Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Wood-Ridge Races out of Box

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Wood-Ridge Races out of Box

Article excerpt

Right now, everything is just falling into place for the Wood- Ridge baseball team.

The Blue Devils, who debut in The Record baseball Top 25 this week at No. 23, opened the season with seven straight wins, matching the best start in program history. They have four solid pitchers, a luxury at the Group 1 level, and coach Mike Carcich said he's never had such a timely hitting team in his five years as a head coach.

"We're batting .340 as a team," Carcich said. "We've only struck out 25 times in 233 plate appearances, so we're making contact and putting the ball in play. That's how you make things happen."

The Blue Devils sit atop the NJIC Meadowlands Division, a half- game ahead of No. 25 St. Mary. Wood-Ridge has beaten the Gaels and No. 24 Secaucus, and Carcich was particularly excited by last week's win over rival Hasbrouck Heights.

Nick Champino has been the big impact player, so far. The senior second baseman is hitting a team-high .476, leading the Blue Devils in hits (10), doubles (six), RBI (eight, tied with Ryan Macri) and runs scored (nine).

On the mound, Champino is 2-0 with a 2.30 ERA. Senior Joe Pronti is 3-0 with a 1.53 ERA and 19 strikeouts, and junior Will Cook has two wins.

"They all keep the ball low," Carcich said. "They throw strikes, and they don't walk people."

Cook has also been swinging a hot bat, hitting .455 with two homers and five RBI last week. One of the home runs was a game- winner with two out in the bottom off the sixth against Hasbrouck Heights.

"I thought we could get off to a good start, but I didn't expect 7-0," Carcich said.

The real moment of truth is still ahead for the Blue Devils. In a six-game stretch from April 24-May 3, they will face four Top 25 teams -- Lyndhurst, St. Mary, Ridgefield and Emerson.

"That will be our biggest test," Carcich said.

Email: czerwinski@northjersey.com

Sidebar:

Pitcher of the Year watch

Chris Cerf, Ramsey, senior

Improved to 3-0 during a week in which he outdueled Pascack Hills ace Mike Benducci and tossed a three-hitter against hard-hitting Mahwah. …

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