When A.J. Gale was a youngster growing up in North Bergen, he always dreamed of his future.
“To be honest, it was always my dream to play college baseball,” Gale said. “My parents [Andy and Kathleen] put me in the right position to travel down the right road.”
Gale, a senior at High Tech High School who plays baseball at North Bergen, had success every step of the way. Ever since he was a Little Leaguer, Gale was a standout pitcher with excellent command and composure, a huge part to several different championship teams he played for, including the 2008 North Bergen Little League All-Star team that went to the state championships.
Gale’s success continued into high school, where he became one of the pitching aces for the Bruins.
“He’s really been like having a coach on the field,” said North Bergen head coach Patrick Brady. “He’s just as mentally gifted as he is physically. I definitely knew that he was [NCAA] Division I material. He mixes his off-speed pitches with his fastball and slider. To throw those pitches for strikes separates him from most. He’s so composed out there and he’s mature, well beyond his years.”
Gale went to several different camps and clinics last summer to prepare for his senior year.
While attending the Saddle River Professional Baseball Institute, run by former New York Mets farmhand Doug Cinnella, Gale reached 91 miles-per-hour on the radar gun.
“I honestly couldn’t believe I could throw it that hard,” Gale said.
But as soon as he did, Gale’s life changed, as did his stock as a college prospect.
He received offers from Monmouth, NJIT, Manhattan, Seton Hall and Rutgers, but when Gale paid a visit to St. John’s University, he knew he was hooked.
“It just felt right to me,” Gale said. “It didn’t take long for me to decide.”
Last week, Gale signed a national letter of intent to attend St. John’s next fall.
“It’s pretty exciting,” Gale said. “It’s a case that dreams do come true.”
Gale said he listened to the advice of North Bergen assistant coach Gil Zayas, a former Hudson Reporter Player of the Year when he played for the now-defunct St. Joseph of the Palisades. Zayas had an excellent career at St. John’s and played for the Red Storm’s respected coach Ed Blankmeyer.
“He really helped me in the process a lot,” Gale said of Zayas. “He told me how great the school is and helped me make the decision. It made me more comfortable with the school.”
Incredibly, Zayas’ younger brother, Gianni, signed last year with North Carolina State, where he currently attends.
Gale plans to major in sports management at St. John’s. The school has a highly respected sports management program.
“That was another factor that weighed in on my decision,” Gale said.
Gale has a 3.86 grade point average at High Tech, so he definitely has a bright academic future.
Gale is happy to have the decision made for him early, that come spring, he can concentrate on just pitching and not worry about the scouts holding the radar gun from the backstops of the county.
“It’s definitely a relief,” Gale said. “Now I can try to bring us to a county championship. I can be relaxed and just worry about getting people out.”
“It’s a nice feeling and it’s an extremely exciting time for our program, for Hudson County and for local baseball,” Brady said. “He’s done now and signed. He’s definitely a mature young man, but there’s definitely pressure lifted off him. I’m very happy for him, because he’s been like a little brother to me.”
Brady said that North Bergen pitching coach Danny Perez, a volunteer, deserves a lot of credit with Gale’s development…
Former St. Peter’s Prep basketball standout Ronald Roberts is off to a sensational start this season in college basketball with St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia.
Roberts was named the Atlantic 10 Player of the Week for last week, averaging 15.3 points and 13.0 rebounds over the first three games of the season. Roberts had 21 points and 16 rebounds in a win over Notre Dame at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn last week and had 15 points and 11 rebounds in a game against Florida State last Saturday night…
Former St. Anthony girls’ basketball standout Jasmin Brandon is off to a great start in college basketball, as she was named the Hudson Valley Women’s Athletic Conference Rookie of the Week.
Brandon, a freshman at the College of New Rochelle, had 22 points and seven rebounds in a win against Albertus Magnus College last week and had eight points and seven rebounds in a win over Cooper Union.
Three local teams won their respective NJSIAA state playoff games last week, thanks to the impressive efforts of standout players.
First, St. Peter’s Prep junior running back Jonathan Hilliman led the Marauders to a 48-7 win over Seton Hall Prep by rushing for 233 yards and four touchdowns in the Non-Public Group 4 quarterfinals. The Marauders will now face Paramus Catholic in the semifinals next weekend…
Then, Hudson Catholic defeated Morristown-Beard, 15-9, thanks to the two-way effort of Kevin Albert, who rushed for 125 yards and scored two touchdowns on offense, while amassing an astounding 19 tackles, breaking the school’s single-game tackle record in the process. The Hawks will travel to St. Joseph of Hammonton for the Non-Public Group 1 semifinals next weekend…
Finally, St. Anthony defeated Queen of Peace, 35-12, to advance in Non-Public Group 1, thanks to 204 yards and two touchdowns from quarterback Derek Sims. The Friars now move on to face St. Mary’s of Rutherford in the sectional semifinals next weekend…
Former Hudson Reporter Female Athlete of the Year Sybil Lynch enjoyed a great first season of college soccer at Pine Manor College in Massachusetts. Lynch, who scored nine goals during the course of the season, earned Great South Athletic Conference All-Freshman honors this season…--Jim Hague
Jim Hague can be reached at OGSMAR@aol.com.