Expectations are always high for Montclair baseball, especially with the recent success that has included state and county titles.
For some programs finishing with a 14-12-2 record and reaching the Greater Newark Tournament final four might be considered a success.
But the Mounties have had a state championship in 2021 and a GNT championship in 2019 so the goals are higher for the Montclair program.
Despite bringing home no hardware this season, Montclair reached the GNT semifinals before falling to Millburn, 2-0, at Seton Hall Prep on May 13. Millburn would go on to win the GNT with a victory over Seton Hall Prep.
The Mounties also fell in the North 1 Group 4 state quarterfinals at Passaic Tech, 3-0.
“Winning tournament games is very hard to come by as you face the better teams and the better pitching,” Montclair head coach Ron Gavazzi said. “Making the county final four is certainly a great accomplishment that we can look back on.”
This spring Montclair had several good victories, led off by a 9-0 shutout over West Orange on April 10.
“The most complete game we played this year was our shutout win on the road against West Orange,” Gavazzi said. “We did things well in all areas offensively versus a very talented pitcher,” West Orange’s Michael Cassels.
In the victory, Mounties senior Anthony Anzaldi fired a one-hit shutout. He was named to the All-Super Essex Conference American first team and will be playing at NJIT next spring.
Gavazzi said his ace had improved even more than he had in previous seasons. Anzaldi had four wins and a miniscule ERA of 0.47 to go along with 77 strikeouts in 45 innings.
“Anthony is a workhorse, loves to compete, and takes great pride in being a Mountie,” Gavazzi said. “It is a very special honor competing for your hometown and playing with your friends that you grew up playing with.”
Two other quality wins were the 3-1 victory at Chatham in 11 innings on May 1 and a come-from-behind triumph over Caldwell, 9-7, in the GNT quarterfinal on May 10. In defeating Caldwell, the Mounties scored nine runs in the bottom of the sixth inning after Caldwell scored 7 runs in the top of the sixth inning.
Sophomore Benjamin St. Pierre joined Anzaldi in the All-Super Essex Conference first team honors. Montclair junior Derek Lacey was named to the All-SEC American second team. Freshman Patrick Van Note and senior Wyatt Fell were part of the All-SEC American honorable mention list for the Mounties.
It was another big year for sophomore Benjamin St. Pierre, who was named to the All-SEC team for the second successive season. St. Pierre led the Mounties in several offensive categories, including a .400 batting average and 35 runs scored.
“Benjamin improved on his defense,” Gavazzi said. “He played second and third base this year and definitely took a big step forward. I think he will continue to improve in all areas of his game. Benjamin is as committed as they come. He loves the game.”
Lacey was one of the best hitters for Montclair this season and contributed to big games. He helped propel the Mounties’ come-from-behind victory over Caldwell, 9-7, in the GNT quarterfinal on May 10. Lacey went 3 for 3.
“Derek had a strong year offensively for us,” Gavazzi said. “For the most part, he swung the bat well all season. He drove in runs, had big games, and was productive versus the best pitchers we faced.”
One of the best freshmen in the county was Van Note, who was second in runs scored for the Mounties with 25 while playing a quality shortstop.
“Patrick is as smooth as it gets defensively,” Gavazzi said. “He has great feet and hands. I am not surprised at all with the recognition he got. He earned it with how hard he worked at it. He has a big future ahead of him.”
Fell was Montclair’s top closer with a 3.04 ERA with 31 strikeouts in 23 innings. The senior will take his arm to Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania for college baseball next spring.
“Wyatt was a great leader this season,” the Montclair head coach said. “He has grown so much through his high school years. He was impressive on the mound and in the field. I had a great experience coaching Wyatt.”