FLEMINGTON, N.J. - Morristown right-hander Matt Lopez was unable to pitch in Tuesday's NJSCBA Senior Baseball All-Star Game, but he still made the most of of his night at Diamond Nation.
Sure, Lopez's final time in a Colonial uniform would be spent in the bullpen rather than a pitcher's mound. Instead it was a night for Lopez to reconnect with some of the many friends and rivals created from years of playing the game he loves.
"It's like a great big reunion," said Lopez, who couldn't pitch after throwing more than 60 pitches three days prior in the Group 4 final. "I've known Kevin Brophy since we were in preschool. (Thomas) Githens I played against all four years, Sean Hager I've known all through high school and he's Coach Collins' nephew and one of my good friends now. The whole experience of high school baseball and seeing these kids here achieving all the goals that they have is great."
Lopez was the lone Morristown High product selected for the annual event which takes the state's 100 top seniors and splits them amongst four teams based on geography. Lopez was one of 11 players to represent Morris County as part of the Northwest team which was comprised of players from Morris, Essex, Union and Warren counties.
Sean Hager of Delbarton and Kevin Brophy and Pat Davis of Morristown-Beard were also among the Morris County contingent.
"It feels pretty good to be selected," Lopez said. "All the hard work that you put in in the off-season, all the sweat you put in in the cages and on the mound. It feel great especially to have your coach have enough faith in you to put you in and having a team good enough to help you out and put you here."
Lopez earned his selection following a stellar regular season and postseason, Lopez went 9-2 on the season, highlighted by state tournament wins over West Orange, Ridgewood and North Hunterdon to help send the Colonials to their first sectional title and state final appearance since 2006.
"It was one of the best years I've ever had, on the mound but also in the dugout," said Lopez. "I made friendships and memories that I'll never forget. It was by far my favorite year that I've ever played."
Lopez is currently set to continue his career at Montclair State University, where he will follow in the footsteps of two of his uncles.
"It's a great feeling knowing that I'll be able to continue my baseball career," Lopez said. "It's something that I've loved ever since I was young. I'm excited, both of my uncles played there. It's almost like a family legacy to play there and it's exciting for me, my friends and my family."
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