Arms show steers Delmarva College Prep in Super 17

By DN WRITING STAFF | June 28, 2024

Joaquin Rodriguez slams a two-run single in the fifth inning for DCP 2025s.

By Rich Bevensee

It’s the height of recruiting season for college baseball prospects, and the Delmarva College Prep 2025s are giving the scouts a pretty good show.

More specifically, Delmarva’s quartet of tall, hard-throwing righties had the scouts buzzing all week at Diamond Nation in Flemington, and especially on Thursday morning, thanks mostly to mid-80s fastballs on the radar gun.

Those blazing fastballs, cleverly mixed in with curveballs and changeups, allowed Delmarva to hold Spartans Baseball 2025s to one run on four hits in a 9-1 victory in Week 2 of the Super 17 Invitational Powered by Victus. 

Delmarva finished the week 3-0-1 and the Spartans closed at 3-1. The top five teams from Week 1 (June 17-21) and 2 earn berths in the Super 17 Top 25 Showcase on Aug. 12-15. 

The most commanding performance from Delmarva, a program consisting mostly of players from Maryland and Delaware’s Eastern Shore, belonged to University of Maryland commit Brady Wardell, a 6-4, 210-pound righty and rising senior at the Conrad School of Science in Wilmington, Del. Wardell committed to play for the Terps last fall. 

Wardell topped out at 82 but stayed above 80 while pitching three scoreless innings with his life-long best friend and high school teammate Max Hansen behind the plate. Wardell allowed two hits and no walks and struck out seven with a fastball, slider and a “changeup in progress.”

More on the changeup later. It seems all of Wardell’s teammates are working on that pitch. 

“It means everything to have him back there,” said Wardell, who noted he’s been throwing to Hansen since they were 7 years old. “We’re best friends on and off the field. I think I only went one year without him catching me in my whole life. The best part about that is, most of the time I don’t have to shake him off. He knows exactly what I want to throw every time.”

Delmarva, and Wardell in particular, were stunned for a moment when Hansen was struck on the jaw with a fourth-inning fastball from Spartan lefty Brody Moore and was promptly removed from the game. Hansen had a swollen jaw and cheek after the game but appeared to be in good spirits. 

Wardell said there’s no time to ease off the gas pedal this summer despite having a Division 1 commitment in his back pocket. For one thing, he recently returned from a torn right labrum and he wants to continue to make sure he’s pitching at full power. 

The other reason is sheer competition.

“It’s about getting better and not saying, ‘I’m committed so I can just chill,’” Wardell said. “I have to keep on proving people right.”

The next three Delmarva pitchers threw one inning each, and unlike Wardell, they were pitching to impress the several scouts in attendance at ‘The Nation.’

Ben Powers is a 6-1, 170-pound righty who’s a rising senior at Stephen Decatur High in Berlin, Md. He showed off his low 80s fastball in the two-seam and four-seam variety, as well as his curveball and changeup “in progress.”

Powers allowed one run on one hit with no walks and he struck out two in the fourth inning.

“There’s a couple schools looking at me right now and I’m hoping to hear from some more,” Powers said. “It’s very important to do well this year especially, but I don’t think about it too much. I just go out there and do what I do. Do my best.” 

Delmarva’s third fireballer was Jaxon Clampitt, a 6-2, 175-pound righty who popped the mitt at 86 and settled in the low 80s. He, also, throws a curveball and a “changeup in progress.” Clampitt is a rising senior at Cape Henlopen High in Lewes, Del. 

Clampitt pitched a scoreless fifth with no hits, one walk and two strikeouts.

Michael Figner, leading off first, was one of only four Spartan batters to earn a base hit.

“The most important thing for me is to make sure I stay prepared and throw a lot, just making sure I’m ready for the game,” Clampitt said. “Maybe before the games I’m a little bit nervous, but once I’m on the mound I’m not thinking, I’m just throwing. Throwing my pitches, throwing hard. 

“At home is when I think about it, when coaches call me or I call them,” Clampitt said. “I just gotta talk to them and see if they like me and perform in front of them. When I’m out here and I perform, I know I’ll get some attention and, at some point, I’ll commit to a school that I like and that likes me.”

The fourth power arm Delmarva sent to the hill was Peter Onuschak, a 6-2, 185-pound righty who is a rising senior at Sussex Central High in Georgetown, Del. He topped out at 84 and leveled off at 82 while throwing a curve and change as well. He said his two tasks this summer are throwing harder, and developing his changeup – which is a “work in progress.” His words. 

“I look forward to recruiting but it’s also the most stressful period in baseball,” Onuschak said. “I’m ready for the relief that comes with commitment. Right now I’m trying to have fun with my friends but also I’m trying to get better as a player.”

While pitching ruled the day for Delmarva, the Eastern Shore squad didn’t leave town without offering some offensive fireworks. The loudest one came off the bat of 6-6 rising senior Joaquin Rodriguez, who slugged a two-run single in the top of the fifth and helped turn a close game into a six-inning mercy-rule win.

Rodriguez, who attends Sussex Central with Onuschak, is committed to Delaware. Last fall he was named All-State in football as a punter.

Clampitt helped his cause with two hits. Nate Burzonski, who entered the game as a pinch-hitter in the fifth, knocked a pair of RBI singles. 

Wardell and Moore matched zeroes for the first three innings. In fact, Moore retired the first nine Delmarva batters in order. 

The top of the fourth inning is when Delmarva found cracks in the Spartan armor. Jude Swift led off by reaching on an outfield error, and four batters later he and pinch-runner Jace Jarman scored on an infield error following a Rodriguez ground ball for a 2-0 Delmarva lead.

The Spartans scored once in the bottom of the fourth when leadoff hitter Daniel Storch singled, stole second, took third on a wild pitch and scored on a Brannon McBride RBI groundout. 

That was the only run Delmarva surrendered all week. It outscored the Super 17 competition 35-1. 

Considering how well Delmarva was pitching, its five-run rally in the fifth salted the game away. Consecutive pinch-hit RBI singles by Berzonski and Dylan Pirrung gave Delmarva a 4-1 lead. Rodriguez ripped a liner up the middle with the bases loaded to score two, and Chase Ruley came home on a throwing error on the play to make it 7-1.

Delmarva added the final touches in the sixth when Garrett Overby scored on a wild pitch and Berzonski notched his second run-scoring base hit. 

Moore pitched 4⅔ innings for the Spartans and allowed seven runs (five earned) on five hits and two walks with six strikeouts. T.J. Snyder pitched the final 1⅓ and yielded two runs on three hits and no walks.

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