CBA baseball team wins thrillers to claim Monmouth County and SCT titles

May 31, 2024 at 7:00 a.m.
The Christian Brothers Academy baseball team celebrates its Shore Conference Tournament championship on May 22 at Shore Town Ballpark after taking a 1-0 win over Southern Regional. It was the first of two championships in three days for CBA, which defeated Red Bank Catholic in the Monmouth County Tournament two days later. Photo courtesy of Larry Levanti/letsgocolts.com
The Christian Brothers Academy baseball team celebrates its Shore Conference Tournament championship on May 22 at Shore Town Ballpark after taking a 1-0 win over Southern Regional. It was the first of two championships in three days for CBA, which defeated Red Bank Catholic in the Monmouth County Tournament two days later. Photo courtesy of Larry Levanti/letsgocolts.com

By RICH FISHER
Contributing Editor

When Marty Kenney Jr. took over Lincroft’s Christian Brothers Academy baseball program from his father, Marty Sr., he developed a five-year plan. The Colts, however, have not abided by it.

And that’s a good thing.

CBA's Jayden Matejicka slides home safely on a passed ball for the game's lone run in the Colts 1-0 victory over Southern Regional in the SCT title game. Photo courtesy of Larry Levanti/letsgocolts.com

In the fourth season of Kenney’s regime, his brash CBA team is ahead of schedule as witnessed by its winning some incredibly intense games en route to the Monmouth County and Shore Conference tournament championships. 

“They’re so young, it wasn’t quite expected to go this well this year,” the coach said. “We had these aspirations for this group but they were a year away. It’s been fun to watch it come together even sooner. That’s what’s been so enjoyable to me. They’ve grown up really fast.”

They had to, for starting with a 2-1 win over Colts Neck in an SCT quarterfinal game May 18, CBA won five straight tournament games by one run.

CBA beat Colts Neck on a passed ball to end the game. That was followed by a 5-4 win over Red Bank Catholic in the May 20 SCT semifinals when Will Fahey scored on a wild pitch to end it. Dan Tsimbinos hit a 3-run homer, Jaxon Sevilla smashed a solo shot and Danny DiTullio pitched a complete game for CBA.

On May 22 at Shore Town Ballpark, Lakewood, Jayden Matejicka scored the game’s lone run on a wild pitch and Dylan Iwanyk pitched 5-⅓ scoreless innings in a 1-0 win over Southern Regional, Manahawkin. That gave CBA its first SCT title since 2016. Jack Dufficy threw 1-⅔ innings of scoreless relief for the save.

The fun continued May 24 in a rematch with RBC in the Monmouth County Tournament championship game. After a pitching duel two days earlier, the Colts won a 13-12 slugfest for their first MCT crown since 2019. It was the second highest scoring county final ever. Colin Hoverter scored the winning run on yet another passed ball in the sixth inning and Dufficy threw three innings of scoreless relief. Iwanyk had two hits and four RBI, while Matejicka (4 runs), Fahey, Tsimbinos and Dan Russo had two hits each.

CBA starter Dylan Iwanyk fires a pitch against Southern Regional in the SCT title game. Photo courtesy of Larry Levanti/letsgocolts.com

Then came the start of the NJSIAA South Jersey Non-Public A tournament May 30, and CBA did it again with a 2-1 win over Donovan Catholic, Toms River. Matejick hit a two-run double in the fifth while Danny DiTullo and Shane Langan combined on a four-hitter with 10 strikeouts.

Some players won’t have that many pressure-packed tournament games in four years and the young Colts experienced five in 12 days. As a bonus, they won them all.

“To gain this experience these kids have gotten this year while also winning has just been everything,” Kenney said. “If we lost, I would have thought it was OK, that they’ve gotten such big time experience in big games and it would have prepared them for next year. Now they’ve gotten the experience and won, it’s like ‘Wow this is really incredible!’ You’ve got the best of both worlds going.” 

What was most impressive is that CBA did it all without its senior pitcher Chris Levonas, who will either attend Wake Forest or play pro ball next year. Levonas had tightness in his arm and Kenney will not throw his ace until he feels perfect.

His teammates have picked up the slack and carried a 19-5 record into their May 30 SJ Non-Public A semifinal at St. Augustine. Win or lose that game, it’s been a heck of a ride for CBA.

CBA's baseball team forms a human dog pile after beating Southern Regional in the SCT championship game.
Photo courtesy of Larry Levanti/letsgocolts.com

“It’s been a process,” Kenney said. “When I took over, I had a five-year vision of what I needed and what I wanted. That didn’t so much include winning championships. But there were ways and different things I wanted to do to build the program in my vision. It slowly has gone that way. Last year we got to the semifinals in both tournaments, this year we won them

“For me and with my father before, it’s about maintaining the consistency of the program, and getting to the semifinals every year and giving yourself a chance to get to the finals and maybe win it. You don’t want to get knocked out early. And then you just hope for a little luck, and certainly that’s been part of it.”

Granted, CBA has had good fortune. But it’s not the only reason for the success. Good teams do the right things to put themselves in a position where good luck will help them.

