TOMS RIVER – For winning pitcher Mark Cosentino, there couldn’t have been a more fitting ending as Shore Regional won its first NJSIAA Group I baseball championship since 1993 on Saturday, June 7, with a 7-1 triumph over Ridgefield Park.
Cosentino. a senior left-hander who will be attending George Washington University in Virginia, pitched a complete game, a four-hitter while striking out nine and walking four.
Cosentino also put on the finishing touches of his great game by smashing a long 2-run homer to right-center in his final high school at bat. The ball cleared the fence and bounced on the roof of a building.
“That was my second home run of the season,” Cosentino said. “I hit one against Monmouth Regional earlier this season. I had been in a slump and was 0 for 12 before I hit my home run.
“On that last at bat, I took a big hack on my first swing,” Cosentino said. “I said to myself to just be patient. I’m not a home-run hitter. Then I got a fastball up and hit it to right centerfield.”
Shore started the season out 6-1 and then went into a slump, losing five in a row.
“We came back and beat Monmouth 3-1,” Shore coach Pat O’Neill said. “That kind of turned things around for us. We went 12-2 after that.”
Ridgefield had runners on base in the first three innings, but two were eliminated on double plays and one was caught stealing by catcher Nick Blaney.
Shore went ahead 1-0 in the third inning when Clayton Coffey singled, stole second and James Kelly followed with a run-scoring double.
“This is my last game for Shore,” Coffey said. “To go out like that is amazing. How often does a high school end its last game like this? It was unbelievable.
“We really weren’t in sync during that losing streak” he said, “but we played strong teams. Our division (A Central) was very strong.”
Ridgefield Park spoiled Cosentino’s shutout bid in the fourth on Jordan Neira’s RBI single, but Shore clinched the game with four runs in the seventh, capped by Cosentino’s home run.
“Early in the game, I used my off-speed pitch to get ahead,” said the 8-1 Cosentino. “Then I used my fastball. When they figured it out, I used the fastball and came back with the off-speed.”
One of the spectators at the game was former Shore Regional great Fred Kamph, who was the coach of Shore’s 1993 championship team.