Confidence builds for Warriors’ baseball team despite 1st loss

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By Wayne Witkowski

New Egypt High School’s baseball team suffered its first loss of the season April 8, but new coach Tom Corby and his players still felt an increased confidence as they head into a key stretch early in the season.

The Warriors, a New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) Group I school, competed well at Group IV school Freehold Township High School before losing, 5-2, last weekend.

“This gives us pretty good confidence, especially if you take away that one inning that hurt us for the game,” shortstop Neal Flogel said. “If we can eliminate mistakes, we’ll have a pretty good team.”

New Egypt took a 2-1 lead after the first inning — one run scoring off a hit by Nate Peacock — when Freehold Township pushed across three runs without hitting the ball out of the infield. It pushed across an insurance run off a sharp single in the sixth inning.

In that fourth inning, Freehold Township’s first two hitters walked and were moved up on a sacrifice bunt. One run scored on a groundout and the other on a wild pitch. A walk, stolen base and error let in the third run.

“This shows our kids are capable of winning games,” Corby said. “But we can’t have that margin of error as a Group I school. When you’re a Group I school, playing bigger schools in tough games gives you confidence. That team [at Freehold Township] is as good as anybody we’ll see.”

Starter Mark Carroll pitched three innings, Kyle Frimel threw the next three and Anthony Burr closed out the seventh inning. But New Egypt had only two hits and Freehold Township retired 18 of 19 batters to close out the game.

“I think our defense is one of our stronger points,” Corby said, pointing to a strong game turned in by Flogel and the reliable play of outfielders Peacock, Frimel, Jordan Bendick and Bryce Cristman. “We’re going to play low-scoring games. Our pitching is decent; our defense is good. We should’ve hit the ball better [against Freehold Township]. We made the plays [in the field].

“The thing is, we’re fast. We have to get runners on base.”

This week, New Egypt played Burlington County Institute of Technology Medford Campus April 10 and the following day took on perennial NJSIAA Group II contender Delsea Regional High School in the second round of the Mercer County Tournament. It hosts Palmyra High School at 4 p.m. April 13 — its fourth game in six days — and opens its Burlington County Scholastic League Freedom Division schedule April 18 at Riverside High School.

A new state rule limits pitching by pitch count instead of innings pitched, but Corby said he has enough arms to carry his team through compressed schedules and tournament play.

“It’s crazy with the pitch count,” Corby said. “It puts everything up in the air inning to inning.”

“I think we’re pretty good with pitching. It’s a matter of us hitting the ball,” Flogel said.

Corby said five different pitchers warmed up against Freehold Township.

“Mark Carroll pitched well, and we were decent in the field, but we struggled hitting,” Corby said.

Peacock is the established ace, followed by Frimel, Carroll and Burr. Corby said he also can give the ball to Chris Fernicola, Matt Soles and Anthony DeSantis.

“They’re good enough to do it,” Corby said of the trio.