Montclair High School baseball advances while Montclair Kimberley falls in GNT
The Montclair baseball team shook off the demons of last season in this year's first round of the Greater Newark Tournament.
About 12 months ago, the Mounties were upset in the 2022 GNT in the first round by Barringer. Montclair was one of the top seeds last season in the GNT, which is considered to be the county tournament.
But this season the fourth-seeded Mounties came out strong and defeated 13th-seeded Belleville, 10-0, on Friday, May 5.
Montclair scored three runs in the first inning on Friday and Anthony Anzaldi, Mounties senior southpaw hurler, fired a one-hitter while striking out five Belleville batters to make sure that Montclair would not be upset this season in the county tournament.
"Last year, losing to Barringer in the counties and Hackensack in the states left a bad taste in my mouth," said Anzaldi who also mentioned the defeat in the first round of the state tournament where the Mounties were the top seed and lost to 16th-seeded Hackensack.
Along with Anzaldi the only other full-time starter back this season is sophomore third baseman/pitcher Benjamin St. Pierre, who was 1-for-4 with two runs scored and one RBI in the victory over the Bucs. "We know with Anthony on the mound that we can win if we score runs," St. Pierre said.
Also on Friday, 11th-seeded Montclair Kimberley (7-10) saw one inning do them in at Bloomfield in their GNT first-round contest. The Cougars dropped a 5-3 decision to the sixth-seeded Bengals on May 5 on the road.
Bloomfield scored three runs in the bottom of the fourth inning to put MKA behind 5-3 and the Cougars could never get across home plate the rest of the way. Montclair Kimberley senior Jack Amirata was 2-for-3 on the day including a double.
For Montclair (9-7-1), the opening contest in the GNT provided a much better feeling this year compared to 2022. The Mounties, who were the second seed in 2022, lost 1-0 to 17th-seeded Barringer in the first-round last spring.
With that in mind, the Mounties made sure they would not be shut out on Friday.
Montclair scored three runs in the first inning off Walsh, and they never looked back as the Mounties put the 10-run rule into play in the bottom of the fifth inning.
On the mound, Anzaldi shut down the Belleville bats, going all five innings and allowing only a fifth-inning triple by Belleville’s Jacob Mauricio. "I think we responded well and had a good complete game," Anzaldi said.
Overall, the senior Montclair southpaw was happy with his performance on the mound, but still thought he could do better. "I felt that I pitched real well," said Anzaldi, who added he wasn't entirely pleased with his performance. "I walked too many batters, and I didn't get ahead of the hitters. … Definitely my slider and changeup were working well."
In the batter’s box, three Montclair players registered three hits on the day: junior third baseman Derek Lacey, junior catcher Nate Ullman and freshman shortstop Patrick Van Note. Van Note had three RBI while Lacey added a couple of RBI for the Mounties.
With the victory over Belleville, Montclair hosts fifth-seeded Caldwell on Wednesday, May 10 (4 p.m.), in the GNT quarterfinal contest at Woodman Field. Caldwell shut out 12th-seeded Glen Ridge, 4-0, on May 5. Earlier this season the Mounties took care of the Chiefs, 8-0, on April 17 in a regular-season contest. In that game Anzaldi went six innings, allowed only two hits, and struck out 14.
In terms of Montclair’s next opponent, Anzaldi threw a two-hitter over six innings against Caldwell earlier in the season. He struck out 14 batters. "My fastball and off-speed pitches worked well against them," Anzaldi said.
St. Pierre was 2-for-4 with two RBI against Caldwell in the victory. "We have a really great group of kids and we have been gelling together," he said.
Part of the success for Montclair has been their aggressiveness on the basepaths. This caused Belleville freshman pitcher Sean Walsh to throw constantly to first to keep the Montclair runners at bay. "We knew that we could steal bases," St. Pierre said.
But St. Pierre said that they had the ability to steal more bases. "Our coaches want us to be more aggressive on the basepaths," he said. "We want to force the other team to make the plays."
The aggressiveness showed in the first inning when the Mounties scored two runs on an errant throw to home by Belleville third baseman Crismel Deleon. Van Note scored first, and head coach Ron Gavazzi had pinch runner Mack Mathisen go for home, where he beat the tag.