Lyndhurst’s Vigliotti, Nutley’s O’Neill earn state All-Star berths

Max Vigliotti enjoyed one of the greatest seasons in the history of Lyndhurst High School baseball. The senior outfielder batted a ridiculous .545 with eight doubles, four triples, five homers and 23 RBI batting in the leadoff position for the Golden Bears. Those are insane numbers, the best offensive numbers produced by a Lyndhurst baseball player in ages.

Vigliotti worked hard in the offseason to prepare for his senior year.

“I changed my stance at the plate,” said Vigliotti, who took batting instructions from Joe Mauro during the winter months. “I wasn’t comfortable at first, but it started to come around.”

Vigliotti said that he didn’t get much chance to hit the last two seasons, so he didn’t know how he would fare this time around.

“I just didn’t hit the first two years,” Vigliotti said. “I knew I had to do something.”
But to improve to a .545 hitter? That’s off the charts.

“Yeah, I was a little surprised,” Vigliotti said. “It was my senior year and I wanted to go out with a bang.”

Well, Vigliotti’s career will end on an extremely high note this week, as he has been selected to the New Jersey Scholastic Baseball Coaches Association’s All-Star team, earning a berth with the top players from the Northeast portion of the state.

The game was set to be played Tuesday, June 13, after Observer press time, at the famed Diamond Nation facility in Flemington.

Vigliotti is the first Lyndhurst player selected to the NJSBCA All-Star team since Mark Naseef in 2011.

“I was speechless at first,” Vigliotti said. “I didn’t know how I was going to be selected. It’s an honor to be chosen. It definitely gets my confidence up high, like through the roof.”

Vigliotti said that his senior year took a turn for the better when the Golden Bears made their sojourn to Florida.

“All winter long, I was thinking about our trip to Florida,” Vigliotti said. “We had only one scrimmage before we left (against St. Joseph’s of Montvale), so I didn’t know how much I improved. But in Florida, I noticed my bat speed was much better. I got right to it. I was hitting the ball all over the field and hitting the ball solidly.”

Vigliotti’s great season also earned him All-Bergen County and All-NJIC honors as well.

More importantly, the offensive explosion earned Vigliotti a scholarship package to play baseball at Felician University in the fall. So Vigliotti will get to continue his baseball playing career on the field that brought him success, as Felician plays its home games at the Lyndhurst Recreation facility.

Vigliotti didn’t have glories of grandeur about what to expect at the state All-Star Classic, playing with and against the other top 99 players in New Jersey.

“I know it’s been a while since Lyndhurst had a player in the game,” Vigliotti said. “So I want to go there and help put Lyndhurst on the map and make a name for Lyndhurst. I hope it helps to bring recognition to the school and town.”

It already has.

Vigliotti wasn’t the only local player selected for the Northeast All-Stars.

Joey Castellanos, who played for St. Mary’s (Rutherford), is a Nutley native and resident. He batted .554 this season for the Gaels, who went all the way to the NJSIAA Non-Public B North final game against Newark Academy. The Gaels went 22-8 this season and captured the NJIC-Meadowlands Division crown.

Castellanos had two homers, 32 RBI, 51 hits and 43 runs scored. He ended his career with an astounding 166 hits and 122 RBI over four years.

Castellanos is headed to UMass-Lowell, an NCAA Division I school, in the fall, but their summer league team has already begun play in the New York Collegiate Baseball League, so he will be unable to attend the state All-Star Classic.

St. Mary’s is coached by Kearny native Dennis Hulse.

While there are no other representatives in the NJSBCA All-Star Classic, the area will have a player in the Diamond Nation’s Underclass Games also being played at _ where else? _ Diamond Nation in Flemington, with this game being played Wednesday, June 14 after press time.

Nutley sophomore Josh O’Neill, a standout pitcher/outfielder, was selected to play in the Underclass Games.

“It’s a great honor,” O’Neill said. “I can’t wait. I know the time is now for me to get my name out there. I know some college coaches will be watching, so I have to do my best in games like this, as well as my summer league team and the camps and showcases that I go to.”

O’Neill posted a 4-3 record with a 3.43 earned run average this season for the Maroon Raiders, defeating West Essex twice. He also had a 12 strikeout game against Verona and fanned 11 in a win over West Essex. He also pitched very well in a loss to Seton Hall Prep, who was ranked No. 1 in the state for a stretch this season.

“I do play the outfield, but my primary position is the outfield,” O’Neill said.

O’Neill is spending the summer months playing for Wladyka Baseball’s 16-and-under Continental team.

We have tournaments set up every other weekend, so I’ll be pretty busy,” said O’Neill, who also stands to be the Maroon Raiders’ starting quarterback on the football team this fall. “I love both sports, but based on my skill level and my size, I think it’s harder for me to get noticed by the colleges playing football. So I have a better chance in baseball. That’s why I have to do well this summer.”

O’Neill is definitely an athlete whose talent level is on the rise.

It’s nice to see the local baseball players being recognized statewide for their talents. Vigliotti and O’Neill got the chance to extend their seasons by a week or so. That’s an honor in itself.

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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.”