NUTLEY, NJ – The Nutley 18U baseball team, consisting of Nutley High School players, won the High School Development League Essex County Division Gold Bracket playoff championship.
NHS 2016 graduates Anthony Condito and Andrew Connor are the head coach and assistant coach for Nutley, respectively. They were teammates at NHS. Condito is the NHS all-time hits leader.
Nutley beat Caldwell, 4-3, in eight innings in the semifinals in Caldwell on July 16 at Caldwell. Rising sophomore Johnny Coppola drew a bases-loaded walk to score rising junior Matt Connor, Andrew’s brother, for the winning run with one out in the top of the eighth.
In the championship game, Nutley defeated Bloomfield, 5-4, July 18, at Bloomfield Middle School field.
In the top of the seventh, Coppola reached when his infield pop-up fell between two infielders. He moved to second on a passed ball and advanced to third on rising junior Matthew Jaworski’s groundout to second.
Rising sophomore Anthony Haines hit a single to score Coppola for the winning run.
For Condito, it was special to lead Nutley to a title this summer, considering that he and Andrew Connor were teammates on a Nutley American Legion team that won an Essex League championship a few years ago.
Nutley finished this summer with an 8-6-1 record.
To Condito, coaching this Nutley team was truly a joy.
“It was fun,” said Condito, who will enter his second year at Felician University. “They are a class act. They are great to be around. Whatever they were asked to do, they did.”
Teamwork also played a big role in the success this summer. Whenever the team’s pitching was down in a game, the team’s hitting would pick them up, and vice versa, Condito said.
But more than anything, the players had a strong bond, and that made it even more fun.
“You could tell this was a close-knit group and that they played with each other since they were little,” said Condito. “When you got a close-knit group, good things happen.”
The NHS Raiders this spring had a strong high school season. They advanced to the Greater Newark Tournament championship game, which is the Essex County tournament, where they lost to Livingston, 8-3. They also advanced to the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association North Jersey Section 2, Group 3 state tournament semifinals where they lost to Somerville, 6-1, to finish with a 21-9 record.
Andrew Connor attends St. Peter’s University.