Tommy Baase of the Jays stands in against Cubs pitcher Lunden Chadwell in the first inning.
By Mike Olshin
It may be Halloween, but that doesn’t mean there was anything mysterious or spooky about the way the NJ Jays 18U squad handled their Morris County Cubs 16U opponents Monday night in the High School Fall League playoffs at Diamond Nation.
Effective pitching and a dominating performance from the top of the order pushed the Jays to a 12-3 win and advanced coach Shawn Reindel’s squad to Wednesday’s quarterfinals, when the No. 7 seed will face No. 2 Hustle Baseball Academy at 6 pm on Field 4.
There were no surprises Monday night as the seven higher seeds won, most of them convincingly.
Casey Delaney handled the mound work for the Jays. He went all five innings and got all the offensive support he needed from the 1-through-5 hitters in the Jays lineup, who reached base in 14-of -8 plate appearances, hammered three extra-base hits, scored nine times, and drove in six runs.
“Makes it easy for me,” said Delaney, who had little trouble with some tricky conditions. It may have been 80 and summerlike over the weekend, but Delaney’s final outing of 2023 came with the temperature in the 50s, a chilly October wind and steady light rain throughout. “They hit the ball well and gave me plenty of confidence.”
Delaney is currently a junior at Hunterdon Central. These games carry extra importance as he attempts to break into a loaded varsity rotation. Now it’s time to take the next step forward in the winter.
“I’ll be in the gym, working on my velo and accuracy,” Delaney said.
Delaney had plenty of that Monday night. He powered through the Cubs lineup in the first inning – blowing away the side with three of his six strikeouts in the game.
Connor Monus and Casey Delaney get fist bumps from coach Shawn Reindel after the Jays win.
By the time he took the mound again for the second, the game was well in hand thanks to the devastating top of the order, fronted by three of Delaney’s Hunterdon Central classmates.
Chris Kuhns worked a walk and Aidan Walsh immediately made the score 1-0 as he rifled a triple into the gap in left-center field. Jake Breuer reached on an error and it was 2-0. Chase Reinhard, a sophomore at Central, and Tommy Baase, a senior, both reached base and came around to score as well and it was 5-0 after the first.
Kuhns later smacked a two-run double in the third inning that made the score 9-2. Breuer had a pair of hits, including an RBI single when the Jays threatened the mercy rule with four runs in the third, and Reinhard followed with a long triple to the fence in right-center to put the Jays up 11-2.
Baase, who got varsity time for the Red Devils in the spring, was content to play Walking Man for the night – he reached via base on balls in all three of his plate appearances.
A younger squad playing up for the experience, there were a few bright spots for the Cubs last night. Noah Mednick singled in his only official plate appearance, with a sacrifice fly in the other. Will Ferguson barreled a couple, and Kyle Koretzky recorded back-to-back K’s to pitch out of inherited trouble in the bottom of the second.
The Fall League playoffs continue with second round games on Wednesday and the fall season wraps with the semifinals and championship game on Thursday.