Any good coach will tell you the job he or she has done is all about their players. Larry Santowasso of Rutgers Prep – who’s been the Argonauts’ head coach for nearly three decades – will say the same thing.
But his efforts to help bring his team back from a 1-6 start to a 14-15 finish – with trips to the Prep B and Non-Public North B finals, and a Somerset County Tournament Championship in the mix – have earned him Coach of the Year honors from Central Jersey Sports Radio for 2023.
With the SCT seeding meeting just two weeks into the season because of the way the event had to be scheduled to fit the semifinals and title game in at TD Bank Park, working around the Somerset Patriots’ schedule, Prep was just 1-6 when all the coaches gathered at Immaculata High School in Somerville to seed the tournament.
Bridgewater-Raritan, at the time, was a no-brainer top-seed, and a vote wasn’t even held; everyone agreed. Then, the coaches lobbied on behalf of their teams. Santowasso knew they wouldn’t be a high seed, but basically said “We’re not a 1-6 baseball team.”
Turns out they weren’t.
They won five straight to win the Somerset County Tournament, with junior Max Treonze outdueling Ridge’s Connor Byrne, to beat the defending champions, a team they’d lost to in the finals in 2022.
They also reached the Prep B final, losing to Pennington, and a pitcher named Bryce Meccage, who Santowasso thinks may be the best in the state. And then they went all the way to the Non-Public North B final in the state tournament, where they lost on a walk-off single at St. Mary-Rutherford.
His team never quit at 1-6. And while it takes the players’ to execute the vision, Santowasso had the vision, and his team was rewarded.
Click below to hear Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Mike Pavlichko talk with Rutgers Prep head coach Larry Santowasso, as well as juniors Max Treonze (P/1B) and Evan Laub (2B) about their comeback season: