Morris Knolls Baseball

Kaletcher's memorable night helps Morris Knolls defeat Randolph

Morris Knolls and Randolph. Two schools that have been rivals in baseball for as far back as many of us in Morris County can remember. On Monday night, Gardner Field in Denville played host to the latest chapter when the #11 Golden Eagles hosted the #9 Rams.

Knolls, with a 5-1 record, had only suffered a defeat at the hands of St Joe’s (Montvale) earlier in the month. Randolph, on the other hand, entered Monday’s contest with an impressive 6-0 record, their best start since 2017, and were scoring runs at a blistering pace. 

The storylines went deeper this time, with both teams having players ranked in the Top 10 in NJ. 

Scouts from all over flocked to the stands to witness the showdown between MK’s Luke Dickerson and Randolph’s James Kleiven, both ranked sixtg and seventh, respectively, in NJ. The stakes were high, with both teams vying for the top spot in their divisions. 

Senior James Khan toed the slab for the Eagles with the sun setting, and we were ready for NJAC baseball. After the Rams were retired in order in the top of the first, Kleiven took the hill to face the Morris Knolls lineup. 

The University of Miami commit had not pitched in a week since facing Delbarton and labored in the first. Kleiven drilled Dickerson to open up the frame, and after a Dylan Fitzsimmons single, senior Mike Simone blooped an RBI single to left to give Knolls the early 1-0 lead. Brodie Frecker dug in with runners at the corners and belted a three-run shot over the left field wall for his team-leading fourth home run of the year, giving the Golden Eagles a 4-0 lead early.

After stranding the bases loaded in the second, the Rams struck back in the top of the third inning. Mason Willson drew a walk and scored on an RBI single by RJ Dougherty. That brought up AJ Terry, who, as a sophomore, was already leading the team in RBIs with eight. Terry drove a 1-2 pitch from Kahn over the wall in left-center, cutting the Morris Knolls lead to 4-3.  

Chase Lorent tied the game at four in the top of the fourth inning, roping a double off Sophmore Dean Kaletcher, who took over for Kahn. The Rams have come all the way back from being down 4-0 in the first and seemed to have all the momentum with Kleviven cruising after his four-run first and the bottom third of the Eagles order due up in the fourth.

However, Carter Seely and company had different ideas and showed why this Knolls team is the defending baseball state champions. Seely and Billy Wingren singled to open up the inning, advancing on a wild pitch to put runners and second and third with no outs for Ryan Kuehne. The sophmore singled down the third base line, driving in two runs to put Knolls back on top, 6-4. Dylan Fitzsimmons added another run, driving in Kuehne later in the inning with an RBI single, extending the Eagles lead 7-4. 

The three-run lead was more than enough for Morris Knolls’ reliever, Dean Kaletcher. After giving up the tying run in the fourth, the Sophmore shut down Randolph’s high-powered offense the rest of the way, leading the Eagles to a 7-4 victory. 

In four innings of work, Kaletcher allowed one run on one hit and struck out six en route to his second win of the season. The win improves Knolls to 6-1 on the year and hands Randolph their first loss at 6-1. 

While both teams are not slated to play again this season, this has all the makings of a late-round Morris County Baseball Tournament matchup. Both teams showed they belong at the top of their divisions and are never out of any game. Could we see Knolls vs Randolph again this year? This is baseball, folks; anything can happen!

Next Up

Randolph hosts Chatham on 4/16 at 4:00 p.m.

Morris Knolls travels to High Point on 4/17 at 4:00 p.m.

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