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Jul 12, 2022

Knollwood Captures Second Central Intermediate Baseball League Championship

By Tim Morris

There is a reason that the Knollwood Middle School’s baseball team keeps winning. Head Coach Sean Reid believes in keeping and playing the sixth graders on his squad. That way, Reid noted, he has 14 returning players every season and the team is able to maintain its consistency following the graduation of the eighth graders.

“I keep 22 players,” said Reid. “Everybody plays in every game.”

Knollwood captured its second straight Central Intermediate Baseball League championship this spring, beating Long Branch, 3-0, in the final. The Knights finished the season 8-1. The lone loss was to Long Branch, and the team avenged that loss when it mattered most: in the championship game. Knollwood is 19-2 over its two-year run as league championships.

This year’s Knights were a balanced squad.

“We were good in all three phases,” said Reid. “We had five kids who could pitch. They were very, very good at throwing strikes. In our starting lineup, seven of the nine batted .300 or better.”

Knollwood’s fielding was just as critical to its success, committing just nine errors all season. The defense made the job much easier for the Knight hurlers. They could pitch to contact, knowing their defenders would make the play and not give teams extra outs.

The Knights were in tournament final the last three seasons, winning the last in 2021-22. The success of Knollwood is showing up at Rumson-Fair Haven on the high school baseball team. Reid pointed out that many Knollwood grads have helped RFH become a Shore Conference power. The Bulldogs won the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group II title for the first time in 18 years this spring and are the Shore’s top-ranked team with a 22-4 record.

The 2022 champion Knights are Luke Lydon, Kellen Murray, Jack Gyimesi, DJ Ylagan, Luke Gallegher, Casper Billington, Grant Zimmerer, Luke Dougherty, Cole Hogan, Aiden Dill, Colin Murphy, Miles Martin, Nolan Roe, Oliver Kolb, Luke Cruz, Andrew Todaro, Cole Hogan, Devin Fahey, Brody Mauro, Chris Todaro and Will Giardino.

Playing for Knollwood is about more than winning baseball games.

“We teach kids life skills and to take care of each other,” said Reid.

That was no more evident than in what the Knights and the league did for their two autistic players, Chris Todaro and Will Giardino. They each got an at-bat during the game, hit the ball and then circled the bases, getting support from their teammates and opponents. Reid said that he talked to all the coaches the Knights played and told them about his plan to have the players hit; there wasn’t one dissenting coach.

“All the coaches were extremely supportive which says a lot about the league,” said Reid.