BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - The BH/Mountainside White Sox having advanced to the “Sweet 16“ round of the Last Dance World Series (NJ) after a dramatic 5-1 win over Westfield will now face the Diamondbacks of Don Bosco Prep, the No. 1 seed in the 222 team tournament. The single elimination game will be played at Yogi Berra Stadium on the campus of Montclair State University on Tuesday afternoon July 21. First pitch is slated for 1 p.m.
Although the stadium has a capacity of 5000 only 500 fans will be allowed to attend the game due to LDWS Tournament rules and NJ state guidelines mandated due to the current pandemic. Therefore, if you plan on attending it is strongly suggested that you arrive early to the game. Tickets for this game will be sold on a first come, first served basis and will cost $5. There are no advanced ticket sales for this venue. Face covering will be required before entry to the game and social distancing will be enforced upon entry.
It will be all on arms on deck when BH/ Mountainside takes the field against a loaded Don Bosco prep lineup. Expect either senior Ryan Devanney (6IP, 0ER,4H, 12K) who pitched a great game against Summit last week to get the starting nod. BH/ Mountainside other starters Michael Shaffer (6IP,1ER,4H,(K) or lefty Briant Bazydlo ( 2.1IP, 1ER,2H,7K) will most likely be in the game before the fourth inning regardless of how Devanney preforms. The idea is to not let the powerful DBP lineup get too comfortable with any one pitcher. Sam Bass (4.1, 0ER, 2H, 11K), who is the only pitcher to make an appearance in two tournament games last week, has been unhittable out of the pen. Bass will be the closer with Dylan Versclesier (1 IP,0ER, 1K) and Jack Pires also available if needed. It's single elimination and although the winner will play the next day, coaches will need to put their best arm on the mound.
At the plate, Sean McCulloch has paced the offense with a .500 average, 4RBI and a pair of doubles. Michael Shaffer (.400), Nick Gold (.333) and Jayson Schmidt (.333) have all provided some timely hitting after the BH/ Mountainside lineup has shown some good patience at the plate. The team has drawn 20 walks in three tournament games. This squad is not like the power hitting Gov. Livingston teams of the past few years with now ACC bombers Dan Serretti, Drew Compton and Stephen Reid. However, this lineup puts the bat on the ball and relies more on speed to advance around the bases. Don Bosco's Jack Cannizzaro has a cannon for an arm behind the dish and it will be fun to watch the likes of speedy Vin Mellusi (.273) and Jayson Schmidt challenge the heavily recruited backstop.
Defensively, the infield will need to play error free. Except for one inning against Summit, when four errors were committed, the infield has played well. Unfortunately, DeSales University bound SS Michael Delsordo may not be available due to injury. In pool play, Delsordo played the field but didn’t bat. Since there will be no more free substitutions on defense, he may be regulated to the bench if he can’t swing the bat. The outfield of McCulloch, Schmidt and Pires should have no trouble covering the spacious outfield at Yogi Berra Stadium. Pires turned in a pair of beautiful catches in right last week.
Don Bosco which has now paired down a very expanded tournament roster is still loaded with talent. Rising junior Cannizzaro who has drawn interest from high level Div. 1 Programs has the task of managing a great staff which pitched consecutive shutouts last week. Right handers Virginia commit Kevin Jaxel or Villanova bound Devin Rivera who both throw in the low 90’s could get the call for DBP. If Coach Mike Rooney decides to start a lefty it would be Iona bound graduate Blake Helmstette. Needless to say the Bergen County power is loaded with pitching.
Offensively, DBP has scored in double digits in all three pool play games.
The winner of this game will be back in action on Wednesday in the Elite 8 bracket.
The Last Dance World Series was originally conceived to give 2020 graduate players one more opportunity to take the field with their teammates after spring sports in the state were canceled due to Covid-19. All 222 teams that entered were guaranteed to play three games with liberal substitution rules to give coaches the flexibility to play as many players as they could, especially seniors.
Now that pool play has concluded, rules will revert to official high school rules. However, there will be no pitch count limitations.
Click here to view photo gallery by John Haddad from Berkeley Heights Regional games.