Rutgers Prep seniors Malcolm Kelsey and Colby Smith haven’t just been four-year varsity players for the Argonauts’ baseball team, but remarkably durable ones.
The idea of capping their scholastic careers together in a state title game is a fitting tribute to both since they have virtually not missed an inning Rutgers Prep has played the last four years.
Rutgers Prep, 16-11, making its first NJSIAA Tournament a memorable one, will play Morris Catholic for the Non-Public B title Saturday at 11 a.m. at Toms River High School North.
The two want to win a title, and then celebrate it along with getting their diplomas Sunday.
Kelsey, who played most of his games as a corner outfielder and infielder, has played in every game the Argonauts have had in the last four years and the same for Smith. Kesley, a Piscataway resident, holds Prep marks for career hits (139) and season (53). Smith, the team’s catcher from Middlesex Borough, has 124 hits, reaching 100 in a 24-4 rout of Franklin in April.
The run to a state championship game has been something entirely different, but the Argonauts continue to hit just like they have throughout.
“It means a heckuva lot to us,” said Kelsey, who will be attending St. John Fisher College in Rochester (N.Y.). “To put it together like we have … to do it at this time of the season is great. I couldn’t be more proud of our guys. This year we’ve really, really felt like a team.”
Smith will be behind the plate one last time for Prep Saturday, handing sophomore right-hander P.J. Strahm. Kelsey will be at first with full confidence he won’t be called in.
“As long as he pitches to contact and gets ahead in the count he’ll be fine,” said Smith, who’ll play at Elizabethtown (Pa.) next year.
The one game the two didn’t start came when they were freshmen, and both entered the game the same way – as relief pitchers at Pingry.
“They are what you want as team leaders,” said longtime coach Larry Santowasso whose team won the Non-Public B South title by beating Moorestown Friends Tuesday.
“Colby has been a team leader since he stepped on the field,” added Santowasso. “”He’s a natural, outgoing. I remember a couple of years ago he shook off Glassman (Ian), then went to the mound and they talked about what they wanted to throw.”
“Ian respected me, he trusted me,” said Smith, who attended Hazelwood and Maugher schools in Middlesex Borough before moving over to Prep in the seventh grade. His sister, an outstanding softball player at Prep, went on to have a standout career at Haverford (Pa.). She’s now teaching English as a second language in Chile
The two aren’t the first to start varsity for four seasons, but they now can say they are the only ones who have done it and finished with an NJSIAA title game.
“This team, this school is like family to me, these guys are my brothers,” Smith said.