BY WAYNE WITKOWSKI Correspondent Hitting has been a cornerstone for the Raritan High School baseball team’s success over the years, and pitching may be strong enough to carry the team to its 16th trip to the NJSIAA and Shore Conference postseason tournaments in 17 years, according to coach T.J. O’Donnell.“Raritan baseball usually swings the bats well, and I hope this group falls into it. We take pride in what we do at the plate,” said O’Donnell, who returned to coaching last year to direct Raritan to first place in the Shore Conference A Central Public School Division and a 16-7 record. “We have three or four sophomores who will play major roles in the team this year. It will depend on their development to determine how we do.”Raritan opens its regular season on April 1 at Middletown High School North.“Hitting is definitely one of the main things that we’ve had. Pitching will take care of itself,” said senior outfielder Mike DaCosta, one of the captains who moves from leadoff to No. 3 in the batting order, a spot he said he prefers. “We put so much emphasis on it. It’s the key.”DaCosta pitched primarily in relief last season and started in one game, and O’Donnell said he is in the mix “because he is such a tremendous competitor.”“My pitching’s been pretty decent,” said DaCosta, a spot pitcher who keeps the ball low. “I’m mostly a ground-ball pitcher.” Three sophomores could start in the infield — Dom Guida at second base, Nick Pasquenza at third base, and C.J. Pulcine, who is a top candidate at catcher with junior Tyler Kalarjian. Pasquenza and fellow sophomore Rob Roman, the only lefthander, also are in the pitching rotation, and O’Donnell said he is “banking on their contributing” behind junior ace Dan Dutch, the top prospect who had four wins last season with a good fastball and curve.Also expected to pitch are Mike Pease, a senior up from the junior varsity, and junior Chris Lenahan, who also could see action in the outfield and at designated hitter.“As they all go is how we’ll go,” said O’Donnell, who has yet to determine a pecking order.Five starters on last year’s team graduated, led by top pitcher and cleanup hitter Matt Facendo, who is at NCAA Division II Felician College, and O’Donnell said he is “tough to replace.” Also graduated is No. 2 pitcher and third baseman Corey Chonko, who is playing at Brookdale, and right fielder T.J. Murray, who batted at the No. 3 spot in the order.“What I really like about this year’s team is their determination to get better as they go along,” said O’Donnell. Senior Kevin Benfer moves from catcher to first base. He’ll bat cleanup. Senior Tim Pizanie is back at shortstop, where he is reliable defensively and looks to pick up his hitting from last season. Mike Langan, a junior, will start in the outfield and bat in the leadoff spot, where fellow outfielder DaCosta hit last year. The other outfield spot is undecided. Bill Devarti, a senior up to the varsity for the first time, is practicing hard for the other spot.The coaching staff remains the same with Emil Karlia as the main assistant, Jon Evancho at first base, Greg Casha handing the pitchers, Mark Maglione coaching the hitters, Denis Caruano heading the junior varsity team and Ron Poll directing the freshman team.
