After Helping Hun Baseball Win its First MCT Title, Kraemer Stars as Raiders Advance to Prep A Final
ACTION JACKSON: Hun School baseball player Jackson Kraemer heads to first base in recent action. Senior star Kraemer scored a run to help Hun defeat Hamilton West 6-0 in the Mercer County Tournament championship game last Thursday. On Saturday, he pitched a shot and hit a homer as Hun deferred Peddie School 15-0 in the semifinal round of Prep A state tournament. Hun went on to fall 5-3 to Pingry in the Prep A final round on Sunday to end the spring with a 22-4 record. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)
By Bill Alden
For Jackson Kraemer, helping the Hun School baseball team top Hamilton West 6-0 in the Mercer County Tournament championship game last Thursday is something he will never forget.
“Thursday was huge, we have been working for this for four years, our program had never done this in its history,” said senior outfielder/pitcher Kraemer, who scored a run in the win. “It meant a lot. Having our fans out there and the whole setting, it was awesome.”
The bonds that Kraemer has developed with his teammates made the title even more awesome.
“It is just the brotherhood I have been building up the last four years,” said Kraemer. “The friends and the friendships are going to last me a lifetime. I love the sport.”
The love of the game helped Hun push through a baseball marathon last week as it was also competing in the state Prep A tournament. The Raiders fell 8-2 to Pingry on Wednesday in the first round of the double-elimination competition and hosted Peddie on Saturday in a loser’s bracket contest as it looked to keep its Prep title hopes alive.
“Coach (Tom Monfiletto) said last week this would be a marathon in these tournaments with all the scheduling,” said Kraemer. “We just had to go out there and compete.”
On Saturday, Kramer competed hard, pitching in sweltering 90 degree heat and tossed a two-hitter with 10 strikeouts and hit a homer as Hun rolled to a 15-0 win over Peddie in the semifinal round.
“I felt good today it was just going out there and doing a job to get us to Sunday,” said Kraemer, who lost his rhythm as Hun exploded for 10 runs in the bottom of the third inning. “The long inning slowed me down a little bit. It took me a couple batters and then I felt good. It was very hot out there.”
Kraemer started the 10-run outburst in style, leading off the inning by blasting a homer over the left field fence.
“In the first at-bat, I got caught looking with a curve ball,” recalled Kraemer. “For my second at bat, I was talking to coach [Steve] Garrison and it was just try to hit a ball to right field. The pitcher got me an inside fastball and I just tried to hit it where it was pitched. I got good barrel on it and I saw it going out. That was awesome.”
For Hun head coach Tom Monfiletto, a former Hun player and assistant coach, guiding the Raiders to the MCT title was an awesome achievement.
“It meant more than I can even describe, from the school community, from the alumni, and from the parents with the emotions that were involved in that game,” said Monfiletto, a 2004 Hun alum.
“The amount of correspondence I had with people after that game was more than any win that we have had. It is something that we have wanted to do for such a long time and we have never been able to. I was really happy. I thought about coach [Bill] McQuade the whole time because as a player for coach and as coach with him, I know how much that tournament meant to him. We were always in positions where we had to make difficult decisions as to who would pitch based on the Prep tournament and the Mid-Atlantic Prep League (MAPL).”
In the win over Hamilton West, Hun got a superb pitching effort from Brody Pasieka, who came out of the bullpen to pitch four innings, giving up one hit and striking out four to earn tourney MVP honors.
“It is something that has eluded us for such a long time there have been years where we felt we had the best team in the county and we just weren’t able to get it done,” said Monfiletto, whose team had to overcome some injuries on the way to the county crown.
“We were outplayed in some big situations and it was good to be able to handle all of the adversity that came in that tournament. I would almost rather win it the way we won it with a lot of unexpected circumstances. It is not going to be smooth sailing. If you are going to win it, it is going to be this way.”
Monfiletto was thrilled to see this year’s group earn the breakthrough title.
“They are extremely talented, that is No. 1; I am very lucky to be able to coach some really, really good baseball players,” said Monfiletto, who got three RBIs from Mike Chiaravallo in the MCT final with Carson Applegate chipping in two hits and scoring three runs.
“On top of that, I truly believe they root for each other. They truly care about each other’s success. They have a very strong personal connection with each other that is going to last for a very long time.”
Those players helped propel the Hun program to a higher level.
“We have built something here that is very, very special and I think it extends beyond this campus,” said Monfiletto. “Winning a Mercer County championship proves that.”
With Hun having won five straight Prep A titles, the squad was fired up to go after another championship.
“We take a ton of pride being at the top of our division here in the preps,” said Monfiletto. “Pingry entering it the past few years, they have a very strong, talented team. Lawrenceville has a really, really talented team.”
Despite the grind of the arduous week of games, the Hun players arrived on Saturday ready to keep going.
“I think they just absolutely love playing with each other,” said Monfiletto.
“I think every opportunity they have to play a game with each other is something that they are going to take advantage of.”
Monfiletto loved the performance he got from Kraemer in the win over Peddie.
“He was incredible, it was a nice, nice finish to his career here on the mound for us,” said Monfiletto. “I am happy that he will take that with him and he hit a home run. I have always loved watching him pitch, I am such a fan of his. When he starts to build confidence as the game goes on, he is untouchable.”
Going into Sunday, Monfiletto was confident that Hun could pull out another Prep A crown.
“Before all of this stuff happened, the mindset was don’t let us get to Sunday,” said Monfiletto, whose team started Sunday by topping Lawrenceville 10-1 to advance to the final round but ended up falling 5-3 to Pingry to come up just short of the title double.
“Whenever we come from the loser’s bracket, that is the mantra, don’t let us get to Sunday.”
While Hun didn’t get its Prep A title, Kraemer made another special memory last Saturday with his final appearance on the Hun diamond.
“It means the world, I love this team and I love this program,” said Kraemer, who is headed to Wake Forest where he will be playing for its baseball program. “This field has done a lot of good for me.”