Prep Baseball Report

For a Cause: Denner Leads Bergen Catholic in Pitcher's Duel Win over Don Bosco

TJ Hunt
Director, PBR New Jersey

RAMSEY –– Typically teams in New Jersey do not play on Sundays, unless its a tournament or for a cause, and this cause was certainly something to write home about. Each year, the two teams come together before the game to participate in the Challenger Baseball Charity event. 

Both teams played in a game with players from the Challenger League, a baseball league for children with special needs. The Don Bosco and Bergen Catholic players and staff were able to pitch, run, and hit with the children as they enjoyed beautiful day on the baseball field.


Matthew Semon, the senior St. John's recruit said the day was all about perspective: "Its a great cause to bring these kids here to play and it truly helps us as players realize that the game is bigger than us." Bergen Catholic's Chris Gerard, a Virignia Tech recruit and one of the top pitchers in New Jersey reflected the same sentiment: "...all of us coming together is what's most important and it seems like they're having a great time and that's all that matters." Gerry Siracusa a UMass-Lowell commit said that "...rivalry aside, you look at these kids coming together and you really appreciate what you have and by helping these kids it just makes my day."

An outstanding event that spoke wonders about the impact these high school players have – two storied programs setting their rivalries aside for a special event. A job well done by all of those who organized and participated.

The Game
In a matchup of the top teams in the Bergen County, and two of the Top 10 Teams in the state, Bergen Catholic avenged its earlier losses to Don Bosco behind the left arm of 2019 Michigan recruit, Jacob Denner. Denner was outstanding in his outing, scattering just four hits and striking out five and did not walk a batter. Don Bosco hitters did not reach second base until the sixth inning, and only had three total baserunners until that inning, too.

Denner worked his fastball in and out with ease – sitting 82-85 MPH and mixing in a 1/7 breaking ball that he used both as a get-me-over and an out pitch. Seemingly unfazed by Don Bosco's hitters, Denner got into a groove early on and did not look back.

The two runs Bergen Catholic scratched across were all Denner needed. In the second inning, cleanup hitter and UMass-Lowell recruit Gerry Siracusa led off with a single and uncommitted 2019 C Dillon DiBartolomeo doubled off the left field fence, scoring Siracusa from first. After two strikeouts, 3B Cade McDermott hit a chopper to shortstop that he beat out at first base and DiBartolomeo's curtesy runner scored on the back end of the play to make it 2-0.

Denner settled into his role – and seemed to keep missing barrels. He faced the minimum through four complete innings and did not allow a hit before uncommitted 2019 SS Danny Helfgott dropped in a single just over the first base for Don Bosco's first hit in the 5th.

It wasn't until the sixth inning that the Ironmen would threaten. With two outs, leadoff batter and UPenn recruit OF Tommy Courtney doubled to left center, and uncommitted 2019 2B Anthony Petrosino tripled down the RF line, scoring the speedy Courtney easily. But with two down and Petrosino on third, Denner pulled his neck to get a groundout of Bosco's cleanup hitter Santino Manganella



A scoreless top half of the 7th for Bergen brought Denner back out to close the game, and with three consecutive groundouts he was able to do so. Denner was able to keep balls in play on the ground – getting nine ground-ball outs – two of which SS Dominic Cancellieri and ian Maldonado were able to turn double plays with.

We can't overshadow the pitching performance on the other side, however. Sacred Heart recruit 2018 RHP Billy O'Brien was the hard-luck loser on this day. O'Brien was stellar yet again – going 6.2 IP scatting 6 hits and striking out 10 while walking two batters. O'Brien was able to spot his fastball wherever he wanted and complemented it was a big, sweeping curveball.

A picture perfect day for a great cause, and a great baseball game that followed.