May 24, 2023

With Jolly Rising to the Occasion in his Senior Year, Hun Baseball Makes MCT Final, Wins Prep A Title

JOLLY GOOD: Hun School baseball player Mike Jolly follows through on swing in recent action. Senior outfielder/first baseman Jolly enjoyed a big final week of his Hun career, helping the Raiders advance to the Mercer County Tournament final on Friday where it fell 5-3 to Allentown and then win the Prep A state title by topping Peddie 2-0 last Monday in a winner-take-all finale of the double-elimination tournament. Hun, which also won the Mid-Atlantic Prep League (MAPL) title this season, finished the spring with a 19-8 record. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Displaying its resilience, the fourth-seeded Hun School baseball team started a run to the Mercer County Tournament final by rallying from a 7-0 deficit to edge fifth-seeded Steinert 9-7 in the quarterfinal round.

In the semis, Hun stunned top-seeded Notre Dame 5-3 on May 16 to earn a spot in the final against sixth-seeded Allentown as the Raiders went for a second straight county crown.

As Hun took the field at the Trenton Thunder Ballpark last Friday evening for the final, Michael Jolly and his teammates were fired up to go for the title repeat.

“We put together two very good games against Steinert and Notre Dame, two very good programs themselves,” said senior outfielder/first baseman Jolly. “I was proud of the way we fought and clawed out way back to the championship. There was a lot of people here, bright lights; it is cool to play in an atmosphere like this.”

When Hun found itself trailing 4-0 after Allentown put four runs on the board in the top of the second inning, Jolly came through with a run-scoring double as Hun narrowed the gap to 4-2.

“The scouting report was a lot of offspeed early in the count, I just missed the one in the first inning,” said Jolly. “I knew it was going to come again so I was ready for it and I was able to pull it down the line, drive in a run, get some momentum a little bit.”

In the bottom of the seventh with Hun trailing 5-3, Jolly produced another clutch hit, lining a single to get two runners win with one out. Hun, though, was unable to capitalize as it fell by that 5-3 margin.

Due to Hun’s penchant for coming back, Jolly never lost hope in the final inning.

“I felt good, we were in a spot where we had one out and two guys on,” said Jolly. “It felt like we were getting something going, sometimes it just doesn’t fall and it didn’t bounce our way. I don’t think anyone on this team quit. We had a belief that we were going to win this game, we just couldn’t get it done.”

Displaying that belief, Hun came from the loser’s bracket to win the double-elimination Prep A state tournament over the weekend. The Raiders edged Pingry 2-1 and topped Peddie 8-2 on Sunday to force a winner-take-all finale against the latter team on Monday. Hun prevailed 2-0 over the Falcons in the finale to earn the Prep A crown and end the spring with a 19-8 record.

In the wake of the MCT loss to Allentown, Jolly sensed that the Raiders would rebound for the Prep A tourney.

“I am excited for a bounce back, this hurts a little bit,” said Jolly, noting that Hun won the Mid-Atlantic Prep League (MAPL) title this spring. “I think everyone is going to come into the game with a little bit more fire and get it on. It is hard to win two out of three and if we get two out of three that would be great.”

After hitting .172 as a junior in 2022, Jolly enjoyed a great senior year, batting .329 and tying Michael Chiaravallo for the team high in homers with five.

“Being in the lineup everyday has really helped me develop a constant routine and trust myself,” said Jolly, reflecting on his progress. “I trust the preparation that I put in the offseason, I knew it was going to be a good season for me. I have been riding the confidence for the whole year.”

Over the winter, Jolly juggled that prep with playing for the Hun boys’ basketball team.

“It was definitely some time management on my part to balance both of them,” said Jolly. “Knowing that baseball is my priority the entire time, it was making sure I got to hit and I got to throw. I was throwing during school days, I was hitting after school. It took some time, I had to get it done to be in the place I am now.”

Leading the team in homers along with fellow senior Chiaravallo was a pleasant surprise for Jolly.

“I definitely didn’t expect that at the beginning of the year,” said Jolly. “I have been put in good counts and I have been able to do some damage on some pitches. I am proud of myself for that.”

Hun head coach Tom Monfiletto was proud of how his sqaud scrapped to get back to the MCT final.

“I think we had two good hard-fought wins and another really good game today,” said Monfiletto. “It was good.”

Monfiletto had a good feeling as Hun got two runners on in the bottom of the seventh.

“We never felt out of it, we have been in this situation a lot this year so it was familiar for us,” said Monfiletto. “Allentown made a ton of plays and got hits in key spots, the pitcher (Eddie Werse) was tremendous.”

Jolly has been tremendous for the Raiders in his final campaign for the program.

“Mike has been incredible for us all year, he has been really, really consistent,” said Monfiletto. “He has been an unbelievable leader. He has produced on the field, he has been amazing. I think it came from him having belief in himself and confidence, knowing that he was going to start every single day. Last year,
he platooned a little bit. He has been amazing in the outfield, he has been amazing at first base, and he has been one of our best hitters.”

Hun also got some good play from sophomore Nico Amecangelo and junior Michael Olender down the stretch. Amecangelo and Olender both went 2-for-3 with one run and one RBI in the MCT final.

“Nico stepped up, he has a great play at second base, two good ground ball hits, he is learning and getting better every day,” said Monfiletto. “We knew how talented he was when he came in last year as a freshman and he is starting to put it all together which is really nice to see. He just loves baseball. Olender had a couple of big hits today, he has been swinging the bat really, really well. He is really hot. I was really happy with how he swung it today.”

Like Jolly, Monfiletto believed that Hun could write a happy ending to its season in the Prep A tournament.

“The gift and the curse of having two tournaments at the same time is you have to play a million games in a week but you have another opportunity to win a championship,” said Monfiletto, who got a superb mound effort in the final on Monday as Jackson Bailey and Rohan Sheth combined on the shutout with Bailey going four innings and getting the win and Sheth contributing three innings without yielding a hit.

“Obviously this stings a lot but we have an opportunity to win states which is really cool.”

Next year, Jolly is hoping to get the opportunity to keep playing baseball as he heads to the University of Pennsylvania.

“I am going to try to walk on and see what happens,” said Jolly. “If not, I will probably get involved with some research and do some other stuff. I am excited.”

No matter what happens at Penn, Jolly experienced plenty of exciting moments this spring as he ended his Hun career with a bang.