The South Jersey South Shore Baseball League — a brand new league created by Bunting Family Pharmacy owner and former standout Mainland Regional High School pitcher Joe Bunting to showcase South Jersey’s best high school and college players — kicks off on May 24, and the Somers Point Captains are one of four expansion teams eager to prove they can compete for a league championship.
The league has six teams coming over from the Atlantic County Baseball League, including Bunting’s Northfield Cardinals, the Ocean City Water Dogs (2020 ACBL champion), Egg Harbor City Knights, Absecon Outlaws, Ventnor BaySox and the South Jersey Surf, formerly the Margate Green Wave. The Captains, coached by Glory Days Magazine Publisher Dave “Sully” O’Sullivan, join three other expansion teams in the 10-team league — the Buena Blue Dawgs, Galloway Mustangs and Egg Harbor Township Eagles.
Sully is a former NAIA second baseman at Pfeiffer (N.C.) University and was intent on building a strong foundation up the middle when he set out building the roster for the Captains’ inaugural season. To that end, the Captains have some of the best high school catching around in St. Joseph Academy star Brock Mercado and Mainland Regional starter Cole Campbell, and in the middle infield the Captains will have guys such as Mainland’s starting shortstop, Brody Levin, as well as Mike DeSenzo, a Stockton University graduate who helped lead the Northfield Cardinals to the ACBL championship a couple years ago. The Captains also have a top-notch center fielder in Mainland senior Mark Elliott.
“I’m really excited about this roster. We may be one of the younger teams in the league, but a lot of our guys have multiple years of high school varsity experience and have been playing high level baseball,” Sully said. “And anytime you can build a summer league team on a foundation of Mainland High players, you’re starting off on the right foot. Billy Kern does a great job with that program and the Mustangs continue to crank out solid baseball players every year.”
Pitching is the key to any summer league team’s success, and coach Sully is hoping some of his young pitchers can develop throughout the eight-week, 24-game regular season and be ready to come up with some big performances come playoff time. Elliott is a guy who can come on in relief, and the Captains have some other guys who can throw, like Tyler Monzo and Andre Boyer of Oakcrest High, Jared Wilson of Mainland and Sean O’Rourke, a Pinelands graduate who plays at Stockton University.
“We’ll be relying on a lot of young guys to make contributions, but that’s what this league is all about, giving guys the opportunity to come out here, work on their skills and get better against some really good competition,” Sully said. “For a high school pitcher to get a chance to go up against college hitters, that’s invaluable. We don’t have a lot of college arms on the roster so we’re going to be asking a lot of high school guys to go out there, be athletic, be tough and compete. If we can find guys who can consistently throw strikes, I think we have a good enough lineup to compete with any team in this league.”
The Captains will have some players that South Jersey high school baseball fans certainly have heard of, including Shane Solari of Holy Spirit, Brian Beckmann, a 2020 Ocean City graduate, former St. Augustine Prep star Kevin Foreman, as well as current Mainland varsity players such as Sam Wood and Brandon Sharkey.
“I feel like this is going to be a really fun bunch of guys to kick off the Captains program with. We have some really solid baseball guys who come from baseball families, and Fehrle Field in Somers Point is a great place to watch a summer league game,” Sully said. “I want all the guys on this roster to have a great experience this summer, come out and compete hard and show this league what the Somers Point Captains are all about.”