Pitching is key to Delbarton dominance

Pitching is key to Delbarton dominance

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Pitching is key to Delbarton dominance

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A year ago, no one knew who John Masella was.

That is, unless you were a member of the Delbarton baseball team.

However, by the end of last baseball season, everyone knew exactly who Masella was.

It helped that Masella threw back-to-back one-hit gems in the semifinals and finals of the Morris County Tournament, defeating Morristown-Beard in the semifinals and Hanover Park in the finals, earning the Most Valuable Player of the MCT.

It also helped that Masella pitched to a 6-1 record, with his lone loss coming to the state’s No. 1-ranked team, Don Bosco Prep, in the state sectional finale. He posted an earned run average of 0.70 with 68 strikeouts in 60 innings, allowing just 40 hits. Masella was named the All Daily Record Player of the Year for his efforts.

Now, Masella is back for his senior year — and he’s obviously well known throughout the state.

“You know a lot has changed since last year,” Masella said. “But I’m not walking with any swagger or anything. I know that our team is going to be pretty good, because we have a solid pitching staff and a deep pitching staff. I’m trying not to think about what happened last year. I try not to let anything get to my head too much. But I don’t have quite as much to prove this year, so overall, I guess that’s a plus.”

Masella, an excellent student who has already committed to Haverford College to pitch there in the fall, heads one of the deepest pitching staffs in New Jersey.

Also returning is senior right-hander Adam Schreck, who is headed to Villanova in the fall. Schreck was 9-0 last year with a 1.84 earned run average. Like Masella, Schreck earned All Daily Record First Team honors a season ago.

Brian Rapp, a powerful junior who has already given a verbal commitment to Boston College, is also on the staff, as are senior Pat Geraghty (signed to NJIT) and big (6-foot-3) and promising sophomore righty Robbie Price.

“We do happen to have some experience and depth at the most important position,” said veteran Delbarton head coach Bruce Shatel. “Having a staff like that gives you a level of comfort, knowing that you’ll probably be in contention most games. They have the physical tools and the mental makeup. I think we’re going to be fine with them on the mound.”

Even with what Masella accomplished last year in making a name for himself does not guarantee him ace status this season. It’s Masella and Schreck as well as Schreck and Masella.

“They’re more like 1 and 1A and I don’t know which is which,” Shatel said. “They’re both going to get big games and we’ll ride it out from there. We’ll see who’s pitching better and make an educated decision as to who will pitch when.”

The Green Wave also welcomes back senior first baseman Jeff Anderson, who has shown some moments of brilliance in each of the last two seasons.

“He didn’t have a great year last year, but he’s a college level hitter who is crushing the ball right now,” Shatel said.

Billy Carroll, a quality shortstop, also returns, as does senior designated hitter Kevin Delaney and outfielders Eric Fajardo and Mike Masella, John’s twin brother.

So Delbarton, which finished last season as the best team in the county, begins the 2013 season in the very same position — as long as the pitching holds up.

“We’ll be able to pitch,” Shatel said. “I’m pretty sure of that. I would like to think we’ll be improved as a hitting team.”

Incredibly, the Green Wave won 22 games last spring with a team batting average of .289. Just goes to show how much their excellent pitching carried them.

In that respect, Masella is ready to inflict more of the same pain on the opposition this season.

“It’s not like I dislike the attention,” Masella said. “I’m pretty neutral about it. There are some pretty good pitchers in the state. I don’t feel like there’s any added pressure on me. Besides, I can handle the pressure. The county games, the state game, were the biggest part of people knowing who I am.

Added Masella, “I guess my reputation precedes me and that’s fine. I think that puts the opponents at a disadvantage, because it’s in their heads. I have the right mindset.”

The Green Wave will be tested right away. They will face Mendham, then have Randolph and another highly regarded New Jersey team in Washington Township in the first week of the season.

“We’re going to be challenged right away,” Shatel said. “We’re going to find out how much more work we have to do moving forward.”

If there’s a big game, then Masella wants the ball.

“Selfishly, I want the nod,” Masella said. “I’ve been waiting for this for a few months now. I want to get back out there again.”

However, this time, it’s safe to say that the opposition will know a lot about him.

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