Belleville baseball wins SEC Colonial title

When the 2019 high school baseball season began, the Buccaneers of Belleville High School didn’t know exactly what kind of team they had.

After a month, the Bucs were struggling a bit, but according to veteran head coach Joe Sorce, things changed in an instant once the calendar was turned from April to May.

“On May 1, we beat a very good Bloomfield team,” Sorce said. “We won, 12-5, and I think after that win, we gained a lot of confidence. I think after that win, we knew we could play with anybody and we started to get some good wins.”

As it turned out, the Bucs finished the season with a 16-9 record and claimed the Super Essex Conference-Colonial Division championship, the first league title for Belleville in several years.

“We knew then that we had a solid team,” Sorce said. “Beating Bloomfield, a team that would go on to win 20 games and play for the sectional (NJSIAA North Jersey Section 1, Group IV) championship, did a lot for this team. Although we lost to Bloomfield in the (Greater Newark Tournament), we were right there in every game. We weren’t going to win every game, but we were right there.”
Sorce said that the Buccaneers gained a lot from losses to top teams like Edison and Verona as well.

“Although you never want to lose games, we were able to take positives from those losses,” Sorce said.

Sorce said that the Buccaneers gained a lot from an early season win over Caldwell as well.

“Caldwell is a very solid team and we were able to beat them,” Sorce said of the 8-3 win on April 18. “The kids worked very hard and started to believe in themselves.”

The Buccaneers had five talented seniors, all of whom played major roles in the team’s success.

Senior right-handed pitcher/outfielder Sebastian Alverio had a sensational season, one that culminated in Alverio earning All-SEC Colonial First Team honors. Alverio, who was the hard-luck losing pitcher in the Bucs’ 3-2 loss to Chatham in the NJSIAA North Jersey Section 2, Group III tournament, posted a 4-2 record with a 2.26 earned run average and 46 strikeouts in 31 innings pitched. Alverio also batted .396 with 27 hits, 19 stolen bases and 24 RBI. That’s a very solid year for Alverio.

“He played all three outfield positions for us and pitched,” Sorce said. “He pitched most of our big games.”

Slugging third baseman Chris Amparo also had a fine year for the Bucs. Amparo batted .382 with three home runs and a team-high 28 RBI, also earning First Team All-SEC Colonial honors. Amparo also had four doubles, three triples and 19 stolen bases.

The Bucs also had five players earn Second Team All-SEC Colonial honors.

Shortstop Bryan Defreites, a three-year starter for the Bucs, earned All-SEC Colonial honors, as did first baseman Joe Monroig, a three-sport standout (football, basketball and baseball), catcher Derek Lombardi and outfielders Albert Carrero and Jiustino Cecere.

“You can’t put a price tag on experience,” Sorce said. “Four of those kids started for three years. They set the bar high for the rest of the team. They set the example. They’re a good bunch of kids.”

Defreites, Monroig and Lombardi all graduate, along with Alverio and Amparo.

Carrero and Jiustino Cecere return next season.

“We had some other kids gain some experience this season,” Sorce said. “We have some JV (junior varsity) players who need to step up next year.”

Fellow juniors Anthony Wnek, Aedrick Perez and Giovanni Torres will all return next season. Wnek plays a variety of positions. Perez and Torres are pitchers, along with Carrero.

Sophomores Kevin Arroyo, another pitcher, and Anthony Cecere, the younger brother of Jiustino, will also play huge roles next season as juniors.

“Hopefully, these guys will step it up and act like leaders next year,” Sorce said. “We do have a lot of mound experience. That should help us going forward. It’s not easy to lose the seniors we’re losing, but we are confident that with hard work, we will compete well against next season.”

It won’t be easy. Because the Bucs won the divisional title this year, they will now move up and compete next season in the Liberty Division with some more established programs like Bloomfield, Cedar Grove, Verona and Caldwell.

“We have some key players back,” Sorce said. “We had five seniors who were everyday starters and they’re going to be missed. Next year is going to be a challenge.”

Much like this one was – and the Bucs answered the bell.




Senior Sebastian Alverio was a solid pitcher/hitter for the Belleville baseball team this season, winning four games on the mound and batting a team-high .396 with 24 RBI. 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.”