Tri-County Royal Baseball Could Come Down to Kingsway and Hammonton

by Marc Narducci; Photo Marc Narducci | Apr 19, 2019
Tri-County Royal Baseball Could Come Down to Kingsway and Hammonton

The Tri-County Conference Royal Division only has five baseball teams, and right now the two teams at the top appear to be the ones to beat.

Hammonton and Kingsway began the week sharing the division lead with 3-1 records. They were followed by Gloucester County Institute of Technology (1-1), Williamstown (0-2-1) and Clearview (0-2).

Kingsway is coming off a big two-game stretch when the Dragons handed Hammonton its first division loss of the season, 10-2 and then defeated Williamstown, 6-0 the next day.

That evened Kingsway’s record at 3-3 overall. The Dragons have rebounded from their rough early season start and they look not only to contend for the division but in South Jersey Group 4.

The Dragons are guided by first-year coach Bill Alvaro Jr., who had a highly successful reign as the head coach of his alma mater Washington Township.

Now Alvaro appears ready to take another program to big heights.

Before looking ahead to the postseason the business of winning a division title comes first.

“I think any team can win it right now,” Alvaro said. “There are only five teams and only eight division games and it is pretty quick so each game takes a lot of importance.”

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He has a group that includes 14 seniors, so this is a veteran club.

The win over Hammonton was impressive since the Dragons beat starter Stephen Restuccio, a Virginia Tech commit and one of the hardest throwers in South Jersey, who will be a candidate for the Major League first-year player draft. In fairness, this was Restuccio’s first start of the season. He didn’t get to pitch in preseason due to injury and he was obviously shaking off some rust, although Kingsway deserves a lot of credit for making him work hard in allowing four earned runs over three innings.

Then the next day, Kingsway defeated Williamstown, 6-0.

The leader for Kingsway is senior shortstop Sean Szestowicki, who is headed to James Madison. In the first six games he was 11 for 20 (.550) with nine runs scored and five RBI.

Despite the loss, Hammonton will be a major division contender and should also be a factor in the South Jersey Group 3 race, where there is no shortage of contenders.

Once Restuccio gets in the groove, he will give the Blue Devils a major top of the rotation arm. In addition, righthander Michael Walter, is another formidable staff member. Walter pitched a complete game in a 7-2 win over Williamstown, striking out 11. He is headed to Stockton.

Of the other teams, Clearview got off to a rough start, losing to Kingsway and Hammonton, but the Pioneers have the type of veteran team that still can’t be discounted.

Williamstown is another team that has slumped out of the gate, but should get better as the season goes on.

One of the surprises has been GCIT, which owns a 7-3 win over Kingsway and tied Williamstown, 9-9.

The old cliché where there are no easy game in the division comes true. Yet Hammonton and Kingsway appear to be headed toward a late-season showdown. The two meet May 8 at Hammonton in a game that could determine the division title.

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Author: Marc Narducci; Photo by Marc Narducci


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