West Orange HS baseball team clicking on all cylinders

WEST ORANGE – Head coach Stephan Zichella said all cylinders were clicking for his West Orange High School baseball varsity team.

“Our pitching staff has been lights out as every single starter has at least three wins,” said the coach, whose squad had a mark of 12-5 entering the week of May 15. “They’ve just been rock solid.”

While the pitching performance has been noteworthy, Zichella said the team’s offensive numbers have been truly impressive.

“This is one of the best hitting teams I’ve ever had,” admitted the coach. “Everyone on this team can hit.”

One of those players who has dominated at the plate for the Mountaineers has been senior Andrew Scholz. On the year, the senior leads the team in a number of categories, including: RBI with 23, eight doubles, 13 walks, and 25 hits. To go along with those amazing stats, he also has a .510 batting average and a .610 on-base percentage.

Another player who is having a strong year for WOHS is Doug Hughes, who is batting .426. Sophomore Christopher Walker also has a .429 batting average.

Similarly, senior Paul Casolaro has also dominated for the team, hitting .404 with 15 RBI.

Along with those players, Zichella said sophomore Vincent DeSantis also deserved credit for finding his way into the starting lineup after making most of his opportunity to play when junior outfielder Jordan Stennett was out with a sprained ankle.

“Vinnie gave us solid play with seven hits, batting .467 since taking over for us after Jordan went out,” said the coach, noting Stennett has since returned after missing about three weeks.

Specifically, the coach said senior Rob Parisi has been on a hot streak for the squad. On the year, the senior is now hitting over .300 with a .417 on-base percentage.

“Rob has been doing a great job as our leadoff hitter,” said the coach, noting senior Liam White was also hitting for a batting average that was over .300.

West Orange, which lost to Montclair in its lone contest two weeks ago, defeated Livingston, 6-5, last Monday May 9 in the Greater Newark Tournament.

“That was a great win because it got us to our first quarterfinal GNT game in quite some time,” added the coach, who talked about the win. “We went up early and then barely hung on to upset the seventh seed.”

The 10th-seeded Mountaineers were eliminated in the following round with a 7-4 loss to the state’s second-ranked and the GNT second-seeded squad, Millburn. “We hung in tough and even knocked out their ace, but just couldn’t get the win,” said Zichella. “Millburn is a great team and we made too many mistakes.”

Notably, prior to the defeat, Zichella’s group handed Glen Ridge a 10-1 loss.

“That was a great team all-around effort,” he said.

Following the loss to Millburn, West Orange rebounded by beating Cedar Grove, 7-1.

“That was a nice win as they beat us earlier in the year,” said the coach. “We’re definitely playing our best ball right now.”

Looking ahead, the coach said his group was likely to receive the fourth seed in which the Mountaineers would host a game against Bloomfield in the state playoffs on May 23.

WOHS, which is in second place in the Super Essex Conference-Liberty Division, two games behind Columbia, was slated to play Columbia on Wednesday, May 18, and was also slated to play at East Side on Monday, May 16.

The team will compete on Senior Night against West Essex on May 19.

“All six of our seniors have been outstanding leaders for this year’s team and we’re really looking forward to honoring them for those achievements,” Zichella said.

Notably, the sixth senior on the team is Tom Bradley, who is batting .444 when coming in off the bench.”Tom has definitely contributed when he’s gotten in there,” said the coach.