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A Banner Season for Cherry Hill West Baseball

A Banner Season for Cherry Hill West Baseball
A year ago Cherry Hill West’s baseball team advanced to the South Jersey Group 3 final before losing to Seneca, whose starting pitcher Nick Decker ended up signing for more than $1.25 million bonus after being drafted in the second round by the Boston Red Sox.
 
It took that type of team to knock out the Lions but with an experienced team, led by a seasoned pitching staff, Cherry Hill West went one step further this season.
 
The Lions won the South Jersey Group 3 championship, beating Triton, 6-3 in the title game.
 
West had one of the most dominant pitchers in South Jersey, senior lefthander Eli Atiya, who is headed to Rowan. He went 10-0 with a 0.63 ERA, striking out 88 in 55 1/3 innings.
 
The offensive catalyst was center fielder Scott Shaw, a Rider recruit. Shaw hit .470 with eight doubles, five home runs and 32 RBI. He also drew 31 walks and scored 31 runs.
 
The No. 3 through 5 hitters in the lineup were all juniors. Shortstop Dany Berckman batted third and hit .425 with five doubles, two home runs and 31 RBI.
 
Left fielder Ryan West was the cleanup hitter. He batted .371 with seven doubles, four triples, two home runs and 29 RBI, along with 28 stolen bases.
 
The No. 5 hitter was Nick Sylvester, who batted .353 with six doubles, three home runs and 33 RBI.
 
Senior lefthander Brian Robertson, a Dayton recruit, was 6-2 with a 2.23 ERA. He had 42 strikeouts in 47 innings.
 
Another key pitcher was Ryan Widmeier, who was 3-1 with an 0.98 ERA. He also recorded eight saves in 17 appearances. He is a Fairleigh Dickinson recruit.
 
West finished with a 25-4-1 record. The Lions placed second to Bishop Eustace in the Olympic Conference National Division by the slimmest of margins.
 
West was 10-1-1 in the National, while Eustace went 11-0-1. The teams played a 2-2 tie after seven innings that wasn’t able to be rescheduled.
 
For West, this season continued what is a great baseball tradition.
 
“Cherry Hill is a baseball town and we have been fortunate to win,” coach Dan McMaster said.
 
In McMaster’s 10 seasons guiding the Lions, they have won at least 15 each season. They have qualified for the Joe Hartmann Diamond Classic (which consists of 16 of the top teams in South Jersey) six of the last nine years.
 
Actually it’s been a great year for Cherry Hill baseball. Cherry Hill East won the highly competitive Olympic Conference American Division and advanced to the South Jersey Group 4 final before falling to conference foe Eastern.
 
West had six players earn a berth on the Carpenter Cup all-star team – Atiya, Berckman, Shaw, Sylvester, senior infielder Alec Rodriguez and West.
 
Other West seniors who are headed to college to continue their baseball careers are second baseman Tyler Kubrak (Rowan), third baseman Jared Hernandez (Florida State College at Jacksonville), righthander Jake Miller (Felician), first baseman John Gray (Camden County).
 
With so many key offensive players returning, West should continue to be among the elite in South Jersey. A key will be replacing the senior pitchers.
 

 

Rising senior Nick Heubel should be the staff leader. And don’t be surprised if other pitchers emerge. West has been a program built on being competitive every season regardless of graduation losses and next year should be no different for the Lions.

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Author: Marc Narducci; Photo by Marc Narducci

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