The time is right for the baseball team at Jackson Memorial High School to make its move.
That is the feeling of Jackson Memorial coach Frank Malta, who has his troops prepared for a run in the upcoming Shore Conference and state tournaments.
“You know, because of our youth, I didn’t really know what to expect early on,” Malta said. “Now, these guys have played like older guys to this point. So, the expectations hasn’t changed with the program. We want to compete for everything. We think we have an opportunity for everything, and we’re going after everything. Right now, our focus is on the county tournament. So that’s our focus right now. Once we get to the next two tournaments, the Shore [Conference Tournament] and the states, we’ll focus on that.”
Malta pointed out the keys to the success of his Jaguars, who have won 18 of their first 22 games this spring.
“It’s starting with our pitching,” Malta said. “Our pitching is going really well for us. We’re really attacking the strike zone and using our secondary pitching for strikeouts. Our defense behind them is doing a good job. We have a lot of young guys out there that continue to get better. Day-by-day, we’re seeing the progress in these guys. And offensively, we’ve done the job. We’ve had guys that really have focused on at-bats and trying to win every pitch. We’re trying to compete with everything that we do. We’re 18-4 right now, and we’re hoping to keep things rolling.”
The Jaguars improved to 18-4 on May 10 when they won on the road, 10-7, over Colts Neck High School.
Despite the success, Malta still wants his team to focus on the little things that can make Jackson Memorial even better.
“We’ve been talking about how we want to get better,” Malta said. “We’re just picking at it game-by-game, day-by-day, and practice. We’re just trying to work on those little things. We’ve been playing pretty well as of late, but we’re still staying on our guys about working on those little things that will make the difference.”
Malta believes his team will be a tough out in the conference and state tournaments due to a balanced lineup.
“There’s a lot of guys,” Malta said. “The two guys right now that jump out are [sophomore] Nick Beetel, [senior] Nick Sefick, and also, [senior] Mike Dimino. They’ve all bee pitching really well for us all year on the mound. They give us a great chance every time they’re out there. Beetel is 4-0. Sefick is 5-0, and Mike has like five saves and he’s like 2-1 on the year.”
The coach continued to boast about other key Jaguars.
“And [junior right fielder] Alex Iadisernia has really done a good job for us offensively. [Sophomore second baseman] Christian Pellone has really done a good job for us. [Senior designated hitter] Tom Pellone has. [Sophomore catcher] Andrew Selfick has had some great games. [Junior left fielder] Troy Bathmann. [Sophomore] Ryan Lasko. That’s the thing about us. We’re hitting up and down the lineup. That’s what’s been difficult for other teams. There’s no weak link. For a high school pitcher, that’s hard to have to navigate through that for an entire game. So far, it’s working for us.”