A change of address within the Shore Conference and a year’s worth of playing experience have energized the St. Rose of Belmar baseball team.

The Purple Roses, who have not had a winning season since 2018, carry a 10-3 record into their Apr. 28 game at previously unbeaten Point Pleasant Beach, which they defeated 4-3 in a thrilling, nine-inning win Apr. 26.

The Roses are in first place, one game ahead of PPB, with a 9-0 record in the B Central Division. For the past several years, St. Rose resided in the ultra-competitive A Central and struggled. But at the end of last season, the Roses had a 4-4 finish after a 3-13 start and many players have returned.

“We played well down the stretch,” Lanko said. “They started to buy into our philosophy. No matter their record, they busted their butt every day. Tons of energy, good work ethic. I think it’s carried over into this season.

“We were playing teams tough and lost a lot of close games in the other division,” he continued. “It wore them out a little. We’ve gotten the opportunity to win again and gained some confidence.”

Three top returnees are seniors Jack Lomerson and Jack Donahue, and junior Jack Tiernan – the team’s main starting pitchers who also contribute at the plate.

Tiernan has been the ace since his freshman year and has come into his own as a hitter since moving into the leadoff spot last year.

“The kid is tough, he competes,” Lanko said. “Getting a little more experience has let him take off at the plate. He really gets things started for us. He’s also our number one pitcher but the poor kid never gets any run support. But he’s been unhittable at times.”

Lomerson has been a clutch hitter and leads the team in most offensive categories. Lanko noted, “He’s worked on hitting the ball the other way and it’s helped him out a lot.” Donahue was 3-0 out of the bullpen last year and can either start or relieve. The coach says, “he’s huge for us.”

Two freshmen making an immediate impact are first baseman Frank Soos, who’s batting near .400, and shortstop Peter Nolan, who has been a defensive standout. Nolan’s emergence has allowed Lomerson and Tiernan to play third when not pitching, while Brendan Brophy has emerged as a hitter and plays second base.

The outfield features Point Pleasant Boro transfer Anthony Crudo in left, James Dorster in center and Brennan Sherman and Ryan Murray in right.

St. Rose has a Monmouth County Tournament game with Rumson-Fair Haven Apr. 29 after beating St. John Vianney in a preliminary round game.

“Hopefully we can pick up some wins in the Monmouth Tournament, that would prepare us for the states and Shore Conference Tournament,” Lanko said. “We’re doing well in power points, so hopefully we get a good seed and get some home games in states. We have some tough teams in (Non-Public B) but we’re capable of making a run.”