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The veteran pitching coach Frank Gately (left) is part of braintrust for Seton Hall Prep along with legendary head coach Mike Sheppard, Jr., while West Essex has experienced pitching coach to turn to in Chris Checchetto, seen addressing the Knights as head coach Joe Cardinale listens in. Montclair co-head coach Ron Gavazzi makes his point while the experienced pitching coach Angelo Intile (gray shirt in the rear) listens in. Livingston has young pitching coach on the rise in Corey Feigenbaum who values being able to continue to learn from the head coach Mickey Ennis. (Sideline Chatter photos and by Gene Nann)

Pitching Coaches Continuing To Impact
For Essex Teams In NJSIAA Tournament

By Steve Tober
For sidelinechatter.com

Livingston assistant Corey Feigenbaum has been living and breathing his specialty during more than half of his 31 years as a standout hurler for West Orange High School and Rowan College and now as the seventh-year pitching coach for the Lancers (19-7-1, 11-0-1) who are the 2024 Super Essex Conference-American Division champions and a team to watch in a competitive North 1, Group 4 state section.

He is one of the pitching coaches in Essex County who has done a superb job with his staff which enters a new week with 2.41 team ERA and four legitimate starting pitchers available depending on how far the Lancers are able to advance in the states.

“All season long we’ve been about pitching and defense and we continue to stress that a lot to our guys in that they just need to throw strikes because even though we may not strike out a lot of batters, our guys in the field will make the plays behind them,” said Feigenbaum, who head coach Mickey Ennis gives much of the credit for the continued development of Livingston’s pitching staff which has four underclassmen starters in juniors Max Peri (1.76 ERA in 47 2/3 IP), Julian Schultz (2.72 ERA), Tyler Chen (1.56 ERA) and sophomore Adam Goldberg (3.03 ERA with 46 K’s in 39 1/3 IP) who have all made an impact this spring. “We plan on using all our guys throughout the tournament because we rely on all of them and they’ve all proved themselves in big spots for us this season.”

The Lancers’ pitching coach is like a sponge when it comes to soaking up all the knowledge he can from both Ennis and longtime assistant coach Dave McLaughlin along with former Livingston star Scott Parsons who stops by practice when he can.

“Mickey has won at the college level and knows all about running a championship program, while Dave also such a knowledgeable baseball man,” said Feigenbaum. “They are both so good at teaching the intricacies of the game.

“Scott Parsons is a Livingston legend who played at a high level and I always try to pick his brain as well.

“I’m so fortunate to be surrounded every day by great baseball minds and tremendous people as well!”

Third-seeded Livingston hosts sixth-seeded Passaic Tech in Wednesday’s (May 29) N1G4 sectional quarterfinals at The Oval.

While Feigenbaum is one of the young coaches on the rise, and certainly with head coaching potential, there are veteran pitching coaches around the county who are also doing a yeoman’s job with their staff.

Frank Gately is in his 33rd year as the pitching coach for longtime head coach Mike Sheppard, Jr., at Seton Hall Prep (24-3-1, 9-2-1), as Shep, Jr. is in the stretch run of his 37th season at the helm of the Pirates’ diamond fortunes and 38th season overall as he spent one year as the head coach at West Orange.

‘The Gator’ has done wonders through the years while working with many outstanding pitchers at SHP including former major leaguers Rick Porcello and Joe Martinez along with current professional hurler David Festa. His current mound staff has a superb team ERA of 1.79 with standouts including juniors Marcelo Harsch (0.72 ERA, 55 K’s in 38 2/3 IP) and Roman Baldwin (1.99 ERA with just three walks and 22 K’s in 31 2/3 IP), seniors Lucas Fernandez (0.77 ERA with four walks and 35 K’s in 27 1/3 IP) and Andrew Hladik (2.18 ERA) and sophomore J.J. Drennan (2.07 ERA).

The Pirates, who have red hot while also recently winning the 91st Greater Newark Tournament title with a 6-0 win over Livingston behind Harsch and Fernandez, are the No. 3 seed in a rigorous Non-Public, North A state tourney section that includes the likes of other elite state powers in top-seeded Delbarton and second-seeded Don Bosco Prep. 

