EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ - Five members of the East Brunswick High School Varsity Baseball Team will be hitting the field on Sunday, June 12 for the 2016 Greater Middlesex Conference Baseball Coaches Association Frank Gavigan Senior All-Star Game and Underclassmen Showcase. They will be joined by two members of the East Brunswick Tech Varsity Team.
The annual event showcases Middlesex County's finest baseball players, featuring all area seniors who were named to the GMC All-Division Team. Every school in the county is represented since a senior is chosen from any school that did not have a player on the All-Division Team. A committee for the GMCBCA decided on the players who will be competing in the Underclassmen Showcase.
Nick Clemente, Danny Iannarone, and Juan Ganzaroli will both be playing in the Senior All-Star game after completing stellar seasons for the Bears this year. They will be joined by EB Tech Seniors Josh Brody and Connor Stratton.
Juniors David Bermudes and Tyler Burnham will represent East Brunswick High School in the Underclassmen Showcase. Bermudes plays 3rd base, while Burnham is an upcoming pitcher and 1st baseman.
This year's event that highlights the area's finest baseball players has taken on a slightly different persona since the doubleheader is also serving as a fundraiser for 16-month-old Shane O'Donnell and 14-year-old Ben Lepisto. Both boys are fighting a tough battle against pediatric cancer. O'Donnell is the son of Mike O'Donnell who once stood behind the bench of Middlesex High School as the head baseball coach. Currently, he is the Athletic Director of the Blue Jays. Lepisto is a Woodbridge native who prior to his diagnosis this spring had earned a spot on the Woodbridge High School freshmen baseball team.
While there isn't a fee to attend the game on June 12, all attendees are strongly encouraged to make a donation at the gate. All of the proceeds from the event will go to the O'Donnell and Lepisto families as they help their sons combat cancer.
Both games will be played on Sunday, June 12 at the Raymond J. Cipperly Field at the East Brunswick Campus of the Middlesex County Vocational and Technical School. The campus is located at 112 Rues Lane in East Brunswick.
The Upperclassmen Showcase will begin at 11 a.m. while the first pitch for the Senior All-Star Game will be thrown at 3 p.m.
In the event of bad weather, both games will be played on Monday, June 13 at John F. Kennedy High School in Woodbridge with the showcase beginning at 4 p.m and the all-star game starting at 7 p.m..
According to information on Lepisto's Go Fund Me page, the freshman began having trouble playing baseball shortly after he made the team. He decided to run track instead, but become ill during a practice. A hospital visit revealed a large tumor on his brain, which was cancerous. Lepisto immediately underwent surgery. However, his battle is only beginning.
O'Donnell was diagnoised with neuroblastoma shortly after his first birthday in January. Neuroblastoma is an aggressive form of pediatric cancer that is typically present at birth. However, symptoms don't usually manifest themselves until some point during childhold, many times during infancy. It is characterized by tumors.
O'Donnell experienced tumors behind his eyes as well as on his abdomen and pelvis according to information posted on O'Donnell's Go Fund Me page. He is currently undergoing chemotheraphy as well as enduring surgeries to remove the tumors.
The June 12 event was put together by Edison High School's head baseball coach, Vinnie Abene, as well as South River High School's head baseball coach Mike Lepore Jr.