Frank Urso is five days away from an anniversary at TD Bank Ballpark in Bridgewater he would rather forget.
The Watchung Hills High School left fielder will have the opportunity to put it behind starting tonight.
Last year, Watchung Hills was upended at home in the quarterfinals by Bridgewater-Raritan, so there was no chance for vindication for what transpired on May 14, 2011.
That day, Urso was thrown out at home plate in the bottom of the seventh inning as what would have been the winning run against Ridge in the Somerset County Tournament semifinal. Ridge went on to win the game 4-2 in eight innings, then topped Hillsborough, 4-3, for the county title.
“That was tough,” said Urso, a four-year starter. “The last time I was at that park it didn’t turn out too well. I’m looking for redemption.”
He and a big group of seniors – four of whom played in that game – have earned their way back to TD Bank Ballpark with a top seed and 16-4 record. Watchung Hills will play fourth-seeded Bernards (15-3) in tonight’s doubleheader nightcap at 7 p.m. Third-seeded Immaculata (9-7) plays second-seeded Montgomery (14-2) in the first semifinal at 4 p.m. The winners play Saturday night at 7 p.m. at TD Bank.
Urso, batting in the No. 2 spot, led off the seventh inning with a triple in the 2011 semifinal. Nick Rivera and Chris Berry were walked. Matt Meyers then hit a fly ball to center that Dan Curcio caught and threw home to catcher Brian Winkler, who slapped a tag on Urso to complete a double play.
“He had the ball well before I got there,” said Urso of the catcher.
The seniors are eager to make amends. Senior Kevin Sauma was in center field in the ’11 semifinal, senior Joey Rocchietti at shortstop, as was Tom Giaimo, who came in later in the game.
“It really starts with the seniors,” said Urso, who’ll play baseball at Kean University next year. “”It’s up to us to get the momentum going, so it trickles down to everybody else. You can’t have one player lagging.”
The Warriors have plenty of leaders. Urso was one of them who contributed to last fall’s 6-4 football season and NJSIAA North 2 Group V playoff berth as a tight end and middle linebacker. He’s hitting .351 with a team-leading 74 at-bats from the leadoff spot. He’s third in hits (26) and tied with runs scored with Giaimo at 14.
“I like to put some of the weight on my shoulders as the leadoff batter,” Urso said. “You need the momentum. I like to set the tone with a leadoff double in the gap.”