By Jim Hague
Phil Mazzarella has been coaching in the Lyndhurst Little League for a quarter century. Eight times, Mazzarella has been selected to serve as the head coach of the program’s 11-and-12-yearold All-Star squad.
“I just love it,” said Mazzarella, who coached this year’s All-Star contingent as well. “It’s great when the kids listen and realize you know what you’re talking about. Baseball has always been a labor of love for me, since I was a little kid growing up in Lyndhurst. I played Little League in Lyndhurst. It’s always been a part of me. I always wanted to give something back.”
Mazzarella assembled a solid team to compete in this year’s District 5 tournament at Wood-Ridge.
“We really have so many talented kids in the town,” Mazzarella said. “We had a talented team and had a good shot to do well in the tournament.”
Lyndhurst did manage to win four games in the tourney, defeating host Wood- Ridge, North Arlington, Garfield and Hasbrouck Heights, to advance to the tourney’s semifinals.
However, their run in the District 5 tourney ended Sunday with a loss to Rutherford American. Lyndhurst lost both of its games over the weekend by a single run, ending a fine performance in the tourney.
“We got good pitching, but we just didn’t hit in the key points of the game,” Mazzarella said. “Of course, we’re proud. The kids played hard and tried their hardest. They just came up a little short. Both games, we were down early and fought back. Give our kids credit. The games came down to one run and ended up losing.”
One of the team’s top pitchers was right-hander Nick Carnevale, who displayed a ton of poise and promise in the team’s 4-3 loss to Kearny on Saturday. Carnevale was mixing up arm angles and pitch deliveries, amazing for a 12-year-old.
“He was definitely our best pitcher throughout the tournament,” Mazzarella said. “Numerous times, he made it look like he was throwing a different pitch, then came with the heat. He’s a smart baseball player.”
Carnevale is certainly one to watch in the years to come.
Corey Sowinski is another of the Lyndhurst pitchers who did a fine job. Nick Matarazzo pitched one game in the tourney and it turned out to be a shutout. Lefthander Max Vigliotti, who did a little bit of everything for the squad, was another solid hurler.
Ryan Donohue was the catcher who maintained all the pitchers.
“He did a real good job behind the plate,” Mazzarella said.
Although Donohue had to survive a bit of a scare Sunday, after he took a foul ball off the catcher’s mask.
Matt Tancredi was the first baseman who shared first sacker duties with Andrew Leonardo.
Isaiah Figueroa was the team’s second baseman, another player with a ton of promise for the future.
“He’s just an all-around player,” Mazzarella said. “He was our best hitter in the tournament. He also put down two bunts in one game. He’s got a bright future.”
When Carnevale wasn’t on the mound, he was the team’s shortstop and lead-off hitter.
Sowinski was the third baseman for most of the time.
Left field duties were shared by Nick Cutola and Conor Yunis. Vigliotti held down the fort in centerfield, blessed with an incredible throwing arm and with lightning in his bat.
“He hit five homers in the last five games of the regular season, then hit four homers in the tournament,” Mazzarella said. “He’s a good hitter with a great arm. He just has the right attitude all the time and he also has a very bright future.”
Right field was shared by Jonathan Karlok and Tom Terrana.
So the tourney ended for the Lyndhurst nine Sunday afternoon, a little earlier than what they hoped for. But there was no reason for sadness. They left with their heads held high.
“Definitely, they played hard,” Mazzarella said. “They tried very hard. They just came up short. There’s nothing to be ashamed of.” Not when you win four games in one of the toughest District tourneys in New Jersey. There’s reason for pride.