SCOTCH PLAINS/FANWOOD, NJ — What a week for Raiders Baseball! For the first time since 2009, they won the Union County championship. Next they welcomed home the only Major League player that Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School has ever produced. Then, they were victorious in the first game of the NJSIAA State Tournament. For this incredible sequence, the Scotch Plains-Fanwood varsity baseball team merits the nod as Joint Motion Physical Therapy Athletes of the Week.
Scotch Plains-Fanwood defeated Arthur L. Johnson (Clark, NJ), 4-0, at Kean University to claim its first County title since 2009 and third overall.
“These guys earned every bit of it,” said Raiders head coach Joe Higgins, who won his first County title in his fifth year at the helm. “They competed down to the last strike. Johnny Ramos, I remember that first game of the tournament, getting that hit [down to his final strike]. You never know when you’re gonna get back here like this, so you really got to appreciate this. It’s been 10 years since we won the last one, so these guys really need to enjoy this, because you never know.”
"We have to appreciate the accomplishment. There have been lots of very good teams who haven't won a County tournament or reached a final," said Coach Higgins, who came close two years ago. "It's hard to say whether it's really sunken in because we are trying to stay focus on what lies ahead."
Saturday was a special day as the Raiders welcomed home former Major League All-Star Jeffrey Hammonds to retire his number. Hammonds, who is currently employed by the Players Association, told his successors at Scotch Plains-Fanwood varsity field: "Play and compete. It will be somebody different every day."
On Monday, Tyler Stines got the Raiders on the board, breaking a scoreless tie, and opened the floodwaters as the Raiders pounded their way to a 10-2 victory over Columbia HS in the first round of the NJSIAA North Jersey, Section 2, Group 4 Tournament.
"Stines' RBI single in the fourth was a really important at-bat for us. We had struggled to that point, and it got us to loosen up a bit," Coach Higgins explained. "Columbia is a good team with some good players, and Messeri is a solid pitcher."
Now it is time to make the most of the roster.
"When you get to this point, records and seeds are out the window and you have to be able to have a short-term focus," Coach Higgins added.
The Raiders continue on their quest for a State title when they host J.P. Stevens on Thursday, May 23, in quarterfinal action.
Joint Motion Physical Therapy is located across the street from the Stage House Tavern and shares a free, handicap accessible parking lot with the Scotch Plains Public Library. Joint Motion can be reached for an appointment by phone 908-322-3202, or email email@example.com. You can also learn more at www.facebook.com/JointMotionPT.
Joint Motion Physical Therapy
373 Park Ave.
Scotch Plains, NJ 07076