Harrison’s Fiori enjoys power explosion

The Harrison High School baseball team was struggling in a big way. The Blue Tide had dropped their first nine games of the 2019 season.

“I knew we were way better than the way we were playing,” junior third baseman/pitcher Jaydon Fiori said. “We made a lot of errors. We weren’t hitting the ball at all. We were just not playing up to par.”

So Fiori took it upon himself to try to fire up his team.

“I told the whole team that we were better than that,” Fiori said. “I said my speech and we started winning. We started hitting the ball and catching the ball and doing everything right.”

And the key person to that turn around? Well, that would be Fiori — and in a gigantic way, almost historic fashion.

For the last week, Fiori became a one-man wrecking crew for the True Blue. He belted four home runs, including two in one game against Bergen Charter. He delivered eight hits, scored eight runs and had five RBI. He pitched two innings in an extra-inning 5-4 win over Dickinson and hurled one scoreless inning in a 7-5 win over Ridgefield.

More importantly, the Blue Tide won all three games. After losing their first nine games of the season, Harrison reeled off three straight wins, thanks in part to their slugging third baseman/pitcher, who is now batting a sizzling .571 on the season.

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

Fiori said that he had a good conversation with his father, Junior, before the season began.

“My father preached to me that this was a very important year for me,” Fiori said. “He told me that this was my biggest year, my main year. I think that I’m seeing the ball better and I’m doing what I’m supposed to do. I’m also getting better pitches to hit. Every at-bat, my confidence is sky high. I know I’m going to hit the ball.”

But four homers in a week? It’s really almost unconscious material.

“Just saying consistent is the key,” Harrison head coach Jairo Mendez said. “But for anyone to hit four homers in a week is really impressive. We were struggling along. He started hitting and we woke up. He’s getting some nice gap shots and the ball is moving. If he hits the ball into the gap, we’re going to score.”

Mendez said that he has been able to use Fiori as a pitcher.

“He’s been doing the job,” Mendez said. “He’s been giving us a chance to win. He’s able to throw strikes. He’s really become a nice little pitcher.”

Mendez likes Fiori’s personality.

“He’s an outgoing kid,” Mendez said. “The kids feed off him. He needs to continue to bring the positive energy to the table. He needs to continue to listen to his coaches and teammates. But it’s a great accomplishment for him. I’m really proud of him. I just hope he continues and motivates his teammates.”

Fiori is also an accomplished football player. As a receiver for standout quarterback Mateo DeSosa last fall, Fiori caught 39 passes for 565 yards and five touchdowns.

“I did a lot of things last season,” Fiori said about football. He played football at DePaul first, then transferred to Queen of Peace and ended up at Harrison when QP closed.

“But I’ve always been a baseball player first,” Fiori said. “I fell in love with football, but I say I’m a baseball player.”

Fiori has received some interest from colleges for football, but has yet to receive feelers for baseball.

“I’ve met with a few football coaches,” Fiori said. “Fordham sent me something. Others have been interested. We will see what happens.”

In any case, the Blue Tide is enjoying wins again in the spring.

“That’s all I care about,” Fiori said. “As long as we’re winning. Even if I didn’t hit four homers, we’re having a lot of fun. If I struck out four times and we won, that’s all I’d care about. We got it rolling now. It was frustrating when we were losing. It was terrible. But now, we’re all talking about baseball again.”

Mendez believes that Fiori can be a top-flight baseball player.

“Without a doubt, he can play at the next level,” Mendez said. “As long as he maintains his focus and displays self discipline, he can play at the next level.”

But he will never hit four homers in a week ever again. Some things don’t happen all the time.




Harrison third baseman/pitcher Jaydon Fiori. 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.”