Lyndhurst looks to keep winning baseball tradition going

In his first season last year as the head baseball coach at Lyndhurst High School, after replacing the legendary Butch Servideo, Pat Auteri led the Golden Bears to 19 wins, a Bergen County Tournament berth and the quarterfinals of the NJSIAA North Jersey Section 2, Group II playoffs.

“It was a very good start,” said Auteri, who played for Lyndhurst and came back to serve as an assistant to Servideo for several years before taking over the program after Servideo’s retirement. “Without a doubt, we were able to keep up with the tradition we’ve had. Usually, 20 is the win number we put up every year. We had 19 after getting off to a 3-6 start.”

Auteri said that the Golden Bears turned the corner midseason.

“Then we ran off 10 in a row,” Auteri said. “So it turned out well.”

The Golden Bears were able to get two scrimmages in over the weekend against Saddle Brook and Cresskill. On Wednesday, they will head to Florida for five days, where they will play six scrimmages.

“We’ve been really lucky with the phenomenal weather up here,” Auteri said. “We need to get the scrimmages to get innings for our pitchers to throw. They’ll get better with the chances to throw. We have 12 guys on the team who can throw.”

Leading the pitchers right now is senior right-hander Nic DiTommaso, who got some varsity time last year with starts against Saddle Brook and Ridgefield.

“He then pitched all summer and gained a lot of confidence,” Auteri said. “He throws four different pitches, including a knuckleball. He has great command of his pitchers. He has great mechanics. I think he can be an ace.”

Senior Andrew Fitzgerald is another senior righty who throws three different pitches.

“He’s worked his tail off to get where he is,” Auteri said.

Another possible starter is senior lefty Leo Gonzalez, who isn’t an overpowering thrower, but he does throw strikes and can keep opponents at bay with a tantalizing breaking pitch.

Junior Dave Mitchell is another pitcher with a huge upside.’

“Dave has good size (he’s about 6-foot-4) and throws the ball hard,” Auteri said. “He’s going to be the key to the season. He had a chance to pitch for us last year, but got hurt early in the season. He has the stuff to be a good one.”

Junior righty Nick Matarazzo didn’t play baseball last year, but he also has good size and throws the ball hard. Greg Benerick is a junior lefty who can see action. Max Vigliotti and promising freshman Frankie Venezia round out the staff.

Senior Eddie Rivera is the team’s catcher.

“He’s one of the best defensive catchers we’ve ever had,” Auteri said. “His hitting has come around. I’m expecting a big year out of him. He just loves playing. He’s a baseball junkie.”

Junior Ryan Donohue, who is also a standout bowler, is the Golden Bears’ first baseman.

“The kid can play,” Auteri said. “He’s a good athlete. He’s very good defensively. We need him to step up his game this year.”

Senior Vin Dorio is the team’s returning starter at second base, where he has started for the last three seasons. Dorio batted .425 last year.

“He’s probably our best hitter,” Auteri said. “He’s a smart player.”

Junior Nick Carnevale has moved from third base to shortstop this season. Carnevale also hit .360 last year.

“We’ve penciled him into the leadoff spot,” Auteri said.

DiTommaso will see time at third base, along with a pair of sophomores Jonathan Karlok and Matt Tomko.

Vigliotti, who started in left field last year, returns there this season.

Evan Kelly, the younger brother of former Golden Bears pitching ace Nolan Kelly, is the team’s starter in center field.

“He’s been hitting the stuffing out of the ball early on,” Auteri said of the younger Kelly, who had two hits in each of the first two scrimmages.

The school’s best athlete, Matthew DeMarco, the football and wrestling standout, continues his athletic prowess by playing right field for the baseball team.

“He will also pitch a little bit for us in relief,” Auteri said. “He’s by far our best athlete and we’re expecting big things from him.”

Junior Peter Lazaris is the team’s fourth outfielder and designated hitter.

“He can hit for power,” Auteri said. “We have a good lineup. If the pitchers throw strikes, we should be alright.”

The Golden Bears open their season against Becton on April 1, then face New Milford and Wood-Ridge in the next two games.

Needless to say, the Golden Bears will compete in the North Jersey Interscholastic Conference this season.

“That’s what we go for every year,” Auteri said. “I think we should be able to play with the teams in our league. Anything is possible.”

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Jim Hague | Observer Sports Writer

Sports Writer Jim Hague was with The Observer for 20+ years — and his name is one of the most recognizable in all of sports journalism. The St. Peter’s Prep and Marquette alum kicked off his journalism career post Marquette at the Daily Record, where he remained until 1985. Following shorts stints at two other newspapers, in September 1986, he joined the now-closed Hudson Dispatch, where he remained until 1991, when its doors were finally shut.

It was during his tenure at The Dispatch that Hague’s name and reputation as one of country’s hardest-working sports reporters grew. He won several New Jersey Press Association and North Jersey Press Club Awards in that timeframe.

In 1991, he became a columnist for The Hudson Reporter chain of newspapers — and he remains with them to this day.

In addition to his work at The Observer and The Hudson Reporter, Hague is also an Associated Press stringer, where he covers Seton Hall University men’s basketball, New York Red Bulls soccer and occasionally, New Jersey Devils hockey.

He’s also doing work at The Morristown Daily Record, the very newspaper where his journalism career began.

During his career, he also worked for Dorf Feature Services, which provided material for the Star-Ledger. While there, he covered the New York Knicks and the New Jersey Nets.

Hague is also known for his announcing work — and he’s done PA work for Rutgers Newark and NJIT.

Hague is the author of the book “Braddock: The Rise of the Cinderella Man.”