It was a memorable and solid Opening Day for the Hillside and Governor Livingston baseball teams respectively on Monday, April 1.
Hillside, lifted by a dominating pitching performance from senior right hander Ronnie Wallraff, defeated visiting St. Mary’s of Elizabeth 1-0 in Union County Conference-Sky Division play.
St. Mary’s baseball is back after the Hilltoppers did not field a team last year.
Wallraff struck out 19 of the 21 batters he retired in tossing a complete-game, three-hitter. He did not walk a batter.
“He was throwing in the high 70s (mph) and his curveball and breaking ball were working really well,” said Hillside head coach Sean Morris.
Also an assistant football coach at West Morris, this is the second stint as head baseball coach at Hillside for Morris. His first stint was for three seasons from 2011-2013 and then after taking 2014 off he returned as assistant coach at Hillside under Brian Graziano for the 2015, 2016 and 2017 seasons. Morris moved back up to head coach status last season.
Hillside went 6-10 last year, with Wallraff pitching no-run ball in wins against University, Shabazz and Roselle.
Against University at home Wallraff went the distance in tossing a one-hitter that included 15 strikeouts in a 2-0 victory. Wallraff struck out 11 in six innings in a 2-0 home win over Roselle, with the Rams getting only two hits total against two Hillside hurlers. Wallraff blanked Shabazz 13-0 at home in a game that went five innings.
“On Monday he was ahead of almost every batter he faced,” Morris said. “Even when he was 3-0 he was able to come back.”
A four-year varsity starter, Wallraff is the ace once again, with the Comets practically assured of a strong outing once he steps on the mound.
“He was good last year and we expect the strikeout total to be there,” Morris said. “We’re trying to get his name out there. He could play somewhere (in college).
“He’s the best pitcher I’ve ever had in all my years coaching at Hillside.”
The only run scored in Monday’s game came as the result of a throwing error in the bottom of the second, allowing Hillside freshman second baseman Aziel Perez to cross the plate.
For St. Mary’s, Ulisses Ferraz was also outstanding on the mound as he also tossed a three-hitter and had great command, striking out 13 and walking none.
“They have several good players,” Morris said. “I think they are going to be 10 times better than what they were.”
HILLSIDE COMETS 2019
1-Joe Hinton, junior, first base
2-Justice Evans, junior, pitcher-shortstop
3-Aziel Perez, freshman, second base
4-Janie Defrank, freshman, outfield
5-Dave Lipscomb, junior, outfield
6-Ralph Cekian, junior, outfield
7-Ronnie Wallraff, senior, pitcher-catcher-shortstop
8-Alex Picarra, sophomore, outfield
9-Gio Lara, sophomore, pitcher-catcher-outfield
10-Dylan Parada, senior, outfield
11-Jayden St. Ange, freshman, outfield
13-Lamar McLean, senior, pitcher-catcher-shortstop
14-Jeremiah Montiero, junior, first base
15-Jason Martinez, senior, third base
16-Kymani Anderson, freshman, outfield
17-Deovani Parada, freshman, outfield
19-Kevin Guaman, junior, outfield
20-Cristian Tifaine, freshman, second base
Hillside’s next scheduled game is home vs. Brearley on Friday, April 5 – weather permitting.
The Comets are then scheduled to host Plainfield in UCC-Sky Division play on Tuesday, April 9.
HIGHLANDERS SCORE AT WILLIAMS FIELD TO SUPPORT DeFEO MOUND EFFORT
Senior left hander John Grill gave fellow senior lefty Joey DeFeo run-support right away with a two-run double in the top of the first in GL’s Opening Day game at Elizabeth on Monday, April 1.
Then DeFeo went out and performed quite well on the mound, allowing only two earned runs in six complete innings to help lead the Highlanders to an 8-2 UCC-Watchung Division victory at Elizabeth’s Williams Field.
DeFeo allowed five hits, struck out one and walked two.
“He’s a junk-baller and kept them off balance with a curveball and change,” GL head coach Chris Roof said.
Junior right hander Sam Bass pitched a perfect seventh, including one strikeout.
GL’s home-opener is Thursday, April 4 vs. Watchung Division rival Westfield. The Highlanders won the Watchung Division outright last year, splitting with Westfield in league play and then beating Westfield in the UCT final for the program’s second county championship.
GL, which lost six starters from last year’s 22-4-1 squad, has a pitching staff that also includes senior right hander Ryan Davey, junior righties Jarod Abram and Ryan Devanney.
GL HIGHLANDERS 2019
Jarod Abram, junior
Sam Bass, junior
Chris Bruno, senior
Drew Compton, senior
Ryan Davey, senior
Joey DeFeo, senior
Dylan Defronzo, senior
Michael Delsordo, junior
Ryan Devanney, junior
Anthony Graziano, senior
John Grill, senior
Nicky Leonardis, senior
Tommy Martin, senior
Sean McCulloch, junior
Vincent Mellusi, junior
Matthew Murowski, junior
Stephen Reid, senior
Ethan Saia, senior
Jayson Schmidt, sophomore
Andy Serretti, senior
Michael Shaffer, sophomore
Dylan Verschleiser, junior
The annual Highlander Classic commences Saturday, April 6 at GL, with Madison vs. New Providence at 11 a.m. and GL vs. Oratory Prep at 2 p.m.