When the Hudson Catholic baseball team lost in the second round of the Ed “Faa” Ford Memorial Baseball Tournament to Kearny a few weeks ago, head coach Alberto Vasquez knew that his team had to shift gears.
“We knew we shouldn’t have lost that game,” Vasquez said. “They scored five runs on swinging bunts in the infield. I told them that there was nothing we could have done better and that we had to get ready for the states.”
Meaning the NJSIAA Non-Public B state tourney. In the coach’s mind, the Hawks had the makings of a possible title contender.
“They knew it too,” said Vasquez, the former Hudson Catholic and Rutgers University catcher who is in his fourth season coaching his alma mater. “It was motivation for them. They knew they wanted to win the county. They were upset with themselves and wanted a chance to get back out there.”
The Hawks geared up for the state tourney with a solid 4-1 win over state-ranked Ridge.
“We played with a little more maturity,” Vasquez said. “We knew that we were going to face better competition in the states and have stepped it up ever since. They changed their focus a little more. This was their chance to do something great.”
Vasquez said that his seniors took charge at the right time.
“These were all my kids,” Vasquez said. “They were freshmen when I took over four years ago.”
The Hawks defeated Newark Academy, 4-0, behind the pitching of senior Brandon Pilovsky, the team’s ace. Pilovsky scattered five hits and struck out nine.
They then defeated Montclair Kimberley Academy, 5-4, in the sectional semifinals, behind sophomore lefty Michael Kiel, who emerged as the team’s No. 2 pitcher late in the season.
“I have a lot of confidence in him now,” Vasquez said of Kiel. “He didn’t pitch that much earlier in the season, but he’s come on over the last few weeks.”
The Hawks then took on another state-ranked team in St. Mary’s of Rutherford, the No. 7-ranked team in New Jersey with a 23-6 record.
“I like my chances with Brandon on the mound,” Vasquez said before facing St. Mary’s. “I think we can beat anyone with Brandon on the mound.”
The Hawks, playing in their first-ever sectional finale, took an 8-0 lead early against St. Mary’s when the rains came. Luckily, the game was played on an artificial turf surface in Lyndhurst, so when deluge stopped, the game was able to resume. On a dirt field, the 8-0 lead would have been lost to the weather.
The Hawks then held on to a 10-2 upset victory, giving the school its first-ever NJSIAA state sectional title in baseball.
“It’s good to see,” Vasquez said. “We have been doing well in basketball. For us to win the sectional final is great. Everyone is talking about it in the school. People are coming up to me and congratulating me. It’s a lot of fun.”
The Hawks have been getting a lot of timely hitting from senior first baseman Michael Albunia, who is a first-year starter after spending three years in the program. Senior centerfielder Mike Simone is also delivering clutch hitting, returning to action after back surgery after the football season.
Senior Chris Garcia hasn’t been able to pitch for the last month due to arm problems, but has still been contributing as the team’s designated hitter. Matt Falotico has been solid as a shortstop and sophomore McCall Trice has slid in nicely at second base since Garcia’s injury.
The Hawks will now head to Toms River this weekend to take on Rutgers Prep for the overall Non-Public B state championship.
“There’s definitely a sense of pride with our guys that we’re still playing,” Vasquez said. “We’re happy about that.”
And making history in the process…
Former St. Peter’s Prep football standout Will Hill has burned his bridges.
The New York Giants officially waived Hill Tuesday, after the NFL determined that Hill failed his third drug test in as many years and was slated to be suspended for the first six games of the 2014 season.
Once Hill received his penalty from the league, the Giants acted quickly and sent Hill, their starting free safety at the end of last season, packing.
Hill was arguably the Giants’ best defensive player last season, collecting 77 tackles and two interceptions, one returned for a touchdown against the Detroit Lions. He stood to receive a huge contract at the end of the upcoming season, but blew it all up in smoke.
Hill allegedly told NFL physicians that he tested positive for marijuana a second time because he inhaled second-hand smoke. However, the doctors said that he could not have tested positive for marijuana through second-hand smoke.
The Giants supported Hill through his first two drug offenses and in fact, paid for his rehab stint in Boston and outpatient treatment in New Jersey, but warned him that he would not get a third chance. Hill did participate in the team’s off season activities last week, but that was before the league made its ruling.
No team claimed Hill on waivers after he was released, so his pro career seems to be in major doubt, unless another team is willing to take a chance. That apparently seems unlikely…
West New York native Frank Cumiskey, who died in 2005, is one of 10 noted sports figures nominated this year for the New Jersey Hall of Fame.
Cumiskey was perhaps the most influential gymnast in the United States throughout the 1930s and 40s and later became a prominent coach, official and author.
During his competitive days, Cumiskey won an unfathomable total of 24 national championships and was a member of three U. S. Olympic teams over a 16-year period. He undoubtedly would have been on five Olympic teams if World War II had not forced cancellation of the 1940 and 1944 Olympics.
After retiring from competition, Cumiskey was the long-time coach of the Swiss Turners of Hudson County, guiding that historic team to an incredible 17 national team titles.
In 2000, Sports Illustrated named Cumiskey among the top 50 greatest sports figures to ever come out of New Jersey, rating him No. 33.
Cumiskey appears on the ballot of prospective New Jersey Hall of Famers with people like figure skater Dick Button, former Heisman Trophy winner Angelo Bertelli and legendary
football coach Amos Alonzo Stagg.
To see the full list and vote for the Hall of Fame, log on to http://njhalloffame.org/2014-nominees…
St. Anthony High School’s Roast of Phil Simms still has tickets available. The legendary Giants Super Bowl MVP quarterback has agreed to be roasted at the Casino in the Park in Jersey City by former teammates Brad Benson, Jim Burt, Howard Cross, Bart Oates, Phil McConkey and special guest, Hall of Fame head coach Bill Parcells.
The roast will take place Thursday, June 12 at 7 p.m. For more information, call St. Anthony at (201) 653-5739…–Jim Hague
Jim Hague can be reached at OGSMAR@aol.com.