Bart McInerney, the former baseball coach at Saint Rose High School in Belmar serving 18 years for child endangerment, can apply for a new trial, says an appellate court in a ruling this week.

The 45-year-old from Spring Lake Heights was convicted three years ago. Prosecutors charged that he engaged players in sexually-explicit conversations, and paying them for text messages about their masturbation habits, between 2001 and 2007.

McInerney's lawyer, Edward Bertucio, filed an appeal based on what he saw as inconsistencies in the trial.

"We believe there were substantial and numerous trial errors in this trial that warrants a new trial," he said at the time. He found problems with jury instructions, evidence that he considered extraneous, and whether McInerney had supervisory authority over the teens.

Bertucio also contended that the judge should have declared a mistrial when jurors were believed to have discussed details of the case over lunch, before deliberations.

The family of Andrew Clark Jr., one of the 13 players involved, died in the path of a train in 2008 in a case that was ruled a suicide. His family blamed it on the abuse they claimed that McInerney inflicted.

The Newark Star-Ledger and contributed to this story.