WEST ORANGE, NJ – The Seton Hall Prep baseball team, which finished 24-5 overall and won the Super Essex Conference-American Division title for the seventh time in the nine years of the conference last spring – returns a dominant pitching staff.
Four pitchers will be headed to major colleges: senior righty Nick Maldonado (Vanderbilt), senior lefty Pat Mahala (Navy), senior righty Mike Mahala (Georgetown) and junior righty Tommy O’Rourke (Stanford).
Maldonado went 5-3 with a 1.35 ERA, striking out 70 and walking just 10 in 51.6 innings. O’Rourke had a 4-0 record with a 1.18 ERA in 35 innings, striking out 28. Mahala is coming off an injury last year.
The Pirates, under Mike Sheppard Jr., also return senior catchers Tyler Kaufman and Nick Diaz.
SHP has a surplus of middle infielders who will be moved to other infield and outfield positions. Maldonado will play shortstop and O’Rourke will play third when they are not pitching. Senior Jack Eichler is another key infielder.
The team graduated all three outfielders and will look to fill the void.
Other players to watch are junior infielder Justin Cassella, a JV player last year who will attend Elon University; senior righty pitcher/outfielder Quincy Clark, who was injured last year and will play at the University Rhode Island next year; and senior Skidmore College-bound infielder Anthony Peterson.
Sheppard Jr. is entering his 34th year as a high school head coach, 33 years at The Prep. His current record is 768-201-4 (.791). His teams have won 15 Greater Newark Tournament-Essex County, 10 State Non-Public “A” North; and seven State Non-Public “A” championships, in addition to the seven SEC titles.
The Pirates will open the season April 1 at home against Millburn at 4 p.m.
April 1, Millburn, 4 p.m.
April 3, at Livingston, 4 p.m.
April 5, at Columbia, 4 p.m.
April 6, at Morristown, 11 a.m.
April 8, Nutley, 4 p.m.
April 10, at Newark Academy, 4 p.m.
April 12, at Montclair, 4 p.m.
April 13, Randolph, 11 a.m.
April 15, West Essex, 4 p.m.
April 17, at Millburn, 11 a.m.
April 18, Roxbury, 4 p.m.
April 20, at Old Bridge, 10 a.m.
April 22, Livingston, 4 p.m.
April 24, Columbia, 4 p.m.
April 26, Cedar Grove, 4 p.m.
April 27, St. Joseph (Metuchen), 11 .m.
April 29, at Nutley, 4 p.m.
May 1, Ridge, 4 p.m.
May 3, Hun School, 4:15 p.m.
May 6, Hunterdon Central, 4 p.m.
May 8, Westfield, 4 p.m.
May 13, Montclair, 4 p.m.
May 15, at West Essex, 4 p.m.
May 16, Christian Brothers Academy, 4:30
May 22, at Morris Hills, 4 p.m.