Ben’s Battlers Win Underclassmen Showcase over Shane’s Sluggers, 6-5 at GMC Charity Baseball Game

Baby Shane O'Donnell thows out the first pitch at GMCBCA Showcase fundraising/charity doubleheader  Credits: Chris Nalwasky
GMCBCA Underclassman Showcase fundraising/charity doubleheader for baby Shane O’Donnell and Ben Lepisto Credits: Chris Nalwasky
GMCBCA Underclassman Showcase fundraising/charity doubleheader for baby Shane O’Donnell and Ben Lepisto Credits: Chris Nalwasky
GMCBCA Underclassman Showcase fundraising/charity doubleheader for baby Shane O’Donnell and Ben Lepisto Credits: Chris Nalwasky
GMCBCA Underclassman Showcase fundraising/charity doubleheader for baby Shane O’Donnell and Ben Lepisto Credits: Chris Nalwasky
Credits: Chris Nalwasky
Credits: Chris Nalwasky
Credits: Chris Nalwasky
Credits: Chris Nalwasky
Credits: Chris Nalwasky

EAST BRUNSWICK, N.J. - Gusty winds drove dust up on the grass and bright sunny skies shone down on national award-winning Raymond J. Cipperly Field on the Middlesex County Vocation and Technical School’s East Brunswick campus Sunday as the Greater Middlesex Conference Baseball Coaches Association conducted a fundraising/charity doubleheader.

The event was put together by highly-respected sports writers Greg Tufaro and Gregg Lerner and benefitted one-year-old Shane O’Donnell and 14-year-old Ben Lepisto. Baby O’Donnell is the son of former Middlesex High School baseball coach turned Athletic Director Mike O’Donnell and Lepisto a freshman student-athlete at Woodbridge High.

O’Donnell was diagnosed and is currently fighting stage IV high risk Neuroblastoma and Ben Lepisto had a cancerous brain tumor, medulloblastoma, removed just a short time ago.

Sign Up for E-News

As for the twinbill, the GMCBCA Underclassman Showcase kicked off the day at 11 a.m. as players from all over the county were drafted to teams named after Shane and Ben called Shane’s Sluggers and Ben’s Battlers by Tufaro and Lerner. The Underclassmen game featured players that were either sophomores or juniors (more on the Senior All-Star Game later).

About 15 colleges were represented with scouts from Rutgers, Kean, George Washington and others who took to the stands to watch the players perform, witnessing a thrilling 6-5 victory for the Battlers over the Sluggers in nine innings compared to the traditional seven played in high school.

It was fitting that’s Woodbridge’s junior Zach Joe knocked in the go-ahead run in the bottom of the eighth with a sacrifice fly that scored Sayreville’s Kyle Richards. East Brunswick’s Tyler Burnham, Metuchen’s Matt Volpe, South Plainfield’s Jared Marks, J.P. Stevens’ Luke Jacobi, and Woodbridge’s Harry Rutkowski each had the other five RBI’s for the Battlers.

Rutkowski was named the GMC’s Cy Young Pitcher of the Year and is already committed to Rutgers for the class of 2017.

The Sluggers’ JT Vento had the highlight of the day with a then game-tying two-RBI inside-the-park homerun with a deep slicing shot to left center to knot it up at 5-5 in the seventh.

St. Joseph’s (Metuchen) Jon Sot got the Sluggers going with a run in the top of the first, but the Battlers stormed right back with three runs in the bottom half of the inning.

Besides Vento, South River’s Brandon Szerszen drove in a run in the top of the second for the Sluggers and Perth Amboy’s Darius Diaz smacked an RBI double in the fourth.

But while the Battlers won the game, the real winners were baby O’Donnell, who threw out the ceremonial first pitch before the showcase, and Lepisto, as donations made by fans in attendance as well as private independent fundraising by South Amboy High and St. Joe’s raised over $6,000.

“I think it’s amazing what they put together here,” Mike O’Donnell told “When you’re going through something like that, especially with the kids, you need support. It takes some of the trouble off your plate a little bit. It just makes it a little bit more manageable when you’re feeling the love from people, and people that can’t exactly imagine what you and the family are going through. They rise to the occasion and they make it important to support a good cause.”

Donations can also be made at the crowd-funding web pages for each of the families: ( and

Players from both teams warmed up in special shirts for the All-Star Games and the charity, wearing red for Ben’s Battlers and blue for Shane’s Sluggers.


TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

East Brunswick

East Brunswick's Ethan Reiss Saves the History of Who We Are

July 15, 2018

EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ - To some people, lists of names and pictures of locations just create a jumble of information and a confusing mass of facts.  To Ethan Reiss, a historian from East Brunswick who is working to keep facts alive, these bits and pieces come together to form a picture of who we are based on who we were in the past.

Reiss, the administrator of the popular "You Know ...

Murphy Administration Takes Action to Help Smokers Quit

July 16, 2018


TRENTON, NJ – The Murphy administration on Monday announced new steps to help New Jersey Medicaid recipients quit using tobacco by making it easier to receive tobacco cessation medications and counseling.

“Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death and disease in New Jersey, leading to chronic lung disease, heart disease, stroke and cancer,” said New ...

Learn How to “Ace The Interview” at the East Brunswick Public Library

EAST BRUNSWICK—Looking for a new job? East Brunswick Public Library (2 Jean Walling Civic Center) is here to help. The library offers a special program called “Acing the Interview” on Saturday, July 21 at 10:30 am, which is designed to help jobseekers.

“Acing the Interview” focuses on what many feel is the most stressful part of the job search process: the ...

Learn About Food Preservation at the East Brunswick Public Library

EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ—East Brunswick Public Library and the Friends of the East Brunswick Environmental Commission are presenting the special program “Food Preservation 101” at the library (2 Jean Walling Civic Center) on Wednesday, August 1 at 7:00 pm.

“Food Preservation 101” covers the basics of food preservation. The program is led by Shailja Mathur and ...

East Brunswick Public Library Hosts "An Olde-Time Summer Band Concert"

EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ—East Brunswick Public Library (2 Jean Walling Civic Center) is more than just books. On Sunday, July 15 at 2:00 pm, the library hosts a special concert featuring the Central Jersey Wind Ensemble.

Titled “An Old Time Summer Band Concert,” the concert is a sponsored by the Friends of the Library. The Central Jersey Wind Ensemble will perform a variety of ...

East Brunswick Public Library Hosts Special Health Day

EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ—Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey and East Brunswick Public Library are teaming up to host a special evening of health programs at the library (2 Jean Walling Civic Center) on Wednesday, July 11.

Horizon will be providing blood pressure and blood sugar screenings in the library from 7:00 to 8:00 pm.

The program “Brain Games – Keep ...

Lucia, Lucia by Adriani Trigiani

Lucia, Lucia by Adriana Trigiani (Ballentine Books, 2003)


If a summer romance novel is what you are craving to read as you sit by the pool or beach, Adriana Trigiani's Lucia, Lucia is a perfect choice. Set in 1950 New York City, the novel is about a young woman, Lucia Sartori, who is determined to have a career and be able to support herself, an unusual choice for a girl who was ...

The Anatomy of Escape by Mike Blue

The Anatomy of Escape: An Unconventional Adventure by Mike Blue (Available on Amazon)


Imagine that you could just say, “Chuck it,” and walk away from the bonds that keep you tied to what Mike Blue, author of The Anatomy of Escape: An Unconventional Adventure, defines as the restrictive Work-Consume-Die cycle. To most of us, becoming what Blue terms “a ...

To Our Current and Future Representatives

July 17, 2018

To Our Current and Future Representatives - Wherever They May Be:

We can never forget we are a nation of immigrants. 

We cannot fall prey to fear, ignorance and anger when we  have been historically driven by freedom and justice. 

We must have the courage and will to fight hate, bigotry and prejudice. 

We must not wake up to what we hoped was a bad dream and ...

'Servant of Two Masters' exudes foolish fun

‘Servant of Two Masters’ makes for foolish, frivolous fun

By Liz Keill

MADISON, NJ –Carlo Goldoni’s “The Servant of Two Masters,” in a rousing translation and adaptation by Bonnie J. Monte, has the outdoor audience at The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey laughing and clapping all the way through.

The yearly production, held at the amphitheatre on the ...

5 Simple Ways to Save Water this Summer

According to the L.A. Times, the average American uses an estimated 98 gallons of water EACH day.  

Here are five simple ways you can save water, to help you conserve water this summer and take some pressure off of your drains.

1. Unless you are using it, turn the faucet off. How many of us still leave the water running while we shave or brush our teeth?According to ...