Brookdale Community College’s baseball team has a tough act to follow. PHOTOS BY ERIC SUCAR staff Above: The Brookdale baseball team greets first baseman Ryan Smyth at home plate during the game. The team is ranked fourth in America and is looking for its fourth trip to the College World Series later this spring. Below: Brookdale starting pitcher Jeff Frost pitches to an Ocean County College batter during the first inning of the teams’ game at Brookdale on March 28. The sophomores who dominated the 2007 have graduated, and with them, an era, in a way. They led the Blues to two straight Junior CollegeWorld Series appearances that include a fourth place last year. The Blues were 82-20 over the those two seasons, winning the Garden State Athletic Conference and Region XIX crowns back-toback. Among the graduated players wereAll- Americans Paddy Matera and Jimmy Principie. Principie was drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks, andMatera made the All-College World Series twice. Even though the 2008 Jersey Blues are a young teamwith only three starters, Brookdale started the season ranked No. 4 in the country. That’s because coach Johnny Johnson is always bringing top talent to the Brookdale campus. That’s why he is looking for a fourth straight trip to theWorld Series. Among the key recruits this year is Keith Weinkofsky, the Ocean Township High School grad who set a Shore Conference record last spring for career home runs.He’s slated to start at first base. WestwoodHigh School southpawpitcher Dylan Cacciola was an all-stater like Weinkofsky and bolsters the pitching staff. Right-hander Ryan Casey fromManchester adds depth to the pitching rotation. Transfers Andy Vega (New York City Player of the Year) and Gabe Torres are expected to make big contributions. The returning starters are Ryan Smith, Julian Media (Long Island, N.Y.) and Nick Alberino (Monroe). Smith, a co-captain, was a pre-season All-American. He batted .365 with five home runs and 26 RBI last year. He is a product of Don Bosco Prep. Johnson likes his team’s offensive balance. Smith, Eddie Galante (Wall) and Weinkofsky provide the middle of the lineup with power while Vega, Gabe Torres, Media, Ivan Rodriquez and Alberino can shake things up at the top of the lineup with their speed. They can create runs with their baserunning or be table-setters for the power hitters. Cacciola, Matt Padgett (Toms River), Ryan Casey and Chris Giblin began the season as the starting rotation. Padgett is the lone returner. Brookdale certainly lived up to its national ranking down in Florida. The Blues went 10-3 in the Sunshine State. The Blues started play in the Garden State Conference with an impressive 12-5 win over Union. Weinkofsky’s two-RBI double and Alberino’s two-run home run staked the Blues to a 4-0 lead in the first, and there was no looking back. Brookdale begins a three-game home stand on Friday hosting Monroe (N.Y.) at 3:30 p.m. Saturday, the Blues play Del- Tech-Owns, a Region rival, in a twin bill that starts at noon. On Monday, they play the College of New Jersey JV. Brookdale is hosting this year’s Region XIX tournament finals May 9-11. The tournament begins May 3-4 at the home of the higher-seeded team.