Lyndhurst finds a true ace in DiTommaso

The development of Nic DiTommaso as a top-flight pitcher actually began in earnest late last season.

“He pitched strictly with the JV (junior varsity) last year, but we threw him in relief against Saddle Brook,” said Lyndhurst head baseball coach Patrick Auteri. “He pitched four good innings and got the win. So we gave him a start against a good Ridgefield team, just to see how he could do and he shut them down. That opened my eyes.”

Needless to say, the victory over a great hitting Ridgefield team did wonders for DiTomasso’s approach.

“It was huge for my confidence,” DiTomasso said. “I think that helped set the tone for me to come out and have a good senior year.”

The success just continued.

“In the summer, I thought I pitched pretty well,” DiTomasso said. “It was really big for my confidence. I thought I could take it into this year as well.”

But when the season began in April, Auteri didn’t anoint DiTomasso as his ace.

“I took that to heart,” DiTomasso said. “I think it lit a fire inside of me. It pushed me to get better.”

“He wanted to be the No. 1 pitcher,” Auteri said. “He wanted it all.”

DiTomasso merely went out and won seven games prior to last Thursday’s NJSIAA North Jersey Section 2, Group II quarterfinal game against Madison.

“The main goal is to throw strikes and stay consistent,” DiTomasso said.

The senior right-hander has been that and more for the Golden Bears this season. DiTomasso proved his worth by firing a four-hit shutout against Madison, giving Lyndhurst a 2-0 victory and enabling the Golden Bears to face Hanover Park in the sectional semifinals.

For his efforts, DiTomasso has been selected as The Observer Athlete of the Week for the past week.

DiTomasso believes that a good credit to his success belongs to the field where the Golden Bears play their home games at the Lyndhurst Recreation Field.

“The main objective is to pitch to contact and allow my fielders to get the ball,” DiTomasso said. “I want to get ground balls. I have to pitch to the field. I don’t pitch to strikeouts. I pitch to ground balls and pop-ups.”

“The kid just pitches,” Auteri said. “He has four pitches. He doesn’t have a lot of velocity, but he pitches right to the spots. His change-up has been working well lately. He also has a knuckleball that he uses with the same motion as the others.”

Auteri also likes DiTomasso’s disposition.

“The kid has ice in his veins,” Auteri said. “He always has a smile on his face and goes about his business. Nothing seems to faze or bother him. He keeps us in every game.”

With his eighth win against Madison, DiTomasso moved into the lead in victories in all of Bergen County. He has an 8-1 record with an earned run average of 1.50.

“I knew he would be successful, but I never thought he’d be like this,” Auteri said. “I knew he would be successful, but being 8-1 is far above what I expected. He’s a kid that our team can rely on and lean on. We have our horse and we’re going to ride him. He has been improving with every start. He’s been phenomenal.”

So when the Golden Bears took on Hanover Park in the sectional semifinals, you knew that DiTomasso was going to be on the mound.

“It would be a great honor to pitch in that game,” DiTomasso said. “I always wanted to get a ring with that huge ‘L’ on it.”

The Bears are now 18-11, trying once again to reach 20 wins in a season.

DiTomasso has also been playing a lot of third base, especially when freshman phenom Frankie Venezia is on the mound. DiTomasso has collected his share of hits and is an excellent glove at the hot corner.

“I was a middle infielder all my life,” DiTomasso said. “I like playing third, but I take a little more pride in my pitching. Just playing baseball is the best. I can play anywhere and it would still be awesome.”

DiTomasso comes from a family of good pitchers. His cousin, Nolan Kelly, was a Lyndhurst standout pitcher and former Observer Athlete of the Week recipient.

“I kind of felt like I had it in me,” DiTomasso said. “Getting that win against Ridgefield really gave me the confidence I needed.”

After graduation, DiTomasso will be headed to the University of Coastal Carolina in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. He doesn’t know what he will major in just yet, but he knows that his baseball career will most likely end with his days in Lyndhurst.

“Just to be considered with people like my cousin Nolan or Glenn Flora (the former Lyndhurst ace who led the Golden Bears to the Group I state championship in 2008) means so much to me,” DiTomasso said. “I never saw Glenn pitch, but he was fantastic according to his statistics. I saw what Nolan did. It’s a great thing to be even considered with them.”

With eight wins and a pristine 1.50 ERA, DiTomasso has earned his place with the best ever.

Although he had to be asked about the spelling of his first name. Yes, it’s Nic without the k.

“I never asked why it was that way,” DiTomasso said. “My parents never gave me an explanation. I guess they just wanted me to be different.”

DiTomasso has certainly been different _ but only with a baseball in his talented right hand.

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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.”