Montclair baseball wants that ’21 feeling
The last time Montclair High School’s baseball faced Passaic Tech the Mounties came out on top and eventually took home a state sectional championship.
On Thursday, May 25, Montclair would like to bring back the echoes of 2021, when the Mounties defeated the Bulldogs, 6-5, in the North 1 Group 4 state sectional semifinals at home. Montclair would end up winning the state section title and reach the Group 4 state final before losing to Middletown South.
For this season the eighth-seeded Mounties (14-11-2) are traveling to top-seeded Passaic Tech (22-3) in Wayne (4 p.m.) for the North 1 Group 4 quarterfinals. Montclair defeated ninth-seeded Fair Lawn, 8-0, on Monday, May 22, at Woodman Field in Montclair in this season’s state sectional first-round contest.
Mounties senior Wyatt Fell remembers the victory over Passaic Tech, when he was a sophomore. The Mounties’ ace southpaw, Anthony Anzaldi, who was also a sophomore at the time, was on the mound. "I feel confident with Anthony and there's nobody better," Fell said. "It was the best game I have ever seen. I think we have a little history with them and to see them again feels good."
In the 2021 victory, all the scoring came late as Montclair held on for the one-run victory. In that game Anzaldi got the victory, going six innings while scattering five hits, allowing three runs and striking out seven.
This time Anzaldi will again get the ball against Passaic Tech. He has shown that he is one of the best pitchers in Essex County and North Jersey, going 39 innings while striking out 69 and allowing only two earned runs for a 0.36 ERA.
On the other side Montclair will probably face Passaic Tech's ace, senior Jonny Gilligan, who has also thrown 39 innings while striking out 51 and allowing only 10 earned runs for a 1.76 ERA.
Fell likes the cohesion on the team this season. "I think staying calm," Fell said about the key to defeat Passaic Tech. "There are a lot of younger guys, and this is their first time. It's all about having fun. The big worry is to get it into their heads. It's all about playing our game."
To get to the quarter final battle with Passaic Tech, the 2023 Montclair team erased the feelings of 2022 where the Mounties were upset in the first round of the North 1 Group 4 tourney by 16th-seeded Hackensack. The 2023 Montclair baseball team did not want to suffer the same fate.
Montclair won as Fell and junior Eli Rudall-Stulberg kept ninth-seeded Fair Lawn off the scoreboard at Woodman Field in Montclair in the first round of the North 1 Group 4 state tournament.
In the win over Fair Lawn, Rudall-Stulberg went five innings while allowing only two hits and walking one. Fell picked up the save, going two innings, striking out four and only one hit against him.
"I threw a lot of curveballs and sliders and to get it over the plate," Rudall-Stulberg said. "I try to get soft contact. They're (infielders) going to make plays and let them make plays."
In addition to picking up the save, Fell contributed with the bat going 2-for-2 with three RBI and one run scored. In addition, senior first baseman Jonah Hacker added a 2-for-3 day with two runs scored.
Montclair head coach Ron Gavazzi opted to start Rudall-Stulberg instead of Anzaldi with the potential hope of using Anzaldi in the state sectional quarterfinals and the semifinals.
Coming into the game, Fair Lawn pitcher Zach Taylor had allowed only seven earned runs in 51 innings pitched while striking out 80.
Offensively, Montclair got enough runs in the early innings against Fair Lawn ace southpaw Zach Taylor as senior first baseman Jonah Hacker had two runs scored.
With Rudall-Stulberg allowing only three base runners, the Cutters were able to take a 2-0 lead heading into the bottom of the sixth inning. In addition Rudall-Stulberg picked off two Cutters runners at first as they went by the scouting report that Fair Lawn was aggressive on the base paths.
The Mounties ended up sending Taylor to the showers as they connected for six runs and five hits in the bottom of the sixth inning. Fell had a two-RBI single that handed Montclair a 4-0 lead. Then Mounties junior Jesse Blau stroked a hit down the left field line for a double and handed Montclair a 6-0 advantage.
Mounties junior Mack Mathisen got a base hit and a Fair Lawn throwing error scored a pair of runs that finished off the Cutters with an 8-0 lead in the bottom of the sixth inning.