Union County News

Senior-Laden Scotch Plains-Fanwood Baseball Team Armed for Another Big Season

Timmy Geissel Credits: John Mooney
Credits: Guy Kipp
Peter Yarem Credits: John Mooney
Credits: Guy Kipp
Matt Fox Credits: John Mooney
Sam Schetelich Credits: John Mooney
Danny Wilkinson Credits: John Mooney
George Mueller
Colin McAlindon Credits: John Mooney
Jake Canavan Credits: John Mooney
Marc Occhipinti Credits: John Mooney
SPFHS Coach Joe Higgins Credits: John Mooney

SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ — With only two position players having graduated from a team that reached the Union County Tournament championship game last year, the Scotch Plains-Fanwood varsity baseball team will open the 2017 season Monday at home against Westfield with a roster laden with experience.

The Raiders have 12 seniors back, and they can start a player at all nine positions who played that spot for the varsity a year ago, when SP-F was 17-12 and lost to Gov. Livingston of Berkeley Heights in the UCT final. The Raiders also fell to GL in the league final during the 2016 summer season.

In addition to a wealth of experience on the diamond and up and down the batting order, head coach Joe Higgins also has an uncommonly deep pitching staff at his disposal.

Sign Up for E-News

Senior first baseman Matt Fox led the Raiders with a .388 batting average and 19 RBI. The rest of the Raiders' starting infield also batted over .300, with shortstop Peter Warren hitting .354 with three home runs, junior second  baseman Sam Schetelich batting .328 as a sophomore, and senior third baseman George Mueller batting .311 with seven extra-base hits. In addition to a quartet of reliable bats, the starting infield excels defensively. That defensive prowess also extends to behind the plate, where senior Peter Yarem is an exceptional defender with a world-class throwing arm who regularly cuts off an opponents' running game.

Scotch Plains-Fanwood also boasts ample speed in the outfield, with swift leadoff hitter Jake Canavan, the center fielder, who batted .333, a larcenous base stealer who swiped 15 bags in as many attempts as a junior. Canavan will be flanked by Colin McAlindin in right and either Matt Newman or Spencer Vaughn in left. Patrick Downey, another fleet runner, is a junior who can play a number of outfield or infield spots.

The Raiders will miss junior Anthony DiNizo, a catcher/outfielder who delivered some big hits as a sophomore but who will miss the season recovering from a knee injury.

The ace of a deep pitching staff is left-hander Tim Geissel, who will get the ball in the opener against Westfield after going 5-2 with a 2.56 earned-run average and just 10 walks in 43 innings as a junior. Geissel's fastball can ascend to the mid-80s, and he has plenty of experience pitching in big games by now.

Another left-hander who may figure heavily in the pitching rotation is Danny Wilkinson, a hard thrower who pitched 24 2/3 innings on the varsity as a ninth-grader and struck out 26. Wilkinson is one of two sophomores who could see a lot of innings on the mound this season, along with right-hander Tom Laucik, who led the SP-F junior varsity in innings pitched last season.

Right-handers Marc Occhipinti (1-1, 1.91 ERA in 2016), a senior, and juniors Nick McCormack and Matt Kipp could also see significant mound time. Kipp walked just three batters in 23 innings during the summer after ranking second on the JV in innings pitched last spring. Both he and McCormack, a big right-hander with a live fastball who impressed in a brief late-season varsity stint in 2016, were unscored upon in the pre-season this spring.

Higgins can also call upon big senior righty Ryan Yawger, curve-balling senior Charles Butler and crafty left-handed junior Derek Cappadoccia out of the bullpen.

While the Raiders have the experience and depth to be in the thick of the hunt for another run at a Union County title, their primary foes — Gov. Livingston, Westfield, Cranford and Elizabeth — remain well-stocked themselves.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News


Union Man Sentenced to 25 Years for Fatally Stabbing Father

March 19, 2018

UNION, NJ – The Union man accused of stabbing his father to death and setting the home on fire last May has been sentenced to 25 years in state prison, announced acting Union County Prosecutor Michael A. Monahan on Monday.

Jeffrey Adams, 21, must serve at least 85 percent of that term before the possibility of parole, in accordance with New Jersey’s No Early Release Act, under the ...

Mayor Brindle’s Update, Feb. 13

March 14, 2018

The following are highlights from the update that Mayor Shelley Brindle gave at Tuesday night’s town council meeting.

