Seton Hall Prep baseball team enjoys fine 6-1 start to season


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hotos by Rich Morris/courtesyof SHP: Seton Hall Prep vs. Caldwell, April 13.

The Seton Hall Prep baseball team went 4-1 last week to raise its record to 6-1 on the season.

On Monday, April 9, the Pirates hosted Nutley at Porcello and won, 2-1. After Nutley scored one run in the top of the first inning, SHP came back with two runs to retake the lead in the bottom of the first behind an RBI triple by senior Jack Zyska and an RBI single by junior Nick Maldonado. Senior John Ariza picked up the victory, pitching five innings and allowing one run on three hits with eight strikeouts and one walk. Senior Steven Sgaramella threw the final two innings to pick up the save, allowing one hit and one strikeout.

On Tuesday, April 10, the Pirates hosted Columbia and lost, 6-4. SHP scored two runs in the first inning to take a 2-1 lead when Maldonado had a two-run  triple. They also had a 4-3 lead after the third inning when senior Ryan Sheppard had an RBI double and senior Michael Gaudioso had a RBI single.

On Wednesday, April 11, the Pirates traveled to Livingston and won, 5-0. Maldonado and senior David Festa combined on a one-hit shutout. Maldonado threw six innings, allowing one hit with 10 strikeouts and one walk while Festa pitched the seventh and had one strikeout. SHP took a 1-0 lead in the first inning when senior Ryan Hebert walked with the bases loaded. They opened up the game with four runs  in the fifth inning. Junior Jack Eichler and senior Brian Kelly had back-to-back RBI singles while Hebert and junior Tyler Kaufman hit consecutive RBI doubles.

On Friday, April 13, the Pirates defeated Caldwell, 5-3, at home. Trailing 1-0 entering the bottom of the fifth, the Pirates scored two runs when senior Patrick Zadroga had an RBI double and Kaufman hit a sac fly to right field. After Caldwell scored two runs in the top of the sixth to retake the lead, 3-2, SHP scored three runs in its half to take a 5-3 lead. Sheppard had an RBI double, while junior pinch-hitter Anthony Peterson and Hebert had RBI singles. Festa got a no decision, but pitched really well with 10 strikeouts in 5 2/3  innings pitched. Senior Frank Spano picked up the win in relief as he pitched 1/3 of an inning while senior Ryan Toal picked up the save, pitching the seventh inning and allowing 1 hit with two strikeouts.

On a beautiful Saturday afternoon, April 14, at Porcello Field, SHP defeated Randolph 10-0 in six innings, giving head coach Mike Sheppard Jr. his 750th career victory in his 33rd season. Sheppard Jr. is No. 5  on the all-time wins list in New Jersey.

Sgaramella (2-0) threw 5 1/3 innings, allowing no runs on four hits with two strikeouts and two walks. Spano pitched 2/3 of an inning with two strikeouts. Sophomore Tommy O’Rourke led the offense going 3-for-4 with two doubles and four RBI. Other top players were Maldonado, 1-for-2, two RBI; Sheppard, 2-for-4, triple, RBI; senior Angelo Crincoli, 2-for-3 triple, RBI; junior Nick Diaz, 1-for-3, RBI; and Hebert, who had an RBI on a bases-loaded walk. Following the game, Sgaramella was asked about how he approached the Randolph lineup. “I wanted to throw strikes and get ahead of the hitters. I also wanted to let them put the ball in play so my defense can make the plays behind me, which they did as we had no errors today.”

Saturday was a beautiful day for baseball around New Jersey. It was also a great day for some of the best head coaches in New Jersey. In addition to Sheppard Jr.’s milestone win, Toms River South defeated Allentown, 6-5, to give head coach Ken Frank his 872nd win in his 41st year career. He is No. 1 on the all-time wins list in New Jersey.

Marty Kenney, who is No. 2 on the list, earned his 800th career victory in his 45th career year at Christian Brothers Academy when his Colts defeated Wall, 6-5.

Tony Ferainolo, deceased, from Memorial of West New York, is No. 3 on the list with 754 wins and  Harry Shatel, deceased, from Morristown HS, is fourth with 752 wins.

Upcoming games: April 20, Columbia (A), 4 p.m. April 21, Old Bridge (H), 11 a.m. April 23, Millburn (A), 4 p.m. April 25, Montclair (H), 4 p.m.