A Year on the Banner: Lancer Baseball are Passaic County Champs

While most of the Lancers baseball team wasn’t born to see the last county championship in 2006, they cemented their legacy in 2024 by bringing the title back to Wanaque once again.
The Lakeland baseball team reacts to Mickey Gilligans first inning two-run home run in the first inning of the Passaic county final.
The Lakeland baseball team reacts to Mickey Gilligan’s first inning two-run home run in the first inning of the Passaic county final.
Courtesy of the LRHS Live Feed

AAfter years of falling just short, the Lakeland Lancers baseball team are Passaic county champions for the first time since 2006. This victory came against the Pompton Lakes Cardinals on May 14, 2024.

Anthony Degiglio reacts to his first inning 2-run home run vs. Pompton Lakes in the Passaic county championship. (Courtesy of the LRHS Live Feed)

The path to the finals wasn’t easy for the Lancers, as their first game, the quarterfinals, was against Passaic Valley. The Hornets and Lancers split a game a piece in their two game conference series earlier in the season, so the quarterfinals essentially was the rubber match between the two squads. Both teams threw their aces, as the Lancers threw senior Matthew Nicholson, and the Hornets threw junior Jake Delaney. The Hornets struck first with a run in the third inning to go up 1-0, but three runs in the bottom of the sixth helped the Lancers take a late lead. The Lancers sealed the deal in the top of the seventh with a Brian Hoffmann save to escape the opening round with a 3-1 victory. Nicholson’s six inning gem was enough to give the Lancers the win despite their lack of offense.

After beating Passaic Valley, Lakeland was faced with the juggernaut of the county, the No. 1 seed DePaul Spartans. Going into the game, DePaul was ranked top 20 in the state and five in North Jersey. The Lancers weren’t phased by the hype surrounding the Spartans, however, as they immediately jumped out to a 4-0 right out of the gates in the first inning. The Lancer offense continued to punish the DePaul staff, as they totaled eight runs on the day. However, DePaul had been known for their powerful offense all year. Once again, the Lancers weren’t phased by the noise, as Lancers ace Nicholson once again threw a gem, giving up just two runs over seven innings, good enough for a complete game. Nicholson proved himself as one of, if not the best pitcher in Passaic county by shutting down the No. 1 seed in the tournament. However, it can’t be understated how pivotal the bats were either. Sophomore Mickey Gilligan went 2-3 with a two-run home run and a double, Rowan Conway went 2-2 with a triple and two walks, and senior Anthony Degiglio had a two RBI single.

Kenny Manning pitches vs. Pompton Lakes in the Passaic county championship. Manning was the game’s winning pitcher, throwing 5.1 strong innings. (Courtesy of the LRHS Live Feed)

After the incredible win against DePaul, the Lancers reshifted their focus for the final against the No. 3 seeded Pompton Lakes Cardinals, who were 17-2 leading up to the finals. There was familiarity between both squads, as the last time the Lancers made the county finals, in 2013, the Lancers had played and lost to the Cardinals. The 2024 Lancers looked to flip the script. The Lancers offense exploded early, as two run home runs from Gilligan and Degiglio helped the Lancer’s jump out to a 4-0 first inning lead. Gilligan told the Ledger “Hitting a homerun in the first inning set the tone, and seeing all the fans in the big stadium was an awesome experience.” Junior Peter Hammerlee credited both home runs as his favorite moment of the game, saying, “When Mickey and Ant both hit home runs in the first inning when we jumped out to a quick start I knew we were going to win.” Win the Lancers did, as they rode the four run first inning through the whole game, as stellar pitching by senior Kenny Manning and sophomore Anthony Iasiello carried the Lancers to a 4-1 victory, giving them their first county championship since 2006. Gilligan earned Passaic County Tournament MVP honors for his efforts, going 4-8 across three games, including two home runs.

The Lancers were a part of history as well, as the game was played at the historic Hinchliffe Stadium in Paterson, the first finals game to be played there since the first ever Passaic County baseball finals in 1971.

When asked how it felt to win counties, Gilligan said, “It felt great, our team had been on a roll and going into that game we had no thoughts of losing. We played well against a top ranked DePaul and that carried over to Pompton Lakes. Especially doing it for the first time since 2006 and being the 4 seed really gave us motivation.” When asked the same question, captain Hoffmann said, “It felt great, this is something that as a team we have been working towards since January. And it means a lot when you look at the banner in the gym that you put a number up there.”
Congratulations to the Lakeland Lancer baseball team for making the whole community proud.

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About the Contributor
Sean Walker
Sean Walker, Staff Writer
Sean is a senior at LRHS and this is his first year writing for the Lancer Ledger. He is excited to be taking Journalism 1 because it will allow him to write about things he's passionate about, such as sports, history, and entertainment. At LRHS, Walker participates in wrestling, football, and track and field, and is a member of the National Honors Society. Overall, Walker looks forward to strengthening his writing through the field of journalism this year.

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