After somewhat surprisingly reaching the North 2, Group 1 championship game last year after a rocky 3-7 start, the RosellePark baseball team has aspirations of winning the section again this year – which would be for the first time since 2011.
A major stumbling block is Dayton, with RosellePark falling to the Bulldogs in last year’s final by the score of 13-3 and in the season-opener for both Tuesday by a much closer 3-2 count.
Dayton’s Tommy Walsh, now a senior, won both of those games on the mound for the Bulldogs, with both taking place at Springfield’s Ruby Field.
RosellePark will host Dayton later on in the season in Union County Conference-Mountain Division play, with the Bulldogs winners of the Mountain Division the past two seasons and off to a 2-0 start so far this year.
RosellePark was to play at Oratory Prep Thursday and is to then play at Brearley Friday and then take on St. Mary’s of Elizabeth Saturday in its home-opener.
One thing RosellePark has going for itself this season is a large number of upperclassmen, with most of them returning starters.
Head coach Nick Agoglia, a 1995 RosellePark graduate, has seven returning starters and a senior class that totals 11.
“We’re excited about our linuep,” Agoglia said. “Any time you return that many guys you would like to get back to where you were the year before and improve. Every day is a grind.”
Leading a lofty senior class and the group of returning starters is four-year varsity performer Luis Amaro.
RosellePark’s No. 1 pitcher and third baseman, Amaro – who pitched well in taking the loss against Dayton Tuesday – will continue playing baseball next year in the junior college ranks at FrankPhillipsCollege in Borger, Tx.
“Luis travels a lot in the summer and plays in showcases and JUCO is the way for him to go right now,” Agoglia said. “We’re excited for him.”
Amaro batted .505 last year to earn First-Team All-County honors from The Star-Ledger. Playing in the infield will be his primary college position.
“Luis will do anything to make the team better,” Agoglia said. “He can pitch, he’s played shortstop for us and he wouldn’t be a bad outfielder either.”
The other 10 seniors include pitcher-third baseman Steve Loevsky, shorstop Joey Fulinello, first baseman Nick Muccia, backup infielders Kevin Angus, Matt Swain and Frank Buscaino; right fielder Mike Arocho, outfielder Brian Kinsley, center fielder Bobby Vail and backup outfielder Mike Delayo.
Returning starters include Amaro, Loevsky, Muccia, Fulinello, Kinsley, junior left fielder Mike Figueredo and junior pitcher-second baseman Dan Mucha.
Catchers handling RosellePark’s pitching staff include Brearley transfer Tyler Loneker, a junior who will also pitch, freshman Ryan Loevsky and junior Andy Santamaria.
Richie Johns, Paul Sep and Nick Mirando were seniors who helped lead the way last season. Johns had the game-winning hit in the bottom of the seventh when RosellePark defeated visiting Hoboken in the North 2, Group 1 final three years ago.
RosellePark remains one of eight teams in the Union County Conference’s Mountain Division, with the league the same this year.
The Mountain Division, once again, consists of Johnson, Roselle Catholic, Union Catholic, New Providence, Dayton, RosellePark, Oratory Prep and Brearley.
Dayton won the Mountain Division the last two years and the year before that in 2011 Union Catholic won the Mountain Division and RosellePark captured the Valley Division championship.
Out-of-division games for RosellePark this season include contests against Watchung Division teams Union, Scotch Plains and Governor Livingston and MiddlesexCounty foes Monroe, Metuchen and Dunellen.
SOME SCRIMMAGES WORKED OUT
In, perhaps, the believe it or not category, RosellePark was able to get three scrimmages in.
Mother nature – all winter long and into the beginning of spring – did not make it all too possible for most baseball teams in New Jersey to get in a decent number of practice games.
Between the snow that finally melted and the continued low temperatures – not to mention last weekend’s heavy rainfall – scrimmages and outside practices on real baseball fields were at a minimum once practice officially began March 7.
