by Andrew Garda
Key hits by Kyle Miller, Connor McGrath and Danny Banks helped the Montclair High School baseball team overcome an early 4-1 deficit during a cold and rainy day to beat Newark East Side 8-6 on Monday, April 30. That gives the Mounties a three-game win streak as they headed into a battle with Seton Hall Tuesday night and a trip to North Brunswick on Wednesday, when the weather was much better.
“Certainly a crummy day for baseball,” co-head coach Ron Gavazzi said after the win. “It’s not easy to play in, but it’s the same for both teams. And you have to overcome it and control what you can control.”
Early on, control was hard to come by. The wet ball was slipping out of both pitcher’s hands and zipping past the catchers, and balls that might have been easy ones to scoop up in the outfield died in the wet grass.
“I give our kids a lot of credit,” Gavazzi said. “It seemed like early on some things weren’t going our way. We hit a lot of balls hard but right at some guys. They blooped a couple of hits in and before you know it, you’re down 4-1. But they battled back, and we put a couple of big innings together and took control of the game.”
Part of the success came with the arrival of Kevin Zaccareo on the mound. While he allowed several runs, overall when he mixed up his delivery from the regular over-the-top delivery to a side-arm, he proved too much for the East Side hitters.
“I thought Kevin was real good in the middle of the game,” Gavazzi said. “Obviously he came in to a spot when we were down, so his whole job is to throw strikes and keep it here and that’s what he did. I thought at times he was baffling them, which was critical.”
The offense Zaccareo held on for came in the form of two big hits, one from Miller in the fourth inning to tie the game 4-4, and the other by Banks, whose massive two-run double in the fifth was final nail in the coffin for East Side. Add in McGrath’s first inning double to tie the game then at one apiece and it was a day which depending on veterans to get big hits.
The win came on a day when the Mounties had a few extra fans to watch the early parts of the game before the rain and cold became too much, as the team held it’s second annual Youth Day, inviting players from throughout the Montclair baseball community to come by, cheer for their Mounties and eat some pizza.
“Really proud of our baseball community,” Gavazzi said. “They showed as much face as they could, obviously they had a cold day, a rainy day, but our community was here. Recreation, travel ball, the Montclair Bulldogs, the Montclair Junior Mounties. It’s nice for us to all come together.”
Gavazzi added that it is as special for his team as it is for the younger kids.
“Our kids really look forward to playing on this day and playing their best for the young kids.”
The day started off with former travel coaches Mark Janifer and John Burke throwing out the ceremonial first pitch.
After a 12-4 win over Glen Ridge in Saturday’s Greater Newark Tournament preliminary round, the Mounties will hit the road this Saturday, May 5, for a Round of 16 matchup at third-seeded Livingston.