COVID-19 High School Spotlights: Hamilton West Hornets are Stinging for Baseball Action

With the coronavirus threatening the future of their season, the Hamilton West Hornets are looking forward to getting back together on the baseball field.

Hamilton West hornets pitcher during a 2019 game

By: Keith Noonan

It was a cold January day, when Hamilton Head Baseball Coach Mike Moceri and I passed each other before a Trenton High basketball game. He was refereeing the varsity game, and I was about to call the game along with Rich Fisher on WBCB. Coach Moceri and I talked about the upcoming baseball season and how we both were looking forward to this spring to see the guys in action.

A lot has changed since then. The CoronaVirus has struck this world unlike any other. Events cancelled, sports postponed, and schools closed. It is unprecedented. WBCB is introducing a series of articles putting a spotlight on local high school sports teams that have had their careers and year shortened by the pandemic.

For Hamilton West baseball, coach Moceri said his players were heartbroken when they found out the season was suspended, and he really felt for them. “The players put in so much work this offseason individually and as a team,” coach Moceri commented. The players had high expectations, and that was taken away from them and I think that is what hurts the most, Moceri continued. “On the other hand this is a very difficult time for all, and the most important thing is to make sure everyone is doing everything they can to keep themselves, their family, and the people around them safe,” Moceri said.

The players put in so much work this offseason individually and as a team

Coach Moceri always looks at what he lost from year to year. But also what he gained. Moceri told me they are returning 20 out of 24 wins on the bump, and 5 hitters hitting over .300 last season. Clearly a lot of potential. With that being said they had very high expectations for this team in 2020. Moceri believes his coaching staff, and players, had the ability to contend for a Mercer County Tournament Championship, a Group III Sectional Title, and a Group III State Championship. He has reason to believe that, his six seniors who may have according to their coach, alot to play for are:

Their star Pitcher: Senior RHP Nick Diaz– 7-1 with a 1.01 ERA in 2019, team leader, wants the ball every single day, pitchers with a chip on his shoulder.

Senior LF Kiefer Goss– a Tremendous young man, has the Macarena as his walk-up song has a 328 avg. in 2019. When you mention Kiefer, you also must mention the Macarena.

Senior C Connor Luckie– .333 avg, with 25 walks.
Luckie, a catcher who usually doesn’t run when he gets on base, can certainly thank his courtesy runner who accounted for 30 runs scored in 2019, team leader. Coach Moceri acknowledged him as a leader on and off the field.

Junior CF Danilo Perdomo– .303 avg, with 7 2b, 17 walks, and 14 rbis in 2019. He was as solid of a player on and off the field in my opinion. He is solid at everything.

Junior P/UT David Zamora– He had a .299 avg, with 1 hr, and 17 rbis, at the plate. He was also a pitcher. On the mound, Zamora was 1-0 with a 0.95 era in 2019. Moceri said he was really looking forward to seeing what he had in store this season. Moceri really felt it was going to be a breakthrough year for Zamora.

Junior LHP Nate Rodriguez– 3-0 record with 2.19 era in 2019- The tall lefty was ready for a huge season in 2020, was going to use his sophomore experience to his advantage in 2020.

If the season is indeed not going to happen, three teammates on this roster will actually remain teammates at the next level. Goss, Luckie and Diaz are committed to playing ball and continue their education at Rowan College at Burlington County Community College.

With the unknown of whether the season will somehow play later on next month or in June, coach Moceri’s message to his players was simple. “We told our guys before we left them: We do not know how long this is going to be. Do what you can to stay safe and healthy. Enjoy this time with your family and make the best of it. Do what you can to stay in shape in case we have some type of shortened season,” Moceri said.

Finally, coach Moceri sees the time away from the game right now as a great time to spend time with his wife and kids. Moceri has two young kids, Logan, who is 3 years old, and Gavin 1 year old. “I have really enjoyed this time at home, you will never get these days back. The kids have definitely kept me busy, trying to keep them occupied is a job within itself. We have done it all from walks, bike rides, baking, making pizza, building forts, board games, learning activities, potty training, and more,” Moceri said.