WEST CALDWELL, NJ — The Caldwell Chiefs’ home baseball opener on April 3 against the Montclair Mounties at the JCHS Lower Field concluded in a 9-1 loss.
Caldwell was riding high going into its first home game, coming off a 16-4 victory over Belleville last weekend.
On the mound for the Chiefs was junior Bryce Bayard, who lasted four innings. To open up the bottom half of the first inning for Caldwell, Danny Cavallo pop flied in between second base and right field, in which right fielder for the Mounties came up with a prolific diving catch to close the inning.
The Mounties’ scoring production in the third made up for the mediocre second inning for both sides. Second baseman for the Chiefs, Frank DeMunno, allowed a ground ball to fly by him, leaving a man on first for the Mounties.
Soon after, the baserunner advanced to second following a failed pickoff attempt by Caldwell’s Bryce Bayard. With one out and a runner on second, a scoring opportunity was in Montclair’s sights.
A ground ball directly at the feet of Bryce Bayard led to a throwout at third, eliminating the lead runner, but the batter swiftly reached first. The first run of the game was awarded to Montclair after a two-run dinger soared over both the right and left fielders. By the end of the third inning, Montclair was up on the Chiefs by a score of 2-0.
To kick off the fourth inning, the Mounties got a runner on first through a low line drive to right field. Caldwell attempted to complete a double play on the next pitch, but catcher Charlie Fierro overthrew the shortstop, putting runners on first and second.
A risky bunt followed for the Mounties, bringing in the runner from third, with the score favoring the Mounties by 3-0.
Only a few batters passed until the Mounties’ next run. A picture-perfect line drive to left field brought in that run, tallying another run for Montclair. As the fourth inning came to a close, Bayard was in a bit of trouble, throwing a wild pitch and putting runners on second and third on the previous pitch. Bayard walked another runner, juicing the bases before a ground ball closed out the inning.
A new pitcher stepped in for the Mounties in the bottom of the fourth. However, the pitcher would have no time to get into the groove as he immediately walked Caldwell’s Danny Cavallo. The upcoming batter, Jon DeMattheis, hit what seemed like a no-doubter, as it barely sailed over the fence. Although the home run would have given the Chiefs back two runs, the rally was short lived—as further review by the infield umpire, the hit was ruled as a ground-rule double, putting runners at the corners.
Dom Smorra of the Chiefs replaced Bayard on the mound to start the fifth inning, which ended with the Chiefs trailing by seven runs. However, the onslaught dished out by Montclair was not completed, as the Mounties tacked on two more runs before the conclusion of the game.
Caldwell has a chance at home-field redemption Saturday, April 8 at 2 p.m. at the JCHS Lower Field when the Chiefs combat with Cedar Grove.
Justin Kuczborski is a James Caldwell Student Intern