Baseball – Cam Leiter Shines in Central Regional Upset of No. 1 Jackson Memorial
With a legendary family name to live up to, Cam Leiter got his Central Regional High School baseball career off to a less-than-ideal start - at least as a pitcher.
Since his two rocky outings to open the year, however, Leiter - the son of Kurt Leiter and nephew of former MLB All-Star Al Leiter - put together two dazzling ones and on Friday, he got to show off how he can handle pitching against the Shore's best and one of the state's best teams.
Leiter rose to the challenge Friday, pitching a one-hitter with six strikeouts and three walks and singling home the first run of a three-run third inning for Central as the Golden Eagles upended the Jackson Memorial, 3-1.
Jackson Memorial entered Friday as the Shore Sports Network's No. 1 team and looking to both clinch the outright Class A South division championship while running its winning streak to 10. Instead, Central kept its hopes of winning a share of the division championship alive and halted the Jaguars winning streak at nine. It also marked the first time Jackson Memorial has lost to a Shore Conference opponent in 2021.
Leiter's one-hit gem was smooth sailing in six of the seven innings, but the one noisy Jackson Memorial inning put the 6-foot-4 right-hander to the test. Jaguars junior Andrew Patire led off the top of the fourth inning with a walk and sophomore Aidan O'Donnell followed with an RBI double to score the first run of the game. O'Donnell also advanced to third on the throw home, giving Jackson Memorial a runner on third base with none out.
Leiter responded by inducing a comebacker to the mound for the first out, then pitched around Jackson Memorial shortstop Ty Beck for a walk to put runners on the corners. Central caught O'Donnell trying to score on a wild pitch for the second out and Leiter and struck out the final batter of the inning to escape the threat.
Central did its damage on offense in the fourth, which began with a leadoff triple by senior Trevor Coltenback. Leiter stepped up and singled through the middle to tie the game at 1-1 and sophomore Anthony Musso followed with a single and freshman Cristian Soto a walk to load the bases with none out.
After Jackson Memorial replaced starter Charlie Meglio with Anthony Mehmet, Central junior Billy Sottilare greeted him with an RBI single to give Central a 2-1 lead. Mehmet gave up just one more base-runner in the inning on an intentional walk, but that came after freshman Dom Masino plated a third Central run with an RBI ground out.
Mehmet retired the side in order in his final two innings and, in all, did not allow an earned run in three innings of work while striking out three and surrendering just the one hit by Sottilare and an intentional walk to senior Evan Agrapides.
Leiter, however, was almost equally perfect. From the fourth inning on, he retired 12 of the 13 batters he faced, with just a two-out hit-by-pitch in the bottom of the sixth disrupting the run of retired batters.
Friday marked the third straight impressive start by Leiter, who opened the season with short outings against Southern (four runs, one earned run, three walks, three strikeouts in two innings) and Toms River North (six earned run, four hits, four walks, six strikeouts in 3 1/3 innings) to start the season 0-1.
Since then, Leiter has snapped into the form that was expected of him heading into the season. He pitched back-to-back shutouts against Barnegat and Monmouth Regional, then took it to the next level by quieting the Shore's No. 1 team on Friday.
In those three straight wins, Leiter has posted a 0.39 ERA (one run) in 19 innings with nine hits and seven walks allowed and 30 strikeouts.
Friday's win was a successful response by Central after losing at Jackson Memorial, 3-1, on Wednesday, with Jaguars junior Zach Crotchfelt pitching a three-hitter with 15 strikeouts and one walk in the win.
Central's narrow road to a division championship requires the Golden Eagles to win two games against Brick Memorial next week. They will also need Jackson Memorial to lose its final three divisional games, which will include two vs. Brick and one against Brick Memorial. Central can also win a share of the title with a split vs. Brick Memorial and three Jackson Memorial losses or a sweep of Brick Memorial and two Jackson Memorial losses.
Central 3, Jackson Memorial 1
|Jackson (14-3, 10-1)||0||0||1||0||0||0||0||1||1||1|
|Central (12-6, 9-3)||0||0||0||3||0||0||X||3||6||0|
|Cam Leiter (W, 3-1)||7||1||1||1||3||6||95|
|Charlie Meglio (L, 2-2)||3||5||3||3||1||2||60|
|Jackson Memorial||Game Stats|
|Aidan O’Donnell||1-2, 2B, RBI|
|Cam Leiter||1-3, R, RBI|
|Billy Sottilare||1-3, RBI|
|Trevor Coltenback||1-3, 3B, R|
|Anthony Musso||1-3, R|
|Dom Masino||1-2, BB, RBI|
|Evan Agrapides||1-2, BB|