Top-seeded and defending champ Seton Hall Prep baseball team advances to GNT quarterfinals

WEST ORANGE, NJ – The top-seeded and five-time defending champion Seton Hall Prep varsity baseball team defeated No. 16 seed Newark East Side in come-from-behind fashion, 4-2, in the first round of the 86th Greater Newark Tournament on Saturday, May 5, at Porcello Field.

The win capped a 4-0 week for the Pirates, who improved to a 14-3 record this season.

Trailing 1-0 in the bottom of the first inning, Ryan Sheppard walked, stole second, and scored on a single to center field by Brian Kelly. Trailing 2-1 going into the bottom of the fourth with two outs, Tyler Kaufman singled to right field. Jake Savino, who served as Kaufman’s pinch-runner, later scored on a double into the left-field corner by Will Nomura to tie the score at 2-2.

The Pirates took the lead in the fifth inning when Ryan Hebert led off with a bunt single and later scored on a sac fly to center field by Nick Maldonado. SHP added an insurance run in the sixth inning when Kaufman was hit by a pitch. Savino, who again served as Kaufman’s pinch-runner, stole second and later scored when Nomura’s sacrifice bunt was thrown away.

SHP will host No. 8 seed Cedar Grove in the GNT quarterfinals on Thursday, May 10, at 4 p.m. at Porcello Field. IT marked the fifth straight year that the teams will meet in the GNT. The winner will face the winner between No. 5 seed Columbia and No. 4 seed Nutley in the GNT semifinals on Saturday, May 12, at Verona High School’s Doc Goeltz Field.

On Monday, April 30, the Pirates defeated Livingston, 1-0, in eight innings at Porcello Field in an outstanding pitching duel. John Ariza pitched the first four innings and allowed one hit and four walks with three strikeouts. Mike Mahala pitched 2.3 innings of no-hit ball with two walks and one strikeout, Tommy O’Rourke (2-0) picked up the victory, pitching the final 1.6 innings with two strikeouts. O’Rourke entered the scoreless battle with the go-ahead run on second with one out in the top of the seventh. On a wild pitch, catcher Nick Diaz threw out the runner trying to advance to third base when he over-slid the bag.

Robert Sheppard reached on an error to lead off the bottom of the eighth. Savino,who pinch-ran for Robert Sheppard, was sacrificed to second base by Angelo Crincoli. After an infield single by Ryan Sheppard and a walk to Maldonado to load the bases, Frank Spano walked to drive in Savino with the winning run.

On Tuesday, May 1, the Pirates hosted Montclair and won, 10-0. Steven Sgaramella (4-0) pitched a five-inning complete game, allowing two hits and one walk. Hebert was 3-for-3 with two runs scored and three RBI, Diaz and Maldonado each went 1-for-3 with two RBI, while Giordan Cerbo and Kelly each went 1-for-2 with one RBI.

On Friday, May 4, the Pirates hosted prep school power Hun and won, 3-0. behind an outstanding pitching effort by David Festa (3-0) and Ariza. Festa pitched the first six innings, allowing one hit with eight strikeouts, while Ariza picked up his third save of the year, allowing one walk in his one inning pitched. SHP opened the scoring in the second inning when O’Rourke led with a walk, moved to second base on a sacrifice by Hebert, and scored on two wild pitches. They increased their lead to 2-0 in the third inning when Maldonado walked and later scored on a single to right field by Tyler Kaufman. They scored their final run in the fifth inning when Maldonado was hit by a pitch and proceeded to steal second, third, and home during the inning.

NOTE: The Pirates are 8-1 against Cedar Grove in GNT history since 1971, winning the past eight meetings.

2017: Won, 9-1, first round

2016: Won, 7-0, first round

2015: Won, 5-0, first round

2014: Won, 7-6, championship game

2011: Won, 7-0, first round

2000: Won, 2-0, semifinals

1997: Won, 3-0, quarterfinals

1989: Won, 6-4, quarterfinals

1985: Loss, 3-2, semifinals