Kyle Rogers ignites a four-run seventh for NJ Glory with a single through the right side.
Two well-pitched games on Tuesday morning vaulted NJ Glory Scout from the middle of the Super 15U Top 25 pack to the very top of the standings as the showcase moved to afternoon play at Diamond Nation in Flemington.
NJ Glory opened the day with a 5-0 victory over the PA Shockers 2024, then Jaxon Kehoe capped the 2-0 day for his team when he tossed a four-hitter to stifle the Crossbridge Raiders, 6-1. NJ Glory completed pool play at 3-1 and with a 24-10 runs differential, which should secure it the desirable high playoff seed.
Crossbridge (2-1, 15-11), meanwhile, was facing Ascent 2024 Gold at press time and needed a win to lock down a spot in Wednesday’s five-team playoff.
Give Kehoe credit for battling with a one run lead over the final four innings before his team broke the game open with four runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to take a 6-1 lead. Kehoe struck out four and walked two and seemed to truly lock in over the final three innings.
The righty Kehoe wasn’t easy to solve with a low 80s fastball, accurate curveball and a slider he favored from a sidearm motion.
“I used my breaking balls more to keep them off balance,” said Kehoe. “I was getting inside strikes with my slider on the sidearm. I’ve been throwing sidearm since I was 13.”
Kehoe calmly trusted his stuff and his defense and didn’t try to overpower the Crossbridge batters, despite a fastball that did just that in specific spots. “I was just trying to throw strikes and allow contact. It’s all about winning and advancing.”
Walks proved extremely detrimental to the Raiders as four of the 11 walks its three pitchers issued were turned into runs. Kehoe, in fact, drew three walks and was hit by a pitch in his first at bat from the leadoff spot in the order. He didn’t score but he did contribute to both NJ Glory rallies.
Nick Donofrio delivered an RBI single to right and Kyle Rogers followed with an RBI double to left-center field after the Crossbridge starter walked the first two batters of the bottom of the first inning.
Crossbridge reached Kehoe for its only run in the fourth to shave the lead to 2-1. Colin Chou slashed a double down the left field line with two outs and took third on a wild pitch with Nick Augusta at the plate. Augusta then hit a hard bouncer toward the middle that second baseman Kenny Noe dove for and snared. But Noe couldn’t get much on his throw to first from an awkward position and August was able to just beat it out for an infield hit and an RBI.
Kehoe, a rising sophomore at Monsignor Bonner in Drexel Hill, Pa., would retire nine of the final 10 Crossbridge batters.
The lefty-hitting Rogers (2-for-3, RBI, run) led off the bottom of the sixth with a single through the right side. Two Crossbridge relievers then walked Noe, Connor Scanlon and Tucker DeLisle to force in a run and extend the NJ Glory lead to 3-1. Jaxon Sevilla delivered another run with a sac fly to left field and Scanlon scored on a passed ball to lift the lead to 5-1. Kehoe walked with two out to put runners on the corners and quickly stole second. DeLisle broke immediately from third on the throw to second and scored easily to boost the lead to 6-1.
NJ Glory stole five bases in seven attempts and drew 11 walks, making the most of their four hits in the game.
“We steal a lot of bases,” said NJ Glory Scout coach Ken Noe. “We take chances, play small ball and look for a lot of ways to get runs across.”
And Kehoe presented Crossbridge with otherss difficult issues to deal with.
“Jaxon competes,” said Noe. “He comes at you from different angles and he’s not afraid to come after you with two strikes with the hook.” And his fastball is hard enough that you have to guard against it.
NOTES: Donofrio was robbed of a second hit and perhaps an RBI when Crossbridge center fielder Nate Wingenroth made a fine running catch in right-center field chasing down his liner for the last out of the fifth. … Earlier in the inning, Crossbridge first baseman Dylan Carmignani ran down an errant pickoff attempt and gunned down Kehoe at third base as the NJ Glory pitcher tried to take two bases on the wild throw.
… Crossbridge right fielder Luke Breuer also made a nice inning-ending play in the fourth, sliding in on a sinking liner hit by Marc Putrino with two base runners in motion. … DeLisle walked twice, singled and scored a run. … Crossbridge may have had their best chance for a big inning after Will Kalac led off the game with a grounds rule double to left-center field and Danny Ferguson followed with a walk. But Chou hit into a 5-unassisted-3 double play handled by third baseman Scanlon and Augusta flew out to fairly deep left-center field.
…NJ Glory shortstop Harry Carr looked particularly efficient at his position.