Morris County Cubs 15U Navy unloads the weapons

By DN WRITING STAFF | June 26, 2022

Morris County Cubs pitcher Carter Sealy fires to the plate on Saturday in School’s Out tournament.

By Will Harrigan

For over a decade now, Pete Zoccolillo’s successful Morris County Cubs travel baseball program has stockpiled its share of talent from its namesake area.

Take his 15U Navy club as a prime example. Composed almost entirely of players who just wrapped up their freshman year, three-quarters of his squad lettered on their high school varsity teams – ones that play in highly competitive circuits – already this past season.

That seasoned experience was on display in the School’s Out tournament on Saturday morning, as the Cubs opened up Pool B play with a dominating 18-0 victory over Baseball U – Pocono 15U at Raritan Valley Community College. The game only lasted 49 minutes of real time.

“We’re really excited to have had a lot of guys do so well for their high school programs this year. Getting a chance to play that kind of competition in the spring will help us do well at the tournaments we play in over the summer,” said Zoccolillo, who played for the Milwaukee Brewers and now pilots Mount Olive’s varsity squad.

Doing what a team with the clear upper hand in talent should do in a game with such a wide disparity, the Cubs batted around – twice – in the bottom of the first, scoring 17 runs to essentially end the game before it got started.

Before a single out was recorded, five Cubs had crossed home plate. Brodie Freker and Joe Ronchetta – products of Seton Hall Prep and Roxbury, respectively, singled in runs as part of that early barrage.

Three batters later, Parsippany Hills rising junior Jacob Forgatch roped a double down to the opposite field, scoring a pair and extending the lead to 7-0.

Cubs batter Joe Ronchetta gets set for a pitch on Saturday afternoon at Raritan Valley CC.

Baseball U did themselves no favors, as five walks, a hit batsmen, and four ill-timed fielding errors contributed to the Cubs’ rally.

In the second time through the order, highlights for the Cubs included a double off the bat of A.J. Terry and a two-bagger by Ronchetta. Ronchetta’s blast missed being a home run by about three feet, as it caromed off the wall on the fly.

Mike Ferry’s RBI single accounted for the lone run the Cubs bagged in the second inning, with the game long out of reach.

One bright spot for Baseball U Pocono was relief pitcher Anthony Knight, who pitched the last inning and a third in relief for the Pennsylvania club without giving up an earned run. In a particularly spectacular play, Knight backhanded a comebacker behind his back, igniting a 1-6-4 double play ball to get Baseball U back in the dugout only giving up one run in the second.

Zoccolillo knows the competition will heat up as the tournament moves on, something he looks forward to with his club. In their second game of the day, the Cubs tied the Bridgewater Panthers by a 4-4 score.

“We have been coming to Diamond Nation for years and love the competition we see in our tournaments,” Zoccolillo said. “To make the finals in a tournament year, you need to pitch well and get progressively better as you go.”

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