If Joe Sorce had his way, then the veteran Belleville High School head baseball coach would get out one of those big rubber erasers and start rubbing out the entire 2018 campaign.
“We lost two of our top players to transfers right before the start of the season,” Sorce said. “As it turned out¸ they turned out to be big losses for us. The team turned out to be younger than expected.”
And in the rough and tumble world of high school baseball in the highly competitive world known as Essex County, young teams tend to get eaten alive in a hurry.
“We made a lot of key errors,” Sorce said. “It wasn’t good.”
The end result was a 6-18 nightmare. It was a year that everyone would simply like to forget.
Now, as the Buccaneers ger ready for 2019 this week, there is reason for strong optimism and solid faith.
“This year, we have a nice bunch of kids,” Sorce said. “We’ve made some good progress in our scrimmages. We have good solid leadership from our five seniors. They have a good amount of varsity experience. The seniors have been playing together since they were little. That has to help.”
Senior Sebastian Alverio paces a deep Buccaneer pitching staff. The right-handed Alverio is a three-year varsity starter.
“He’s our hardest thrower,” Sorce said. “”If he locates the ball well, he’ll be strong.”
Junior Albert Carrero is another right-handed starter.
“He’s crafty,” Sorce said of Carrero, who was the winning pitcher in three of the Buccaneers’ six wins last year. “He throws all three of his pitches for strikes and does a good job of changing speeds.”
Junior Gio Torres is a transfer to the program from Paramus Catholic. Another righty, Torres “has a good fastball and curve,” according to Sorce.’
“He has been pitching with a lot of poise,” Sorce said. “He’s a solid starter.”
Sophomore righty Kevin Arroyo saw time with the varsity last year.
“He can be effective as a starter or a reliever,” Sorce said of Arroyo. “He can pitch.”
Others who will see time include junior righty Anthony Wnek, junior lefty Aedrick Perez and sophomore righty Joe Abramson.
“It’s a good pitching staff,” Sorce said. “Wnek and Perez form a nice 1-2 lefty-righty punch out of the bullpen.”
The Buccaneers’ catcher is senior Derek Lombardi, who is a four-year member of the Belleville baseball program.
“Derek is a good receiver of the ball,” Sorce said. “He’s a good catcher and a very smart baseball player.”
Senior Joe Monroig, who is a veteran on the football field and the basketball court for the Buccaneers, is the team’s first baseman.
“He’s a good solid player,” Sorce said of Monroig. “I’m hopeful that he has a better year this year at the plate.”
Junior Jiustino Cecere is the team’s returning starter at second base. Senior Bryan DeFreites is the team’s leadoff hitter and shortstop. DeFrietes led the Buccaneers in hitting a year ago.
“He’s our offensive catalyst,” Sorce said.
Senior Christopher Amparo is the team’s starter at third base. Amparo is the No. 3 hitter in the Bucs’ batting order.
“He has some pop in his bat,” Sorce said.
The outfield features sophomore Anthony Cecere, the younger brother of Jiustino.
“He is a good defensive outfielder,” Sorce said. “He’s also going to be our closer in the bullpen. He’s a good pitcher as well.”
Arroyo, Alverio, Perez and Carrero are also solid outfielders. Alverio is a slugger and could begin the season as the Buccaneers’ cleanup hitter.
“He has been swinging the bat very well,” Sorce said.
Sorce likes having depth in the outfield.
“We can move people around,” Sorce said. “We do have some flexibility.”
Others to get playing time include senior outfielder Gabriel Bosques, senior catcher Nathaniel Pleasant, sophomore catcher Jason Miranda, sophomore first baseman Adiel DeLeon and Wnek, who plays the infield.
“We need guys who can step up and perform,” said Sorce, whose team faced Irvington Monday, then has Edison, Newark East Side and Harrison this week. “We hope to get better as the year goes on. But we have a solid bunch of kids. We need everyone to do their part. We don’t have a clear No. 1 pitcher or a .400 hitter, but we have a good solid group that likes to play together and work together.”
No question, the Bucs will be better this season than last. Experience just happens to help a losing team.
The Belleville High School baseball team will look to its strong pitching staff this season, From left are Anthony Wnek, Derek Lombardi, Kevin Arroyo, Aedrick Perez, head coach Joe Sorce, Joe Abramson, Anthony Cecere and Gio Torres. Photo by Jim Hague
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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.”