May 3, 2017

With Erbeck Emerging as a Star Performer, Hun Baseball Poised for Postseason Run

BECK AND CALL: Hun School baseball player Jack Erbeck follows through on a swing in recent action. Last Thursday, sophomore Erbeck starred on the mound and with the bat as Hun defeated the Hill School (Pa.) 4-1. Erbeck went six innings on the mound, striking out seven, allowing four hits, and one run in getting the win. He also added an RBI single to help his cause. Hun, which improved to 7-6 with a 9-2 win over Blair Academy last Saturday, hosts Trenton Catholic on May 3. In addition, the Raiders will be starting play in the Mercer County Tournament where they are seeded 11th and play at sixth-seeded Robbinsville in a first round game on May 6.

Jack Erbeck set the tone on the mound for the Hun School baseball team as it hosted the Hill School (Pa.) last Thursday.

The sophomore right-hander struck out two batters in the top of the first inning as Hill went down 1-2-3.

“It is keeping the hitters off balance with off speed pitches, getting a first pitch strike as much as I can to get ahead of hitters,” said Erbeck, reflecting on his quick start.

After giving up a run in the top of the second, Hun forged ahead with two runs in the bottom of the fourth to take a 2-1 lead.

Buoyed by the rally, Erbeck mowed down the Hill batters, not surrendering another run, ending up with seven strikeouts, and working into the seventh inning.

“That didn’t bother me,” said Erbeck of falling behind 1-0. “People played great defense behind me. I was in a zone. It is a battle when you face hitters, you just have to do your best to get them out.”

Hun added two more runs on the bottom of the fifth, the final tally coming on an Erbeck single, on the way to a 4-1 triumph.

“I really wanted to finish it but I got the job done,” said Erbeck, who was relieved in the seventh inning by Chris Murdock. “I am very happy.”

Having transferred to Hun from Notre Dame last fall, Erbeck is very happy with the move.

“It has been a great experience; I have learned a lot from the coaches, both baseball and education-wise,” said Erbeck.

“The team was very welcoming, the seniors this year have been great. There are a lot of leaders on the team helping us to do the best that we can.”

Hun head coach Tom Monfiletto likes the way Erbeck is applying those lessons.

“Jack has gotten better in each start, which is great,” said Monfiletto. “Today he got ahead of hitters and he did a phenomenal job. His control was great. He didn’t throw his curve ball as much as he has in the past but he used it as effectively as he has all season. We wanted to stretch him and see if he could go the full seven, he was a little bit tired in that last inning. It was a great effort for him.”

The Raiders have been getting a great effort on a consistent basis from sophomore second baseman McGwire Tuffy, who manufactured Hun’s first run through his hustle and made a diving grab of a fly in the fourth inning worthy of an ESPN SportsCenter Top 10 play.

“I can’t say enough about McGwire, when you think about your prototypical player who cares more about this than anything in the world and about his teammates and will do anything for his teammates to make sure we win the game, it is him,” said Monfiletto.

“He has been great all season. He started off slow offensively. He has always been our best defensive player and now everything is starting to come together.”

Freshman shortstop Sammy Ruta has been coming on since he got a chance to play.

“He had a great game at shortstop; he started on JV this year,” said Monfiletto.

“Mike Pedota hurt his back a little bit against PDS so he was out for a couple of weeks. It gave Sam the opportunity to play shortstop and he has run with it. He is fearless, he plays well beyond his years, at the plate he is very comfortable. He is excellent.”

The Raiders are comfortable with second baseman Chris Pontrella hitting at the top of the order.

“Pontrella had a couple of nice hits today; he attacks the ball,” said Monfiletto.

“We love having him in that leadoff spot even though he is not the fastest. When you are facing someone that you know is going to attack the ball as a pitcher you might get a little bit tentative after that.”

Hun has been getting some aggressive play from senior catcher Ryan Strype, who delivered an RBI single in the fifth against Hill and was in charge behind the plate.

“Strype has been excellent, he is one of our two captains,” said Monfiletto, noting that senior Matt Moore is the team’s other captain.

“You tell him to do something and he does it and he does it well. He has done a great job taking control behind the plate.”

Monfiletto believes that the Raiders can do some great things in the postseason.

“I think we can make a run,” said Monfiletto, whose squad improved to 7-6 with a 9-2 win over Blair Academy last Saturday and starts play in the Mercer County Tournament where they are seeded 11th and play at sixth-seeded Robbinsville in a first round game on May 6.

“I would love to see us put two excellent offensive days together, that would be great. We have put together some defensive games, we have put together some pitching performances one after another but I would love to see us break the bats out and get that going. Everybody else is going to start hitting the ball much better at this point.”

In Erbeck’s view, Hun needs to play sharper to put things together down the stretch.

“Learning from our mistakes is very big for us and keeping the ball in play as a hitter,” said Erbeck.

“Energy is one key; we can’t let teams get ahead of us in the first few innings. We have to keep our focus the whole game.”