Featuring Strong Pitching Staff, Potent Batting Order, Hun Baseball Primed to Compete with Big-Time Foes
BIG APPLE: Hun School baseball player Carson Applegate heads to first base in a 2019 contest. Last Monday, junior star Applegate came up big on the mound and with the bat, pitching a perfect game with 12 strikeouts and contributing a double and three RBIs to help Hun defeat Blair Academy 11-0 in a game that ended after five innings due to the 10-run rule. In upcoming action, the Raiders, who moved to 1-1 with the victory, play at the Pennington School on April 12 and Princeton Day School on April 13. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)
By Bill Alden
Although the Hun School baseball team suffered a tough 7-6 loss to LaSalle College High (Pa.) last week in its season opener, Tom Monfiletto saw the setback as a valuable experience for his squad.
“That is the exact atmosphere that we want to expose our players,” said Hun head coach Tom Monfiletto, reflecting on the March 30 contest.
“It was a very loud, electric atmosphere, a really good program, and a really well-coached team. It was a perfect first game to have. Obviously we would have liked to have won. We saw some great things and we saw a lot of things that we really need to work on. We have addressed that stuff this week and we will continue to address it but it was a good one to start the season with. Now we know what these big-time programs are going to look like and how very little room for error we have in those games.”
With the 2020 season having been canceled due to the pandemic, there is a great atmosphere around the Hun squad as it has returned to the diamond.
“The preseason went great, I think everybody was really excited to see each other every single day, that was the fun thing,” said Monfiletto, crediting Hun Co-Athletic Directors Bill Quirk and Tracey Arndt, the school’s health services staff, and his coaching staff of Pat Jones, Steve Garrison, and Rich Volz with putting in yeoman’s efforts to help make the season possible.
“Everybody was chomping at the bit to get back out there again and be together. Everybody was just dealing with the school the way that it is with one day when they are in school and one day when they are at home. They are getting some everyday normalcy. Being able to compete and work hard outside of school is something that everyone is enjoying from our best players to some of the players who are playing for their first year.”
With a gauntlet of tough foes on its schedule, the Raiders will need to compete hard as they look to win the program’s fifth straight state Prep A title.
“We have always had that mentality; every year we try to create the most difficult schedule that we can,” said Monfiletto,
“The hope is that towards the end of the season that we will be playing our best baseball and be battle-tested so we will be in the best shape to win a Prep A championship.”
The Prep A competition, which is slated for late May, is already circled on Monfiletto’s calendar.
“We are hosting this year which is awesome,” said Monfiletto, whose team moved to 1-1 as it defeated the Blair Academy 11-0 last Monday in a game that ended after five innings due to the 10-run rule.
“Having the Prep A championship to look forward to and still having that goal at the end of the season is exciting. I feel like our league is very strong this year.”
Hun boasts a strong pitching staff this spring, featuring junior Ryan DiMaggio, junior Carson Applegate, senior Rickey Erbeck, junior Jackson Kraemer, junior Carson Wehner, junior Brody Pasieka, and post-graduate Trevor Kobryn.
“Our staff is pretty deep, we have Ryan who is coming back is a junior and Carson Applegate who is also a junior; both of those guys started when they were freshmen,” said Monfiletto, who got five perfect innings and 12 strikeouts from Applegate in the victory over Blair.
“Ricky is a senior who pitched a lot of innings for us as a freshman and a sophomore. He will be a starter for us as well. Jackson normally plays centerfield but is also an outstanding pitcher. Carson Wehner will play third base when he doesn’t pitch, he will get some innings on the mound. Brody will get some innings for us. We have a PG, Trevor from Delbarton. He is very good, he is going to Siena next year to play. He is a 6’3, 205-pounder; he throws pretty hard and throws a great curve ball. We are excited to see him.”
At the top of the batting order, Hun will be sparked by the one-two punch of junior Applegate and senior star and Lafayette commit Ben Petrone.
“Carson will lead off for us; on the first pitch of the season, he hit off the fence for a triple, that is what he does,” said Monfiletto of the Kentucky-bound star who had a double and three RBIs against Blair with Petrone going 3-for-4 with two doubles and two RBIs.
“He is aggressive, he is an unbelievable competitor. He is super athletic, he has every tool you could imagine. Ben has been absolutely amazing. He does absolutely everything right. He is an unbelievably complete player. Defensively, he is electric and his bat has been outstanding. He might be the most complete hitter that we have in terms of approach, ability to hit the ball to all fields, and temperament. He is excellent.”
The Raiders feature a number of other excellent bats in the lineup in junior Ben Romano, Erbeck, DiMaggio, Kraemer, sophomore Mike Chiaravallo, and Wehner.
“We have Ben who came in as a sophomore last year from Delbarton,” said Monfiletto.
“He is a football/baseball guy. He is an insane athlete, he is going to Tulane to play baseball. He had a great football season this year. That is a big bat in the middle of the order. Ricky has been swinging the bat really well, DiMaggio can swing it. Jackson will be in the middle of the order. Mike Chiaravallo is a very good hitter as well. Carson Wehner is another lefty bat that rounds out our order.”
Monfiletto is looking for two sophomores to make an impact behind the plate and at the bat.
“We have two guys who will catch for us, sophomores Mike Jolly and Mike Smith, both of them do certain things very well,” said Monfiletto. “They can both hit, they have a very, very bright future.”
The rest of the defensive alignment will include DiMaggio and Erbeck at first base with Petrone and freshman Tyler Tucker at second, Applegate at shortstop with Petrone there depending on who is pitching, and Carson Wehner at third with Tucker also seeing some time in the hot corner. Across the outfield, Hun will have Romano in left, Kraemer in center and Chriavello in right, with freshman Mike Olender also seeing time in that spot.
In addition, Hun has a number of utility players to fill in when necessary.
“We have some other unsung guys who will find ways to contribute,” said Monfiletto.
“Dylan Ridall is a senior who has been with the program for four years and played in the middle school. Greg Riley is another one who was with us in the middle school and has been with us for four years. We have a junior Sam Segal who is an outfielder as well.”
As the Raiders get tested by the formidable foes on their schedule, they will need contributions through the lineup and an even-keeled approach.
“We need to learn from every single game and we have to treat every opponent with the same amount of respect,” said Monfiletto, whose team plays at the Pennington School on April 12 and Princeton Day School on April 13.
“We are going down to Holy Spirit, we are going to St Augustine, we are going up to Bergen Catholic and Seton Hall Prep, we are going up to St Joe’s Metuchen and we are going out to Pope John. They are really, really good programs. I know we are going to compete in those games. We are going to win some of them and some of them might not go our way. As long as we continue to learn and get better from those, we will be in good shape. We can’t let an outcome of a game either way prevent us from taking stuff from that game.”
In Monfiletto’s view, Hun has the pieces in place to produce some good outcomes.
“We definitely have the arms; our approach at the plate is something we constantly continue to learn from,” said Monfiletto.
“It is thinking what is your job during that at-bat and what does the pitcher want to throw. A lot of times you get something that you don’t want. If you get something that you do want, you need to take advantage of it. With some of the arms that we will see, you might only get one of these pitches in an at-bat. Some of these kids are going on to play big-time college baseball, the best way to prepare them is to put them against the best players that we can.”