Bosnia seek victory over NigeriaFor Bosnia, a victory at the World Cup finals would be another first with African champions Nigeria in their sights at the Pantanal arena in Group F on Saturday.One of the many splinter nations of the former Yugoslavia, who were a football power in their day, they may be newcomers on the sport’s biggest stage but naivete is not a part of their makeup.Coach Safet Susic, a former Yugoslavia playmaker, is targeting a place in the next round at the expense of a Nigeria side who appear in the process of disappointing again as they did at two previous finals this century.Bosnia put twice champions Argentina, among the favourites for the title, under pressure on their debut on Sunday after giving away an early own goal and scored a smart consolation though substitute Vedad Ibisevic, the nation’s first World Cup goal.What Bosnia failed to do, which may have been the merit of the Argentine defence, was to find tall striker Edin Dzeko, their top player and the card they must play well to grab a place in the last 16.Dzeko makes off the ball runs to allow the midfielders to race through into scoring spaces but Bosnia really need him as a finisher to overcome Nigeria’s best performer, goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama.Those who believe the weather can have an impact on matches will be expecting Nigeria to be the more comfortable side in the heat of Cuiaba, a city in the very middle of South America where average winter temperatures are in the higher 20s Celsius.But Bosnia showed against Argentina that they are a compact and disciplined unit and if they play patiently they should upset Nigeria, whose potential has fallen since the talented side of the 1990s reached the second round twice and won Olympic gold.Nigeria lost defender Godfrey Oboabona to injury against Iran with Joseph Yobo, a veteran of the 2002 and 2010 finals, set to replace him.Coach Stephen Keshi also looks set to start Peter Odemwingie up front alongside Emmanuel Emenike.Bosnia’s captain Emir Spahic is doubtful with a knee injury after being ruled out of Thursday’s practice. The central defender left the training ground with a huge ice block strapped around his left knee. Germany will be looking to silence Ghana’s Kevin-Prince Boateng in their World Cup Group G match on Saturday after the German-born midfielder accused Joachim Loew’s team of lacking a “tough-guy” leader to carry them through tight matches.Boateng, who once played for Germany’s Under-21 team before switching to Ghana, touched a nerve by saying that no German takes charge in tough games – as in their semi-final defeat by Italy at Euro 2012 and a 4-4 draw with Sweden last year.Germany were in splendid form in their 4-0 win over Portugal and will be looking to secure safe passage to the last 16 with victory over Ghana in Fortaleza.Loew is hoping to field the same starting line-up that crushed Portugal even though there are question marks surrounding defender Mats Hummels, who hobbled off in the second half with a severely bruised thigh.Expectations are running high on Loew and the three-times World Cup winners, who are among the favourites in Brazil, after they reached the semi-finals in the last two World Cups and got to the final in 2002.Their demolition of Portugal, the team they feared most in the arguably the tournament’s most difficult group that also includes the United States, put more pressure on Germany to win the World Cup for the first time since 1990.Germany beat Ghana 1-0 in the final match of the 2010 World Cup group stage to top the standings but Ghana advanced as well. It was a historic match when Boateng and his brother Jerome, a Germany defender, become the first brothers to play against each other at a World Cup finals.“We need to take the teamwork, confidence and enthusiasm we had in the opening match into the Ghana match,” said captain Phillip Lahm, whose team want to clinch a spot in the round of 16 before facing the United States and their former coach Juergen Klinsmann on June 26.The Germans were relieved to see Spain eliminated in the group phase, a team they probably feared most.But they are also aware that the big win against Portugal could be worthless if they lose to Ghana. At the 2010 World Cup Germany won their opening match 4-0 against Australia before losing to Serbia 1-0.“We won one match so far in the group phase but that’s nothing compared to what we came here for,” said midfielder Toni Kroos, who had two assists against Portugal. Messi can shine against IranHaving already bettered his last World Cup with a nerve-easing first goal in Argentina’s opener, Lionel Messi should lead his countrymen to an easy win against unheralded Iran in Belo Horizonte on Saturday.Argentina started with a five-man defence in their 2-1 defeat of Bosnia but coach Alejandro Sabella should toss off the shackles and start with the players’ preferred 4-3-3 against one of the tournament’s most limited teams.That tactical switch during the Bosnia game freed up Messi, and others in Argentina’s ‘Fab Four’ attackers, enabling the four-times world player of the year to score a dazzling goal that was his first at a World Cup in eight years.“Messi could be the best player in the world – if he was human,” quipped awestruck Iran coach Carlos Queiroz, saying his charges would need a “miracle” to beat Argentina.Iran may take heart from history, though.In their sole prior meeting, Iran did secure a 1-1 draw with Argentina over 90 minutes during a 1977 match in Madrid – albeit they then lost on penalties in a low-key mini-tournament to celebrate Real Madrid’s 75th anniversary.Asia’s best-ranked side at 43rd in the FIFA standings, Iran showed their vaunted defensive abilities in a 0-0 opening draw against Nigeria against Group F.That game brought jeers from Brazilian spectators otherwise gorged on goals in the tournament, but delighted Iran who earned their first World Cup clean sheet, and only sixth ever point, in four World Cup appearances since 1978.If Argentina win on Saturday, they will top Group F on six points and guarantee passage to the last sixteen.Messi, Argentina’s most gifted player since Diego Maradona and desperate for a World Cup on his otherwise glittering resume with Barcelona, admitted he was nervous before the first game and urged an attacking formation from the off against Iran.At the other end, Iran’s tricky winger Ashkan Dejagah and lone striker Reza Ghoochannejhad may not see much of the ball, but when they do, will be dreaming of prising open an Argentine defence lacking the brilliance of their strike force.With a sole World Cup victory to their name, against political foe the United States in 1998, Iran can at least take heart from some big upsets in the tournament so far.
