Union Farmers stay focused on upcoming baseball season

Lifelong Union resident and new baseball head coach Lou Clemente will lead the Union Farmers in Union County Conference’s Mountain Division this year.

UNION, NJ — A new era of Union Farmers baseball is about to commence to the sounds of “play ball” with lifelong Union resident Lou Clemente, the team’s new head coach, leading the way.

Clemente is just the program’s sixth head coach since 1959.
Union High School has several key players back from last year’s 8-17 squad that managed home wins against Oratory Prep, Elizabeth, Roselle Catholic, Westfield and Arthur L. Johnson high schools. Following an 18-0 win at Jersey City school William L. Dickinson High School, Union closed with a seven-game losing streak.

“We’re still trying to mold the players into a team right now,” said Clemente, who starred in high school at Roselle Catholic, a 2010 graduate, and in college at Brookdale Community College and at Rutgers University, from where he graduated in 2014.

“We want to be able to do the little things well, like moving baserunners, things like that,” Clemente, 31, said. “We want to protect the baseball and make sure that we don’t beat ourselves.”
Back to lead Clemente’s arsenal of hurlers are senior right handers Matthew Mendez and Gabriel Gobbi. When not pitching, Mendez is in center field and Gobbi at third base.

“They are right now 1 and 1A for us on the mound,” Clemente said. “Matt is very competitive and gives everything he has. He will eat up innings for sure.”

Mendez struck out 27 in 26.2 innings last year and had an earned-run average of 5.51. Gobbi fanned 29 in 32.1 innings and pitched to a 5.63 ERA.

“Gabriel is very intellectual with his pitches,” Clemente said. “He and Matt have similar velocities but pitch differently.”

Mendez, who will continue playing at the next level for head coach Dan Mondelli at Raritan Valley Community College in Branchburg, will bat in the middle of the lineup, along with Gobbi.

“We want all of our pitchers to challenge batters,” Clemente said. “It’s the two Cs, command and compete, and then we go from there.”

Clemente said that senior shortstop Matthew Perrotto will most likely bat leadoff and pitch in relief.

Mendez batted .328 last year with 22 hits in 65 at-bats. Mendez scored 15 runs, drove in 10 and had 21 singles, one double, 11 walks and seven stolen bases.

Perrotto had 19 hits in 81 at-bats for a .235 average. He scored 16 runs, drove in 18, walked seven times and also stole seven bases. Perrotto produced 15 singles, one double, two triples and one home run.

Johnny Velez, a sophomore right hander, struck out 19 in 19 innings a year ago and at the plate banged out 17 hits, drove in 12 runs and scored 10. He had 13 singles, three doubles and one home run.
Union is situated in the Union County Conference’s Mountain Division this year, with Summit High School, last year’s Mountain champion, moving up to the Watchung Division.

Even though the Farmers are in the conference’s middle division this season, they will still have to contend with Watchung Division powerhouses Cranford and Governor Livingston high schools, and right out of the gate.

Union has conference-crossover clashes with Cranford and Governor Livingston on Monday, April 1, and Wednesday, April 3. The Cranford contest is Union’s season-opener and the Governor Livingston game is Union’s home-opener. Both are 4 p.m. starts.

“Cranford and GL are, obviously, two prestigious schools,” Clemente said. “Every year, they are among the top teams. Dennis McCaffery at Cranford and Chris Roof at GL have done amazing jobs with those programs and that is a credit to them.”

Clemente was Governor Livingston’s junior varsity coach the past five baseball seasons that were played: 2018, 2019, 2021, 2022 and 2023.

“The biggest thing about playing the game of baseball is trying to stay focused on the things that you can control,” Clemente said.

Union Farmers Baseball 2024

Pitching staff

Matthew Mendez, senior RH
Gabriel Gobbi, senior RH
Matthew Perrotto, senior RH
Johnny Velez, sophomore RH
Nick Bertolotti, sophomore LH
Jayden Walton, sophomore RH
Matthew Heaton, senior RH
Michael Heaton, freshman RH


Ethan Beaumont, sophomore
Alejandro Guzman, senior

First basemen

Nick Bertolotti, sophomore
Matthew Heaton, senior

Second basemen

Adrian Garcia-Cardena, freshman
Jeffrey Field, junior

Third basemen

Gabriel Gobbi, senior
Jayden Walton, sophomore


Matthew Perrotto, senior

Left field

Nick Goncalves, junior

Center field

Matthew Mendez, senior
Aaron Acevedo, sophomore

Right field

Jeffrey Field, junior
Aviel Hernandez, senior

Head coach: Lou Clemente, first year

File Photo