Klena shines on the mound for Hamilton / NB 15s – Trentonian
The only thing that could slow Josh Klena down Friday night was a torrential downpour.
The Hamilton/Northern Burlington pitcher was on the mound in HNB’s opener in the 15-year-old Babe Ruth League Southern New Jersey State Tournament and Klena was nearly perfect for four innings until the rain puts an end to his evening.
Play was halted with the Switlik Park Crew holding a 9-0 lead over arch-rivals Nottingham.
“We were all excited before the game and it was a rivalry game,” said Klena. “In the bullpen, I felt really good warming up and the coach called a great game. We were hitting each other and that allowed me to do my thing and settle in.
Klena faced just 13 batters in four innings, allowed one hit and struck out nine.
The game resumes Monday night at 6 p.m. at Switlik Park with Hamilton/Northern Burlington at bat in the bottom of the fourth.
“I’m confident that any time Josh (Klena) is on the hump for us, we have a chance to win,” HNB manager TJ Bayless said. “In addition to his speed and mastery of secondary heights, he brings a ton of energy and focus.”
There was plenty of energy and focus at the plate as HNB made eight hits and took advantage of a few errors from Nottingham.
Ironically, it was Klena who landed a massive blow with a base-loaded, base-clearing single right field. Klena led HNB’s offense with two hits.
The host team came out strong in the first with four runs as AJ Maddalena, Ryan Anderson and Klena had safeties. Jack Ivens joined the charts in the second with an RBI single, Maddalena had an RBI and Klena landed the big shot.
Maddalena, who plays at Hamilton West, was on base all three times at the plate and proved to be a prototypical first hitter and one of the leaders for the HNB team.
“AJ (Maddalena) helps us set the tone for sure,” Bayless said. “He’s become one of the leaders of this team so far this summer.”
The Switlik Park Crew have some depth in the pitching corps and when tournament time turns around, that might be the biggest asset.
“It’s so much more to be able to have a guy like Josh (Klena) to help anchor our deep throw rotation,” Bayless said. “The others are (Ryan) Anderson, (Tristin) Bonilla, (AJ) Maddalena, (Jayden) Jennings, (Connor) Collora and (Drew) Maglowski.”
Klena worked with Mike Rogers, who pitched at North Carolina State and was in the Oakland Athletics system after graduating from Steinert, and it certainly paid off.
“He helped me in so many ways and I couldn’t thank him more for everything,” Klena said. “It was really so much fun and I learned a lot from him.”
Although a nine-point lead may seem insurmountable, Bayless has played enough baseball to expect the unexpected.
“Every game matters in tournaments like this,” Bayless said. “Although we have a tough toss to get there if we play our best baseball, I think we will win the number of games we are capable of winning.”
HNB got off to a pretty impressive start and if they win the replay match they will face Hopewell/Ewing on Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. and the match will be simulcast on WBCB.com
Schiavone, Hammerschaal Lead West Windsor-Plainsboro
The West Windsor-Plainsboro team opened the BRL Southern New Jersey 15-Year-Old Tournament with an impressive 19-0 victory over Cherry Hill.
The victory sends WW-P to the winners’ group finals where they will await survivor Hamilton/Northern Burlington, Nottingham and Hopewell/Ewing.
West Windsor-Plainsboro got a hit from James Schiavone and an offense that had seven runs in the second inning to seal the deal.
Chase Hammerschaal led the way with three hits.