The Brookdale Community College baseball team will host this weekend’s Region XIX Tournament as the No. 1 seed. Coach Johnny Johnson’s Jersey Blues wrapped up the No. 1 seed for the Region XIX event by winning the Garden State Athletic Conference (GSAC) and posting the best region record (14-2) en route to a 34-8 overall record. Brookdale is ranked No. 5 in the United States in the most recent National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) baseball poll. As the No. 1 seed, the Blues drew a first round bye and will begin play on May 8 at 11:30 a.m. in Lincroft. As of Monday, the four-team field had yet to be completely filled, but Camden (19-6) and Gloucester (31-9) are two of the other teams in the field by virtue of finishing second and third, respectively, in the GSAC and Region XIX. The double-elimination tournament will use Christian Brothers Academy’s baseball field for first round and loser’s bracket games on May 8. On May 8, the two first round winners will meet in the afternoon on the Brookdale campus at 2:30 p.m. while the losers will meet at CBA to determine which team will be eliminated. At 11 a.m. May 9, the survivor of the May 8 loser’s bracket game will meet the loser of the May 8 afternoon game between the first round winners. The team that wins both of its games on May 8 will play the winner of the May 9 morning game at 2:30 p.m. May 9. If the undefeated team loses the 2:30 p.m. game, a final game will be played at noon on May 10. The Jersey Blues are well-prepared for a tournament like this where pitching depth is a must. Brookdale has a solid starting rotation that includes Ryan Casey (7-1) from Manchester; Jeff Frost (3-1) from Freehold; and Chris Cirlincione (4-0) from Monroe. Johnson has quality pitchers behind that trio who can start or provide long relief. The Blues have the best closer in Cory Hawes (Monmouth Regional), who is 1-0 with 11 saves and a 1.66 ERA. Hawes has allowed only seven hits in 27 innings of work and has 26 strikeouts. Several Jersey Blues had outstanding regular seasons. Catcher Keith Weinkofsky (Ocean Township) slammed 11 home runs while batting .458. He had 19 doubles and a triple as 31 of his 60 hits have gone for extra bases. Weinkofsky has 40 RBI. Joe Talerico (Toms River) is tied for second on the team in RBI (37) and is batting .402. Of his 49 hits, 27 have been for extra bases, including 11 triples. Andy Vega (Queens, N.Y.) is batting .404 with 30 RBI, and Kevin Mager (Middletown North) is second in home runs (9) and is hitting .377 with 37 RBI. Brian Seres (South Amboy) is hitting .377 and Frank Mormino (Howell) is hitting .340. Brookdale’s team batting average is .374.
Manchester United defender Luke Shaw has praised his former manager Mauricio Pochettino and is hopeful of reuniting with the Tottenham Hotspur coach in the future.Shaw played under Pochettino at Southampton during the latter half of the 2012-13 season as the Saints finished eighth in the Premier League. The England International moved to United at the end of the season.In the epilogue of Spanish pundit Guillem Balague’s new book “Brave New World: Inside Pochettino’s Spurs”, the 22-year-old hailed his fantastic relationship with the Argentine and reckoned Pochettino would like to work with him again as well.“I think with Southampton he achieved the impossible. We were one of the best footballing teams in the league…I do hope that I can play for him again one day. And I think he really wants me to play under him again,” Shaw wrote.“He used to call me his son, that’s how good our relationship was. I’ve had lots of ups and downs, but when I was with Pochettino it was only ever up, up, up.“He made me feel that I was the best. He’d show me clips of my games and say, ‘You should do this better’. Not in a horrible way. Not I could have done better, but I should have done better, because he knows I can be better.”Shaw is struggling to get playing time at United after falling out with manager Jose Mourinho and could meet Pochettino when second-placed United host third-placed Tottenham in the league on Saturday.