TOMS RIVER – The Toms River Intermediate East baseball team enjoyed a season to remember.
The Rockets were 12-0 overall and won the Ocean County Intermediate Athletic League Red Division title at 8-0. They captured the Red Division championship last season at 7-1 en route to a 10-2 record.
This year’s team members were center fielder Carson Frazier, (6th grade); shortstop-pitcher Joe DiMeo (7th), left fielder Cole Garrison (7th), second baseman Dom Ostroman (7th), first baseman Dominic Roma (7th), right fielder-center fielder Jason Verderrosa (7th), catcher Luke Brush (8th), first baseman-pitcher Jayden Garofalo (8th), right fielder Cooper Maley (8th), first baseman-pitcher Lucas Melton (8th), second baseman D.J. Shouldice (8th), third baseman-pitcher Ian St. Luce (8th) and third baseman-pitcher James Whalen (8th).
The Rockets’ batting order consisted of DiMeo, Shouldice, Brush, Melton, Whalen, St. Luce, Frazier, Verderrosa and Garrison.
“Our team was built around a very strong hitting lineup,” said head coach Michael Oizerowitz, who has coached the Rockets since 2008. “They hit well and ran the bases well all year round. We were a very sound and smart defensive team led by Brush, DiMeo and Frazier. We had three very strong starting pitchers in Whalen, St. Luce and Melton, who did well all season. We had a powerful hitting lineup from one through nine. The boys were aggressive when they ran the bases. I am not sure we have had faster players than DiMeo and Garrison. We also took tremendous pride in our defense.”
DiMeo and Brush played on last season’s team.
“They were our top hitters this year,” Oizerowitz said. “They both hit for power to all fields and are not bothered going deep in counts or having two strikes on them. They play together on a travel team and are real students of the game along with our other players.”
Oizerowitz noted that Frazier, DiMeo, Garrison, Roma and Verderrosa were members of the Toms River East Little League team which competed in the World Series last summer. Frazier, whose uncle, Todd Frazier, was a two-time major league baseball All-Star, was named to the all-tournament team in the USA Baseball Team National Identification Series and was chosen to try out for the USA Baseball NorthEast National Team.
Brush, Maley, Whalen and Melton will attend Toms River High School East. Shouldice, St. Luce and Garofalo are bound for Toms River North.
The Rockets faced strong opponents.
“We usually faced top pitching,” Oizerowitz said. “This year’s title was special because we had very high expectations. The boys accomplished every goal. The boys seemed to enjoy the unbeaten streak. It was a goal for them and we are proud of them for meeting it. We played every team from the Blue Division as well other than Lacey Township.”
Oizerowitz said assistant coach Joe Arminio played a large role in the Rockets’ success.
“He has been with me for a long time,” Oizerowitz said. “He does an all-around great job with the boys. He would always talk about taking everyone’s best punch and how our lineup never had a bottom. They proved that time and time again, especially in tight games against McAuliffe (the Christa McAuliffe Middle School in Jackson Township) and South (Toms River Intermediate South). Our boys would always get pumped when coach Arminio told them every game is like a playoff game. They always had a playoff mentality, which coach Arminio always stressed.”
Oizerowitz said the team was closely knit.
“The boys loved just being out on the field together,” he said. “They really enjoy the sport of baseball and would play at any place you told them there was a game that day. In fact, we played every game at either a neutral or road venue. We were road warriors!
“The team was a pleasure to coach because it worked extremely hard at the game. They loved to practice and perform when it was game time. They were always great teammates, showing awesome leadership and sportsmanship. They leave a legacy of hard work showing results. Hard work plus talent is a tough combination.”
Oizerowitz said the Rockets are all-around athletes.
“Pretty much all of our players compete in multiple sports, football and basketball mostly,” he said. “Coach Arminio and myself coach three sports during the year and we want our athletes playing multiple sports. I played three sports growing up and I know times are changing, but I think the boys should still be multiple sport athletes. I stress that with my 10-year-old son, Jake, who plays three sports competitively.”
Oizerowitz has coached the Rockets’ wrestling team since 2011. This year’s team was unbeaten and won its division. He coached the team with his brother, Dave Oizerowitz, for the first time. The team featured Tri County champions Santino Edgar, Rick DeLorenzo, Mikey Napolitano and Brock Oizerowitz.
“I enjoy being around the kids,” Mike Oizerowitz said. “I enjoy working with them, training and teaching them and helping them grow as student-athletes. There are so many life lessons that sports teach them. I have coached sports since I was 19 and still like doing it. Because of its work ethic and talent, this was a very fun group to coach.”
Mike Oizerowitz thanked East’s three principals, led by Bryan Madigan; Ted Gillen, athletics director of the Toms River Regional School District, district superintendent Mike Citta and the team’s parents for their help.
“I would like to thank our administration for its support,” he said. “I have a great coaching partner in coach Arminio and the support from our parents was awesome as usual.”
Mike Oizerowitz is a 1995 graduate of Toms River High School South where he was a three-year varsity starter and letterman in football and baseball. He was an All-Shore selection in both sports and a captain on the Indians’ 1994 baseball team which was ranked first in New Jersey. He has been a seventh-grade social studies teacher at Intermediate East since 2006. He taught and coached football at Lacey Township High School from 2003-2005 and coached football at Lakewood from 1997-2002.
He has coached football at Toms River North since 2006. He has coached the wide receivers and the offense under his brother, Dave, since he became the Mariners’ head coach in 2013. The Mariners have won three Shore Conference division titles, qualified for three state finals and won the Group V state title in 2015.