By Wayne Witkowski
Star pitcher Nate Peacock has been on the shelf with arm problems, but it has not diminished the performance recently of New Egypt High School’s baseball team.
The Warriors (8-7) won two of their last three games, scoring 34 runs in a stretch that included a victory over Pemberton Township High School, 13-12, May 8; a loss to Holy Cross High School, 13-7, May 13; and a 14-8 division victory over Riverside High School May 11.
New Egypt and Riverside are 4-2 in the Burlington County Scholastic League Freedom Division race behind first-place Maple Shade High School, which is 5-2 in the division.
Florence Township Memorial High School (4-10 overall, 2-3 division) could have something to say about how that race ends this week when the league championship will be decided.
New Egypt was scheduled for a big week of three league games against Florence May 15, Riverside (10-4 overall) May 16 and Burlington City High School, which is winless in the league, May 18. New Egypt then embarks on the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association Central Jersey, Group I tournament. Maple Shade (10-7 overall) plays Florence May 18.
“When we play our best game, not too many guys can beat us,” pitcher and outfielder Kyle Frimel said.
That hasn’t been easy without Peacock. Despite his 0-2 record, he has allowed 12 runs — all earned — on 13 hits in 20.1 innings pitched with a 4.13 ERA. He has struck out 26 and walked 19.
It’s uncertain how long Peacock, who also has been the top outfielder in center field, will be unable to throw but was moved into the lineup recently as a designated hitter. He bats .333 with 13 RBIs.
“As long as we still have his bat in the lineup, it helps,” Frimel said.
Junior right-hander Marc Carroll has pitched well, emerging as the No. 1 pitcher as well as the starting second baseman, and he has a respectable stat line to show for it. In 28 innings pitched, Carroll has allowed 17 runs — all earned — on 22 hits with a 4.25 ERA. He has struck out 16 and walked 19.
Carroll got his signature win May 2 when he allowed only one hit — a bloop single — in a 7-0 victory over Maple Shade. New Egypt had lost to Maple Shade by the same 7-0 score in its previous game.
“With Nate out, that definitely hurt our pitching at first, but he’s able to hit, which helps, and it’s made other pitchers step up,” shortstop Neal Flogel said.
“Marc has really come along, and we have four or five guys who can go in at any point, but we have to get more consistent,” Frimel said. “There have been way too many walks by me and us as a unit. We need to cut down on that.”
Frimel, like Carroll, has more walks (12) than strikeouts (11) in his 16.2 innings on the mound. He has allowed 22 runs — 17 earned — on 18 hits.
“It’s not the best pitching, but my hitting’s not bad,” said Frimel, who bats .268 with seven RBIs and a lot of contact outs to move some baserunners. “I feel I have some power, but it’s mainly contact to try to hit ground balls and drive it up the middle.”
What also has helped New Egypt is moving freshman Randy Steen, who is younger brother of former New Egypt star Taylor Steen, from shortstop to catcher about three weeks into the season.
“[The move] has made us better connected as a team,” Frimel said.
“Everyone’s way more comfortable with him catching. He’s gained confidence and is getting stronger,” Flogel said of Steen.
Flogel, meanwhile, has established himself well as a shortstop in a season where new coach Tom Corby has effectively moved players around in the field. Flogel bats .386 with nine RBIs.
“It’s the bats. Our defense is strong, but some days we hit solid and some days not. Once we do that, we’ll be fine,” Flogel said.”We just have to win out. It’s a challenge for us.”
First baseman Mickey Horner is batting .478 with 18 RBIs, and third baseman Anthony Burr hits .490 with 11 RBIs. They lead the offense.
Burr had three hits for two RBIs in the recent victory over Riverside, while outfielders Jordan Bendick and Connor Healy and Horner each had two hits and two RBIs. Peacock also had two hits and batted in a run. Carroll allowed four runs — all earned — on six hits in 5.1 innings. He struck out two and walked four.