Seton Hall Prep baseball team captures Greater Newark Tournament championship

Harsch and Fernandez combine on one-hit shutout to lead baseball team in the final

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

WEST ORANGE, NJ — On a bright Saturday afternoon, May 18, the Seton Hall Prep baseball team captured its 19th Greater Newark Tournament title, defeating Livingston, 6-0, at Doc Goeltz Field in Verona. 

This was the 91st year of the oldest tournament in the state. 

Junior hard-throwing right-hander Marcelo Harsch (5-0) and senior crafty left-hander Lucas Fernandez combined on a clean one-hit shutout. Harsch, a Wake Forest commit, threw 5 ⅔  innings, allowing one hit with seven strikeouts, three walks and one hit batter. Fernandez, who will be attending William & Mary, threw the final 1 ⅓ innings with four strikeouts. 

In the top of the first inning, junior William Garrett delivered a solid single to center field to drive in junior Michael Bravette, who had reached second base on an error. 

In the second inning, senior Peter Peluso was hit by a pitch to open the inning, was sacrificed to second with a well-placed bunt by junior Henry Ayers, and then scored on a double down the left-field line by junior Santino Czarecki. 

In the third inning, sophomore Jordan Burwell reached on a walk and later scored on an infield error to make it 3-0. 

The Pirates broke things open in the fourth inning when they scored three runs. Czarecki led off the inning with a walk, stole second base and scored on an error. Later in the inning, Burwell singled to right field and then junior William Mahala, a Virginia commit, launched a long two-run home run to right field to make the score 6-0. 

“It was a changeup, I saw it well and was able to sit back before having a good swing,” said Mahala. 

Following the game, Harsch said, “Everything was really working for me today. I loved that we bounced back at a tough loss to Livingston two days earlier. In the sixth inning, I may have been getting a little tired. I usually pitch around 90-95 pitches and 100 today was a new length for me, but it was a lot of fun, and the best part is that we are GNT champs.”

SHP veteran head coach Mike Sheppard Jr. has seen a very young team that finished 15-11-1 last year develop into still a young, but much more productive top-10 team this season with 20 wins in its first 24 games (20-3-1). 

“It’s been great to see this team grow up,” said the legendary head mentor. “They are enjoyable to be around and they work hard in practice every day and their development has been terrific. We tell our guys that the later you play in May, the more successful you will be. We also tell them to sprint through the finish line, not jog, because you want to go hard to the very end.” 

Two days earlier, the Pirates dropped a 7-1 decision to Livingston at Porcello Field in West Orange. The Pirates’ run scored when Czarecki led off the bottom of the sixth with a single, advanced to second when Bravette singled, and scored on a single by Garrett. The Pirates finished in second place to Livingston in the final Super Essex Conference–American Division standings with a 9-2-1 record.

On Monday, May 13, the Pirates traveled to the Park Oval to take on Nutley and defeated the Raiders, 13-1, in five innings. They were led by Burwell, who had a three-run home run, a two-run single and two walks in four at-bats. Senior Marty Edson had a two-run homer, while junior Kaden Frei and sophomore Daniel Comtois each had solo homers. Mahala had a two-run single. Sophomore JJ Drennan (4-0) picked up the victory, allowing one run on five hits with five strikeouts and two walks in four innings, while Junior Nick DeSena pitched the fifth inning, allowing one hit.

The Pirates earned the No. 3 seed in the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association’s North Jersey Non-Public “A” state tournament and were scheduled to host No. 14 seed Hudson Catholic in the first round on Wednesday, May 22.

Photos Courtesy of Seton Hall Prep