As the season came to a close, the baseball team used the motivation it gained from close losses earlier in the season to win two of its last three games. With a 10-15 record, the boys beat both Nottingham High School and Trenton Central High School.
“We lost two tough games. That cost us a chance to make the playoffs,” said Head Coach David Roberts, referring to games against West Windsor-Plainsboro High School North and Pennington High School. The Little Tigers lost to North 7-6 after losing their lead in the seventh and final inning. These two games dropped the Little Tigers from second to third in the Colonial Valley Conference, eliminating them from playoff contention.
According to starting pitcher Alec Silverman ’18, “These losses were close, and very disappointing, but they have given us the experience we need to finish out games.” In both games, the team lost by one run after going into the final inning with the game tied.
Throughout the season, the team was led by its seven seniors, Pat Bischoff ’15, Aidan Bitterman ’15, Ben Danis ’15, Ben Grass ’15, Marquis Henderson ’15, Steve Majeski ’15, and John Reid ’15. On the mound, Danis led the team with 25 strikeouts and was credited with two of the team’s ten wins. Offensively, Majeski tied for the team lead in triples, with three by the end of the season, and also had one of the team’s two home runs. “The older guys really helped us to adjust to the program, and learn the ropes,” Silverman said.
Up-and-coming talent also helped the team win some games, with the freshman class accounting for 33 hits and 18 runs. The team’s two freshman pitchers, Paul Cooke ’18 and Silverman, finished with a total of 18 innings pitched and 19 strikeouts between them. “Cooke really stepped up for us when [Dan] Gross [’17] was injured,” Roberts said. Gross underwent shoulder surgery and was unable to play this season, but he will be returning to the team next year.
As a whole, the team has seen statistical improvements from past seasons, ending with a .330 batting average, compared to last year’s .270 average. With a higher batting average, more runners were getting on base, which helped the Little Tigers increase their total runs from 80 to 130. These higher statistics have helped the team to overcome rivals such as West Windsor-Plainsboro High School North, a team that beat them 11–0 last season. This year the Little Tigers beat North 6–0 early in the season.
The team will not be holding any practices over the summer because of the teacher contract disputes, but most returning players will join summer teams including the NJ Marlins, Gallagher Baseball, and the Hamilton A’s.
Offseason work is also key for athletes on JV who want to advance to varsity. “In the offseason I crosstrain, playing basketball to work on my quickness, and I also lift weights to get stronger for the tryout next year,” said third basemen Mike Frost ’18.
In the future Roberts would like to work on closing out games. “Pennington and [West Windsor-Plainsboro] North were both lost by one run. The key thing for us is to work on closing out tough games. Hopefully [the team] learns from those two games—experiences it and learns.”