BY NATALIE GOLDBERG
The baseball team faced off against some of the toughest competition in New Jersey this year on their way to a 17-12 record and wins in the GMC and State tournaments. The season came to an end on June 4 with a 1-7 loss against Jackson Memorial in the Quarterfinals of the State tournament.
On June 1, the Knights headed to the first game of states and gained a 3-0 victory against Rancocas Valley. “First game went great. We honestly went into that game with no nerves,” shared senior Ryan Freel. “We knew we were the better team, and, when Justin Herbstman is the one pitching, we know the other team almost has no shot, so all we have to do is put up a run or two, and that’s exactly what we did.”
Facing challenging teams throughout the season made the wins they earned that much sweeter. According to junior pitcher Justin Herbstman, who held the opposition scoreless in his last three appearances, “One of my accomplishments from this season is going up against the top teams in the state and having a chance to win.”
The Knights’ schedule included games four games against top twenty teams in the state, Seton Hall Prep, Don Bosco Prep, and St. Joseph Metuchen. “It really raises our standards higher than they are playing those teams, so we know that we can play against any team and fight hard and try to get a win,” said senior Christian Krause. The team beat Seton Hall 6-5 and split their two games against St. Joseph.
Although Herbstman’s best outing was his 18-strikeout performance against Union on May 25, he focuses more on the team’s highlights. “I am most proud of the St. Joes win because we battled and everyone played for each other,” said Herbstman.
The team experienced many exciting moments and a variety of highlights during the season. Krause voiced, “One of the greatest highlights of the season … was Ryan Freel stealing home one of our games which really hasn’t been done in a while and changed the shape of the game.”
Junior Kyle McSorley agrees that play had a significant impact. He said, “The game was against JP Stevens, and we lost both games to them last year.” McSorley added, “It was also an important moment in the game because that run later lead to more after he stole home.”
Frank Papeo considers one of the most emotional games of the year a major high point. The highlight of the season for me was our second game against Monroe. Our first game against [Monroe], we had a tough loss on a very special night (Fred Cole Night), and losing on a night like that was something we had to make up for. Going into the next game, we were hungry to get this win.”
The team sealed the win by striking out the final batter who represented the possible tying run. “What made this moment so special, was us as team coming together, battling to the end, and everyone being so engaged in the game for us to get this win after a tough loss,” explained Papeo. “It was great to see how great we could work as a team together.”
The Knights battled their way through an incredible season, earned many victories, and made lasting memories with their teammates.
Posted on 6/16/22
Photos by Tim O’Neill