Petrone Provided Spark for Hun Baseball As it Won Prep A Opener After MCT Loss
COMING THROUGH: Hun School baseball player Ben Petrone follows through on a swing in state Prep A tournament action last weekend. Sophomore second baseman Petrone starred at the bat and in the field as Hun rolled to the title, topping Lawrenceville 11-1 in the opening round on Wednesday and topping Peddie 5-0 in Saturday and 12-0 on Sunday to earn its fourth straight crown in the double elimination competition. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)
By Bill Alden
Coming off a disappointing 4-0 loss to Hopewell Valley in the Mercer County Tournament semifinals, the Hun School baseball team was determined to rebound as it hosted Lawrenceville in the opening round of the state Prep A tournament last Wednesday.
“We didn’t play like ourselves on Saturday night,” said Hun sophomore second baseman Ben Petrone.
“We were definitely fired up to get back out here and show how good we really are. We want to prove to everyone that we are one of the top teams in the state.”
But appearing to be suffering a bit of a hangover from the defeat to HoVal, the first-seeded Raiders found themselves knotted in a scoreless tie with fourth-seeded Lawrenceville as the game headed into the fourth inning.
“In the beginning, we were a little sluggish,” said Petrone. “We know how good we are, we know we can pick things up when we need it. We need to get more fired up out of the gate, but we scored runs we needed them and we came through.”
Petrone came though, hitting a single in the bottom of the fourth that moved Shaan Patel to third and then stealing second. Both Patel and Petrone later scored as Hun jumped ahead 2-0 and never looked back on the way to an 11-1 victory.
Batting in the ninth spot in the Hun lineup, Petrone has focused on providing more offense this spring.
“I have been working a lot on it; it has definitely progressed and that has come through, said Petrone, who added a double and went 2-for-3 with two runs scored on the day.
“We work harder than anybody. We hit more than anybody. It was going to come and I guess it came out a little bit this year.”
Hun head coach Tom Monfiletto believes that work is paying off for Petrone.
“Ben had two great swings today,” said Monfiletto.
“He is not your typical nine hole hitter. He has been excellent all year. He is usually great in the gaps. That hit was big; everybody could breathe a sigh of relief. We just needed one to get back into the feel of it and that helped.”
Petrone has been an excellent fielder from the time he arrived at Hun in 2017 after playing one season for Princeton High.
“We work hard on the fielding just like we do at the plate,” said Petrone. “We spend a bunch out time out there. It is a lot of fun turning double plays.”
For Petrone, becoming a member of the Raider program has been a lot of fun.
“I love Hun, I think this team is amazing,” said Petrone, noting that he was plagued by a leg injury in his one season at PHS.
“The guys on it are amazing, we are going to miss these seniors next year. We have a lot of young guys coming through so I think we will be fine. It is one of the best decisions I have ever made, definitely.”
In Petrone’s view, the way the guys have come together has been a key factor in Hun’s success this spring.
“We are all like brothers out there,” said Petrone. “It is not like a team, it is really like a brotherhood. We are together all of the time. We go out to dinner. We don’t really take any days off, even in the winter. We are working all fall, all summer. We have 8 a.m. lifts in the summer.”
That daily diligence helped lift Hun to the Prep A title as it closed the deal, topping Peddie 5-0 in Saturday and 12-0 on Sunday to wrap up the title in the double elimination competition and end the spring with a 22-2 record.
“We have 20 wins right now,” said Petrone, looking ahead to the weekend. “To get those two more this weekend would feel great, to bounce back from a tough Saturday.”