Simply speaking, Vineland High School pitcher and infielder Don Money was, well, money for the Fighting Clan this season.
The senior enjoyed the finest year of his varsity career in 2013, particularly on the mound, while helping Vineland to its most successful campaign since 2006.
Money finished tied for the area’s best pitching record at 9-1, posting a 1.53 ERA over a staff-leading 64 innings for the Fighting Clan. Most importantly, Money stepped up in nearly every big game that coach John Malatesta turned to him to deliver on the hill.
“The biggest difference this year than in the past was Don got stronger as the game went on,” Malatesta said. “Before, in the fourth or fifth inning, we’d have to start looking at, OK, who is going to come in and relieve him? But not this year. He was a bulldog for us.”
The right-hander notched seven complete games and five shutouts with 35 strikeouts in his 11 starts, lending evidence to Malatesta’s assessment of his ace this year. For his breakout season, Money earned The Daily Journal’s Baseball Player of the Year honors.
Money edged out St. Augustine’s Barry Buchowski and Delsea’s Nick Freijomil for the award.
“The biggest thing was I wanted to step up and have this type of season for us,” said Money, who served as the team’s shortstop or third baseman when he wasn’t pitching. “I didn’t really have the year I wanted last season and I knew this year was a big opportunity for us to do something big. I’m just proud I was able to meet, or maybe exceed, my expectations.”
Money set the tempo for what proved to be a standout season for the Fighing Clan on Opening Day by tossing five scoreless innings in an 8-0 win over archrival Millville.
That was just the first of many hallmark starts for Money during the 2013 season.
The Cumberland County College-bound senior later earned wins over local rivals Buena — a game that secured Vineland’s spot in the prestigious Joe Hartmann Diamond Classic — and Sacred Heart in the last-ever City Series rivalry game.
Money’s top performance, however, came against a heavy-hitting, high-scoring Cherry Hill West team in the quarterfinal round of the Classic at Deptford High School on May 18. The crafty right-hander held the Lions to just five hits without issuing a walk in an impressive 1-0 victory.
Money is not an overpowering pitcher, averaging just 3.83 strikeouts per game. That would not stop him from being productive, however.
“He trained hard in the winter, really dedicated himself,” Malatesta said of Money. “He developed an effective changeup and that made that fastball look like 82, 83 miles-per-hour. That really helped build his confidence, and he knew he had a good defense behind him, and, as a senior, he got it.”
With the bat, Money hit .326 and was second on the team in both hits and RBIs with 28 and 19, respectively.
“He was an all-around contributor for us this year, no question about it,” Malatesta said. “Don was one of the guys we could really depend on.”
Being reliable was something that Money took a lot of pride in this season. Coming from a family rich in baseball tradition — Money’s grandfather Don Money Sr. was a four-time All-Star with the Milwaukee Brewers in the 1970s and later managed the organization’s Triple-A team — he felt it was his duty to step up and be a leader as a senior.
Now, Money is excited that his baseball career will continue at the next level.
“Every boy in our family plays baseball,” said Money, who was a first-team Cape-Atlantic League All-Star and Carpenter Cup roster selection. “To know that I’m going to play in college, that’s awesome. We’ll see how it goes, I’m going to do my best, and who knows what could happen from there.”