Central Leads 2006 All-County Baseball Team
By Lowell M. Snare
Hunterdon Central leads the 2006 Hunterdon County All-County Baseball team with six first-team selections, North Hunterdon with five, Delaware Valley with two and South Hunterdon for the first time in a while with a first-team selection.
The Red Devils of coach Mike Raymond completed a 16-9 season that saw them win the Skyland Conference Delaware West Division title for the third year in a row.
The six Central first-teamers include a pair of power pitchers, one lefty and one righty in senior Will Blackman and junior Kevin Arico; a big power-hitting first baseman in senior Doug Hilgenberg; two slick outfielders in senior Kyle Wachter and sophomore Sean Deegan; and one guy that earned his spot in the first game of the season with a 4-4 game and never stopped hitting in senior DH Grant Harrison.
North Hunterdon is next with five selections for veteran coach Parker Snare’s young Lion team that finished at a disappointing 11-15. Two junior middle infielders in second baseman Alex Oliver and shortstop Drew Geissinger; an outfielder that got in a groove early and never stopped hitting in senior Brian Skocypec; as good a defensive catcher as you’ll find anywhere in senior Mike Melillo; and a junior lefty pitcher that pitched all the big games in Mike Borkowski.
Delaware Valley is represented by senior catcher Chris Ricardo who capped his amazing career for the Terriers of coach Marty White with another big year, and junior third baseman Gary Cooper, the kid with the unlikely name and good bat.
South Hunterdon has a first-teamer in sophomore first baseman/DH/OF Kyle Hart, who made the team as a utility player. Hart led the Eagles with a lofty .544 average, with four doubles and a homer and a team-high 17 RBI..
Will Blackman was the epitome of what a lefty starter should be, with a wicked fastball and a good breaking pitching, plus he knew when to throw them.
Blackman went 6-1 on the year for Hunterdon Central, with his only loss in a 2-0 loss to South Brunswick in the Sectional semifinals. He finished with a 1.39 ERA, and gave up just 10 earned runs all season, fanning 43 and walking just 15.
Kevin Arico was a big right handed power pitcher, and finished the season 3-1 with a stingy ERA of 1.12, with 27 strike outs and just seven walks in 25 innings of work.
"Those two guys were our go-to starters, and they did a super job for us all season," said Central coach Mike Raymond.
Doug Hilgenberg was the big guy in the Central lineup, literally and figuratively, with his big bat knocking out a team-high five homers and driving in 15 runs. Plus he was deft around the bag with a good glove, and much improved footwork.
"Doug came back ready to play, worked at losing some weight, got stronger and had a quicker bat," said his coach. "He had a nice senior season and I think has a good college future ahead of him."
Watchter finished the season with a .333 average, with four doubles and a triple, and knocked in 14 runs. He batted number two in the lineup and drew an amazing 26 walks with a good eye.
Deegan has perhaps the sweetest lefty swing of any player in the county in a long time, and he won a starting job as a sophomore with his ability to put the ball in play. He finished the season with a .328 average, scored 22 runs, had seven doubles, two triples and a homer good for 16 RBI to his credit, and still has two years to get better.
"Wachter, Deegan and Tommy Clarke gave us a very solid outfield, and all three really contributed to our success," said Raymond. "Deegan is one of the best looking sophomore players in the area, and he is going to be a real good one for us next year and the year after."
Harrison was a story all by himself. He got into the first game of the season when a teammate went down with an injury early in the game, finished that win going 4-4 with five RBI, and never stopped producing. He finished as the Devils leading hitter with a .391 average, had six doubles, three triples and led his team in RBI with 26.
"Harrison was a real pleasant surprise for us this year, and really had a super senior season," said his coach. "He is a great kid with a great attitude about baseball, and just loved to play the game. I am so happy for his success."
Senior Brian Skocypec had a super senior season, leading the Lions with a .460 average, with four doubles and three triples. He was second on the team in hits with 29 to Drew Geissinger, and really worked hard to become a solid center fielder.
"Brian filled a gap in the outfield for us, came on as a hitter and really drove the ball with some power," said coach Parker Snare of his senior. "He has a super season and is just coming into his own as a player. He could have a very nice college career."
Alex Oliver and Drew Geissinger were as solid as they could be in the middle of the infield, as the Lions turned some 20 double plays this season. Geissinger led the team in hits with 32, had nine doubles, two triples and drove in 16 runs. He came to the team by way of Georgia as a transfer, and fit right in.
