TASTY TIDBITSPrep looks to defend county title after dream season

Myrlak gets hole-in-one in Houston

The Marauders of St. Peter’s Prep had a baseball season to remember in 2015, tying the school record for victories in a year (26) and returning to the local top of the heap by winning the Ed “Faa” Ford Memorial Hudson County Tournament.
But according to Marauders head coach Pat Laguerre, that’s all in the past.
“It’s a pretty big challenge, because we have a group who don’t understand the experience,” said Laguerre, who led the Marauders to 26 wins and the Hudson County title for the second time in three years. “These kids are in different roles. There’s a transition going on and it takes a little bit of growing time to get used to.”
However, as for being the hunted, the team that every other team in the county is shooting for, Laguerre doesn’t mind.
“I think that’s something we should embrace,” Laguerre said about being the team with the bulls’ eye on its back. “I think the kids should look forward to that part of the challenge. But we have so many young guys that it’s hard to say. I know they’re working hard in practice. I know that it’s going to happen. I just don’t know when.”
Laguerre is hoping that some of the returning players remember what last year’s team did to become champion.
“They have to understand how things came to us and how hard we had to work,” Laguerre said. “How we respond to that challenge will be a big deal.”
The young Marauders are 1-1 to start the new season, having lost to Jesuit Catholic in Florida, 9-0, then came home to defeat Union City, 7-2.
“I think it makes us realize that we’re nowhere near what we were last year,” Laguerre said. “We also may not have a kid like some teams have that can throw hard, but we have a good group of pitchers.”
One of whom is senior left-hander Dylan Connors, who won six games for the Marauders last spring. Connors has already declared his intention to accept an appointment to the United States Military Academy in West Point in the fall.
Connors fired a four-hitter against Union City in his first start of the season.
“He pounds the strike zone,” Laguerre said of Connors. “He’s a tough lefty.”
Sophomore Jack Carey is another talented righty who has already given a verbal commitment to Duke. Carey won four games on the hill last year for the Marauders.
“He’s progressed well over the two years here,” Laguerre said. “He just needs to get experience. Once he does, he’s going to take off. And we need him to do that.”
The Marauders have a slew of other hurlers who will get their chances to pitch, like seniors Nick Cerbone (already committed to Caldwell University), who is coming off Tommy John surgery, senior Brady Marinho, junior Sean Hess and promising junior Paul Cuccinelli, who has had an impressive spring. The staff is all right-handed, except for Connors.
The catcher is senior Colin Powers, who was “groovy, baby, yeah,” last year as a designated hitter, but now moves behind the plate this year. He’s no international man of mystery there, if you catch the drift.
The first baseman is senior Thomas Hojnacki, who has the ability to hit the ball hard, long and far. Whether he can do that consistently is another story.
The second base duties are being shared by two players whose surnames have appeared in these pages hundreds of times before in junior Hans Schundler and sophomore Correl Caddle.
Schundler is the son of former Jersey City Mayor Bret Schundler and Caddle is the younger brother of Corey Caddle, who was the Hudson Reporter Male Athlete of the Year last year, currently playing football at Fordham.
Junior Matt McDermott is the shortstop and junior Justin Yannece is the third baseman.
Senior Jack Gercich is the left fielder, with Cerbone and senior Mike Mitchell sharing time in centerfield and sophomore Mark Schiavo in right. The designated hitter duties will be shared by sophomores Ryan Dorneo and Dom Meleo.
So can the Marauders contend for another go at the county crown?
“I feel like they just need a little more confidence,” Laguerre said. “I’d be comfortable if we had a few more older guys on the roster. I feel we need to lean a little on our pitching, then see how we are going to play.”…
Retired High Tech athletic director Rich Myrlak attended the NCAA Final Four in Houston last week and while he was there, he played a round of golf and had the shot of his life.
Myrlak recorded the first hole-in-one of his golf life, nailing the 120-yard, par-3 with an 8-iron. He even took pictures to record the prestigious moment to prove to his friends back home that the hole-in-one actually took place and not in some video game. – Jim Hague

Jim Hague can be reached at OGSMAR@aol.com.

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