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  • Writer's pictureDan Russoman

Hammonton baseball aiming for division title

HAMMONTON—The last two seasons have ended in disappointment for the Hammonton High School baseball team.

The Blue Devils reached the semifinals of the South Jersey Group 3 playoffs in both 2022 and 2023, falling a game short of competing for a sectional championship.

Two years ago, Hammonton led Delsea 3-0 in the semis before eventually losing 6-3. Last year, playing against Mainland, the Devils fought hard for seven innings before dropping a 3-0 decision.

Those losses stung, and they serve as motivation for a program that has been one of the more competitive in the Cape Atlantic League the last few seasons.

Seven of the starters from last year’s semifinal loss are gone, having graduated, but despite having many new varsity players this year, the goals remain the same for the Blue Devils: another deep postseason run.

“We’ll compete, I have no doubt about that. We’re young, but we have a lot of talent,” head coach Gregg Silvesti said.

Hammonton lost three quarters of its infield to graduation, and a third of its outfield, but Silvesti is confident those players’ production can be replaced.

While the lineup will have several new faces, the pitching staff remains mostly in place with four of its top pitchers returning.

Senior Brayden Markart was the ace last year, tossing a team high 46 innings and striking out 31 with a 3.20 ERA. Jamison McNally threw to a 2.12 ERA last year and will once again be a key member of the rotation.

Lukas Guerrier, Frank Sacco, Jaiden Franchetti and Ryan Beebe also return to add to a deep staff. Beebe is a crafty southpaw and Sacco will handle the late innings for the Blue Devils.

Dom DeNucci, Luke Bumbera, Braxton Gillis and Nic Schino will also see innings this year.

“We have pitching. Now we just need to score runs,” Silvesti said.

Spearheading the lineup this season will be junior Kole Bagnell, who batted .360 last year with 16 RBI and 21 runs scored. Bagnell split time between second base and catcher last year, and could be the Blue Devils starter at shortstop this season.

Landon Haines handled designated hitter duties last season, and could also see time catching this spring, splitting time with Ethan Peterson.

JD Calderone swings a strong bat and will also be in the mix at third base after seeing limited varsity action in 2023.

Bagnell could be the lone infielder back this season, after Hammonton lost Gavin West, Drew Haines and Drew Fields to graduation. Among those who could play this season will be Caden Humphries (1B) Bumbera, who has the inside track on the second base job. two talented underclassmen.

Back in the outfield are Austin Schoell, who could shift to second base, and batted .256 last season, and Jaxon Miller, who hit at a .303 clip a season ago, while Markart takes over in center.


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