Hun Baseball Enjoys Historic Weekend, Cruising to 4th Straight Prep A Crown
THE RIGHT STUFF: Hun School baseball player Andy Blake fires the ball against Peddie last Saturday in the state Prep A tournament. Post-graduate and Columbia-bound Blake came up big last weekend as Hun defeated Peddie 5-0 on Saturday in a winner’s bracket game and 12-0 a day later to clinch the title in the double-elimination competition. Blake earned a shutout on the mound in the win on Saturday and then chipped in a homer on Sunday. It marked Hun’s fourth straight Prep A title and left the Raiders with a final record of 22-2. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)
By Bill Alden
As it competed in the state Prep A tournament last weekend, the Hun School baseball team wasn’t just playing for a title.
Bringing a 20-2 record into the action on Saturday, Hun was looking to stamp itself as one of the greatest teams in the history of the proud program.
The Raiders achieved both goals, topping Peddie 5-0 on Saturday in a winner’s bracket contest to earn a spot in the final round and then came back on Sunday to rout the Falcons 12-0 in the double-elimination competition to earn the program’s fourth straight Prep A crown.
Having fallen short of the Mercer County Tournament by losing 4-0 to Hopewell Valley in the semifinals, Hun wasn’t going to leave anything to chance as it went for the Prep A four-peat.
“They treated this weekend as a reset, to go back to where we were when we started the season in terms of approach with the addition of everything we have improved on from that point,” said Hun head coach Tom Monfiletto.
“It was not let the disappointment of the county semifinal seep into this weekend at at all. They really didn’t want to leave any doubt.”
Needing one win on Sunday to clinch the title, Monfiletto put things in the hands of his seniors.
“We had seven seniors start that game, it was great to see them take ownership of that,” said Monfiletto.
“Blaney Soper had a great game. Shaan Patel had a big RBIs, Jack Erbeck hit a home run, Andy Blake hit a hone run, McGwire Tuffy had a hit, Danny Melnick got a double. Everybody really played well. We were able to take the lead and build the lead throughout the game.”
The Raiders had been eyeing Prep A dominance for a while. “The last team that had won it besides us was Blair,” said Monfiletto.
“When we won in 2016, we said that we wanted to make a run better than Blair’s. Winning four in a row was crazy, I don’t think that has been done by anyone since I have been with the program either as a player or a coach. With this senior class coming in 2016, we saw that as a possibility. Some of the seniors that were here for four years wanted to finish it off perfect.”
With his squad producing a nearly perfect spring as it posted a sparkling final record of 22-2, Monfiletto believes the 2019 Hun team has staked a claim to being the best in program history.
“I think it is up there, if not the best, because of our schedule,” said Monfiletto
“We played a lot of really good teams on the road and outside of our conference. I think the St Augustine win (8-5 on April 8) was huge. We beat a really good Middletown South team (8-1 on April 17). We beat a really good Somerville team (8-1 on April 25). We swept our MAPL (Mid-Atlantic Prep League) conference, which is never easy to do. We beat a really good Allentown program (10-0 on April 1). We beat Steinert for the second year in a row (2-0 on May 4), which I don’t know if we have done before. We had a lot of firsts this year. At the end of the year, that win against Seton Hall Prep (2-0 on May 3) was one of the highlights of the year.”
While the Raiders boast talented players all over the field, Monfiletto pointed to a special camaraderie as a key ingredient underlying the team’s success.
“They are really tight, they are all really close,” said Monfiletto.
“They are friends with each other, that is something that we have really tried to cultivate over the years. Throughout the year, we do organized and unorganized gatherings with the team, whether it be going to the movies, whether it be bowling, dinners, 3-on-3 basketball tournaments. This team was uniquely close.”
Enjoying being together helped encourage the Raiders to put in extra time to improve their skills.
“The one thing that this team has that was better than any other team that I have been a part of here is an insatiable work ethic,” asserted Monfiletto.
“That starts immediately after the season is over and it really doesn’t stop. It continues over the season and into the offseason. That is something that this group, in particular, took ownership of and really capitalized on.”
In his final message to the team, Monfiletto reminded his players that their dominance didn’t come easy.
“That is what I said to them after the game, I don’t want you to forget about what it took to get to this point, it didn’t just happen overnight,” said Monfiletto.
“Every time you sneak into a hitting facility to get extra swings at night, every time you picked somebody up to go to the field. All of that extra stuff that they did that wasn’t part of our organized plan. A lot of times, it just wasn’t one person.”