MORRISTOWN, NJ - High expectations in March, before the anticipated warm weather and season arrives, have become old hat for the storied Morristown High School baseball program.
For starters, the senior battery of ace pitcher Brennan O’Neill and catcher first baseman David Haberman are both committed to play power conference Division I baseball at Seton Hall University next spring.
O’Neill – who will be hard-pressed top his sparkling 0.95 earned run average from last spring – plays third base when he’s not on the mound, and as a .300 hitter, is a threat with the bat in the middle of the Morristown lineup.
Haberman is arguably the best defensive catcher in the state, as he possesses a rifle for an arm that will leave many a runner in Morris County hesitant to steal on the Colonials this season. A four-year starter, Haberman drove home 21 runs last year and has 52 career hits.
Once you get past fifth year coach Ed Collins’ shining seniors, there is University of Virginia commit Tate Ballestero waiting in the wings. Ballestero – a .333 hitter last year with ten extra base hits, including two home runs – is a utility player that can play various positions in the field as needed.
Despite the talented trio at the top, Collins’ approach as not changed.
"Our goals are set the same way we approach every year,” said Collins. “And those are to win the conference, the MCT and overall Group 4 State Championship.”
The Morris County Tournament is the prize that has avoided Morristown in recent years. While the program has a county-high 14 county crowns, it has been eight years since Brandon Gonnella’s two-hit, fourteen strikeout master piece closed the door on Delbarton, 2-0, in the 2010 MCT final at Freedom Park.
This year’s edition has potential to be one of the most compelling MCT’s in years, as Delbarton, Roxbury, and Randolph all also appeared to have loaded squads as well.
In addition to O’Neill, Morristown returns the rest of its pitching staff from last year as well. Senior lefty Mike Sgaramella, junior Caden Tierney, and sophomore Joe Pucek are all back in the fold to pitch for the Colonials this year.
Pucek often tag-teamed in relief of O’Neill last year, as a way of maximizing production with the controversial new pitch count rules enacted statewide last year.
Pat Montfort – a sophomore who started last year and can also pitch – returns to his starting role in the outfield, where he will join senior Lucas Reidda.
Seniors Ted Smarz and Tucker Addis – both seniors and three-year varsity players – will also fit into the Colonials lineup this spring.
Morristown is set to open its season next Saturday, as they are scheduled to host Old Bridge at 11 AM at Harter Road.