Getting Roselle Catholic baseball established as one of the top teams in the Union County Conference once again is among the many goals first-year head coach Dan Olear has in store for his Lions.
However, with a roster of only 12 kids this year, the 1985 Roselle Catholic graduate and former Lion baseball standout has his work cut out for him and then some.
“It’s exciting and good to be back here,” Olear said. “Things need to happen baseball-wise. Our intent will be to make the kids want to be here.”
The breakdown includes two seniors, one junior, four sophomores and five freshmen.
The seniors include LH pitcher-first baseman George Vega and outfielder Michael Palay.
The lone junior is RH pitcher-outfielder Justin Reddick.
Sophomores are RH pitcher-middle infielder Justin Mazzitelli, RH pitcher-catcher Mark Rembish, outfielder Alejandro Jaramillo and LH pitcher-center fielder Xavier Kroc.
The freshmen include catcher-infielder James Howatt, RH pitcher- middle infielder Joe Krienberg, infielder-outfielder Tony Torres and outfielders Matt Figueroa and Amari Key.
Mazzitelli, Rembish and Vega are returning varsity players.
Kroc is Olear’s No. 1 pitcher.
“He throws hard and has two pitches,” Olear said. “He’s smart and a competitor.”
In Roselle Catholic’s final win last year, a 10-5 decision over Montclair-Kimberley Academy, Mazzzitelli went 2-for-3 with two runs and one RBI, Rembish 2-for-4 with one run and one RBI and Vega 1-for-2 with two runs and one RBI.
“There is talent and youth,” Olear said. “They’re into it and I like that.”
Assistant coaches include Donnie Zak, RC graduate Ryan Van Vliet and Nico Vargas.
“It’s not a bad product, but when you have freshmen playing varsity you don’t have the kind of experience you would like,” Olear said.
The Lions finished 10-12 overall in 2016, including a 2-6 mark in the UCC’s Valley Division. Roselle Catholic remains in the Valley Division for the 2017 season, along with Oratory Prep, Brearley, Roselle Park and newcomers Rahway and Dayton. Rahway moved up after winning the Sky Division the last two years, while Dayton moved down from the Mountain Division.
Summit, which won the Valley Division last year and three of the last four seasons, moved up to the Mountain Division.
Olear, an Elizabeth resident who has been a discipline teacher (crisis intervention) at Dickinson High School in Jersey City the past 16 years, was first a head coach at Hudson Catholic after serving as an assistant at Marist High.
Olear helped rebuild the Union County College program back in the 1990s before taking over the head coaching position at St. Peter’s College for three seasons.
In addition to running a successful baseball program at St. Peter’s, Olear helped raise the team’s GPA from a cumulative 2.1 to a 3.0 in a two-year span.
Olear also served as an assistant coach at New Jersey City University (formerly known as Jersey City State College) on two separate occasions before opening up his own Baseball Academy, the Batter’s Box Sports Academy.
When he played at Roselle Catholic, Olear was a four-time varsity letter-winner, batting .410 his senior season and earning All-Metro honors.
Olear then played a season of Division 1 baseball at St. Joseph’s in Pennsylvania before finishing out his collegiate career at Jersey City State. At JCSU, Olear was a lifetime .342 batter, finishing as one of the school’s top career hitters.
Roselle Catholic is scheduled to open this Saturday, April 1, at home vs. Roselle Park. First pitch – weather permitting – is set for 2 p.m.
Varsity baseball is back on campus at RC’s beautiful new baseball field, Alumni Park at Egan field. The group of alumni that donated the money to renovate the field asked for it to be named for the current and future alumni of RC.
Both RC diamond teams are to open at home Saturday, with the softball team facing Roselle at 10 a.m. in a UCC-Sky Division matchup. It will be the official opening of the new Alumni Park at Egan Field and the return of varsity baseball to RC’s Raritan Road campus.
The squads will be hosting celebrations to open Alumni Park, with all alumni and the RC community invited to the Opening Day ceremony and games.
Alumni Park is rightly named as a tribute to all the alumni who have come through the halls of Roselle Catholic, especially those who helped donate towards the field upgrade to bring varsity baseball once again to the RC campus.
Following the softball game, there will be a big celebration for the first varsity baseball game held on RC’s campus in over 25 years.
A brand new scoreboard and sign naming Alumni Park has been donated by the RC Class of 1966 and as such many members of this class will be in attendance as the special guests for the ceremonial unveiling.
A member of the Class of 1966, Rich Juelis, who pitched a remarkable perfect game in the 1965 Union County Tournament, will be on hand to throw out the ceremonial first pitch.
A “Day of Champions at Alumni Park” is scheduled for Saturday, April 8, celebrating the championship teams from RC baseball and softball over the years. The 1971 and 2005 UCT championship and 1975 and 1978 state championship baseball teams and the 2014 UCC-Sky Division champion softball team will be honored.
The 1975 and 1978 baseball teams were coached by RC Hall of Famer Ray Korn. The 1975 squad was a sectional state champion that fell in the Non-Public, A final to Saint Anthony of Trenton, while the 1978 team won the Non-Public, A final over Camden Catholic.
Head coach Joe Kropa guided the RC baseball team to three straight UCT finals, 2004-2006, with the 2005 team – led by standout junior RH pitcher Nick Nolan – defeating Dayton in the final.
On April 8 the softball team will host Sky Division rival Plainfield at 10 a.m., while the baseball team will host Valley Division foe Brearley at 2 p.m.