NORTH BRUNSWICK – In take charge fashion, Joe Turek provided the offense and then he made a big play defensively from behind the plate.
Johnson’s talented senior catcher produced the game-winning hit, connecting on the game’s only home run in the top of the sixth, and then in the bottom of the inning he threw out a baserunner attempting to move to second on a pitch that initially was thrown past him, which helped the Crusaders maintain their lead the rest of the way.
Johnson came back from a four-run deficit to defeat J.P. Stevens 11-9 in one of Friday’s two scheduled 4 p.m. games of the 11th annual Autism Awareness Baseball Challenge at Community Park.
Johnson won its third straight to improve to 5-4 overall. The Crusaders are 5-1 after a 0-3 start and won for the first time in two tries in the Autism Awareness Baseball Challenge.
Johnson does not play again until after Monday night’s Union County Tournament seeding meeting. The Crusaders are 2-1 in the Union County Conference’s Mountain Division and are 3-2 against Union County competition, including a 15-4 victory against defending UCT champion Westfield.
Last year, Johnson won at top-seeded and defending champion Governor Livingston 9-5 in the quarterfinals. GL was also ranked No. 1 in the state at the time, with a record of 15-0.
After J.P. Stevens, which fell to 3-9, tied the game for the third and final time in the bottom of the fifth at 9-9 on an RBI-single by Steven Zederbaum (he led all players with four hits – three singles and a double), it was Turek who stepped up to the plate to lead off the top of the sixth.
The J.P. Stevens pitcher this time was Zederbaum.
Turek crushed his first offering the other way, smoking a home run over the 330-foot left field fence to give Johnson the lead for good at 10-9.
“It was a fastball outside, a pitch I was ready for,” Turek said.
In the bottom of the frame with a runner on first and one out, it appeared that Johnson relief pitcher Kyle Adorno had thrown a wild pitch as the ball sailed past Turek and went to the backstop. However, courtesy of very small backstop space, the ball came right back to Turek, who then gunned down the runner attempting to move from first to second.
“This was a big win for us,” Turek said. “After beating Woodbridge and Westfield we got some confidence. We feel like we can make some noise now.”
Johnson’s fourth pitcher – Adorno – was the winning pitcher. The freshman earned his first varsity victory after allowing just one run on four hits while pitching the final three innings complete. J.P. Stevens scored in four of its first five at-bats, but Adorno kept the Hawks off the scoreboard in the sixth and seventh innings.
“Kyle showed a lot for a freshman under that kind of pressure,” Turek said. “His fastball had a lot of movement.”
“Kyle just picked up his first save (Wednesday in a 5-4 Mountain Division home win over Summit) and now this is his first varsity win,” Johnson head coach Dave Kennedy said. “He threw the ball around the zone. He did a good job.”
Adorno also excelled at the plate, banging out two doubles and driving in three runs. His first double, the opposite way, put Johnson back in the lead in the second inning at 3-2. His second two-bagger drove in two runs in the fifth to put Johnson ahead for the third time at 9-8.
J.P. Stevens took the lead at 8-4 after scoring four runs in the bottom of the third. Joe Young, its starting pitcher, and leadoff batter Frank DiSerio drove in runs with consecutive opposite field singles to right. Zederbaum followed with a two-run single to left.
J.P. Stevens scored one run on an error in the first and two more on an error in the second, although the first of those two runs would have scored regardless.
“We didn’t catch the ball well (Johnson made five errors) after having done a good job of that,” Kennedy said. “We will have to work on that some more.”
Johnson sophomore Max Carmino drove in a run on a ground out in the second, while teammate Saul Lopez did the same in the fourth. Carmino also drove the in game’s final run on a single to center in the seventh.
Anthony Caldiero and Mike Casalino walked back-to-back with the bases loaded to pull the Crusaders to within 8-7 in the fifth.
“We have some young guys and we’re still trying to figure this out and find our identity,” Kennedy said. “I think we have the talent.”
