When you look at the numbers the Scotch Plains-Fanwood baseball team put up this season, it should come as no surprise.
The Raiders had everyone back from last year’s 22-5 team, except for college-bound players Kevin Maroney – now at Monmouth University – and Nick Bonadies – now at West Chester.
Scotch Plains went on to finish 25-6 and will most likely end up ranked as the No. 2 team in Union County.
The Raiders averaged 10 runs a game, scoring 313 in 31.
However, it was losses to the team that will end up No. 1 – Cranford – in Union County Tournament and North 2, Group 3 semifinal contests that prevented the Raiders from winning two other titles they set out to capture.
Cranford came back to beat Scotch Plains 10-7 in the UCT semifinals at Elizabeth, denying defending champion Scotch Plains a chance at reaching the final again.
The Cougars then came back again to down the Raiders 6-5 in the N2, G3 semifinals at Scotch Plains. This time the Raiders fell one game short of reaching the sectional final for the second straight season.
"I told the kids that it’s hard to repeat and hard to get back to where you were once before,” Scotch Plains seventh-year head coach Tom Baylock said. “This senior class has done so many things and won so many games. I think they averaged about 22 wins and they reached the UCT semifinals three times and the sectional semifinals three times. That’s not bad.”
Here’s a look at what Scotch Plains did the past four seasons:
2010: 25-6, reached UCT semifinals and N2, G3 semifinals
2009: 22-5, UCT champions, N2, G3 finalists
2008: 18-7-1, reached UCT semifinals
2007: 18-8, reached N2, G3 semifinals
“We were on the cusp before them, but they put Scotch Plains baseball on the map and up there with the Cranfords, Westfields and GLs,” Baylock said.
Scotch Plains split with Westfield this year, which reached the UCT final for the third straight season. Cranford captured the UCT and N2, G3 both for the first time since 2007. GL reached its second straight Central Jersey, Group 2 final and – like Scotch Plains – won 20 games for the second straight season.
When Scotch Plains reached the 2007 N2, G3 final at Cranford, in the lineup that day on Tuesday, May 29 at Memorial Field were freshmen Lou Mazzella batting sixth at catcher, Joe D’Annunzio batting eighth in center field and Mike Ridge batting ninth at third base.
Cranford pitching did not retire D’Annunzio that day, with him hitting singles in the third and fifth innings and walking on a 3-0 count in the sixth. D’Annunzio also scored two runs.
Ridge reached base two of his three times at the plate, the first when he was hit by a pitch and the second on an outfield error.
Three years later, D’Annunzio entered his final varsity game with career totals of 159 runs and 156 hits and in the season-finale at Plainfield Ridge and fellow senior John Maxwell both produced their 100th career hits.
D’Annunzio will continue playing at Rutgers, Ridge at William Paterson, Maxwell at Johns Hopkins and Mazzella at Molloy College in Long Island. Gary Binkiewicz will attempt to make the team at Quinnipiac as a walk-on.
The only returning starter for the 2011 campaign is junior third baseman Marcus Rivera, who will represent Scotch Plains in the first Union-Essex Underclassmen All-Star Game, scheduled for June 12 at 1 p.m. at Kean University’s Jim Hynes Class of 1963 Field in Union.
"Even though that’s the case, I’m excited about next year and getting this thing going again,” said Baylock, who has guided Scotch Plains to the last two of its four UCT titles and who has a seven-year record of 127-55-1 (.698) at the school.
Scotch Plains received a season-long consistent performance out of senior right hander Jordan Bayroff, who was 8-1 going into the last game of the season.
Binkiewicz was 4-4 on the mound and didn’t quite put up the same pitching numbers as he did a year ago, but he still proved to be among the most dangerous and productive batters in Union County.
Binkiewicz slugged an opposite field, two-run homer over the left field fence in his final varsity at-bat at home.
D’Annunzio batted well over .500 and proved to be among the top fielding outfielders in the county, a left fielder that not many teams ran on successfully.
