Defeats defending champ Hoboken with shutout 1-0 win
By Jim Hague
Anthony Ferriero was not enjoying the same success he had a year ago for the Harrison High School baseball team.
“I guess I wasn’t locating my pitches the same way,” Ferriero said. “I was a little shaky. I needed to get it right.”
“He was in a little bit of a slide lately,” Harrison head coach Sean Dolaghan said. “He was struggling a little earlier in the season, but I felt he was coming around.”
But both the coach and Ferriero knew that the setback was temporary. After all, Ferriero’s time of year was approaching, namely the Ed “Faa” Ford Memorial Hudson County Tournament.
A year ago, Ferriero helped to put the Harrison program on the map by upsetting No. 2 seed St. Peter’s Prep in the first round, pitching the Blue Tide to the big win.
So when this year’s tourney began last weekend, Dolaghan knew who was getting the ball, especially with the Blue Tide slated to face defending county champion Hoboken and the Red Wings’ ace pitcher, Kenny Roder, perhaps the best pitcher in the entire state.
“I knew that he was a great pitcher,” Ferriero said. “I knew that coming into the game, he had thrown four straight shutouts and two no-hitters. I knew what kind of pitcher I was facing. I knew they had a lot of confidence in him, but I also knew that I could win the big game.”
Dolaghan had all the faith in the world in his senior right-hander. “He always wants the ball in the big game,” Dolaghan said. “He wanted the ball last year when he beat Prep and when he beat St. Mary’s (of Rutherford). He knew what it takes to win a big game in the county tournament. His attitude comes from within. He’s a quiet leader, but he always wants the ball and wants the pressure situation.”
Dolaghan said that the Blue Tide had a good practice on Thursday in preparation for facing the Red Wings in the county tourney.
“We knew that they weren’t a great hitting team, so we worked on some things, small ball, defense,” Dolaghan said. “But it helped that Anthony was on the mound.”
Ferriero said that he knew that the Blue Tide was not going to get many chances to score against the left-handed ace Roder.
“We knew we weren’t going to score a lot of runs off him,” Ferriero said. “I also knew that they weren’t a good hitting team. So I thought if we scored, then it was up to me to hold them down. We had to get to him early.”
Sure enough, the Blue Tide scored one run in the first inning – driven in by Ferriero with an RBI single.
And the pitcher made that one run stand up, surrendering four hits and striking out eight in the shutout win. Ferriero and Harrison were the giant killers once again, slaying the defending champs, 1-0.
For his efforts, Ferriero has been selected as The Observer Athlete of the Week for the past week.
Ferriero believes that this year’s performance tops last year’s upset win.
“I think this was even bigger, because we defeated the county champs,” Ferriero said. “And we beat a pitcher of that quality. It was huge. They had a couple of opportunities, but I was able to get the job done. I just was able to bear down and get a lot of big pitches. My defense made the plays behind me. I always get big help from my defense.”
Now, the Blue Tide (10-7) feels like they can take on anyone.
“We really are capable of beating any team,” Ferriero said. “We’ve done things that haven’t been done in Harrison in years. It’s a big deal for us. It didn’t matter how we got the run. We got it and we were able to shut them down.”
The Blue Tide now advances to the tourney quarterfinals, where they will try to beat the odds once again, facing fourth-seeded Marist and another top pitcher in sophomore Matt Littrell, who has pitched two consecutive one-hitters.
If Ferriero’s name is called, you can be rest assured he’ll be ready for the challenge.
“Hopefully, I get the same chance again,” Ferriero said. “But if we can beat Kenny Roder, we can beat anyone.”
Dolaghan knows he has a confident pitcher on his hands.
“He’s erased his struggles,” Dolaghan said. “He really feels he can win every game now and the team plays better when he’s on the mound. He did everything he could last year to help us win and now, he’s done the same. If he’s on his game, he can beat anybody.”
However, the Blue Tide has four scheduled games this week and Ferriero might not get the county game. Felipe Flores has also been pitching well for Harrison.
“To tell you the truth, it was Anthony’s turn to face Hoboken,” Dolaghan said. “I have been trying to stick to the rotation. But Anthony was pretty pumped up and he was definitely ready. It’s pretty amazing that he was able to do it again. I was almost ready to take him out of the game in the seventh inning, but he told me he wanted to finish it. That’s just the way he is.”
Ferriero is more than likely headed to Fairleigh Dickinson- Florham to play baseball in the fall. For now, he’s just going to continue to be Harrison’s resident giant killer.
“It felt great getting the chance to win this game and to beat those kinds of caliber teams,” Ferriero said. “It just continues to put us on the map.”