11th ANNUAL AUTISM BASEBALL CHALLENGE
AT NORTH BRUNSWICK’S COMMUNITY PARK
Johnson (5-4) 2 2 0 1 4 1 1 – 11 8 5
J.P. Stevens (3-9) 2 2 4 0 1 0 0 – 9 13 3
11-Zachary Thornton, senior RH – 2 and 1/3
10-Ryan Spallone, senior RH – 2/3
17-Kevin Metz, senior RH – 1
5-Kyle Adorno, freshman RH – 3 (WP 1-1)
J.P. STEVENS PITCHERS:
13-Joe Young, sophomore RH – 4 and 1/3
16-Shivam Patel, junior LH – 2/3
1-Steven Zederbaum, junior RH – 1 (LP)
22-Matt Pastor, senior RH – 1
Johnson senior Joe Turek blasted an opposite field home run
over the left field fence, clearing the 330 foot sign on the first
pitch of the sixth inning to give the Crusaders the lead for good
at 10-9. It was the first home run of the year for the lefty-swinging
catcher, who batted third in the lineup. He went 2-for-4 and reached
base three times, driving in one run and scoring one run. Turek also
led off the fifth with a single to right.
Max Carmino (RBI)
J.P. Stevens (11):
Joe Marrone (RBI)
Joe Young (RBI)
Frank DiSerio (RBI)
Steven Zederbaum (2 RBI)
Steven Zederbaum (RBI)
Kyle Adorno (RBI)
Kyle Adorno (2 RBI)
J.P. Stevens (2):
Johnson – None.
J.P. Stevens – None.
Joe Turek (RBI)
J.P. Stevens – None.
JOHNSON CRUSADERS (5-4):
5-Kyle Adorno, freshman right fielder-pitcher
8-Max Carmino, sophomore second baseman
18-Joe Turek, senior catcher
17-Kevin Metz, senior first baseman-pitcher
14-Steve Harrington, sophomore, shortstop
11-Zachary Thornton, senior pitcher
2-Anthony Caldiero, senior centerfielder
1-Mike Casalino, senior left fielder
12-Saul Lopez, sophomore third baseman
10-Ryan Spallone, senior pitcher
15-Patrick Grady, sophomore
7-Brett DaCosta, pinch runner
16-Nick McCaffery, junior
4-Tyler Washington, sophomore
Head coach: Dave Kennedy, 11th season
Assistant coach: Tom Urban
J.P. STEVENS HAWKS (3-9):
2-Rank DiSerio, senior leftfielder
1-Steven Zederbaum, junior second baseman-pitcher
22-Matt Pastor, senior shortstop-pitcher
14-Shiv Patel, junior rightfielder
6-Joe Marrone, senior first baseman
10-Justin Smith, sophomore catcher
17-Nick Perez, junior designated hitter
7-Joe Traina, senior center fielder
13-Joe Young, sophomore pitcher
3-Brandon Fong, sophomore third baseman (did not bat)
8-Justin Elko, senior
24-Jacob Anes, senior
5-Urvaj Shah, sophomore
16-Shivam Patel, junior pitcher
11-Casey Takemura, junior
Head coach: Dave Marzano, 16th season
AUTISM AWARENESS BASEBALL CHALLENGE
FRIDAY, APRIL 20 (4 games):
Henry Hudson 22, East Brunswick Tech 12
Johnson 11, J.P. Stevens 9
North Brunswick 8, Bernards 1
St. Peter’s Prep vs. St. Joseph’s, Metuchen, 7 p.m.
SATURDAY, APRIL 21 (8 games):
Millburn vs. South Plainfield, 10 a.m.
Scotch Plains vs. Sayreville, 10 a.m.
Barnegat vs. Steinert, 1 p.m.
Gov. Livingston vs. Edison, 1 p.m.
Delbarton vs. Red Bank Catholic, 4 p.m.
South River vs. Weehawken, 4 p.m.
Somerville vs. Elizabeth, 7 p.m.
Millville vs. Jackson, 7 p.m.
SUNDAY, APRIL 22 (8 games):
Spotswood vs. Robbinsville, 10 a.m.
South Amboy vs. Rahway, 10 a.m.
St. Joseph’s, Montvale vs. Holy Spirit, 1 p.m.
Voorhees vs. Middlesex, 1 p.m.
Pope John vs. Christian Brothers Academy, 4 p.m.
Hudson Catholic vs. Metuchen, 4 p.m.
St. John Vianney vs. Bishop Ahr, 7 p.m.
Hillsborough vs. Old Bridge, 7 p.m.