BELLEVILLE, NJ – The Belleville High School baseball program is gaining good experience while competing in the High School Developmental Essex County League.
The 18-and-under team, under head coach Derek Lombardi, opened the season with a 10-2 loss to Bloomfield.
Starting pitcher Danny Pinedo had a rough start. “He could not get his breaking pitches over for strikes, which allowed hitters to sit on his fastball,” said Lombardi. “I think the layoff between the end of the high school season and the start of the summer season hurt Danny. Danny is figured to be a top pitcher for the Bucs next season.”
The team then posted its first win with a 10-6 victory over West Orange. Justin Klus pitched six strong innings and Anthony Liggins pitched the seventh inning and looked sharp, said coach Lombardi. The game was highlighted by two outstanding defensive plays by third baseman Albert Carrero and second baseman Derek Lombardi.
The Bucs fell to Nutley, 12-2. Carrero started on the mound but was ineffective as he did not have his usual control. The offense was led by Derek Lombardi, Sebastian Averio, Brandon Sagrista and Carrero in the first three games.
In the following week, the Bucs won their only game of that week with an 11-2 win over Verona to move to a 2-2 record. Alverio started on the mound and pitched four innings, giving up only two runs. Sagrista pitched three innings of hitless relief. Lombardi continued his hot start to the summer season, reaching base with all five plate appearances while collecting four stolen bases and four runs scored. Aedrick Perez had a two-run single. Anthony Liggins had a two-run homer to cap the scoring.
The Bucs then completed a tough week of baseball, playing four games over four straight days. They went 1-3 in that stretch, but in the process, found some excellent pitching.
The team started the week against West Essex. Klus, who will be a junior in the fall, started the game and was in top form, pitching a complete game and allowing two earned runs to lose a tough 5-2 decision.
On Wednesday, June 28, the Bucs traveled to Maplewood and lost to Columbia HS, 16-6.
The next day, they defeated Montclair Kimberley Academy, 4-3. Lombardi started the game on the mound and pitched 6 ⅓ innings, allowing two earned runs while striking out eight and walking two. Sagrista came on with runners on second and third and one out and successfully recorded the final two outs for his second save. Justino Cecere, recently called up from the 16-and-under team, made several fine defensive plays in the MKA game. Liggins had an RBI single in the top of the seventh for the go-ahead run. Carrero continues to swing a hot bat.
“Overall, we are playing great defense and receiving good pitching,” said coach Lombardi. “Our biggest problem is pushing runs across the plate. We are putting runners on. We just can’t get the big hit to blow open a game.
“Our players are learning to relax in these situations and not try to do too much. We are a very young team and with the summer league and fall ball, I am hoping they learn to excel in these situations come spring for (BHS) coach (Joe) Sorce.”