2010-07-22 / Sports

Tournaments preparing Matrix players for college

BY SHAWN LAYTON
Correspondent
The Greater Middlesex Matrix Baseball team is currently 10-2 on the season and 5-1 in league play as it prepares for perhaps its toughest challenge of the summer — the Blue Chip Elite Tournament at Diamond Nation. Composed of the best local talent recently graduated from county high schools, the Matrix is a steppingstone for many players to make a seamless transition to college baseball in the fall. The tournament begins Aug. 3 in Flemington.

“The team is really a roster of the best players from the Greater Middlesex Conference,” head coach Glenn Fredericks said. “The Blue Chip Elite Tournament will be a great test for the players because it fields teams from across the Mid-Atlantic region all the way up to New England.”

Last month, Fredericks’s team took second place at the Halftime National Tournament on the campus of Temple University. As preparation for next month’s high-profile event at Diamond Nation, the team will take on the Clinton Knights, the reigning champions of the Pyramid 18 & Older League.

“Clinton Knights is made up of guys with college experience,” Fredericks said. “It will give the guys on our team the experience of playing against tested collegiate ball players.”

The majority of the Matrix roster played under Fredericks last summer as all-stars from the Greater Middlesex Coaches Summer Baseball League’s 17-and-under league. Fredericks founded the league to provide returning high school players a competitive league to prepare them for the rigors of varsity baseball for the upcoming spring.

“Last year’s roster remains intact, with the addition of Jordan Carter from Middlesex High and Andres Vasquez from Kennedy,” Fredericks said. “Both have been welcome additions and both look to play college ball next year.”

Vasquez hopes to walk on at Rutgers while Carter has committed to play for Palm Beach Atlantic.

Fredericks credits much of this summer’s success to the array of talented arms on his roster. South Plainfield’s Matt Cesare currently maintains an ERA under 1.50, North Brunswick’s Alex Taylor already has four wins, and Old Bridge’s Bobby Benitti recently no-hit Bridgewater. Taylor is headed to Drew University in the fall while Cesare will play for Middlesex County College.

Offensively, the team has been led by All-State shortstop Cody Pace of Spotswood. Pace will play third base for Montclair State University next season.

“Cody sets the table for us, as our leadoff hitter and the guys behind him have been excellent,” Fredericks said. “South Brunswick graduates Mike Muha and Juan Pertomo have been swinging the bats well and knocking in runs all summer.”

The Matrix is fresh off a sweep of the Bridgewater Blaze. Benitti’s no-hit 10-0 victory was preceded by a 9-5 Matrix win in the opener.

Fredericks’ GMCSBL is also having another great summer. In just its second season, the league grew to 32 teams and will look to send a team to the American Amateur Baseball League’s Don Mattingly World Series for a second straight summer. Last year, state champion South Plainfield made the trip and went 3-3 at the prestigious event. Proving its dominance at the state level, the GMCSBL is fielding five of the eight teams in this year’s state tournament.

“The league keeps getting stronger,” Fredericks said. “We added a number of teams from Monmouth County, and we put South Plainfield, South Brunswick, Middletown South, Middlesex and St. Joe’s into the state tournament with a shot at a trip to New Mexico.”

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