Teams can only practice so much inside a gymnasium waiting for the weather to improve.
RosellePark was able to scrimmage Cranford, Leonia and Columbia.
The Columbia scrimmage last week took place at RosellePark on a day when the temperature was still below freezing at 30 degrees.
“I spoke to Joe Fischetti (Columbia coach) and we both needed a scrimmage,” Agoglia said. “On a day like that it might not be the most productive scrimmage, but there was no rain, no snow and there was a field to play on. We played six full innings.
“Some guys were scrambling to get outside. We’re all pretty much in the same boat and just had to see what we got.”
RosellePark won eight of its final 11 games last year, beginning with a 4-3, eight-inning triumph at home against New Providence.
In the first round of the Union County Tournament, RosellePark gave eventual champion Cranford all it could handle before falling to senior left hander and present North CarolinaState hurler Ryan Williamson 5-1.
In the North 2, Group 1 playoffs, RosellePark first won at third-seeded Bloomfield Tech 5-1 and then knocked off sixth-seeded Weehawken 7-0 on the road in the quarterfinals.
The Panthers then won at second-seeded Ridgefield 8-4 in the semifinals to reach the championship game for the second time in three seasons.
6th ANNUAL ROSELLE PARK DAD’S CLUB
BASEBALL INVITATIONAL SET FOR NEXT WEEKEND
HERE’S A LOOK AT THE LINEUP:
FRIDAY, APRIL 11
Ramapo vs. Marist, 4:30 p.m.
St. Joseph’s Metuchen vs. GloucesterCounty
Institute of Technology, 7:30 p.m.
SATURDAY, APRIL 12
Johnson vs. Monroe, 10 a.m.
Cranford vs. Steinert, 1 p.m.
Highland Regional vs. Metuchen, 4 p.m.
RosellePark vs. Dunellen, 7 p.m.
SUNDAY, APRIL 13
Union Catholic vs. Columbia, 9 a.m.
New Providence vs. Middlesex, noon
Bridgewater-Raritan vs. St. Peter’s Prep, 3 p.m.
NewarkAcademy vs. Bernards, 6 p.m.
NOTES: If there is any baseball weekend event that needs good
weather for a change it’s the Roselle Park Dad’s Club Invitational.
The three days of games are scheduled for April 11-13 at Roselle
Park’s varsity field off West Webster Avenue.
Last year’s event saw both Friday games rained out and three of the
four Saturday ones cancelled because of continued rain.
There are 10 games scheduled once again for the sixth annual
event, with two on Friday, four more on Saturday and four again
HostRosellePark is scheduled to face MiddlesexCounty foe Dunellen
in the final game on Saturday.
Cranford, the Group 3 state champion three of the past four years, is
acutally 0-4 in the event. Cranford’s game against Steinert was rained
out last year.
Cranford and Steinert will try to play each other again, this time as
the second of four games on the Saturday.
UnionCounty teams involved include Johnson, Cranford, Roselle
Park and Union Catholic, which will face Columbia in the first game
Union Catholic seniors that will continue playing in college include
Joe Bonaccorso – IonaCollege; Anthony Colletti – DrewUniversity;
Ryan Kahn – MoravianCollege; Luis Rojas- Rutgers-Newark and
Tom Fitzpatrick- Franklin Pierce. Colletti is a four-year starter, who
became Union Catholic’s starting third baseman as a freshman three
Union Catholic is off to a 2-0 start with a 4-1 win at New Providence Tuesday and a 2-1 home win over Johnson in eight innings Wednesday.
Cranford went 25-1 last year and finished ranked as the No. 1 team in
Union Catholic finished 17-8 and Johnson 16-10.
“We’re excited to have everyone back,” RosellePark head coach Nick
Agoglia said. “We have some new teams in Ramapo and Marist and
St. Joe’s, Metuchen and Gloucester.
“The weather gods owe us a good weekend.”