For the Princeton Day School baseball team, its loss to Pennington in the state Prep B semifinals was a microcosm of a season that saw several near misses.
“We scored four runs to get the lead and then they came back with four runs,” said PDS head coach Ray O’Brien, noting that his team clubbed three straight homers in its rally before ultimately succumbing 7-5. “It was a real good game. I am glad that the kids battled like that.”
The Panthers battled hard throughout the season as they went 9-12. “We had an 8-4 start and everybody was hitting the ball well; from that point everyone went cold at the same time,” said O’Brien, whose team ended the season by losing 7-6 to Lawrenceville in extra innings on May 16.
“We had a lot of tight games that could have gone either way. The 9-12 record was not indicative of how we played. We played a lot of tough people. We had wins over Hill and Peddie. We had a great start and it was a little tougher at the end. If we had had a few more hits here or there, things could have been different.”
O’Brien acknowledged that his team may have gotten fatigued down the stretch.
“We had a lot of talented players but we had limited depth,” said O’Brien. “I think we may have gotten worn down a little bit.”
Two of PDS’s most talented players were sophomores Cole McManimon and Jake Alu. The 6’5 right-hander McManimon emerged as one of the best pitchers in the area, going 6-2 with a 1.94 ERA and 45 strikeouts in 47 innings pitched while the versatile Alu batted .309 and also picked up two wins on the mound.
“Cole McManimon was incredible, he had six of our nine wins,” said O’Brien.
“He is going to be a real stud. Jake Alu moved to shortstop this year and played great there for us. He had another great year at the plate. When he pitched, he did well.”
O’Brien credited his seniors, Rob Colton, B.J. Dudeck, Brad Freid, Alec Jones, Rob Hrabchak, Greg Auerbach, and Ben Weiner, with giving the team some real stability.
“It was a pretty good senior class; Rob Colton and Brad Freid were good character guys,” said O’Brien.
“They caught, they played the outfield, they did anything we asked of them. They were good leaders; they brought a lot to the table besides their numbers. B.J. Dudeck put everything together. He played a great center field and hit .406. It was good to see him go out with a great year.”
There are good things on the horizon for PDS with such returning players as J.P. Radvany, Dom Gasparro, Ford Schneider, and Sam Guarino, in addition to McManimon and Alu.
“I am excited about the guys who are coming back; the pitching can only get better,” said O’Brien, noting that Radvany and Schneider showed promise on the mound in addition to McManimon and Alu. “We have four or five guys coming in; maybe one of them will be a surprise.”