“We’ve made plays or made pitches when it matters,” Kenney said. “Ultimately, it takes a little bit of both. We’ve been both and that’s when really, really good things happen.”


CBA reliever Jack Dufficy rears back to fire a pitch against Southern in the SCT title game. Photo courtesy of Larry Levanti/letsgocolts.com

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When Marty Kenney Jr. took over Lincroft’s Christian Brothers Academy baseball program from his father, Marty Sr., he developed a five-year plan. The Colts, however, have not abided by it.

And that’s a good thing.

CBA's Jayden Matejicka slides home safely on a passed ball for the game's lone run in the Colts 1-0 victory over Southern Regional in the SCT title game. Photo courtesy of Larry Levanti/letsgocolts.com

In the fourth season of Kenney’s regime, his brash CBA team is ahead of schedule as witnessed by its winning some incredibly intense games en route to the Monmouth County and Shore Conference tournament championships. 

“They’re so young, it wasn’t quite expected to go this well this year,” the coach said. “We had these aspirations for this group but they were a year away. It’s been fun to watch it come together even sooner. That’s what’s been so enjoyable to me. They’ve grown up really fast.”

They had to, for starting with a 2-1 win over Colts Neck in an SCT quarterfinal game May 18, CBA won five straight tournament games by one run.

CBA beat Colts Neck on a passed ball to end the game. That was followed by a 5-4 win over Red Bank Catholic in the May 20 SCT semifinals when Will Fahey scored on a wild pitch to end it. Dan Tsimbinos hit a 3-run homer, Jaxon Sevilla smashed a solo shot and Danny DiTullio pitched a complete game for CBA.

On May 22 at Shore Town Ballpark, Lakewood, Jayden Matejicka scored the game’s lone run on a wild pitch and Dylan Iwanyk pitched 5-⅓ scoreless innings in a 1-0 win over Southern Regional, Manahawkin. That gave CBA its first SCT title since 2016. Jack Dufficy threw 1-⅔ innings of scoreless relief for the save.

The fun continued May 24 in a rematch with RBC in the Monmouth County Tournament championship game. After a pitching duel two days earlier, the Colts won a 13-12 slugfest for their first MCT crown since 2019. It was the second highest scoring county final ever. Colin Hoverter scored the winning run on yet another passed ball in the sixth inning and Dufficy threw three innings of scoreless relief. Iwanyk had two hits and four RBI, while Matejicka (4 runs), Fahey, Tsimbinos and Dan Russo had two hits each.

CBA starter Dylan Iwanyk fires a pitch against Southern Regional in the SCT title game. Photo courtesy of Larry Levanti/letsgocolts.com

Then came the start of the NJSIAA South Jersey Non-Public A tournament May 30, and CBA did it again with a 2-1 win over Donovan Catholic, Toms River. Matejick hit a two-run double in the fifth while Danny DiTullo and Shane Langan combined on a four-hitter with 10 strikeouts.

Some players won’t have that many pressure-packed tournament games in four years and the young Colts experienced five in 12 days. As a bonus, they won them all.

“To gain this experience these kids have gotten this year while also winning has just been everything,” Kenney said. “If we lost, I would have thought it was OK, that they’ve gotten such big time experience in big games and it would have prepared them for next year. Now they’ve gotten the experience and won, it’s like ‘Wow this is really incredible!’ You’ve got the best of both worlds going.” 

What was most impressive is that CBA did it all without its senior pitcher Chris Levonas, who will either attend Wake Forest or play pro ball next year. Levonas had tightness in his arm and Kenney will not throw his ace until he feels perfect.

His teammates have picked up the slack and carried a 19-5 record into their May 30 SJ Non-Public A semifinal at St. Augustine. Win or lose that game, it’s been a heck of a ride for CBA.

CBA's baseball team forms a human dog pile after beating Southern Regional in the SCT championship game.
Photo courtesy of Larry Levanti/letsgocolts.com

“It’s been a process,” Kenney said. “When I took over, I had a five-year vision of what I needed and what I wanted. That didn’t so much include winning championships. But there were ways and different things I wanted to do to build the program in my vision. It slowly has gone that way. Last year we got to the semifinals in both tournaments, this year we won them

“For me and with my father before, it’s about maintaining the consistency of the program, and getting to the semifinals every year and giving yourself a chance to get to the finals and maybe win it. You don’t want to get knocked out early. And then you just hope for a little luck, and certainly that’s been part of it.”

Granted, CBA has had good fortune. But it’s not the only reason for the success. Good teams do the right things to put themselves in a position where good luck will help them.

“We’ve made plays or made pitches when it matters,” Kenney said. “Ultimately, it takes a little bit of both. We’ve been both and that’s when really, really good things happen.”


CBA reliever Jack Dufficy rears back to fire a pitch against Southern in the SCT title game. Photo courtesy of Larry Levanti/letsgocolts.com

 The Church needs quality Catholic journalism now more than ever. Please consider supporting this work by signing up for a SUBSCRIPTION (click HERE) or making a DONATION to The Monitor (click HERE). Thank you for your support.

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