Hommen (600), Shatel (400) go for victory milestones today

By Bob Behre | April 12, 2024

Kurt Hommen of Ridgewood seeks to join an elite group of 15 Garden State baseball coaches with 600 or more career wins when the Maroons play host to Pascack Valley at 4:15 p.m. today.

Meanwhile, in Morris Twp., Delbarton coach Bruce Shatel will look to nail down career victory No. 400 against visiting Pope John. Both achievements today are also predicated on questionable weather forecasts that show rain through 2 p.m. Delbarton does play on an artificial surface. Ridgewood does not, but will visit Emerson Boro for an 11 a.m. game tomorrow.

Hommen, by the way, steered Ridgewood to the NJSIAA Group 4 championship in both 2019 and last year.

It’s already a fascinating season for the NJ Coaches All-Time Victories List, topped, thus far, by Cranford’s Dennis McCaffery securing his 500th win courtesy of his son Dennis’ walk-off two-run home run on April 4.

And we saw two walking legends — Mike Sheppard, Jr. and Sam Tropiano —  reached mini-milestones this week. Seton Hall Prep’s Sheppard, Jr. reached 850 career victories in an 11-0 victory over Essex County rival Verona on Wednesday. Sheppard, Jr. sits at 851-233-7 after another win on Thursday. Sheppard, Jr. trails only Toms River South’s ageless Kenny Frank (929-342-3) on the all-time victories list.

Bishop Eustace’s Tropiano bumped up to 750 career wins yesterday when five of his pitchers combined on a no-hitter in a 14-0 victory over Camden. Of more urgency, Trop’ is sixth on the all-time victories list but will soon jump to fourth when he passes Morristown’s Harry Shatel (752) and Tony Ferrainolo (754) of Memorial (W.N.Y.). Tropiano’s next target from there will be No. 3 Marty Kenny (832) of Christian Brothers Academy. Shatel and Ferrainolo are deceased and Kenny is retired.

Highland’s D.J. Gore also climbed up to a big round number on Wednesday, eclipsing the 300 level during an 8-6 victory over Deptford. The 47 year-old Gore is coaching in his 23rd season.

And, no, we are not done with milestones after the above coaches have completed their appointed rounds. Another big one is about to drop in South Jersey where Audubon’s Rich Horan is just six victories shy of 600 career wins. So, yes, we will have a total of 17 coaches with 600-plus wins in New Jersey by the end of the next couple weeks. Horan, the longtime mentor at the Group 1/2 power, sits at 594-233-3.

Finally, the 300 level is soon to have two more visitors.

Spotswood’s Glenn Fredricks has the Chargers at 5-0 to climb within two wins of No. 300. Fredricks is 298-179 in a career that began at Freehold Borough. The Chargers can deliver the big number to their coach rather quickly. They have home games against South Amboy, today, and Piscataway, tomorrow.

Bloomfield’s Mike Policastro will get to No. 300 soon, as well, as his long career with the Bengals has him at 295-262.

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