County High Schools
Hunterdon Central High School
The 2005 season sees several returning seniors who, in the words of Head Coach, Mike Raymond, were “instrumental in the 2004 run” to championships in the Skyland Conference Delaware Division and in the Hunterdon/Warren County Tournament, the latter being Central’s fourth straight title. The Red Devil’s 23-4 record last season enabled them to reach the Central Jersey Group 4 Sectional semifinals, and they hope to improve on that record in 2005.
Playing in the new Delaware West Division of the Skyland Conference, Raymond will, of course, see the old, familiar faces in North Hunterdon, Voorhees, Warren Hills, and Philipsburg. This year Ridge High School joins the festivities as one of the new kids in the Skyland neighborhood.
Speaking of newcomers, Coach Raymond concedes that his team has a sizable group of underclassmen on the ’05 roster, most of whom possess limited experience at the varsity level. Not surprisingly, he plans to rely heavily on seniors Rick Niederhaus, Albie Sanguliano, Eric Fieldlar, and Mike Buckelew to provide much needed stability and leadership. Niederhaus, an All-County/All-Conference first baseman last year, brings a .457 batting average and a school record 49 RBIs to the ’05 campaign.
Sanguliano, an anchor at the hot corner in ’04, moves to shortstop this season where his solid defensive skills will help offset the loss of a potent offense to graduation last year. His .366 batting average as a junior should keep some sting in the hitting lineup as well. Fieldlar, a middle reliever in 2004, will split time at third base and on the mound. His prowess at the plate, according to Coach Raymond, could serve the team well in a designated hitter role. Buckelew, one of several New Jersey Warriors players for Raymond who make up the varsity roster (see HCB Fall 2004, p. 18), starts at second base this season after serving a backup role in ’04. Senior outfielders Sean Gilfoyle and Brendan Bilosi will also see their share of game time and will provide additional stability for the younger players.
With his youth movement vigorously underway, Raymond anticipates a talent level that will sustain Central’s winning tradition. Juniors Dan Aitkens (third base), Andy Fielding (catcher), Kyle Wachter (outfield), and Tom Clarke (outfield) will all make their presence felt. He expresses confidence in the mound corps, consisting of juniors Colin Peare and Will Blackman, both left-handers, along with sophomore righties Kevin Arico and Kevin Toolan.
Where the 2004 team “scored a lot of runs,” Coach Raymond counts, understandably, on his pitchers to “throw strikes” and his defense to “field the ball.” He hopes, obviously, that that combination, together with the timely hitting that has always defined Central baseball, will enable his Red Devils to maintain their position at the top of the heap in county scholastic baseball in 2005.