NUTLEY – The Nutley High School varsity baseball team was 0-for-2 in the meetings with state powerhouse Millburn this season.
But the Raiders finally solved their Super Essex Conference-American Division foe. And the reward is a berth in the county championship game.
Senior Nick Senatore scattered eight hits and struck out three in a complete-game gem to help the third-seeded Raiders to a 3-1 win over second-seeded Millburn in the semifinals of the Greater Newark Tournament on Saturday, May 14, at Belleville High School. The GNT is considered the Essex County tournament.
The Raiders scored single runs in the first, third and fourth innings to build a 3-0 lead. Millburn scored a run in its last at-bat in the bottom of the seventh inning.
Senior center fielder Andrew Connor went 2-for-4 with a double and two RBI and freshman Marty Higgins went 2-for-3 with an RBI to lead the Raiders.
Senior second baseman Matt Butler went 1-for-2 with a walk and a run; junior Jake Ramezzana went 1-for-3 with a double and senior right fielder Anthony Condito also went 1-for-3 with a double as the Raiders improved to a 16-7 record. Millburn, ranked No. 2 in the state, fell to 17-3.
The Raiders will meet top-seeded and three-time defending champion Seton Hall Prep in the GNT championship game on Saturday, May 21, at noon at Verona High School. Seton Hall Prep defeated fourth-seeded Montclair, 13-0, in the second game of the semifinals doubleheader at Belleville to move to a 20-2 record. It was SHP’s fifth shutout in the past six games, outscoring those opponents a whopping 51-1. The lone run was against ninth-seeded Verona in the GNT quarterfinals on May 12, a 6-1 decision.
NHS and Seton Hall Prep will meet prior to the GNT final in a SEC-American Division game on May 18 at the Park Oval at 4 p.m. It is the second meeting between the teams. In the first meeting, SHP beat Nutley, 9-7, at the Kelly Athletic Complex in West Orange.
SHP is ranked No. 5 in the state. Nutley is unranked.
The Raiders lost at Millburn, 8-4, April 6, to fall to 0-3. Millburn won the second meeting, 6-1, April 27, at the Park Oval.
Connor was elated after the win over Millburn and is thrilled to play for the county title against Seton Hall Prep.
“It feels amazing to beat Millburn,” Connor said to Essex News Daily via twitter. “This is the first time to beat Millburn in my high school career and to beat them to go to the county finals feels unreal. Also, I never beat Seton Hall in my high school career so to beat them will be even better. Last year we lost to them in the semifinals, so to beat them will be the best. In the first meeting this year, we lost 9-7. It was a great game. We saw their best pitchers and did very well at the plate, but we had some mistakes in the field that cost us. But if we play like we did yesterday, there’s no doubt in my mind that we will win.”
Condito also was pumped about beating Millburn.
“It feels great to beat the No. 2 team in the state, especially at an important game like that,” he said to Essex News Daily via twitter.
The Raiders, under 13th-year head coach Bob Harbison, are in the GNT final for the first time since 2012 when they lost to Montclair. NHS is seeking its fifth GNT title and first since 2004, Harbison’s first year at the helm.
NHS and SHP met in the GNT final for five straight years from 2001-05. Nutley won it in 2001, 2002 and 2004 and SHP won it in 2003 and 2005.
SHP has won 15 GNT titles and are making their 22nd GNT final appearance, both tournament records.
2012 – Semifinal, (5) Nutley – 9, (1) SHP – 1
2011 – Semifinal, (3) SHP – 5,(10) Nutley – 2
2009 – Semifinal, (12) Nutley – 10, (1) SHP – 4
2005 – Final, (1) SHP – 11,(2) Nutley – 0
2004 – Final, (2) Nutley – 3, (1) SHP – 2
2003 – Final, (1) SHP – 3, (2) Nutley – 0
2002 – Final, (2) Nutley – 6, (1) SHP – 2
2001 – Final, (2) Nutley – 5, (1) SHP – 3
1999 – Quarterfinal, (3) SHP – 13, (6) Nutley – 3
1995 – Quarterfinal, (9) Nutley – 2, (1) SHP – 0
1985 – First round, (2) SHP – 10, (15) Nutley – 4