SHP entertains sixth-seeded Dwight-Englewood (18-5-1) in a sectional quarterfinal at Porcello Field on Tuesday afternoon (May 28). The Bulldogs, who have won seven in a row, feature a top-notch starting pitcher in senior Rhys Bowie who has struck out 80 batters in 36 1/3 innings while allowing just 18 hits and 13 walks while posting a 1.93 ERA.

West Essex (22-4, 12-0 in going undefeated in winning the SEC-Liberty Division title) has a talented young head coach in Joe Cardinale who knows that he has a superb right-hand man in veteran pitching coach Chris Checchetto, who like Cardinale is a former head coach at Cedar Grove.

Checchetto, who was a high school star at Verona and superb college hurler at Rutgers, has carefully nurtured a talented mound staff that is led by junior Chris Murano (6-1, 1.98 ERA, 63 K’s in 46 IP) and also includes very capable hurlers such as senior Drew Feurerstein (2.81 ERA), junior Tyler Gordon (2.60 ERA) and sophomore Jake Long (1.98 ERA).

West Essex is competing in a very tough North 1, Group 3 field and will host Montville in sectional quarterfinal action on Wednesday.

Montclair (20-7-1, 7-4-1) has strong leadership at the front with veteran co-head coaches Ron Gavazzi and Anthony Genchi and helping to groom the pitchers is veteran assistant Angelo Intile who was a former standout pitcher for the Mounties along with being the former head coach at Clifton.

The Montclair pitchers have persevered and performed well despite losing veteran senior starter Eli Rudall-Stulberg to a season-ending injury in April. The mound staff has compiled a 2.02 team ERA with standouts including senior Shea Goel (1.46 ERA), who pitched very well vs. Livingston in a narrow 3-2, 8-inning setback to Livingston in the GNT semis; Finn Jones (2.46 ERA), junior Benjamim St. Pierre (2.36 ERA, 45 K’s in 35 2/3 IP) and promising sophomore David Aishton (1.58 ERA).

The fourth-seeded Mounties host 12th-seeded Morristown in Wednesday’s N1G4 quarterfinals at Nishuane Park.

Among Intriguing State Tourney Games on Wednesday:
Among the intriguing sectional quarterfinal games to see on Wednesday is in North 2, Group 1 where an always-dangerous seventh-seeded New Providence (10-13) visits second-seeded Verona (17-10).

Despite its sub-.500 record, the Pioneers have been a handful while competing in one the better divisions in the state, the Union County Conference-Watchung where it has a steady diet of top-tier teams such as state tourney title contenders Govrenor Livingston in Group 2 and both Scotch Plains and Westfield in Group 4.

Coach Chris Brodeuer’s Union County team is just two years removed from back-to-back appearances in the overall Group 1 state final at Veteran’s Park in Hamilton where it fell to Woodstown in 2022 and Middlesex in 2023.

New Providence has recorded quality regular season wins vs. Ridge, Madison, Westfield and Scotch Plains, while dropping close contests to the likes of GL, Summit and Brearley, which are all teams to watch in the states.

Verona will counter with one of the better hitting teams in the SEC-Liberty where it finished a fine 8-4 with key bats such as seniors Matt Vaccaro (.366 BA, 24 runs, 32 RBI), Ryan Radigan (.346 BA, 23 runs, 19 RBI) and Julian Santorelli (.515 BA, 21 runs 22 RBI) along with juniors Frank Orrei (.321 BA, 25 RBI) and Andrew DePaul (.317,26 runs).

Essex County Teams in NJSIAA state tournament sectional quarterfinals:
Tuesday afternoon, May 28:
Non-Public, North-A:
(6) Dwight-Englewood at (3) Seton Hall Prep

Non-Public, North B:
(5) Rutgers Prep at (4) MKA   

Wednesday, May 29:
North 2, Group 1:
(8) Roselle Park at (1) Cedar Grove
(7) New Providence at (2) Verona

North 2, Group 2:
(6) Leonia at (3) Caldwell

North 1, Group 3:
(11) Montville at (3) West Essex

North 1, Group 4:
(12) Morristown at (4) Montclair
(6) Passaic Tech at (3) Livingston                                    

Follow Steve Tober on X (Twitter) @ Chattermeister

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One of the intriguing state tournament games on Wednesday will be in North 2, Group 1 where coach Chris Brodeur and his resilient New Providence Pioneers will travel to take on Verona and its longtime coach Joe Phelan. (Photos by Gene Nann and Jeff Stiefbold)

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