High school baseball to begin in just three short weeks

Cranford High School repeated as Union County Tournament champions in 2023. Head coach Dennis McCaffery, now in his 25th season at the helm of the Cougars, is two wins shy of 500.

UNION COUNTY, NJ — The sound of play ball across the state of New Jersey is now less than three weeks away.

The beginning of official practice is just a few days away.

Pitchers and catchers report on Monday, March 11, with the rest of the team members scheduled to join them on Thursday, March 14.

The first scrimmages are scheduled for Thursday, March 21.

The first Opening Day is Monday, April 1.

In Union County, 18 of the 19 baseball-playing schools are scheduled to open on Monday, April 1. The other, Hillside High School, is scheduled to open on Wednesday, April 3, at home against Linden High School.

Linden opens at home against Plainfield High School on Monday, April 1.

High school baseball for 2024

Pitchers and catchers: Monday, March 11

Rest of team reports: Thursday, March 14

First scheduled scrimmages: Thursday, March 21

Opening Day: Monday, April 1

New head coaches for 2024 include Roselle Catholic High School graduate Lou Clemente, a lifelong Union resident, succeeding Angel Navarrete at Union High School; and Union Catholic High School graduate Kristian Cortizo of Elizabeth following Matt Belford at Elizabeth High School – Frank J. Cicarell Academy.

Navarrete, now the head coach at Marlboro High School, was at the helm of the Union Farmers since 2014, taking over after 1989 Union grad Frank Napolitano stepped down. Belford succeeded Ray Korn and had been the head coach of the Minutemen since 2010.

Cranford High School head coach Dennis McCaffery is just two wins shy of 500. He begins his 25th season at the helm of the Cougars on Monday, April 1, at home against Union. The head coach at Cranford since 1999, last year, McCaffery guided the Cougars to a 26-1 record that included a second straight Union County Tournament championship.

Union County’s top four winningest baseball coaches include Bob Brewster of Westfield High School at 655, Ray Korn of Roselle Catholic and Elizabeth at 651, Gordon LeMatty of Union at 641 and Dennis McCaffery of Cranford at 498.

Cranford, Summit High School and Roselle Catholic were last year’s Union County Conference division champions.

Cranford won the Watchung Division championship outright for the fourth straight season and did so with a 10-0 record.
Summit captured the Mountain Division crown with a record of 10-2 and finished 17-7 overall.

Roselle Catholic repeated as Valley Division winners and won the title with a 6-1 mark. The Lions went 10-13 overall.

Opening scrimmages for Union County schools

Thursday, March 21

Columbia at Union, 4 p.m.
Watchung Hills at Cranford, 4 p.m.
Newark Tech at Hillside, 4 p.m.
Mountain Lakes at Oratory Prep, 4 p.m.
Summit at Livingston, 4 p.m.
Mendham at Union Catholic, 4 p.m.
David Brearley at Westfield, 4 p.m.
Sparta at Elizabeth, 4:15 p.m.
Linden at Ferris, 4:30 p.m.

Friday, March 22

Rahway at Piscataway, 4 p.m.
Somerset County Vo-Tech at Roselle Park, 4 p.m.

Saturday, March 23

Governor Livingston at Montville, 10 a.m.
Governor Livingston vs. West Essex at Montville, noon
Jonathan Dayton at West Orange, 10 a.m.
South Plainfield at Scotch Plains–Fanwood, 11 a.m.

Monday, March 25

Rahway at Arthur L. Johnson, 4 p.m.

Tuesday, March 26

New Providence at Chatham, 4 p.m.

Opening days in Union County

Monday, April 1

Jonathan Dayton at New Providence, 11 a.m.
Rahway at Roselle Park, 11 a.m.
David Brearley at Arthur L. Johnson, noon
Union at Cranford, 4 p.m.
Elizabeth at Westfield, 4 p.m.
Oratory Prep at Governor Livingston, 4 p.m.
Plainfield at Linden, 4 p.m.
Union Catholic at Scotch Plains–Fanwood, 4 p.m.
Roselle Catholic at Summit, 4 p.m.

Wednesday, April 3

Linden at Hillside, 4 p.m.

Photo by JR Parachini