By Karolos GrohmannBORUSSIA Dortmund’s must score at least once to overturn a 2-1 Champions League last 16 first leg deficit against Juventus on Wednesday (9.45pm) but are confident their watertight defence can hold firm and keep the Italians at bay.The improving Germans, who have recovered after a dismal first half to the domestic season that saw them anchored in last place as recently as last month in the Bundesliga, have kept a clean sheet in their last three league games, including a 0-0 draw against Cologne on the weekend.With Neven Subotic and Mats Hummels back fit in central defence, along with fullbacks Marcel Schmelzer and Lukasz Piszczek, Dortmund’s defence has been as solid as it has been all season.“Against Cologne we played another game without letting in a goal and that is something we can build on,” coach Juergen Klopp told reporters. “We want to advance to the quarter-finals and we can do this.”Dortmund boast a fine record at home in Europe having won 11 of their last 14 Champions League games at the Westfalenstadion.But in order to book a spot in the last eight they have to snap a losing run at home against Juventus, having lost all three previous encounters against the Italians in Dortmund.Klopp will be counting on goals from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who has scored five in his last seven outings and in-form Marco Reus, who has struck five times in eight games.Juventus are flying high in Serie A, edging closer to the Italian title with their first triumph away from home in over two months at Palermo, opening up a 14-point lead.“One less win needed to win the league,” Juventus manager Massimiliano Allegri said, knowing he will now need to shift his focus to Dortmund and their attacking game.“We will need to take the lead there, maybe score more than one goal,” said the coach.They will, however, be without influential playmaker Andrea Pirlo who has yet to fully recover from a thigh injury suffered in the first leg.“He has made good progress but not enough to be in Dortmund,” the club said in a statement.
Barcelona’s Luis Suarez netted twice for a 2-1 win over 10-man Atletico Madrid in their Champions League quarter-final, first leg on Tuesday after the visitors’ Fernando Torres opened the scoring and was later sent off.After a flurry of chances for the home side, Suarez levelled from close range in the 63rd minute and then headed the winner in the 74th, giving the Champions League holders the edge before next week’s second leg at the Vicente Calderon.Despite getting off to an ideal start when Torres fired Koke’s threaded pass through the legs of barca goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen after 25 minutes, Atletico suffered a seventh consecutive defeat against Barcelona.Diego Simeone’s side had two men sent off when they lost to the Catalans in La Liga and were again punished for their indiscipline, Torres seeing red after yellow cards for fouls on Neymar and Sergio Busquets in the space of six minutes.Atletico withstood constant pressure until Suarez stabbed Jordi Alba’s low pass home from close range and the Uruguayan completed the comeback by heading Dani Alves’ cross past Jan Oblak to the delight of the Nou camp faithful.
