It should be a lot of fun to watch Jake Dally conclude his high school experience this spring at Nazareth Area High School in Pa. after seeing his incredible maturation the past 12 months as a ball player.
“Jake really took off this summer,” said Kevin Cust, Dally’s Diamond Jacks Super 17U coach. “I’ve worked with him the last few years and he’s really grown as a ball player and physically as well.”
Dally just concluded his sixth and final year with the Diamond Jacks as the Super 17U squad capped its fall season with a walk-off victory last Wednesday night on Field 1 at Diamond Nation, marking the end of their playing days at the Flemington facility.
Dally committed in August to Binghamton University, a Division 1 program that is steadily on the rise and one that has made its own in-roads with Garden State players. In that sense, it seems Binghamton and Dally are catching each other at the right time.
The 6-1, 180 middle infielder is coming off a terrific summer in which he batted .351 on the strength of 47 hits, 25 of which were for extra bases. Dally has indeed displayed a knack for sending scorchers into the power allies and hit an impressive 10 home runs since the start of the summer season.
“It was good to see him drive the ball this summer,” said Cust. “Most of his homers were to left-center, but he did hit a few oppos, too. He gets the bat head out there right where he should.”
Dally’s very strong high school season at Nazareth — he batted .382 with 29 hits and 11 extra-base hits — last spring carried nicely into the summer and that drew the attention of a good number of college scouts. He’d whittle his college choices down to Elon and Binghamton, the latter having just opened in April its new $60 million stadium and training facility in the hills of Upstate, N.Y.
“Elon and Binghamton both offered and I liked both,” said Dally. “I just felt real close to the Binghamton coaches. Coach (Ryan) Hurba is the one who recruited me.” Hurba is a familiar face around Diamond Nation, having stepped in as a clinician over the years at summer clinics.
Dally and his family made the trip north to Binghamton during Christmas break 2020 and took in what was then still a facilities upgrade in the works through the generosity of an anonymous donor.
“It’s amazing,” said Dally, who will make his official visit to the SUNY school on Dec. 3. “Everything was right and the new facility is crazy. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity at Binghamton.”
Dally brings so much to the table as a player and teammate, aside from his 14 doubles and 10 home runs this summer. He flashed quite the cannon at shortstop, boasting 90 miles per-hour velocity on his throws to first base. That explains his high school coach’s desire to put him on the mound, where he proved dominant.
“Jake has a good baseball body and all the talent that will play at the next level,” says Cust. “When we were in Jupiter you can hear the guys on the other teams talking about him.”
Dally views himself primarily as a position player in college but Cust insists he could also close with that plus-90 fastball. His well-rounded play is reflected in the impressive numbers he posted at Nazareth during a junior season in which the team went 17-8 and was the East Penn League and District 11 runners-up.
“We started off pretty hot and took that energy into the playoffs,” said Dally. “We had a good run but we came up short.” The East Penn Conference may be known for its outstanding football, but it also boasts a bounty of high-level baseball talent. Nazareth’s group classification is the larger schools 6A, so the Blue Eagles face some of the top competition in Eastern, Pa. “We’re probably one of the smaller 6A schools,” says Dally.
Dally’s talent stands out, whether he is playing East Penn ball or on the travel circuit with the Diamond Jacks.
His contributions at the plate during his junior season included 8 doubles, a triple and 2 home runs. He also scored 18 runs and drove in 15. On the mound he boasted a 6-1 record and a 1.46 ERA. His true dominance was shown in his 83 strikeouts in just 48 innings. Then there was that signature game against Northampton on April 21.
Dally pitched a complete game (full 7 innings) one-hitter, striking out 15 and walking one in a 1-0 Nazareth victory.
“Jake has all the tools that project, so it’s no surprise the attention he’s gotten,” said Cust. “He’s got a plus-arm and hit’s for average. On top of that he’s very coachable, does his job and is likable. All of that shows on the baseball field.”
Dally views himself as a player who just focuses on the job at hand.
“I play on the quiet side,” he said. “I’m a positive player and like to keep that positive vibe in the dugout. I’m not obnoxious. I just go about my work.”
Travis Anderson, Diamond Nation’s On-Field Coordinator, has also gotten a very good look at Dally during his years playing for him and in front of the DN coaching staff. “Jake has great awareness and a great baseball clock on the field,” said Anderson. “He has an incredible pace of play. He is the epitome of what a Diamond Jack is. Jake just got better and better and better. Binghamton is getting a really good one.”
Next up for Dally is his winter workouts, designed both to prepare him for a highly anticipated spring season and to aid in his physical and technical development in the game of baseball.
“I’m going to the gym two-to-four times a week and I’ll be hitting with Kevin (Cust) throughout the winter,” he said. “He’s been my key to success. He’s helped a significant amount.
“I do see the winter as a break, but also a time to make myself better. The gym can provide benefits on the field. You always want to put on more muscle and get stronger.”
Dally thoroughly enjoys playing in the middle infield and swinging the bat, but his well-rounded skills provide an open door of options for the Binghamton coaching staff.
“Right now I view myself as a position player,” says Dally, “but, if I keep advancing on the mound, I could do a little of both. I want to do that, definitely.” He already has good command of both his fastball and breaking ball. “I’ve been able to throw my curveball whenever I want to and need to.”
That 2022 Nazareth team that finished nine games over .500 last spring and made so much noise in the East Penn League, returns nearly intact and can be expected to be a very difficult encounter.
“We didn’t really lose any players from last year,” said Dally. “We were a young team. We can do what we did last year, if not better. Dally will be in the forefront of that charge as he steers the way on the mound and at shortstop, while swinging a dangerous bat.