Kosuda knew early William & Mary was a great match

By Bob Behre | December 18, 2023

Matt Kosuda blasted a home run for Middlesex County in the Quad County All-Star Game in June.

Matt Kosuda’s varied talents on a baseball field were apparent at a very young age. So to see him draw attention from college scouts at the very start of his high school career could be expected.

The senior at Gov. Livingston High in Berkeley Heights, N.J. calmly approaches his final scholastic season as a player who has, in a lot of ways, been there and done that. He, however, aches for one more championship run.

The 5-11, 210-pounder chose William & Mary all the way back in February of his sophomore year of high school, opting for the Williamsburg, Virginia Division 1 program over an attractive offer from Stetson in Leland, Florida, a strong offer from Lehigh and interest from Penn State, Boston College and Northwestern.

The strong academic lean of all of those colleges was a significant pull for Kosuda, and credit Matt’s mom, Vicki Kosuda, for having a timely hunch about William & Mary.

“The summer before my sophomore year, we were coming home from a tournament in Myrtle Beach,” said Matt. “William & Mary wasn’t really on my radar at that point, but my mom said, ‘Let’s check out William & Mary. It’s a good academic school.’ We drove through, walked around a bit and I had a good feeling about it.”

Two months later, Matt contacted Mike McCrae, who had just taken over as the Tribe’s new head coach, setting in motion a fairly brisk five-month recruitment process for the corner infielder/outfielder.

“I went to their winter camp in January and did well,” said Kosuda. “I was definitely interested at that point. I received an unofficial tour with another kid and fell in love with the school even more. Coach McCrae was honest with me through the process and the school left a big impression on my parents.”

Matt Kosuda had four RBI in the Union County championship game as a freshman.

In the end, the Stetson offer and the attractiveness of Lehigh’s academics and offer made Kosuda’s decision, at times, difficult, but he had no doubt come February of 2021 that William & Mary was his choice. He will pursue a business/finance academic tract.

A freshman at GL

Kosuda had a impressive intro as a freshman at Gov. Livingston, a perennial Union County power that went 18-6 and won the Union County Tournament championship in that 2021 season. Matt played all but three games that year and hit .395 with six doubles and three home runs.

He shined in the big moment, as well, ripping a pair of singles, drawing two walks and driving in four runs in Gov. Livingston’s 16-6 victory over Westfield in UCT championship game.

“Matt’s a hard worker and a great student,” said Gov. Livingston coach Chris Roof, entering his 24th year as a head coach and 21st at GL. “It’s great that he’s back. His family has always been very supportive of our program.” Roof has a staggering .715 career winning percentage and an overall record of 448-179-1. He spent the first three years of his career at Millburn before returning to his alma mater.

Matt Kosuda’s St. Joseph (Met.) teams went 43-19 the past two seasons.

Indeed, Kosuda did leave Gov. Livingston after that promising freshman season, latching onto a St. Joseph’s of Metuchen program steered by Westfield/Wake Forest grad Mike Murray and loaded with a bevy of fellow Diamond Jacks on the roster.

Two-year run at St. Joes

Murray, like Roof, is considered among the top coaches in the state. His younger brother, A.J., played for the Diamond Jacks. Kosuda’s two-year stay at St. Joseph was capped by the team’s Greater Middlesex Conference Tournament championship in which it defeated North Brunswick to avenge a loss to the Raiders in the 2022 GMCT final.

A deep run in the state tournament followed, but that ended with a 4-1 loss to Red Bank Catholic in the South Jersey, Non-Public A championship game. Kosuda provided that run with an RBI single in the first inning.

“It was a big transition for me coming from GL to St. Joes,” says Kosuda. “The GMC is one of the best, most competitive conferences in the state and it seemed we faced a Division 1 pitcher every game.”

The promising St. Joseph 2023 season opened at 4-6 but the Falcons revved up their engine from there to the tune of a 15-2 run that took it straight through the GMC Tournament championship.

Matt Kosuda played six years with the Diamond Jacks, joining the organization as a 12 year-old.

“We had a special team and such great leadership,” said Kosuda. “We were shooting ourselves in the foot early but we started to click on offense and soon felt like we were unstoppable.”

Kosuda was in the middle of that success, batting fifth in the deep St. Joseph lineup and hitting .311 with three doubles, five HRs and 21 RBI. He also drew 10 walks and stole six bases.

Six years with Diamond Jacks

Kosuda just finished his sixth year with the Diamond Jacks, playing for all of the organization’s top teams along the way.

“This summer was kind of my last ride as a DJack,” said Kosuda. “I’ve been there since I was 12 and (Seton Hall-bound shortstop Mike) Contiliano has been with me the whole way. I was taking it all in this summer and I cherished every moment. There was no pressure and I was just enjoying baseball.”

That showed, for example, in a late July game when he led his Diamond Jack Super 17 team to victory in a Super 17 World Series tournament game. Matt went 3-for-3 with a double, a grand slam and seven RBI. It was his fifth homer of the summer, giving him 10 since the start of his high school season.

“He’s got pop,” says Matt’s Super 17 coach Kevin Cust. “If he stays with more of a line drive approach he’s gonna get more of the result that we saw that day.”

While Kosuda’s change in physique can easily be seen in the photos here from his freshman to senior seasons, and, as he said back in the summer, building muscle was all about improving his gap-to-gap power, not necessarily to clear fences.

Kosuda worked with many of the Diamond Jacks coaches on his way up, also being coached by Travis Anderson at the 15U level and Walter Cleary at the very start of his youth career.

“Matt is just a great kid,” says Cleary, “and he’s an unbelievable worker, one of the hardest working kids I’ve been around.” Kosuda remembers Cleary from his very first Diamond Jacks tryout.

“Walt kind of took me under his wing,” says Kosuda. “He’s been working with me on my hitting forever. And was with me through the recruiting process. He’s been hard on me in some ways but he’s always been a shoulder I could lean on.”

Matt Kosuda has shown ability as a third baseman and outfielder.

Anderson has left more than a few marks himself as a coach with very high expectations for his players.

“Trav’ taught me so many lessons on how to be a leader during that 15U summer,” says Kosuda. “He was working on making me more mature. I’ll always appreciate that.”

Now it’s Roof’s job – a second run at it, if you will – as Kosuda’s next coach.

“Matt’s a team kid,” says Roof. “He has always been a team-first kid, that’s why it’s so easy for him to come back to us. That’s his makeup.”

His high school teams the past three seasons have gone 61-25 and won two county championships. There’s no reason to think that success won’t continue at GL this spring.

NOTES: William & Mary does a good job recruiting New Jersey. The 2024 roster boasts three players from the Garden State. They are; senior catcher Nat Goranson (Millville), sophomore RHP Mark Hindy (Seton Hall Prep) and freshman RHP Anthony Marano (DePaul Catholic).

Kosuda played for the Middlesex County team in the Quad County All-Star Games held at Community Park in North Brunswick in June. He blasted a home run in the game.

Stetson University coach Steve Trimper is a Newton, N.J. native and well known locally for his attraction to Garden State players, drawing from the tap of New Jersey talent over the years. Though he didn’t land Kosuda, Trimper’s current Stetson roster boasts three former Diamond Jacks; sophomore shortstop Lorenzo Meola and the Hylton brothers, senior outfielder Brandon and sophomore outfielder Jayden. Senior RHP Chris Shine of South Plainfield is also at Stetson after beginning his college career at Seton Hall University.

Trimper was one of the guest instructors at a recent NJHSBCA clinic steered by Roof.

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