by Andrew Garda

Things got off to a roaring start for the Montclair High School baseball team, as they blanked West Essex 7-0 on April 1 for an opening day win at Nishuane Park.

A big factor for the win was pitcher Kyle Miller. The senior one-hit West Essex, with one strikeout, and two walks on 72 pitches.

“Obviously on opening day I was a little anxious,” Miller said just before practice on Tuesday. “I wanted to get off to a good start senior year and make sure all the hard work doesn’t go to waste.”

It was clear Miller and the Mounties who backed him up with seven runs on 10 hits weren’t rattled by the fact that they weren’t playing on their home field. With Woodman Track under construction, the baseball field isn’t available, so the Mounties are making do at Nishuane Park. In fact, Miller feels his team—with most members who grew up playing baseball at “The Nish”—actually has an advantage there.

“The infield is hard, with bad hops and we saw that yesterday. We were able to get the good part of the short hops while the other team wasn’t ready for it. So, it’s something we can use to our advantage.”

Miller, who will be attending Gettysburg College next fall, was kind enough to talk about opening day, Nishuane and more for this week’s Athlete Spotlight.

Will you play baseball at Gettysburg?

Yeah. They do a fall tryout period where everyone goes and plays scrimmages. And I spoke to the coach and he thought I’d be a good fit on the roster.

What do you like most about playing at MHS?

It’s the teammates and the bonds that I’ve made. There’s a lot of guys from year’s past, so I see them as brothers. I still communicate with guys from the past. And obviously with these guys, I hang out with them every day, at lunch, after practices when we go get food.

How do you prep for pitching?

I stay a little quiet on the bus. Sometimes, if we’re practicing, I might be a jokester, but on game day I’ll plug in my headphones. I have playlists made up of any rap songs–nothing specific. I try to stay locked in, but I don’t zone out my teammates.

Since you like rap, what do you think of the controversy around Lil Nas X’s Old Town Road? Country song or just rap?

I’m going to go with country.

Do you play video games?

I’m a big sports video game guy, especially with a lot of these guys. We play NBA2k together, we play madden and MLB the Show