Moeen Ali’s late counter-attack lifted England to 297 all out on a fluctuating first day of the third Test against Pakistan in Birmingham on Wednesday.Fast bowler Sohail Khan took four wickets to put the hosts in trouble at 158 for five but Gary Ballance made a gritty 70 and Moeen 63 to leave the match delicately poised.Sohail, recalled to the side, removed Alex Hales, Joe Root, James Vince and Jonny Bairstow after Pakistan had won the toss in overcast conditions at Edgbaston.Hales was the first man out for 17, edging a fine delivery from Sohail to wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed.Root, who made 254 in the last Test, was caught at first slip by Mohammad Hafeez for three and captain Alastair Cook was trapped lbw by Rahat Ali for 45 before England took lunch on 100 for three.Vince played nicely for his 39 but, as so often in his fledgling Test career, he failed to take full advantage and edged right-armer Sohail to second slip where Younus Khan took a fine low catch.Bairstow, on 12, tried to cut a ball too close to him and gave Sarfraz another easy chance and Pakistan sensed the opportunity to dismiss England for less than 200.But Ballance dug in and Moeen provided watchful support to take the hosts through to tea without further loss.Ballance passed fifty for the first time since being recalled to the side and he struck seven fours in more than three hours at the crease before edging leg-spinner Yasir Shah to Sarfraz down the leg-side.Chris Woakes, on nine, gave the wicketkeeper his fourth catch, off Rahat, and Stuart Broad made 13 before he slashed Mohammad Amir high to Azhar Ali at third slip.Moeen’s cameo ended when he nicked Amir to Sarfraz and Sohail trapped James Anderson lbw to complete figures of 5-96 on his first Test appearance for five years.The four-match series is level at 1-1.
Tonga upset Fiji in the bronze medal play-off 16-14.The two days Pacific Games league nines feast ended in front of a packed BSP Stadium.PNG whitewashed Samoa scoring eight tries to two.PNG try scorers were, Wartovo Puara (2 tries), Bland Abavu (2 tries), Ase Boas, Israel Eliab, Rex Yallon and Thompson Teteh.Aotelofo Tuimarere and Tanielu Pasene scored for Samoa.
The number of men playing the mixed man’s netball competition in the National Capital District has increased over the past two rounds, with almost 20 percent of players new arrivals to the game.”You will be surprise with how much momentum the men’s game has picked up in recent trials and the two rounds of the season proper.”However, yesterday’s round 3 games shows it all when the male players showed enhancements in the game with quick steps, high fly jumps and shooting long hoop shots.The results have shown it all in the challenges yesterday evening as the Premier mixed: Kamuna beat Mari Pasifika 29-22, Monia edged out WOF 17-16 and Veupunama 1 thrashed BB Kings 33-22.In the Social A Mixed; Veupunama 2 tipped off Lasi1 21 – 20, NSL beat BSP 2 23-21, Ripa Rala crush PNGFP 21-12, Matrix defeat BSP 1 24-20And also in the Social B Mixed division HHL/CPL defeat Int’lsos 32-8, Lasi 2 beat PNG Constructions 20-10, Aura Netters bash PNG Hardware 20-8 and Grafitti ride over the APGV 17-13.Moreover, after round three the standing ladder shows Veunama 1 still leading the Premier League mixed Ladder as Matrix jumped to the top in the Social A Mixed Ladder and Lasi still tops Social B Mixed ladder.Standing ladderPremier League Mixed LadderVeupunamaKamunaMona Mari PasifikaBb KingsSocial A Mixed LadderMatrixBSPRipa RalaVeupunamaLasiPNGFI NSLBSPSocial B Mixed Ladder LasiHHL /CPLGraffitiAura NettersPNG Construction PNG HardwareAPGV Intl’Sos
Hosted at the Taurama Aquatic & Indoor Centre, the 2K Tigers dominated the competition, winning four-straight pool games by double-digit margins before heading into the tournament finals.In the team’s quarter-final match-up, they accounted for Titans #4, 21-2.In their semi-final, they beat PBV2 #2, 18-7 and rounded out a clean sweep by crushing Goroka in the grand-final, 22-4.In the senior women’s division decider, Culdel overcame Reunion 8-6 to claim the silverware, while in the under 18 men’s final contest, Reunion overwhelmed an energetic Tubsy Snappers side, 15-11.Chief Executive Officer for the Basketball Federation of PNG, Joel Khalu, said the tournament displayed enough support to become an annual event on the Federation’s calendar.“We were extremely happy with the number of teams that took part in the inaugural event.“In particular, having twenty men’s teams compete across four pools was sensational and really generated a high-level of spectator attendance and interest,” he said.“Hopefully next year we can branch out and get teams nominating from all over Papua New Guinea, meaning the competition will transition into the BFPNG Easter 3X3 National Challenge.“A major part of our strategic plan over the next three-years is to promote the 3X3 style of game and this event was a great step forward to accomplishing that,” said Khalu.
