TINTON FALLS, NJ – After scoring 35 runs in the first inning of a baseball game between the affluent Ranney private high school and the disadvantaged Asbury Park High School, Ranney head coach Pat Geroni thought it would be fitting to tack on 11 more runs.
The final score was 46-0 and today, Geroni is wondering why everyone in school sports is scratching their heads over his decision to run up the score.
In school sports, there has always been a level of sportsmanship among the public school coaches. The private school teams, which are available to recruit talent from the local districts often don’t follow those rules of sportsmanship.
The Ranney game against Asbury Park is just one example, there are more and they are usually the wealthy private schools who have a recruiting program similar to a college team.
Ranney is a private school. It costs as much as $20,000 to send your kids there. Their baseball team this year is 6-1 and has outscored their opponents 113-14, showing that money can’t buy love, but it can buy a pretty nice High School baseball team.
Having a stacked team is no excuse to run train on the local school districts, even the less well-off districts such as Asbury Park. It’s actually an embarrassment for the winning team, because the win shows they have no class.
Typically when overpowered teams play lesser teams, coaches will put a few runs on the board early, maybe 10. Then they will sub out their starters and put the bench kids in. They’ll even the playing field a bit. If that doesn’t work, they’ll let the kids hit away, but play station to station, meaning even if you hit a ball to the rightfield corner, the coach is going to have the kid stop at a double. Subsequent runners will be allowed to move just one base. You won’t have that bases-clearing infield single that turns into a Little League triple.
When all else fail,s, coaches will allow their team to load the bases and make the runner on third leave early to get called out. That lets a minimum of 7 batters get their hacks at the plate, without running up the score even more.
It wasn’t until after Geroni put up three-dozen runs in the first inning that it clicked in his brain to ease off the gas. Instead, he let his kids run up the score and inflate their offensives stats.
On the softball end, you see this a lot with Donovan Catholic, a powerhouse private school that depletes local school teams of talent then brags incessantly about ten-running every team they play and every championship they win. Most people in the Shore Conference don’t even recognize their accomplishments, and there’s even such a thing as “Public School Champion” that is more recognizable to coaches and players than the accomplishments of the highly recruited private school.
If the NJSIAA was serious about equity in sports, it would remove all of the private schools from the public conferences and create a private school conference and those schools would just play each other. This way all of the rich moms and dads can put their kids in a division with similarly stacked teams and not brag about their future Division I and MLB Allstars beating their lowly opponents 46-0.
Because winning 46-0 over Asbury Park isn’t any kind of accomplishment. It’s an embarrassment and disgrace in school sports.
As for the Asbury Park coach, he doesn’t feel disrespected. It’s the first time in two years his kids have been on the field and after the game he took his team to McDonald’s to celebrate, saying it’s better to be a positive role model and influence to the boys than to dwell on what just happened to the team.