After falling to Bloomfield 6-4 in the Roselle Park Dads Club Invitational, that ended a six-game streak where Scotch Plains went 3-3 and scored 26 runs for a 4.33 average.
Baylock then dropped down D’Annunzio and Binkiewicz from first and second in the order to fifth and sixth and elevated senior Ricky Shevlin to leadoff and Rivera to second. Baylock wanted D’Annunzio, his best hitter, and Binkiewicz to have more opportunities to come up with runners on base.
Scotch Plains went on to score 229 runs in its next 20 games for an 11.45 average, winning 18 of them. The change in the lineup, and the season for the most part, was a success.
2010 SCOTCH PLAINS-FANWOOD RAIDERS (25-6)
Union County Conference-Watchung Division champions
April 1 (H) Scotch Plains 16, Plainfield 0
April 3 (H) Scotch Plains 14, J.P. Stevens 4 (5 inn.)
April 5 (A) Bridgewater-Raritan 4, Scotch Plains 3
April 6 (H) Scotch Plains 8, Piscataway 0
April 8 (A) Scotch Plains 17, Elizabeth 5
April 10 (N) Edison 7, Scotch Plains 4 – at North Brunswick
April 11 (N) Scotch Plains 5, Dayton 1 (9 inn.) – at TD Bank Ballpark
April 14 (H) Scotch Plains 6, Roselle Catholic 4
April 16 (H) Westfield 4, Scotch Plains 3
April 17 (A) Scotch Plains 4, Union City 1
April 18 (N) Bloomfield 6, Scotch Plains 4 – Roselle Park Dads Club Invite
April 19 (A) Scotch Plains 14, Franklin 0
April 20 (H) Scotch Plains 11, Roselle 0
April 22 (H) Scotch Plains 10, Union 0
April 24 (A) Scotch Plains 11, Johnson 1 (6 inn.)
April 27 (H) Scotch Plains 12, Rahway 2
May 1 (H) Scotch Plains 17, Plainfield 0 – UCT first round
May 4 (H) Scotch Plains 17, Elizabeth 6
May 5 (H) Scotch Plains 14, Union Catholic 2 – UCT quarterfinals
May 7 (A) Scotch Plains 12, Westfield 3
May 8 (N) Cranford 10, Scotch Plains 7 – UCT semifinals at Elizabeth
May 10 (A) Scotch Plains 8, Linden 3
May 11 (A) Scotch Plains 10, Union 1
May 13 (A) Scotch Plains 18, Rahway 6
May 14 (H) Scotch Plains 15, Linden 1
May 17 (H) Scotch Plains 12, Warren Hills 2 – N2, G3 first round
May 19 (H) Scotch Plains 11, Union Catholic 3
May 20 (A) Scotch Plains 12, Woodbridge 3
May 21 (H) Scotch Plains 10, Millburn 0 (5 inn.) – N2, G3 quarterfinals
May 25 (H) Cranford 6, Scotch Plains 5 – N2, G3 semifinals
May 26 (A) Scotch Plains 10, Plainfield 0
UCC-Watchung Division mark: 11-1, champions
vs. other 6 division foes: Plainfield 2-0, Elizabeth 2-0, Westfield 1-1,
Union 2-0, Rahway 2-0, Linden 2-0.
UCT: 2-1, semifinalists
North 2, Group 3: 2-1, semifinalists
Home at Park Middle School: 3-0
Home at the high school: 11-2
Extra innings: 1-0
Runs for: 313 (10.10 average)
Runs against: 85 (2.74 average)
One-run losses: 3
Two-run losses: 2
Three-run losses: 1
Games scored at least 10 runs: 20 (20-0)
Longest winning streaks: 9 (7-4 to 16-4) and 8 (16-5 to 24-5)
Last 20 games: 229 runs for 11.45 average,
at least 10 runs in 17 of those games, 18-2 record