MONTVILLE, NJ - This past weekend was one of great success for Montville, as they advanced from the first and second rounds of the Morris County Tournament. In two tough matchups against teams whom the Mustangs know very well, there would have to be little room for error in order to come out victorious.
Last Friday, in the first round of the tournament, Montville faced off against Madison High School on a cold and rainy day on the turf. On the mound for the Mustangs was senior Stephen Sesko, who started and ended the game with the same intensity that would drive his team to an early victory. Pitching a complete five innings, Sesko was dominant against the Dodgers, allowing only three hits and one earned run. On the other side of the field, the Mustangs had an easy time getting the bats going as they put up a season high 12 runs. Leading the offensive surge were seniors Marc Tsukroff and Patrick Regan, who each had two hits and three RBIs. Montville’s dominance led them to an early exit, defeating Madison 12-1 in a five inning mercy rule victory, sending them to the quarterfinals of the tournament.
The journey continued for the Mustangs, as they traveled to Chatham on Sunday for a premier matchup between two fierce teams looking to advance to semifinals. This game was anything but similar to the win two days prior, as Montville fought tooth and nail every single pitch. On the mound for the Stangs was junior Matt Bettio, who allowed four hits and two runs over seven innings, striking out six and walking zero. Pitching against one of the best lineups in the county is a challenge, but for the junior ace it was just another day at the ballpark.
“I was locating my fastball pretty well, and that just led to the curveball and the change-up,” Bettio said. “Once that comes together, everything starts flowing. You just got to bring the same energy, same location and hopefully the defense makes plays behind you as always.”
Bettio had the game in control for its entirety, and yet another dominating performance on the hill for Montville earned them a spot in the next round.
The bats were a big contribution to the victory once again, with multiple players throughout the lineup earning multiple hits. Zachary Sylvester, Nick Bio, and Sesko all had big days at the plate that led Montville to a well fought win. The game came down to the last inning, with a score of 2-2; enter Tsukroff. The senior first baseman launched a ball to deep left field, scoring the winning run in the seventh. As one of hottest hitters on this stacked lineup, Tsukroff talks about where he gets his confidence and what he can do with it come Saturday: “I’ve been going up to the plate looking to hit a ball hard every time. I’ve been seeing the ball pretty well, and [Matt] Bettio and Joe [DelloStritto] in front of me is good because they’re always on base and I’m always getting the opportunity to hit them in. Come Saturday, we’re going to have a lot of opportunities like that and have a good game.”
Top to bottom, this Mustangs lineup is looking to do some more damage in the later rounds of the tournament.
With two well fought victories this past weekend, it is now time for the Mustangs’ biggest challenge yet. Facing off against the two-seeded Morristown Colonials, Montville has to dig deep to defeat one of their biggest rivals whom they have already lost to earlier this year by a score of 7-1. The game will be played at a neutral site, Delbarton High School, with first pitch slated for 2 p.m. These two teams will look to continue their rivalry on Saturday, May 5 and advance to a game that these players have been dreaming about all year. The Mustangs are looking to advance to the Morris County Championship for the first time since 1992.