By Jeff Appelblatt
The Woodbridge High School baseball team had a spot locked in the Greater Middlesex Conference (GMC) Tournament for some time now. But that didn’t mean anything to the student-athletes. They continued through the regular-season finale at full speed.
The Barrons notched six consecutive wins, but that number says nothing about the overall picture. A three-game hiccup between April 27 and May 1 contained the Barrons’ only losses. Before that, Woodbridge opened the season winners of 13 straight.
Woodbridge (19-3) breezed through the regular season like it never had before, which had a lot to do with ace Harry Rutkowski. The Rutgers University-bound senior has stitched his name into Woodbridge record books with 24 victories on the hill, striking out 13 batters per start. His résumé would also include one of the best stat lines in the state at the plate. Through 22 games, Rutkowski had 31 hits, 30 RBIs, 24 runs and 10 home runs.
Baseball is a team sport, however, and other players helped carry the load for the Barrons.
In addition to the lefty’s .470 batting average, Carlos Marte, Justin Silva and Trevor Cykowski have all batted over .300 this season. Silva has contributed 27 RBIs, Cykowski stole 12 bases and Marte has been hitting almost as frequently as Rutkowski — just five fewer hits than the remarkable lefty.
Even on the mound, Woodbridge has needed much more than its standout player. In fact, Rutkowski doesn’t even lead the Barrons in wins this year. His 6-0 mark has been topped so far by Zach Delvalle, who won seven of the first eight times he appeared on the hill. Marte’s 1.67 ERA has been outdone by Rutkowski’s 0.48 mark, but Woodbridge has continued to prove this season it doesn’t necessarily need its leader to dominate on all fronts.
The Barrons still hope he continues his strong player come tournament time. Rutkowski and the second-ranked Barrons just needed to continue doing what they had been doing when the GMC Tournament began May 15 against Perth Amboy High School.