Montclair High School baseball avoids déjà vu in North 1 Group 4 state sectional opener
The 2023 Montclair baseball team did not want to suffer the fate of last season's Mounties squad, which lost in the first round at Woodman Field.
On Monday, May 23, Montclair avoided that outcome as pitchers Eli Rudall-Stulberg, a junior, and Wyatt Fell, a senior, kept ninth-seeded Fair Lawn off the scoreboard in an 8-0 victory for the eighth-seeded Mounties in the North 1 Group 4 state tournament first round.
Last season, the Mounties went into the state tournament as the top seed, but they were knocked out in the first round, 2-1, by 16th-seeded Hackensack.
After this year's first-round victory, Montclair (14-11-2) travels to top-seeded Passaic Tech on Thursday, May 25, at 4 p.m. Passaic Tech (23-3) defeated 16th-seeded North Bergen, 7-0, in the state sectional opener.
The game will be a rematch of the 2021 North 1 Group 4 state semifinal in which the Mounties defeated the Bulldogs, 6-5. Anthony Anzaldi, then a sophomore, threw six innings to get the victory. Montclair went on to win the state section before falling to Middletown South in the Group 4 title game.
In the win over Fair Lawn on May 22, Rudall-Stulberg went five innings while allowing only two hits and one walk. Wyatt Fell picked up the save, going two innings, striking out four and allowing only one hit.
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's head coach, Ron Gavazzi, opted to start Rudall-Stulberg instead of ace lefthander Anthony Anzaldi, now a senior, with the hope of using Anzaldi in the state sectional quarterfinals (Passaic Tech) and the semifinals if the Mounties beat the Bulldogs.
Coming into the game against Montclair, Fair Lawn pitcher Zach Taylor had allowed only seven earned runs in 51 innings pitched while striking out 80.
But in the early going, the Mounties were able to cobble together two runs, both scored by Hacker, to take a 2-0 lead.
While Rudall-Stulberg was keeping Fair Lawn's offense at bay, the Montclair offense came alive in the bottom of the sixth inning as the Mounties scored six runs to take an 8-0 lead.
In the top of the seventh inning, Fell would complete the shutout and send Montclair to the quarterfinals.