Seton Hall Prep baseball team ends fine 21-win season

Seton Hall Prep junior Justin Shadek fires a pitch in the win over West Essex on April 20.

WEST ORANGE, NJ — The Seton Hall Prep baseball team concluded another outstanding season with a 21-7 record. On Friday, June 10, the Pirates traveled to Ramsey to take on Don Bosco Prep in the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association’s Non-Public A North tournament final and dropped a 4-2 decision to the Ironmen.

In the top of the first inning, senior Sam Nomura had a double to center field and scored when senior Ryan Sprock’s ground ball was thrown away. After Don Bosco tied the score with a run in the bottom of the second, the Pirates retook the lead when senior Alex Kim had a bunt single down the first-base line and later scored on a single to right field by Sprock. Don Bosco tied the score in the bottom of the fourth inning and took the lead with two runs in the fifth inning. 

Senior starting pitcher John Cerwinski (6-0) went 4 ⅔ innings, allowing four runs, two earned, on four hits, with four strikeouts and three walks. Senior Pat Walega pitched the final 1 ⅓ innings, allowing one hit. 

Senior Luke Mahala was 3-for-3, while Kim and Nomura each had two hits.

Following the game, SHP head coach Mike Sheppard Jr. said, “I am proud of the team. You look at our season, at one point we were 4-3 and we went on a 17-4 run. As the season moved along, we got better and we turned it around. Early in the year, I would have told you we were an average team at best. I think as the weeks went on, we got better, and I guessed we proved we can play with anybody.”

On Tuesday, June 7, at Porcello Field, the Pirates defeated St. Joseph of Montvale, 4-2, in the semifinals. Sprock pitched 5 ⅔ innings, allowing two runs on four hits with six strikeouts, two walks and three hit batters. Nomura picked up his second save of the season, pitching 1 ⅓ innings and allowing one hit with one strikeout. 

In the bottom of the second inning, Sprock doubled to right center and junior Elijah Foster walked. They were sacrificed to second and third by senior Matt Monteleone. Senior catcher Aaron Bertone singled to center field, driving in two runs, to give the Pirates a 2-0 lead. They extended their lead to 4-0 in the bottom of the third, when Nomura tripled into the right-field corner and scored when senior shortstop Chris Maldonado blasted a home run over the left-field fence. 

Following the game, Sprock said, “I knew going into the game that St. Joe’s was going to be one of the toughest opponents we have faced all year. I was definitely a little nervous before the game, but once I stepped on the mound, I knew I just had to compete. I give props to the defense behind me. They made some great plays out there. It is a great feeling to know they have my back.” 

Bertone added, “It was a big situation early in the game. He gave me a pitch down the middle and I just sent it right back up the middle hard. I was pumped to get the momentum going for us.”

When asked about his home run, Maldonado said, “I wasn’t trying to do too much when I stepped up to bat with a man on third base. I knew that a fly ball to the outfield would get the job done. I got a pitch to hit that was left up in the zone that I was able to drive the ball. It felt great to extend our lead to four runs, which would prove to be needed later in the game. It was a great team win today.”

Photo Courtesy of Rich Morris/SHP.