Millburn Baseball Team Ready to Defend its State Championship in 2018; Opens Saturday at Livingston H.S.

Peter Serruto Credits: Guy Kipp
Ben Pampush Credits: Guy Kipp
Oren Abbott Credits: Guy Kipp
Kyle Mazer Credits: Guy Kipp (file photo)

MILLBURN, NJ - The Millburn varsity baseball team won state championships in two of the previous three seasons, and the fact that last year's title was accomplished with a large percentage of juniors and even a couple of freshmen means that the Millers are well-stocked and in a favorable position to make a run at yet another state crown in 2018.

Millburn actually reached the promised land last year despite losing the ace of its pitching staff, Kyle Mazer, to a torn ACL injury sustained in practice in late April. Mazer spent the summer rehabbing and is back on the mound to reassume his perch atop the Millers' potentially deep rotation this spring.

Just over 10 months after beating Hunterdon Central in the Group 4 championship game to cap a 26-5 season, Millburn coach Brian Chapman will have starters back at five of eight positions (excluding pitcher), with Rutgers-bound catcher Peter Serruto, slugging second baseman Ben Pampush, shortstop Peter Gula and a pair of sophomores who started varsity as freshmen--third baseman Ben Chrzanowski and center fielder Ben Sinins (moving over from right field)--all back for another season.

Sign Up for E-News

Mazer's knee injury was a low point in a 2017 season that was otherwise replete with high points. The senior right-hander with a 5-foot-8 frame may not intimidate anybody on the mound, but few batters ever get the best of him. He was 4-0 with a 0.47 ERA in 29 2/3 innings last April.

"Kyle was pitching at a level that was almost freakish last April," Chapman said. "The goal is to get him back to that level. He's been very good, No. 1 worthy this spring. I watched him really handle Jackson Township and then manage Delbarton, a team with a great lineup, in scrimmages. I saw glimpses last Saturday of how Kyle can keep us in a game against anybody we play."

Whether Mazer, returning senior right-handed swingman Alex Byington (who walked only three in 23 innings last season) or any of Millburn's other pitchers is on the mound, they can count on the savvy and unmatched defensive excellence of four-year starting catcher Serruto behind the plate. He caught 65 percent of the runners attempting to steal against him last season.

"Peter's arm is at a different level, it's the thing that separates him the most," Chapman said. "He also brings a real physicality in his presence and blocking back there. He's got enormous, strong hands and grip. Factor in his experience behind the plate, too. He has an impact on the pitching staff, the middle infield, and the third baseman defensively. Peter collaborates and gives input to the coaching staff on pitch calling. He's become an active part of that process. We trust him."

Serruto batted .361 last season and has shown more power at the plate in scrimmages this pre-season.

Pampush, an athletic second baseman with a lethal bat, sported a .420 batting average last year with 14 extra-base hits and 37 runs scored.

"You could wake Ben up on Christmas morning and he'd go out and hit two doubles and make a circus play on the infield," Chapman said. "He went out for football before his junior baseball season and he came back as a bigger, stronger and more confident athlete and hasn't missed a beat since. He's a .400 hitter now. Ben is an incredible athlete--great hands, hits ball to all fields, great instincts. Defensively, he uses his athleticism at the position,with  very quick hands and incredibly good range with his lateral foot speed."

Gula, who batted .303 with 30 runs scored and 12 stolen bases, is Millburn's leadoff hitter and is entering his third season as the team's starting shortstop, where he teams with Pampush for a very strong defensive presence up the middle. Sinins, who batted .296 with 18 RBI, and Chrzanowski, possessed with a powerful arm at third, adapted quickly to the varsity level when thrown into the fire as freshmen. And Chrzanowski looms as a potential game-changer as a power relief pitcher this season.

After the precedent set by Sinins and Chrzanowski last season, Millburn will start another freshman this season--left-handed hitting first baseman Oren Abbott, whose sweet southpaw swing in the middle of the order may help defray the loss of graduated all-time great Richie Schiekofer, who is now playing for the University of Maryland.

With senior Matt Knowles out four to six weeks with a fractured wrist, Millburn's outfield now will have junior Jake Panzer in right and senior Eric Von Bevern in left, with senior Nick Santagata and junior Evan Molka slated to see time in the outfield, too.

