SPOTSWOOD, NJ - Rain delayed the Commander's Cup a couple of times this spring. However, the Spotswood High School and East Brunswick High School varsity baseball teams finally took the field for the annual spring matchup between the two teams on Wednesday, May 31.
The Commander's Cup is the brainchild of Spotswood High School head baseball coach, Glenn Fredricks. It came from the fact that many of the players on both the Chargers and the Bears often played with one another on American Legion baseball teams over the summer.
"I figured when I got the job here as the varsity coach," Fredricks explained. " I said I'm going to design a trophy that we're going to call the American Legion Post 25 Commander's Cup. Commander Ron Dixon sponsored it and we built this trophy. The first time we play East Brunswick every year, it's for the trophy. The winner keeps it for a year and we tack on the date and the score of the previous year when we get the trophy back."
This year the Chargers get to keep the trophy and earn bragging rights, defeating the Bears 6-0 to earn their fourth shutout in their last five games of the season. Their win ended the Chargers season with a 21-5 overall record.
While South River is a huge rivalry for Spotswood players, the Commander's Cup takes on a whole new level of competition for the participants since many of them have known each other since early childhood, playing on football and baseball teams in the area.
"These guys have known each other forever," Fredricks said with a smile. "It is winner takes all."
This year's Commander's Cup also had added significance because both teams had successful seasons on the diamond. The Chargers won their first Greater Middlesex Conference Blue Division title in a decade and the Bears finished first in the Greater Middlesex Conference Red Division with an overall record of 20-7. East Brunswick was 12-2 in league play while Spotswood was 11-1.
Both teams were knocked out of the quarterfinal rounds of their NJSIAA Central Jersey Sectional Tournaments. Spotswood is a group two school while East Brunswick is group four. Neither team made it to the finals of the Greater Middlesex Conference Tournament. This year's GMC tournament winner was St. Joseph's of Metuchen.
Senior Matt Ciaccio started his last game as a Charger in the Commander's Cup, picking up the win and allowing only three hits in six and one third innings on the mound. Fellow senior JT Vento hit a solo homerun while younger brother Matt had two hits. Nick Mohr had three hits in the victory while Nick Vincelli hit an RBI-earning triple. Ryan Szatkowski, Vinnie Guardiola and Dylan Seel each had three hits for the Chargers. Matt Bartus, Brad Edwards and Mat Nelson had hits for the Bears.
Spotswood High School will honor all of its spring athletes including the Blue Division champion baseball team on Wednesday, June 7 at their annual Spring Athletic Banquet.