RCSJ-Gloucester’s Graeber looks back on a dream season

by Marc Narducci | Jul 21, 2023
RCSJ-Gloucester’s Graeber looks back on a dream season
Few players have enjoyed as dominant of a season as Rowan College at Gloucester County outfielder Aaron Graeber. 

That is why it wasn’t surprising when he was named the 2023 National Junior College Athletic Association Division III Baseball Player of the Year.

A graduate of West Deptford, Graeber led RCSJ-Gloucester to the Division III national championship, earning them their eighth national title in school history and the first since 2013.

As a sophomore, he batted .500 with 18 home runs, 20 stolen bases and 102 RBI. During the D-III World Series, he hit .600 with two triples, seven RBI and seven runs scored. He was named the World Series MVP. 

Not bad for somebody who was on track to play college football and hadn’t played baseball until his senior year at West Deptford.

He originally committed to play football at King's College, so Graeber planned to use the spring of his senior year to prepare. 

That was until his friends began convincing him that he should play baseball. 

“Everything changed from that point,” Graeber said. “Coach Oehler helped me a ton and he connected me with Coach Valli.”

John Oehler and Rob Valli are the veteran head coaches of West Deptford and RCSJ-Gloucester, respectively. 

“I am thankful to have the support and the people around me I had,” said Graeber who has spent the summer playing for the Roughriders of Haddonfield in the Tri-County League. 

After discovering his baseball skills, Graeber gave up football and enjoyed a strong freshman season with RCSJ-Gloucester. He batted .386 with nine home runs and 52 RBI, with a .441 on base percentage and .594 slugging percentage. 

Last summer he played in the college Appalachian League in Tennessee which helped him up his game.

“I had a solid freshman year, but seeing pitching like every single night last summer, and being surrounded by other college guys who were good and played at big schools, I got a lot better, and it built up my confidence,” he said. 

That led to his memorable sophomore season, one that ended with Graeber going 3 for 5 with three runs and three RBI in a 15-7 World Series, clinching a win over Dallas College Eastfield. 

“It was great, to put in the work in the offseason and to have such great support around me, that was the biggest thing,” Graeber said. “Coach Valli has done a tremendous job with me, and I [have] changed as a ballplayer since I got there.” 

The 6-foot-4, 210-pound Graeber has earned a scholarship to the University of Delaware. He will report to school in late August and soon after, begin fall baseball. Graeber is looking forward to competing at the next level, but will never forget his time with the Roadrunners, especially with the way his sophomore year concluded.

“Capping things off with a national championship was incredible,” he said. “It was a pretty special season for me.”

 

 

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Author: Marc Narducci

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