Last week’s back to back nor’easters left a wave of destruction that Westfield hasn’t experienced since Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Three thousand homes lost power. Over 40 roads were closed due to downed wires and/or trees. Our police responded to ...

Upcoming Events


Fri, March 23, 12:00 PM

Resolve, Scotch Plains

Free Teen Anxiety Group (Ages 14-17) at Resolve

Sat, March 24, 10:00 AM

Burent Middle School , Union

Union County Wide - March for Our Lives

Government Law & Justice


Sun, March 25, 11:00 AM

Shackamaxon Country Club, Scotch Plains

Hear Our Voices: MemoryCare Plays

Health & Wellness

Westfield Police Blotter: DWI, Reported Fraud & More

March 14, 2018

March 7, 2018 2:06 a.m.

Carlos C. Mendoza, age 33, of Garwood, NJ, was arrested on the strength of three Westfield Municipal Court warrants ($750) pursuant to a traffic stop in the area of South Avenue in Scotch Plains. Subject was transported to Westfield Police HQ where he was processed and refused after posting bail.


March 9, 2018 2:09 p.m.

A resident of Sandra Circle ...

Christopher Dean Band to Play at Westfield Memorial Library

March 19, 2018

The Christopher Dean Band will play at the Westfield Memorial Library on Wednesday, April 4 at 7:00 p.m. The library is located at 550 East Broad Street.

The Christopher Dean Band is a regional blues/soul band based out of the Central New Jersey area, working up and down the East coast year round. Christopher Dean fronts the group, playing guitar and singing lead vocals.

Dean, who was ...

Gratitude Goes to the Girls! Mindful Monday Series - # 1

March 19, 2018

I am thrilled to launch our first edition of "Mindful Mondays" today!  Why Mindful Mondays? After several years of working with individuals in a variety of settings, many have asked me: "What's all this mindfulness about anyway?"  I often respond with, "It's different for everyone," but in general I begin with this definition ...

16 Homes Sold Last Week in Westfield, Scotch Plains, Fanwood, Mountainside & Cranford

Sixteen homes sold last week, March 11 to March 18, 2018, in Westfield, Scotch Plains, Fanwood, Mountainside and Cranford:*


TOWN        ADDRESS                  STYLE           RMS    ...

Charitable Spirit Alive and Well in Westfield Public Schools

Students, staff and parents in Westfield Public Schools continue the district’s long tradition of helping others both in and outside of the community, with a number of students recently recognized for their efforts.

Fifteen Westfield High School juniors and sophomores were honored by the Community Food Bank of New Jersey for collecting more than 5,000 pounds of food items for families in ...


AtlantiCast: Episode 13

On this episode of AtlantiCast, new clinical studies in the fields of cardiology and immunotherapy, national and statewide recognitions for Atlantic Health System medical centers and the inaugural AtlantiCast Collab Challenge!


The Day After

Some years ago, the United Nations held the International Summit on Sustainable Development, here in Johannesburg. The Summit was a great success. One wonders, though, whether all the wonderful decisions and resolutions that were adopted were ever implemented. In other words, were they themselves sustainable?

Good ideas and worthwhile projects are suggested regularly. The question is, do they ...

'Trying' explores age, youth and points of history in poignant production

‘Trying’ explores youth, age and points of history in poignant production

By Liz Keill

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ – The George Street Playhouse presents an engrossing, two-character play based on the real life of Francis Biddle, former Attorney General.

Biddle, a Harvard educated lawyer, served under Franklin Roosevelt and later Harry Truman during the Nuremberg Tribunal. His ...

Profit from Recent Volatility with Stock Market Bargains

Markets retreated in February, the worst down month in two years. A record surge in volatility caused several ETFs designed as leveraged bets on low volatility to plunge, with at least one being forced to liquidate and hand its investors a near total loss.

The Causes of February’s Market Retreat

The initial catalyst for the sell off was inflation. The January jobs report showed ...


Kathleen Marie Christian (nee Helmstetter), age 73 of Surf City, NJ, passed away peacefully at home ...
Read more

Suspended Hillsborough HS Athletic Director Charged with Theft

March 19, 2018

HILLSBOROUGH, NJ — Suspended Hillsborough High School Athletic Director Michael Fanizzi has been arrested and charged with the theft of $10,704 in athletic event receipts over a four-year period from 2013-2017, according to Somerset County Prosecutor Michael H. Robertson.

Fanizzi, 53, a resident of Conover Way in Hillsborough who had been athletics director for 14 years, had been ...