OCHS Teams of the 90's

Ben Charles top Raider baseball player of the 90s!

Gazette Staff Writer

Ocean City High School baseball in the 1990s was strongest in the middle and struggled a bit at the beginning and end.

Craig Mensinger, who coached the team throughout the decade, had his three best seasons in succession. The Raiders were 15-7 in both 1994 and 1995 and finished 12-9 in 1996. There were also two .500 seasons, in 1993 and 1999.

OC twice went two games deep into the NJSIAA Group 3 tournament before losing. In 1995, the Raiders beat Delsea in the opening round before losing to Brick Memorial, 8-0, in the South Jersey semifinal. In 1999, OC defeated Brick Memorial in the first round before getting dumped, 9-0, by Toms River South in the second round. Those two wins were the first in the NJSIAA tournament since Bud Rinck's 1983 team won twice before losing to Absegami in the South Jersey semi-finals.

Though the 1990s did not bring a championship to the Raiders, the program did develop a number of quality players. Leading that list is Ben Charles, our Ocean City High School Baseball Player of the 1990s. Charles played most of three seasons, hitting .302 and driving home 55 runs with 58 hits. "He was the best clutch hitter I've seen," said Mensinger, who has coached more OCHS baseball games than any other coach. "Ben had the whole package. He played short when we needed him and he did a job for us on the mound." In fact, Charles was 2-1 with a 2.26 earned run average as a junior and 5-3 with a 1.49 ERA as a senior.

The choice between Charles, who makes the all-decade team as a left fielder, and his fellow outfielders was close. Center fielder Jason Tarves hit .328 with 28 extra bases hits, including eight home runs. And Sam Picketts, the right fielder, hit .375 with 23 extra base hits. Picketts was All-South Jersey as a junior.

The outfield on the all-decade team would obviously be its strength. All three played in the Carpenter Cup all star tournament at Veteran's Stadium. But there were quality players elsewhere in the lineup.

All the pitchers were All-CAL selections. Steve Adams had a 12-10 career record and a 2.21 ERA with 140 strikeouts in 155 innings. Trevor Fusaro was 9-2 with a 1.41 ERA and 85 strikeouts in 89.2 innings. Dan Lanchoney finished 7-7 with a 2.02 ERA and 103 strikeouts in 104.1 innings. And Bill Lawton, who pitched professionally in New York over the summer, was 11-6 with a 2.18 ERA and 123 strikeouts in 106 innings.

The infield is anchored by a solid double play combination up the middle. Second baseman Brian Geary hit .373 with 72 hits, the most by any player during the decade. He also stole 43 bases in 45 attempts. At short is Chris Bauer, a .380 hitter who might have put together even better numbers if he had been able to play as a senior. Bauer, who went to St. Joseph's University, dropped a class without realizing it would not give him enough credits in that semester to be eligible by NJSIAA rules.

At the corners are first baseman Mike Tolson, who hit .333 over a two-year period, and third baseman Ryan Reich, who hit .368 the last two years and should be an early candidate for the first all-decade team of the next century is he posts the same numbers this spring in his senior year.

The catcher is Zach Dukich, a solid hitter who was superb behind the plate. Matt Chila, a senior this year, is a catcher but gets the nod as designated hitter. Chila hit .465 with four home runs.

"This is a really good team," said Mensinger. "It has hitting, speed and leadership. I really wish I'd have had them all at the same time. That would have been something."

OCHS Baseball in the 90s
Year....Record....Coach..............Leading Hitter
1990....6-14......Craig Mensinger....Dan Lanchoney .301
1991....4-13......Craig Mensinger....Chris Bauer .333
1992....3-14......Craig Mensinger....Chris Bauer .410
1993....10-10.....Craig Mensinger....Jared Bauer .313
1994....15-7......Craig Mensinger....Jason Tarves .321
1995....15-7......Craig Mensinger....Jason Tarves .439
1996....12-9......Craig Mensinger....Brian Geary .388
1997....7-11......Craig Mensinger....Sam Picketts .429
1998....7-13......Craig Mensinger....Rob Warren .354
1999....11-11.....Craig Mensinger....Matt Chila .457

The All-90s Raider Baseball Team
1B...Mike Tolson
2B...Brian Geary
SS...Chris Bauer
3B...Ryan Reich
LF...Ben Charles
CF...Jason Tarves
RF...Sam Picketts
C....Zack Dukich
DH...Matt Chila
P....Steve Adams
P....Trevor Fusaro
P....Dan Lanchoney
P....Bill Lawton