Last month we reported on the exploits of the Kingsway softball team, which had the opportunity to compete in a culminating tournament. Not to be outdone by their female counterparts, the Kingsway baseball team also participated recently in a tourney with resounding results.
In 2019, Kingsway finished with a 15-8 record, winning the Tri-County Conference Royal Division title, and, with most of its talent returning for the spring 2020 season, there was a great deal of anticipation for this season. Led by second year coach, Bill Alvaro, the Dragons came into the spring with high hopes to garner South Jersey and state titles.
The talent on this squad is undeniable. It starts with University of North Carolina-bound recruit, Justin Szestowicki, who garnered all-South Jersey honors last year. Players such as Ben Maiers and Kevin Pandorf were proven players who were ready to take the next step. Furthermore, its collection of pitchers was one of the best in South Jersey.
Returners TJ Snyder, Tommy Goldberg, and Tyler Szilagyi bolstered this group, and freshman Landon Edwards was entering the program with tons of expectations after showing off his talents on the club circuit prior to arriving at Kingsway.
However, with COVID-19 effectively eliminating the spring 2020 season for sports, it looked like there would be no chance to show off the immense talent that Kingsway had in its cupboard. Kingsway baseball thought it would have to wait another year to showcase the tremendous young talent.
Then along came the Last Dance World Series tournament, which comprised almost 200 teams from all over New Jersey. This event was organized to give teams one last chance to compete. It also allowed teams to compete against teams within their geographic region (South Jersey and North Jersey) and ultimately determine an unofficial state champion for the spring 2020 baseball season.
In this tournament, they took down a good Pennsville team, 4-1. They later were able to defeat a highly touted Howell team in the South Region round-of-16. Being down 3-0 with an inning and a half to go, the Dragons stormed back in dramatic fashion, as they drove home four runs from that point forward to squeak out a 4-3 victory.
This earned them a game against powerhouse Bishop Eustace, a team that had outscored its previous opponents in the tournament by a combined 47-13. Unfortunately, this game marked the end of Kingsway’s run as it also fell to the Crusaders, 8-1. Bishop Eustace eventually lost in the South Jersey championship game against Jackson Regional.
After this run, the expectations for the future will be high for the Kingsway baseball program. Even with the loss of stars like Szestowicki, the fusion of experience and young talent should carry Kingsway to many more appearances deep into state tournaments like the Last Dance. When Alvaro came on board two years ago, that was his goal, and it looks like he has this program on its way.
— By Christian Lynch