However, the undefeated American boxer’s lawyer says the marijuana found in his vehicle did not belong to him.Police in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, said in a statement that they arrested Wilder on Wednesday afternoon after they found marijuana in his Cadillac Escalade.Wilder, 31, was initially stopped for a window tint violation. Officers searched the SUV after smelling marijuana and found a small amount in the vehicle’s console.Wilder was charged with second-degree marijuana possession, a misdemeanour, and released on US$1000 bond.Wilder’s attorney Paul Patterson told The Associated Press that Wilder said the marijuana did not belong to him.Patterson said that Wilder had just returned from an out-of-town trip, in which he had been driving another vehicle, and selected the Escalade to run errands around Tuscaloosa.Wilder has several friends and associates who had access to the Escalade when he was out of town, Patterson said.”He is heartbroken by this, but the fighter in him is going to ensure he fights and clears his good name,” Patterson said.The two-metre tall fighter is the World Boxing Council heavyweight champion. He won a bronze medal at the 2008 Olympics.Wilder has been chasing a fight with Kiwi WBO champion Joseph Parker, with the hope of a unification bout in New York.Wilder, keen to see one dominant champion of the splintered heavyweight division, envisaged the winner going on to fight Anthony Joshua, the big Brit who owns the WBA and IBF belts. Photo: USA TODAY (Deontay Wilder has been charged with drug possession after marijuana was allegedly found in his car).
Parker defends his belt for the second time when he fronts Fury in Manchester on September 23 in a battle of two young unbeaten fighters.Fury has been talking tough in the leadup to the fight and ramped that up when asked for a prediction for his victory.”Four rounds I would say. Four rounds … knock out,” he told WOTV. Parker has also voiced his determination to score a knockout win and hammer home his abilities to the British market where he believes bigger fights lie beyond Fury.Fury hasn’t fought in earnest since April last year, but the 22-year-old said he had no fears of ring rust.”Not at all, I’m super confident. I have done all of my sparring and I’m ready to go. I’ve been out a while but it’s done me good.”I think Joseph Parker is a very good fighter and you can’t take anything away from him, he’s a world champion. It’s going to be an exciting fight.”There is no lack of feeling to the fight that was originally scheduled for Auckland in May only for Fury to pull out late, citing a back injury. He felt having the fight rescheduled for Manchester would help him though he stressed the result would be the same.”I’ve always said if it’s home or away the outcome is always going to be the same. But it’s nice to have a home show, every bit helps.” Meanwhile, Tony Bellew, the British fighter Parker is eyeing as a potential fight beyond Fury, has reiterated his belief he could beat the Kiwi.Bellew, a former world cruiserweight champion, beat fellow Brit David Haye earlier this year to signal his heavyweight claims and he is eager to go for a world title, believing Parker’s WBO belt is the most vulnerable.”He’s a good guy and a nice fella but I would knock Joseph Parker out, if the fight ever happened. We’ll see,” Bellew, who caught up with Parker in Las Vegas last weekend when both attended Floyd Mayweather’s win over Conor McGregor.Bellew felt Fury was an unknown quantity and could be tricky for Parker.”He’s got a tough test on his hands in Hughie Fury. We don’t actually know how good Hughie is, but we’re going to find out in September.”Photo by: REUTERS Caption: Hughie Fury uses his long reach to keep Fred Kassi at bay during his last competitive fight in May last year