There have been pitchers in the history of the Shore Conference who created a certain buzz when they took the mound.
Al Leiter of Central, J.M. Gold of Toms River North, Casey Gaynor and Ryan Doherty of Toms River East, Rod Velardi and Jeff Frazier of Toms River South and Ryan Kalish of Red Bank Catholic come to mind.
Central junior right-hander Andrew DiPiazza is certainly in that category.
“I want people to expect something, especially my teammates,” DiPiazza said. “The biggest thing is I don’t want to let my teammates down. I want them to expect the best. I want them to have complete confidence when I’m on the mound. I just want to do anything to help my teammates win. They feel the same way about me. They back me up all the time.”
DiPiazza labored on Wednesday in a Shore Conference Tournament preliminary game at Toms River East’s Raider Ravine.
However, he showed why he is a big-time Division I recruit and will likely have a chance to be selected in the 2014 major league draft, as he threw a two-hitter and led the 21st-seeded Golden Eagles to a 5-1 win over No. 12 seed Toms River East.
The 6-foot-7, 210-pound DiPiazza struck out 12, walked seven and threw 126 pitches. The double-digit strikeout performance was normal. DiPiazza (7-0) has recorded double-figure strikeouts in seven of his eight starts. The walks were not the norm.
“The last couple of starts I’ve been going through something where my curveball’s not working, changeup’s not placing, fastball is not fast,” DiPiazza said. “I was kind of nervous at the start. I felt like I was a little rusty and just off during bullpens. It’s something mechanical. Timing is off, or something. The arm feels good.”
And despite all of that, Toms River East (11-8) did not hit too many balls hard. The Raiders had their chances, but twice DiPiazza pitched out of bases-loaded jams with inning-ending strikeouts.
The Raiders’ only run came on a base-loaded walk in the second.
“You got to see how good he really is because he was far from having his best stuff and he was still dominant,” said Central coach John Scran.
The Golden Eagles (10-8) broke a 1-1 tie with four runs in the fifth. Pinch-hitter Christian Beardon delivered the key hit with a three-run triple.