NON-PUBLIC B STATE CHAMPIONSHIP
AT TOMS RIVER EAST
MARIST (23-5) vs. NEWARK ACADEMY (19-11), 11
PLAYERS TO WATCH
MARIST: Dereck Edge (Sr. 2B); Mark Parolta (Sr. RHP/DH); Danny Mirabel (Sr. 3B); Matt Littrell (So. RHP); Steve Tsugranes (Sr. 1B).
NEWARK ACADEMY: Matt Ratner (Sr. RHP); Steve Catena (Sr. 2B); Sean Mulligan (Sr. 3B); Troy Sutton (Jr. C); Randall Keur (Sr. 1B).
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
MARIST: The Royal Knights, who come in on a red-hot 12-game winning streak, have continuously found ways to win throughout the state tournament, whether routine or unique. From a timely RBI single by Edge in the bottom of the seventh to pull out a 4-3 victory over Mater Dei to Tim Rodriguez being hit by a pitch with the bases loaded, again in the bottom of the seventh, to force in Edge with the game-ending run in a 2-1 triumph over Sacred Heart in the South Jersey final, Marist had no shortage of clutch contributions along the way to the program’s first sectional title since 1993.
While the finishes have changed, the stellar pitching has held true to form for Marist. Littrell (7-1) and Parolta (7-2) are interchangeable within the rotation and both are incredibly stingy on opponents. The Royal Knights, who are the reigning Hudson County Tournament champions, boast a staff that yields just 2.25 runs per game.
NEWARK ACADEMY: The Livingston school is back in the state final for the second straight season, having bowed to Gloucester Catholic a year ago, 14-2. Ratner, who owns a nasty curveball, was downright dominating in his last outing when he fired a five-hit shutout with nine strikeouts in a 1-0 victory over Montclair Kimberley in the North Jersey sectional final. He also is a force at the plate, driving in the only run of that contest with an RBI single.
The Minutemen, who have won five straight, have played a formidable schedule, much like Marist, and should be primed for this one.
Gregg Lerner covers baseball for MSG Varsity. Follow him on Twitter: @gregglerner