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Raritan Valley Community College

What a difference a year makes. Last season at this time Head Coach Matt Sommo’s baseball program at Raritan Valley Community College (RVCC) sat in Division 3 looking to improve its record from the season before. This year the goal remains the same, only at the NJCAA Division 2 level instead.

Another difference from last year to 2009 shows in the personnel that Coach Sommo has on his roster.

Corey Towey

Matt Zygmund

Leading the charge into the new season are two returnees from last season, RHP Matt Zygmund and SS Corey Towey, both products of Norm Hewitt’s always tough Hillsborough High School squad. Joining the group are newcomers RHP Ryan Sapp and CF Carlo Romano, both from Bridgewater High School, along with RHP-1B Ben Sanzone, from Pompton Lakes. All five have received partial scholarships, as as a result of RVCC’s new designation as a Division 2 program.

Romano, a catalyst for last year’s Bridgewater-Raritan team, received honors in ‘08 as 1st Team All- Conference, 1st Team All-County, and 3rd Team All-Area for Somerset County. RVCC expects him to fill a big hole at the leadoff position and create a threat on the bases with his speed.

Ryan Sapp

Carlo Romano

Ben Sanzone

Anchoring a solid defense for their second year are C F.X. Brown, 2B Gabe Lazzaro, and RF Albert DeSanto. Of these DeSanto returns with his second straight, Rawlings Gold Glove award in Division 3. OF Nick Samuel, a former ice hockey player at Hunterdon Central High School, rounds out a potent returning squad for the ’09 season.


Gabe Lazzaro

Gold Glove Winner
Albert DeSanto

In appraising his troops for the ’09 season, Coach Sommo beams at what he describes as “the most depth we’ve had since I’ve been here.” He sees “four-to-five legitimate starters” on the mound, with another 7-8 who can throw in relief. Bolstering the pitching corps will enable RVCC to better its 6-20 record from last year, reversing those occasions when “we had a lot of 1-run and 2-run losses and let a lot of leads slip away.”

Zygmund moves from the outfield to the mound where he recorded a 2-0 record last year. His .440 batting average will help on offense as well. “Our defense has always been solid, and we’ll have good hitting again, even though we lost some strong hitters to graduation last year,” Coach Sommo explains. He expects the 2009 squad to equal if not surpass the .300 team batting average that his hitters recorded last year.

National Junior College
Athletic Association

Moving up one division has helped in recruiting good players, because, as a Division 2 program, RVCC may now award a limited number of scholarships. This in turn allows RVCC to engage in fundraising to support the program. In accordance with National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) regulations, the team will share all monies raised with the women’s softball and basketball programs at the college.

RVCC’s first test will come during its annual spring training games, played in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, at the Cal Ripken Experience tournament. There Coach Sommo’s squad will square off against junior college teams from Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Maine.

Coach Sommo hopes that the Cal Ripken tournament will provide his team with a proper springboard for the ’09 season, when they will play a variety of Division 2 and Division 3 teams on their regular schedule. “We will play each D3 team twice during the season, and each D2 team three times.” Among the opposition RVCC will face, the 15th ranked D2 team in preseason from Lackawanna College in Scranton, PA and the Middlesex County College team that ranked as high nationally as 3rd appear on the schedule. “Beating Middlesex in an 11-inning nail-biter last year was a highlight of our season,” as Coach Sommo proudly reflects.

New Jersey Baseball wishes Coach Sommo and his RVCC team the best of luck in Myrtle Beach and for the upcoming collegiate season. With the addition of pitching talent, solid defense, and a potent hitting attack, 2009 looks promising indeed.



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