Harnen’s bat, Harcher’s arm guide Northeast Pride 15U

By DN WRITING STAFF | September 3, 2023

Chris McCauley of Northeast Pride contributed an RBI single in his team’s four-run fourth inning.

By Rich Bevensee

His team may have transitioned from summer to fall baseball, and into an older age bracket, but nothing about Jacoby Harnen’s hitting has changed in the least.

Two weeks ago Harnen earned the Most Valuable Player award for leading his team to a 14U Summer Finale title at Diamond Nation in Flemington. The freshman from Pittston Area High in Yatesville, Pennsylvania, returned to the Nation this weekend and brought his lethal bat with him to torment a new age group. 

Harnen went 3-for-3 with a pair of grounds rule doubles and an RBI to pace Northeast Pride of Wilkes-Barre, Pa.to a 6-3 pool play victory over Throgsneck Red of the Bronx, N.Y., in ‘The Nation’s’ 15U Labor Day Blast.

“Last weekend I won the MVP, and I kept on bringing it into this tournament,” Harnen said. “Our team is very good at hitting, and I’m just trying to do my part.”

The victory over Throgsneck was a nice rebound for the Wilkes-Barre club, which lost to the Hudson Valley Bulldogs, 4-2, earlier on Saturday. 

“The first kid we faced today was a good pitcher and we were guessing at the plate,” said Harnen, a 5-10, 200-pound catcher. “This time we went to the plate and relaxed and stopped guessing. Eight hits today (as a team), not bad at all. This time, instead of guessing, it was, hunt first pitch fastball and drive it.”

Seven of the 11 Pride hitters reached base against Throgsneck, a nice change from the offensive frustration coach Ryan Callahan’s club endured in its tournament opener.

“This was a way better performance than Game 1. Our bats came alive here,” Callahan said. “We talked postgame about doing what we know how to do best – not to guess and get thrown off our game. If we stay with what we do, we’ll hit like this on a consistent basis.”

Pride right-handed pitcher Evan Harcher, a 6-foot, 150-pound freshman at Wyoming Valley West Plymouth High in Plymouth, Pa., did not surrender a walk while allowing three runs on six hits with five strikeouts. 

“My curveball was working really well – I was getting a lot of swings and misses on it – and with the fastball, I was just trying to pound the zone,” Harcher said.

Harcher dabbled with trouble in the first inning when three of the first four batters singled – the last of which was a Sam Dicker two-run base hit to center. But he settled down to allow just one baserunner over the next three innings.

Alex Rodriguez of Throgsneck Red legs out an infield single in the fifth inning.

“He’s been solid for us all year, so this was his shakiest start in a while,” Callahan said. “Once he settled into the game past that first inning, he was lights out from there.”

“In the first inning I was seeing how they hit,” Harcher said. “I sort of dialed in after that. I was more loose and feeling my motion more and getting into my legs more.”

Throgsneck may have drawn first blood, but Pride countered quickly when Michael Jamba drove a two-run single into right to tie the game.

Pride took over the game by batting around in the fourth, sending 10 batters to the plate and scoring four runs on three hits, three walks and one hit batsman.

Harner kick-started the rally with an RBI double which bounced over the left field fence. Chris McCauley followed with an RBI single. After Kaden Zimorowicz drove in a run with a groundout, Harcher tripled to right to give Prime a 6-2 lead. 

“Rallies like that are great because it’s like you’re passing the torch, on and on,” Harner said. “If you keep passing it, it’ll be good.”

“As a pitcher I like rallies like that because my teammates are all hyped and the other bench gets very quiet,” Harcher said. 

Throgsneck never let up despite getting throttled by Harcher through four innings. In the fifth, the Bronx crew loaded the bases with one out and brought the tying run to the plate in Brandon Santos. Santos singled to left to drive in a run, but Throgsneck could not produce a game-saving rally, as Harcher got a strikeout and a weak infield liner to escape the inning.

Northeast Pride (1-1) faces Monmouth Liberty Baseball Club on Sunday at 8:30 p.m., and the Hunterdon Black Hawks on Monday at 2:15 p.m.

Throgsneck Red (1-1) bounced back from the loss to Pride to edge Sandlot Baseball Academy 15U-Ferguson, 4-2, later on Saturday. Throgsneck faces JR Kings on Sunday at 8:30 p.m., and the South Orange Maplewood Bolts on Monday at 2:15 p.m.

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