Baseball wins first round matchup

By Frankie Rizzo, Sports Editor

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The West Essex Knights Varsity Baseball team defeated the Teaneck Highwaymen in the first round of the NJSIAA North Jersey Section 1 Group 3 State Tournament on Monday, May 21 by a score of 6-1.

The scoring opened up in the 1st inning, when the Knights put up two runs thanks to a RBI triple from senior Max Ruvo and sacrifice bunt by freshman Vin Panzarino. In the 3rd inning, senior Ben Ruvo scored off an overthrow from the catcher to make the score 3-0 Knights. Later in the 5th, Panzarino would score again, hitting a 2 run homer, sending Max Ruvo and himself home. Senior Matt Cesare later would add to the score, hitting a double and eventually stealing home. Team captain Ian McLaughlin was the winning pitcher, striking out eight batters and allowing only two hits.

The next game in the tournament will be against Wayne Hills on Thursday at 4 p.m. on the varsity field, where the Knights will try and advance to the State Semifinals.

Behind the Byline
Frankie Rizzo, Sports Editor
Even though the varsity baseball team faced a heartbreaking loss in the semi-final of the NJSIAA North Jersey Section 1 Group 3 State Tournament to Pascack Valley on May 29, they still exceeded its season’s expectations.

The team finished the year with a record of 20-2, going 13-0 in the SEC Liberty conference to win for the first time since 2010. Their notable games include a 10-0 victory against a state ranked Millburn team and 4-2 win over Caldwell.

“Millburn and Caldwell definitely were highlights this season,” Coach Johnson said. “Strong play from all of our players plus the team chemistry are what really got us these impressive wins.”

Even with these big wins, the team never let their success get to their head. The whole season, the team lived to the same motto day in and day out: “stick to the process.”  

“You just stick to the process and keep doing what you doing,” Johnson said. “You prepare the same way and stick with your philosophy and you just keep going.”

This season was led by a strong group of seniors, most notably captain Ian McLaughlin. McLaughlin, a three year varsity starter with 70 career hits, was this year’s sole captain, but did not fail to mention that he was not the only true leader.

“All seven of us seniors worked really well together this season,” McLaughlin said. “I feel like I didn’t have that much of an added role as captain. I was just one of the seven seniors.”

Despite the early exit, the Varsity Baseball team raised eyebrows all over the state of New Jersey. With returning players from all three grade levels, plus a new group of freshmen to correspond with them, the team will look to pick up where they left off next season.
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