Montclair Kimberley head coach Ralph Pacifico was trying to figure out what year it was that his squad had defeated Montclair.
He had to come up with the answer after the Cougars defeated the Mounties, 6-5, on April 29 at Montclair’s home field, Woodman Field.
The longtime MKA head coach, who recently registered his 500th victory, was thinking that 2007 or 2008 was the most recent time that the Cougars took care of the Mounties.
Last season, the scheduled game between the two schools was canceled. “I think it was either 2007 or 2008,” Pacifico said, noting that either way it’s been quite a long time since MKA has defeated rival Montclair and that his team needs to appreciate the accomplishment.
For Pacifico and MKA, they are always the underdog when it comes to taking on big schools, like Montclair and Bloomfield. “Those teams are supposed to beat us,” the MKA coach said. “They have 1,500 students to choose from and we can’t recruit.”
Montclair head coach Ron Gavazzi applauded Montclair Kimberley for the victory. “I just give all the credit to MKA,” the Mounties coach said. “They played a great game.”
For the Cougars and senior pitcher Jack Amirata, it was a sweet feeling to take the victory at Woodman Field on Friday afternoon.’
Amirata would go five innings, allow no earned runs and strike out 10 in the victory. “It just feels so good, and we have a lot of guys who live in Montclair who have circled this game on their calendar,” Amirata said.
For the Cougars ace, he was able to put everything together on the mound against Montclair. “I was able to get ahead of the hitter and work my changeup,” Amirata said. “I was able to move my fastball in the zone.”
The Montclair Kimberley senior said that being able to get out the first batter – Montclair second baseman Ben St. Pierre – in the first inning had built his confidence. “Ben St. Pierre is one of the best sophomores in the county,” the MKA ace said. “I was able to get him to fly out in the first inning.”
Offensively, senior right fielder Nic Lembo, who went 2-for-3 with two RBI and two runs scored, led Montclair Kimberley. Junior first baseman Ben Otner added a 2-for-3 day with one run scored and one RBI.
As it turns out, a play in the bottom of the sixth inning might have been the difference in the contest. With two runners on base, Montclair senior first baseman Jonah Hacker smacked a pitch down the left field line for a double that scored St. Pierre.
But the Cougars caught sophomore left fielder Sam Dorian going too far off the bag at third. A throw to Montclair Kimberley sophomore shortstop Quinn Carlesimo tagged Dorian out before he got back to third. The call stood despite complaints from Montclair.
“That was huge and a game changer,” Amirata said. “If we don’t get that out, they have runners at second and third.”
With Montclair Kimberley sophomore Alessandro Rizio relieving Amirata on the mound, Montclair rallied in the bottom of the seventh inning and scored three runs with a big hit a two-RBI double by St. Pierre. Freshman shortstop Patrick Van Note brought home Mounties junior Finn Jones to cut the MKA lead to 6-5.
But Rizio was able to get Dorian to pop out to Otner at second base to end the game.
“I had a lot of faith in him,” Amirata, who moved to first base after pitching, said about Rizio.
Montclair Baseball Schedule
(Games at 4 p.m. unless noted)
May 4 at Passaic, 4:30 p.m.
May 5 Greater Newark Tournament, TBD
May 8 Millburn
May 11 at Morris Knolls
May 15 Columbia
May 17 at Caldwell
May 19 North Bergen, 4:30 p.m.
Montclair Kimberley Baseball schedule
(Games at 4 p.m. unless noted)
May 5 at Bloomfield, Essex County Tournament
May 8 at West Essex
May 9 Essex County Tournament, TBD
May 13 Pennington School, Noon
May 15 Barringer
May 17 West Orange
May 20 Newark Academy, 10 a.m.