It is 23 months since Montclair walked off of Doc Goeltz Field in Verona as the latest Greater Newark Tournament champion following a victory over perennial title contender Seton Hall Prep which in the hearts and minds of the Mountie faithful has been way too long a period of time no matter how sweet it is to still be reigning champs.
“We’re excited to be back out there together with a high school season actually happening this year,” said 12th-year Montclair co-head coach Ron Gavazzi, who shares duties with Anthony Genchi in guiding the Mountie diamond squad. “We felt we had a pretty good team last year and we’re anticipating being very competitive throughout this spring as we all hopefully return to a much more normal season for everyone.”
Montclair is also coming off a strong showing in this past July’s Last Dance Tournament which involved hundreds of high school teams from throughout the state. The Mounties, playing as Errico Baseball, under the leadership of Mounties youth travel team coach Pat Errico, defeated Hall Ball/Seton Hall Prep to reach the North Region Round of 16.
Journeying down to TD Bank Ballpark in Bridgewater, Errico Baseball battled eventual Last Dance champion Cougars Baseball/Cranford right to the end before dropping a 13-9 decision to a talented squad from the Union County high school now considered by many to be the No. 1 team in the state as the 2021 scholastic campaign is underway.
Back for another go round for the Mounties in 2021 are a host of talented seniors including a deep pitching staff led by veteran left-hander Jeremy Sachs, who has been a member of the varsity mound corps since his sophomore season, along with fellow senior southpaw Jack Moed, right-hander Laughton Granger, center fielder Brett Janifer, third baseman Jack Burke, versatile outfielder-shortstop-relief pitcher Amar Francis and middle infielder and starting pitcher Sean Brown, who transferred in a year ago from West Orange High School and has yet to play for the Mountie baseball team although he did star for Errico Baseball in last summer’s Last Dance tourney.
Experienced senior Eli Cohen is battling sophomore Ethan Daddabbo, a talented MHS football lineman, for the starting catcher’s job this spring.
While the Mounties appear to be a definite team to watch in the Super Essex Conference American Division this spring, there are plenty of other strong programs to keep an eye on including SHP and Millburn.
“I think there are always teams that emerge every year in the SEC and you definitely can’t take anyone for granted in what is a very good baseball conference,” said Gavazzi. “We feel that we have a strong senior class and if we come ready to play each day and stick to good fundamentals, we’d like to think we can play with anyone we face, but nothing is guaranteed in this great game which requires incredible attention to detail in order to succeed.”
Montclair will open the new season at West Essex in North Caldwell on Monday (April 19) before facing St. Benedict’s Prep in an independent contest on Tuesday in Montclair.
Presently, it’s unclear when the Mounties’ regular home diamond, Woodman Field, will be ready for use since refurbishing of that area of the Woodman complex off of Essex Avenue continues.
Montclair has not played at Woodman since the 2018 season although Gavazzi said he is hopeful that his team will return there early this season.
If Woodman is not ready, the Mounties will temporarily play their home games at Nishuane Field off of Cedar Street on the South end of town.