Oliver hit .316, had three doubles, a triple and homer and drove in 13 runs, and was a classy second baseman.
"The nice thing is that both of those guys return for us," said coach Snare. "Oliver was plagued with nagging injuries all season, but still managed to have a nice year. Drew was a nice addition to our team, and I know is going to have a monster senior season for us."
Mike Melillo was perhaps the best defensive catcher that North has ever had, and that says a lot when you look at the long list of outstanding catchers the Lions have produced over the years, including head coach Snare.
He set all the team records in terms of picking guys off base, and throwing guys out attempting to steal. He led the Lions in RBI this season with 33, had three doubles, two triples and a homer, and was robbed of a homer when an umpire said he missed second base after he clubbed a 380-foot shot. He finished with a .298 average.
"Mike is going to be tough to replace," said his coach. "He has been a fixture behind the plate for three seasons, and obviously had a great career for us."
Mike Borkowski finished the season at 4-3, but with a 3.02 ERA and the junior lefty always pitched against the tough teams. He twirled a two-hitter against arch-foe Voorhees and a five-hitter in a win over Piscataway.
"Bork was out ace, and he’s going to be a good one for us as a senior, but had a very solid junior season," said his coach. "He is mixed his pitches well, and hit his spots well, and I am thankful he is back for another season."
Delaware Valley’s Chris Ricardo was another one of those classy catchers, and always had a great bat. He hit a hot .458 for the Terriers of coach Marty White, and drove out four homers to lead his team with 25 RBI.
He was also a solid receiver with a good arm, and solid defensive skills behind the plate according to his coach, and he also stole 16 bases without being thrown out..
"Chris can hit the ball, everyone knows that, but he was also a very solid catcher for us, very solid," said coach White. "I think that is overlooked because he was such an offensive force for us. He has a great career for us, and is going to be missed."
Gary Cooper hit the ball around at a .396 clip, and made the transition from JV to varsity ball as a solid third baseman for the Terriers.
"Gary had a nice season for us in a spot we needed to fill," said his coach. "He made the transition to varsity ball, and got better as the season went on. I am glad he is coming back for us."
For Kyle Hart, the three-sport South Hunterdon athlete had a super season in baseball. He led the team in hits with 25, led the team in runs scored with 11 and in RBI with 17. He smacked four doubles and a homer and at the end of the season he was almost impossible to get out.
The last week of the season he when an amazing 13 for 18 with 11 RBI, and helped his team win two of those final four games. In one of those games he went 3-5 with 8 RBI in a huge 11-3 win over Bound Brook.
"Kyle showed us he is a baseball player, with a good eye at the plate and the ability to put the ball in play," said coach Ron Peterson of the Eagles. "He finished very well, and is going to be nice to have back for the next two seasons."
HONORABLE MENTION - For Hunterdon Central senior catcher Andy Fielding (.328, two homers and 16 RBI), soph infielder Dan Fitzsimmons (.349, two homers and 15 RBI), senior outfielder Tom Clarke (.290 and 11 RBI), junior shortstop Justin Bay (.316 and 12 runs scored) and senior infielder Dan Aitkins (.429 in 12 games) all were honorable mention.
For Delaware Valley it was senior outfielder Mike Miklosey (.306), junior first baseman Brian Alcaide (.345), junior pitcher Gerard Vath (4-3), junior second baseman Jon Flete (.322 and 8 stolen bases) and junior lefty pitcher Mike Newland (4-5) all were honored.
North Hunterdon senior outfielder Scott Mastrioanni (.366 and 17 runs scored), junior outfielder Kevin Boisclair (.333), senior lefty pitcher Brian VanDerveer (3-1), senior third baseman Anthony Albanese (.303 and 10 RBI0 and junior 1B/DH Lenny Racco (.286, 3 home runs and 21 RBI0 all were named honorable mention.
South Hunterdon had junior infielder/pitcher Jacob Stephens (.315 and a homer), frosh infielder Dave Muscatell (.300), soph pitcher Anthony Danese (1-1), and junior catcher Kyle Simoyne were also named to honorable mention.
For Voorhees senior second baseman Brett Szatkowski (.283, two homers and 12 RBI), senior outfielder Derek Pryor (two triples and 10 RBI), soph third baseman Adam Fox (.271 and 8 RBI), soph outfielder Billy Weiss (.302 and a homer) and senior pitcher Jake Piasecki (2-4 with a one-hitter) also were honorable mention.