Bower stays chill in cool temps for DJacks 14U Gold

By DN WRITING STAFF | March 16, 2024

Remington Mortman drove in two runs in the season opener for Diamond Jacks 14U Gold.

By Rich Bevensee

His fastball teased 80 miles an hour in the batting cages this winter, but Jameson Bower was in no hurry to start blasting away opposing batters in a mid-March season opener. 

Bower, possessing a mature approach to pitching, took the ball for the Diamond Jacks 14U Gold squad and made the decision to dial down the velocity just enough to maintain control and capitalize on efficiency. 

While topping out at 74 mph through 47 pitches, Bower charted three dominant innings in which he struck out six while allowing one hit and one walk. It was exactly the kind of performance Bower and Diamond Jacks coach Walt Cleary were hoping for in the team’s season-opening 10-0, four-inning victory over New England Ruffnecks 13U in a Spring Invitational pool play season opener on Saturday at Diamond Nation in Flemington. 

“It’s our first real game so today was about taking something off, getting the strikeouts, getting the ground balls,” Bower said, “which is important because it contributes to good vibes in the dugout, and you can’t go with a 35 ERA after one game.”

Andrew Wheeler had an RBI double, scored once and added a perfect inning of relief.

Bower, who employed a slider, slurve and changeup to complement his fastball, said it was actually easier to bring the velocity down a few notches because fine-tuning his location is one of his early goals as the baseball season gets underway for the pre-high school age groups.

“I’ve been up to 77, 80 in the bullpen but it’s colder outside today so I wasn’t trying to throw my hardest,” Bower said. Temperatures hovered in the mid-40s for the season opener with more optimistic temps forecasted for the afternoon games on Saturday.

“Plus, it’s easier to locate,” Bower said. “If I’m trying to blow it by guys, I’m going to be missing high, missing out, missing in. Take something off and it’ll be easier for me to find the plate.”

“We’re keeping our pitchers to 40-50 pitches max early on and Jameson did exactly what he was supposed to do,” said Cleary, the longtime Diamond Jack coach. “He had a good outing. Pretty much in the zone the whole time.”

Andrew Wheeler came on in relief of Bower and pitched a perfect fourth with two strikeouts.

Cleary was also pleased to see balanced production from his lineup, as five hitters chalked up at least one RBI. 

T.J. Dally led the offense with a two-run, inside-the-park home run and an RBI double. Jackson Scott doubled and drove in two runs, and Remington Mortman picked up two RBI. 

“Really, we’re just looking for movement,” Cleary said. “We got outside for the first time last weekend, and this is the first time we’re facing live arms. So we’re really focused on seeing live arms, getting an approach at the plate and building into the spring. 

“Obviously it’s nice to get a win but it’s more so about development, focusing on things like, when he’s in a plus count how’s his swing look?  We’re focused on clean baserunning, not missing any signs, doing fundamental things correctly so when we get a little deeper into the season we can start to put everything together.”

The Diamond Jacks jumped on the Ruffnecks in the first inning for three runs. Sean Delaurier led off with a triple to center and Dally followed with a drive to the exact same spot for his round-tripper. Mortman added an RBI ground ball for a 3-0 lead. 

Scott made it 4-0 in the second with a ground ball out to drive in Michael Murphy.

In the third Wheeler cranked an RBI double to right center, a two-run error made it 7-0, and Scott capped the four-run rally with an RBI single.

The Diamond Jacks completed their mercy-rule victory in the fourth when Mortman picked up his second RBI groundout and Derek Guzman walked with the bases loaded.

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