April 25, 2018

With Junior Star Tuffy Serving as Catalyst, Hun Baseball Piling Up Runs in Starting 6-4

TOUGHING IT OUT: Hun School baseball player McGwire Tuffy takes a big swing in recent action. Last Thursday, junior shortstop and co-captain Tuffy went 3-for-3 with a double, triple, three runs scored, and an RBI as Hun defeated Lawrenceville 8-3. In upcoming action, the Raiders, who dropped a doubleheader to the Mercersburg Academy (Pa.) last Saturday to fall to 6-4, play at the Hill School (Pa.) on April 25, host Blair on April 28, and then play Trenton Catholic that evening at Veterans Park in Hamilton, and then host Hill on April 30 and Peddie on May 1. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

As the leadoff hitter for the Hun School baseball team, McGwire Tuffy prides himself on being a catalyst for the Raiders.

“I love it,” said junior shortstop Tuffy, in reflecting on being at the top of the order. “I love getting on. I love stealing.”

Last Thursday against visiting Lawrenceville, Tuffy didn’t waste any time providing a spark with the Raiders trailing 1-0, slamming a triple to right field on the first pitch Hun saw from the Big Red.

“I was just trying to get the team going early, provide some energy early and put one up on the board,” said Tuffy, who later scored to make it a 1-1 contest.

After going ahead 3-1, Hun found itself in a tie game when Lawrenceville scored two runs in the top of the sixth as the teams played through a downpour. The Raiders, though, stormed back in the bottom of the frame, scoring five runs.

“We just came together and strung hits together, it was a good job,” said Tuffy. “It was a team effort.”

Tuffy delivered a key hit in the rally, slicing a run-scoring double into the left field corner to put the Raiders up 6-3.

“I was just trying to work the count, it was the bottom of the sixth and he is around 100 pitches,” said Tuffy.

“I am trying to make him throw as many pitches as possible and put a good spin on one and I was fortunate to do that.”

In Tuffy’s view, the rally was a product of the diligence displayed by the Raiders on a year-round basis.

“It is a testament to the guys’ hard work and work ethic,” said Tuffy, who ended up going 3-for-3 with a double, triple, three runs scored and an RBI in the win over the Big Red. “All the working out and hitting in the offseason is finally paying off on the field.”

Tuffy has put a lot of time into getting better on and off the field. “I am not trying to do anything special, I put my head down and don’t worry about anything else,” explained Tuffy.

“I just work really hard and hopefully have the guys behind me follow. We are able to have that in this program with a lot of guys following each other, getting stronger and working hard in the classroom. It is going really well.”

Tuffy’s hard work has been recognized as he is serving as team captain this spring along with senior Justin Dirk.

“It is an absolute honor.
I love leading this team,” said Tuffy. “There are a lot of young guys who I can hand the torch to in the future years. We have some great things coming in the future.”

Hun head coach Tom Monfiletto sees Tuffy as a great influence on his teammates.

“McGwire plays so hard; he is the kind of kid who does everything a coach could ask and more,” maintained Monfiletto.

“He leads by example but he has gotten a  lot more vocal this year, and I think that has helped him as leader. He started a little bit slow at the plate, but now he has started to see it really really well. When he is on, it gives confidence to the rest of the team. When he gets on, he is absolute terror on there base paths. He is very smart, he is athletic, and we are really fortunate to have an athlete and a leader like him.”

The Raiders displayed their confidence as they came up with the 5-run rally in the bottom of the sixth.

“Their pitcher, Will Venizelos, was fantastic today; I was so impressed with him,” said Monfiletto.

“I knew he was going to give us a little bit of trouble today because he can locate multiple pitches whenever he wants. He is very effective and he was today. In that last inning, we were able to figure it out. It was great to see, it was good timing.”

Monfiletto likes what he is seeing from his hitters. “We do have a lot of guys swinging the bats,” added Monfiletto, who got two hits apiece from Ben Petrone, Dan Melnick, and Adam Wijaya against Lawrenceville. “We have been able to get hits in clutch situations from top to bottom of the lineup.”

In order to enjoy a special spring, Hun needs to come up with some good glove work to go along with its offensive punch.

“We need to keep the bats going, but our defense needs to stay consistent,” said Monfiletto, whose team dropped a doubleheader to the Mercersburg Academy (Pa.) last Saturday to fall to 6-4 and will play at the Hill School (Pa.) on April 25, host Blair on April 28 and then play Trenton Catholic that evening at Veterans Park in Hamilton, and then host Hill on April 30 and Peddie on May 1.

“Everybody gets better offensively and if our defense isn’t sharp, we can get in trouble. There are going to be days where we don’t hit as well as we have been hitting and on those days we have to be able to rely on our defense because our pitchers are going to throw strikes.

Tuffy, for his part, is confident that there will be a lot of good days ahead for the Raiders.

“I think we can handle anyone; we have to just keep going and keep playing our game and things will go our way eventually,” said Tuffy.

“The coaches preach attacking early in the first inning, getting that run for insurance. So we are going to just try to keep pushing it and stepping on them early.”