New Brunswick's Glenn Fredericks

Matrix a top contender

New Brunswick returns with another strong team

Glenn Fredericks and the New Brunswick Matrix have become familiar faces at the AAABA national tournament. By winning the eastern regional on Saturday, the Matrix qualified for their seventh-consecutive national tournament. During their first season in 2009, the Matrix battled with powerhouse New Orleans through 3 of their 7 tournament games, ultimately losing in the championship round. After some struggles in the following seasons, the Matrix earned New Brunswick's first national championship in 2012 by winning back-to-back elimination games against Cleveland's Chardon Blizzard. This year's Matrix squad looks to be as strong as ever and they will be entering tournament play with focus and determination.

Committed to Tournament

Last year, New Brunswick's tournament run ended amidst controversy. The Matrix allowed 5 runs in the top of the ninth and were eliminated by Johnstown. The tying and go-ahead runs were scored on based-loaded walks, but from pitches that appeared to many to be within the strike zone. Rather than become soured by the experience, however, Fredericks and the Matrix committed themselves to returning to the tournament.

"As soon as we left Johnstown last year, we committed to come back," recalled Frederick. That commitment to the tournament has helped New Brunswick produce consistently competitive teams, which has brought about several winning tournaments, and has ignited local interest in the AAABA.

"There are more people talking about the AAABA right now then there has been in 20 years," said Fredericks. So far, the Matrix are the only team competing for the New Brunswick AAABA berth, and Fredericks feels that this distinction gives his team an advantage in recruiting and retaining the best players each summer.

"It's a major draw for our franchise, because the guys talk to their college teammates or guys they might have played with in high school, and word spreads about the experience that they've had out there," explained Fredericks. "It's a major draw for us to go out and play in what I consider the best tournament in the land. With that being the pinnacle of our summer every year, that might be the deciding factor between a key player going to play in the other college leagues that New Jersey offers or another team within our league."

While Glenn Fredericks is the face of the franchise that Johnstowners will recognize, he is quick to remind you of the hard work put in by franchise representative Jay Elliot. While Fredericks has been working to put together a strong product on the field, Elliot has been working to strengthen both the New Brunswick franchise and the Association as a whole.

"I can't give enough credit to my manager Jay Elliot. He's a great guy and he cares about not only our franchise, but the growth of the entire organization," lauded Fredericks. This strong leadership in New Brunswick has created a bright future for the franchise. Their drive for success both on and off the field is certainly one reason why even a controversial game--like that occurred last year--can be quickly overcome.

Glenn Fredericks: "Looking back is not going to do you any good at this point. It's a new tournament, a new year, we've got new players in here, and we're all on the same page going forward as a team."

Regional Rout

As of last Friday, 'going forward' included a stop at the AAABA eastern regional. With the 21-4 Northeast Tribe having finished first in the FABL and the 10-16 Matrix placing 6th in the ABCCL, it looked like the Matrix would have their hands full. Instead, New Brunswick belted out 26 runs in 14 innings and won both games with mercy-ruled shut-outs. Fredericks attributes his team's preparedness and success to the stiff competition they face throughout the summer.

"Competition-wise, I would put our league (ABCCL) up against any league (not called Cape Cod or Coastal Plains) in the entire country," said Fredericks. "We play great baseball against great players all summer, and you can tell by the results we've had out in the AAABA tournament every summer."

Certainly the Matrix offense was in full gear on Saturday, but Fredericks believes that pitching is what will win games for New Brunswick this tournament.

"Everyone will look at the two scores from the regional, and the runs-scored will probably jump off the page first, but you will never lose a game if you don't give up any runs. Our pitching staff--one guy after the next--took it upon himself to make sure the other team didn't cross home plate. For us, it wound up being two shut-out victories. I think we had 2 base-on-balls the entire day. It's very comfortable in the dugout when you're the coach and you're watching your pitchers just fill up the strike zone the entire afternoon."

Key Roster Notes

New Brunswick will be returning at least three pitchers with national tournament experience and expect to have 12 arms on their roster.

"We feel like our pitchers can hold us in any game," said Fredericks. "We're deep enough to make a run whether it's from the winner's bracket or the elimination bracket."

Ace pitcher Michael Bernet from Misericordia University is back and was the winning pitcher in Game 1 of the regional. Right-handed submarine pitcher Pete Monahan is also returning to the mound in Johnstown, and spent part of his summer at the Division 2 World Series with Wilmington University. Division I pitchers Sean Keenan and Howie Brey, however, are unable to return this season.

New to the pitching staff are Fordham's Joe Serrapica, who was the winning pitcher in Game 2 of the regional, and East Stroudsburg's Mike Pepio. Harry Rutkowski is only a sophomore at Woodbridge High School, but has already accepted a pitching scholarship at Division I Rutgers University.

The Matrix have two more Division I players in the outfield, with TJ Perkowski (Rutgers) playing left-field and Jason Lundy (Fordham) playing in centerfield. Anthony Brucato earned the starting left-fielder position for Big East school Saint Johns University, but is unable to join the club for the tournament.

Another player to watch is utilityman Alex Christian, a junior at The College of New Jersey. He led the offense during the eastern regional, with multiple RBIs in both games, including a 3-run home run in the opening match. Fredericks is particularly proud of Christian's accomplishments because he has coached the local player since his years at Spotswood High School.

"Nothing is better than to watch one of your guys come through and have the type of success that Alex has had," said Fredericks, who is the head coach at Spotswood High's baseball team. "He's having an awesome run of it this summer and we will be in unbelievable shape if he can continue his hot hitting into the national tournament, and I have no reason to believe that he will not."

The veteran squad may also be returning players such as Dan Sweeney, Ivan Olivera, Andrew Niech, Nick Panduri, and Emilio Calderon, who have been competing with the team during their ABCCL season. While they will likely be facing the stiff competition of the upper bracket, their combination of high caliber opponents, a strong showing at the regional, several returning players, and the addition of highly-rated pitchers and fielders make the Matrix serious contenders for another championship.

 

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