Matt Miceli is a junior at Somerville High School and has already experienced what every high school player in the country covets.
Two years ago, just a precocious freshman, Miceli drove a 1-0 fastball into the right-center field gap for an RBI triple that gave his team the lead in a state championship game. He then scored what proved to be the winning run as Somerville defeated Allentown, 3-2, for the NJSIAA Group 3 championship.
That was June of 2018 and Miceli hasn’t stopped hitting and playing an excellent middle infield role for the Pioneers and his Diamond Jack teams out of Diamond Nation.
Miceli followed a terrific 2019 season last spring at Somerville with a dynamite summer on the Diamond Jacks Super 16U squad. It wasn’t long before college coaches came calling.
“There were college coaches everywhere we went this summer,” said Miceli. “Stony Brook was one of the first schools to contact me after our first tournament of the summer. Actually I talked to coach (Jim) Martin, one of their assistant coaches, two summers ago during the College Elite Showcase Camp at Diamond Nation.”
Miceli had also given Binghamton and Boston College a close look and said, “Maryland offered me a spot as a walk on, but I didn’t feel like I’d be playing for awhile there.”
Stony Brook stayed front and center and before Miceli and his Super 16U teammates made their annual trip to Georgia in late July, the Division 1 program in Brookhaven, New York, made an offer.
“What got my attention with Stony Brook was how they treated me,” said Miceli. “They made me feel the most wanted. I was comfortable, the academic support seemed really good. That impressed my parents the most.” Miceli visited the Long Island school before the Georgia trip and Stony Brook head coach Matt Senk made his offer over the phone as the Micelis drove back to New Jersey. Matt would commit upon his return from Georgia on August 7.
Miceli and Somerville followed that remarkable 2018 championship season with a very strong 2019 in which the Pioneers went 18-7 and won the Skyland Conference Hills Division title before falling to Nutley, 6-5, in the North Jersey, Section 2, Group 3 semifinals. Miceli batted .365 with 28 hits, 16 RBI, a double, four triples and a home run. He also stole eight bases.
Steve DiTrolio, Diamond Nation’s recruiting coordinator, was an assistant at Somerville in 2018 and coached Miceli again this past summer with the Diamond Jacks Super 16U team.
“Matt was a big reason we were state champs in 2018,” said DiTrolio. “He stepped in as a freshman and, from Day 1, was a big contributor. He has always had that knack, whether as a Diamond Jack or a Pioneer, for coming up with big hits in big games. He is one of the best two-out RBI guys I’ve seen come through our program at Diamond Nation.”
While Miceli hasn’t rested his baseball laurels on his 2-for-2 state final performance in 2018, he hasn’t stopped appreciating it.
“I’m still shocked to this day,” said Miceli of his clutch triple that triggered bedlam in the Somerville stands. “I was thinking fastball and he threw one up. Then Preston Scott hit that double to score me and I knew we were winning it.”
Somerville coach Chris Banos had — as it turns out wisely — entrusted Miceli with the role of his No. 2 hitter during the Pioneer’s state championship run. Miceli moved from second base to shortstop his sophomore season and opened the season as the team’s No. 3 hitter.
“Stepping in as a freshman, Matt not only performed well but it was the way he carried himself,” said Banos. “He was very confident in himself. He wanted the ball hit to him and he wanted to be at the plate in big spots.”
Miceli’s confidence and ability took another step forward in 2019.
“There was no sophomore slump,” said Banos. “Nothing seems to get away from Matt. He moves on from things he should move on from. His highs aren’t too high and his lows aren’t too low. He was one of our leaders last year on a senior-heavy team. The guys looked up to him and everyone in the program respected him. He expects to come through.”
MIceli batted a robust .425 from the No. 3 spot in the order for the Diamond Jacks Super 16U team this summer.
Miceli, who’s older brother Mike is a junior at Moravian College and a former Diamond Jack, joined the program based in Flemington, N.J. as a 13 year-old. He would play on the Diamond Jacks Super 14U and 15U teams coached by Travis Anderson.
“Coach Anderson has helped the most in my development,” said Miceli. “He’s made me a better player.”
Anderson has enjoy that development from his perspective.
“Matt is a tough, hard-nosed kid,” said Anderson. “If I had an all-time team of Diamond Jacks I’d have to find him a spot on it. He’s the ultimate two-hole hitter. He can bunt, run, hit with two strikes and drive the ball to the gaps. He’s not selfish. The kid just wants to find a way to beat you. Not only that, he loves the moment. He knows the pressure is on you when he’s in the box.”
Anderson points out that Miceli is as valuable at shortstop as he is in the batter’s box.
“He has soft hands and makes all the plays,” says Anderson. “He directs traffic out there and communicates well. An understated part of his defense is the fact that he holds runners real well. Stony Brook is getting a heck of a player.”
Miceli moved up to the Diamond Jacks Super 17U team this fall, joining Somerville teammate Gavin Stellpflug there. Stellpflug, who will front the Somerville rotation in the spring, is a 6-5, 210-pound righthander committed to Maryland. Miceli and Stellpflug will be joined by a lot of new faces in the Somerville lineup in 2020. The Pioneers lost seven senior starters from the 2019 squad.
“We’ll need the underclassmen to step up,” said Miceli, who knows all too well how valuable that can be.”
DiTrolio believes Miceli and Stony Brook make a good match.
“Matt has landed in a good spot,” DiTrolio said, “and that’s a credit to their staff for seeing what a lot of people overlooked. I don’t think Somerville wins a state championship in 2018 without him and I bet in a few years Stony Brook will be feeling the same way.”
Did you know?: Stony Brook went 31-23 in 2019 and was 15-9 in regular season conference play. The Seawolves went on to win the American East Conference playoffs and qualify for the NCAA Baton Rouge Regional. Stony Brook, however, went two-and-out in regional play against perennial NCAA juggernauts LSU and Arizona State. … Stony Brook head coach Matt Senk enters his 30th season with a 834-560-4 career record to go with six NCAA tournament appearance. His 2012 team reached the College World Series. … Matt Miceli’s other brother Mike Miceli is a junior at Moravian College and boasts a .320 career batting average in 62 games.