southern fell behind, 2-1, in the first inning before scoring five times in the top of the second to grab the lead for good. The Rams (7-11) added four runs in the top of the fourth to take a 10-5 lead into the fifth. Lacey scored once in the fifth and twice in the seventh to make it close.

Jack Plesniarski led the offense for the Rams, going 3-for-4 with a pair of RBIs, while Markley went 2-for-5 with a double and three RBIs, and Kevin Cooney and Pelligrino each smacked a pair of hits. Mike Schiatarella earned the victory on the hill.

Pinelands Golf Squad

Grabs Division Crown Again

The Pinelands Regional boys golf team not only remained undefeated through 11 contests on May 8, the Wildcats scored their ninth Shore Conference Class B South division victory to capture a second straight division title.

While the Wildcats knocked off Lacey, 164-172, and Jackson Liberty, 164-188, Nate Szwed led the charge by scoring a 38, while Tom Reilly contributed a 41, Austin Carney carded a 42 and Connor Carney delivered a 43 on the team’s home course at Sea Oaks.

A day earlier, Pinelands (168) surged past Jackson Liberty (191) and Point Pleasant Borough (191), as Austin Carney returned to the clubhouse with the Wildcats’ best score of 40, Connor Carney and Szwed each carded a 42, and David Laney provided a nice round of 44.

Rams’ Boys Lacrosse Team

Snags Division Title

After a fairly rough start to the season, during which the Southern Regional boys lacrosse team went 2-2, the Rams have been solid, going 9-1 through its next 10 contests leading up to their May 10 clash with Brick Memorial. Against the Mustangs, Southern scored five times in the first quarter and capped the game with five more goals in the fourth, as the Rams (12-3) captured the Shore Conference Class A South division title with a 7-0 mark.

While goaltender Luke Maul managed six saves to thwart the Mustangs, the Rams’ offense was led by Cade Johnson, who fired in four goals and gave out four assists, and Ajani Steverson, who added four goals and an assist. Ryan Sinisky contributed three goals and Jake Hughes added two goals. Drew Wasacz won 15 faceoffs as well.

On May 7, the Rams were bounced from the Shore Conference Tournament following a 13-6 loss to Shore Regional. Johnson and Hughes each scored twice, while Will Devane and Steverson each tossed in a goal.

David Biggy

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