In addition to Mazer and Byington, who are each possessed with pinpoint control and extraordinary ability to pitch under pressure, and the hard-throwing Chrzanowski, the Millers' pitching staff will consist of smooth, strike-throwing junior lefty Ty Adelman, senior right-hander Ryan Wenslau, Jordan Brochin, Panzer, Molka and junior right-hander Kyle Yih. Abbott could also get innings on the hill, as well.

"My goal with the pitching staff is to have four starters and four primary relievers," Chapman said. Last year, Millburn had a 1.92 staff earned-run average.

The Millers open the season at 11 a.m. Saturday at Livingston. The first showdown with defending Greater Newark Tournament champion Seton Hall Prep is next Friday, April 6. And Millburn christens its renovated home field with new dugouts and fresh sod (but still no outfield fence) in the Phil Krug Memorial Game next Saturday, April 7 at 11 a.m. when Rutgers Prep visits. A three-game road trip to Myrtle Beach, S.C. follows from April 9-12.



TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Millburn/Short Hills

Millburn Recreation Accepting Memberships for Pool, Tennis and Golf

February 19, 2018

MILLBURN, NJ - The Millburn Township Recreation Department announced that it is accepting memberships for the township pool, tennis and golf facilities. The memberships are available to all Millburn Township residents and the applications are available online.

The membership application can be accessed at or go ...

Millburn Police Department Investigating Pair of Residential Burglaries

April 3, 2018

On March 28, 2018 Millburn Police Officer Goldfarb responded to the Union Police Department on a warrant arrest. Robert Kopik, age 41 of Springfield, was placed under arrest on an outstanding criminal warrant and remanded to the Essex County Correctional Facility.

On March 28, 2018 Millburn Police Officer Hunt responded to a Quaker Road residence on a residential burglary. The resident reports ...

Letter to the Editor: New Jersey’s Out-of-Network Bill is a Huge Blow to the Middle-Class

April 8, 2018

As Trenton currently looks to balance the budget, once again it’s our state’s hardest working citizens who will be left holding the bag. This time, though, it will be the hardworking office and ancillary staff from our small business private medical practices.  A bill called “The Out-of-Network Consumer Protection Bill” A-2039/S-485 looks poised to make ...

Upcoming Events


Tue, April 24, 6:00 PM

The Venetian , Garfield

Prepared. For Life Dinner with Captain Mark Kelly



Tue, April 24, 7:00 PM

New Providence High School, New Providence

Parent Wellness Series: College Admission Does ...


Tue, April 24, 7:00 PM

Millburn Free Public Library, Millburn

Lenore Raphael Presents Ellington and More at ...

Arts & Entertainment


Wed, April 25, 2:00 PM

Millburn Free Public Library, Millburn

Pierre-August Renoir: The Joys of Life at ...

Cardinal Tobin to Speak at B’nai Jeshurun

April 23, 2018

Congregation B’nai Jeshurun, Short Hills, will welcome Cardinal Joseph Tobin on Wednesday, May 2nd at 7:00 pm.  Cardinal Tobin currently serves at the head of the Archdiocese of Newark. Members of the community are invited to hear Cardinal Tobin speak about how Pope Francis is forging a culture of encounter by renewing the dialogue between Christians and Jews.  In the pope’s ...

Middle School Presents Shrek the Musical, April 27-29

Middle School presents Shrek the Musical, April 27-29

The Millburn Middle School Spring Musical, Shrek the Musical, will be held on Friday, April 27th and Saturday, April 28th at 7 p.m.  A Sunday matinee will be presented at 1 p.m. on April 29th.

Shrek the Musical opened on Broadway in December 2008. It is based on the DreamWorks Animation’s film Shrek and William Steig’s ...

Millburn Road Closures for April 20

MILLBURN, NJ - Parsonage Hill Road closed between Long Hill Drive and White Oak Ridge Road until approx 4:00pm Officers working

Troy Drive closed to all traffic between Lawrence Drive and Troy Lane until approx 4:00pm Officers working

Old Short Hills Road has a changed traffic pattern between Silver Spring Road and Dorison Drive no closures expect possible delays until approx 4:00pm ...