The Valley Echo

The Valley Echo

The Valley Echo

The Valley Echo

The Valley Echo

The Valley Echo

Male Team of the Year: Baseball

@pvalleybaseball on instagram
The baseball team takes a picture after winning the North 1, Group 2 Title. They have earned themselves the Male Team of the Year award.

In 2021, Pascack Valley Baseball won the Sectional Championship for North 1, Group 3, by defeating Teaneck 5-1. They won their next game in the Group 3 State semifinals but lost a heartbreaker to Ocean City in the Group 3 Championship, a game that lasted a total of 14 innings and nearly 4 hours.

Three years later, Pascack Valley returned to the championship. They took on Governor Livingston on Saturday in the Group 2 Championship but fell short of a feat they had never reached before, losing 3-0.

Junior JT Deriso was the pitcher in this game and left everything on the field. He allowed only 3 runs and 4 hits to a very talented Governor Livingston team. This season, Deriso has been Valley’s go-to guy on the mound.

JT Deriso tallied a total of 71 innings, allowing 49 hits and only 12 earned runs. He finished the season with a 1.18 ERA. Whenever Valley needed to win a big game, JT would pitch, and JT would deliver. JT often spoke about being the pitcher in the big games.

“I want to pitch in these games. I love pitching these games. I just love the hype around these games,” JT commented.

Pascack Valley’s road to the Group 2 Championship was not easy, as they played all but one game in tournament play away from Hillsdale, New Jersey, after being awarded the No. 8 seed in the North 1, Group 2 Tournament. Coach Lynch discussed this journey with reporter Greg Tartaglia.

“To go on the road the entire time, and be able to put a sectional championship up on the [gym banner]… they deserve all the credit,” Lynch said about his team.

As the No. 8 seed, Valley was only expected to win their first game against No. 9 Parsippany Hills. They did win this game, 5-1, behind the dominant pitching performance of Junior JT Deriso.

Their next game was against the No. 1 seed in the tournament, Glen Rock. Despite Glen Rock being heavy favorites, PV shocked the entirety of Bergen County by winning the game 4-1. Once again, PV was led by their ace, JT Deriso, who pitched a complete game.

Following the victory over Glen Rock, Sophomore Brendan Gaskin took the mound and pitched nearly a complete game, helping lead Pascack Valley to a 5-2 victory over No. 5 Indian Hills. With this win, the Panthers were set to take on No. 7 Lakeland in the Championship. They won 4-0, capturing the title. JT Deriso pitched a near-perfect game, giving up only one hit, zero runs, walking three batters, and striking out eight. 

Coach Lynch talked about the impact Deriso has had on this team to PJ Potter, who is apart of “JT is a big-game pitcher. It’s plain and simple,” Lynch said. “We can’t hide him anymore, he is so good on the mound.”

At the beginning of the season, PV faced significant challenges after losing six starters from the previous year, leaving many spots to fill. One key addition to the team was Don Bosco transfer Nick Donofrio. Nick, a junior, spent his freshman and sophomore years at Bosco before transferring to PV. Nick shared his thoughts on the transition.

“So the main decision I changed from Bosco to Valley is honestly just to play. I didn’t really get any playing time when I was at Bosco,” Nick said. “Once I changed to Valley, I knew I made the right decision. Everything was better,” he added.

PV had a hot start to the season, beginning 8-1, with their sole loss coming to Don Bosco Prep. Then, the rough patch started. Out of their next eight games, Valley only won two.

During this stretch, Valley lost two of their starting infielders. Starting second baseman, Junior Joe Tammaro, suffered a torn labrum, ending his season, and starting first baseman and relief pitcher, Junior Ryan Shea, suffered a season-ending ankle injury. With two starters down, Valley needed players to step up.

Valley called up Freshman Drew Kirkby and the Freshman twins, Max and Sam Stalb. Drew Kirkby was immediately placed into the starting lineup as the new second baseman. Initially seeing time on the mound, both Stalb twins were eventually moved into the starting lineup due to further injuries. Sam Stalb became the starting first baseman, and Max Stalb became a starting outfielder.

Coach Villone, the Freshman Baseball Coach and a Varsity Assistant Coach, had spent time with Drew Kirkby and the Stalb twins on the freshman level before they were called up to varsity. Villone shared the advice he gave these young men about playing varsity as freshmen.

“Just be yourself out there. It’s just a regular baseball game,” Villone said his advice was to the three freshmen.

Drew Kirkby talked about how this advice helped him when he first got called up.

“[Villone] told me to just take it like any other game and don’t think about it too much.” Drew said about the advice Villone gave him. 

After the 2-6 record in eight games, PV decided to turn things around and won 9 of their next 10 games before the state tournament began, with their only loss coming to the Bergen County Champions, St. Joes.

During the first round of the state tournament, PV faced another setback: starting shortstop, Junior James Narlinger, suffered a torn labrum and was unable to play shortstop for the rest of the season. However, James became a pinch runner and even had an at-bat towards the end of the season.

To adjust, PV moved Drew Kirkby to shortstop and sophomore Colin McMorrow to second base, resulting in the left side of the infield being manned by the Kirkby brothers. Trevor Kirkby talked about what it was like to share the field with his younger brother.

“Looking back on it, it was just so awesome for my whole family. They were super excited coming to the games,” Trevor said. “The icing on the cake was just the success we had,” he added.

From this year’s team, two athletes are moving on to play collegiate-level baseball. Pitcher Andrew Wallace will be playing at Hartford College, while outfielder Evan Biener is headed to SUNY Purchase College. Evan Biener reflected on what he learned from playing baseball at Pascack Valley.

“Baseball at Valley has taught me to appreciate good competition,” Evan said. “When I first started playing for Lynch, I wondered why we played any and every elite team we could, but I soon realized why,” Biener added.

This year’s team achieved significant accomplishments and earned individual awards. JT Deriso, Brendan Gaskin, Trevor Kirkby, James Narlinger, and DH Justin Kaplan (junior) were elected to the First Team All-League. Nick Donofrio, Evan Biener, and Joe Tammaro earned Second Team All-League honors.

In county selections, JT Deriso was named to the 1st Team All-County, Brendan Gaskin earned 2nd Team, and Trevor Kirkby and James Narlinger made the 3rd Team.

Behind the team’s success is Coach Lynch, who has been a longtime leader at Valley and guided them through their journey.

As this historic season comes to an end, PV looks forward to the future. With almost the entire starting lineup returning next year, except for Evan Biener, there is much optimism. JT Deriso and Brendan Gaskin will further develop as pitchers, while the Stalb twins and Drew Kirkby gain more experience in varsity baseball. Trevor Kirkby and James Narlinger will continue to grow both defensively and at the plate.

PV will also see the return of Joe Tammaro, Ryan Shea, and James Narlinger from injury for one last season next Spring. All three have shared their mindset going into the next season.

“We definitely created a big family this year. So I don’t see why not. Why shouldn’t we be able to compete, and be right back in the same spot we were in this season,” the group said. “We are ready to roll next year,” they added.

Pascack Valley will be back, making noise in Bergen County next season, but this season is a season to remember. 

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    Chris KirkbyJun 17, 2024 at 2:17 pm

    Nice article, Noah! Congratulations! You brought back many memories of a wonderful season for my two grandsons and their teammates. And congratulations to Coaches Lynch, Moran and Villone on an outstanding job.