Cam Flukey said he wasn’t nervous during school on Monday, opening day of the high school baseball season. And why would he be nervous? He has his college choice locked up (Coastal Carolina), and he’s a 6-foot-6 righty who can throw a baseball 97 miles-per-hour.
No, he wasn’t nervous. More so anxious. He wanted to get going with his senior season and start having some fun in real games with his teammates, the guys he’s grown up playing baseball with and who he’ll part ways with come June.
Flukey had plenty of fun in windy Ocean City on Monday afternoon, striking out 15 batters in a complete-game, 3-0 shutout of the host Red Raiders. Egg Harbor Township has high expectations this year, as does Flukey individually, and so far the Eagles are off to a great start. Flukey matched zeroes with Duke McCarron of Ocean City, a University of Maryland commit, for the first three innings, got a couple of runs in the top of the fourth, and that was all he needed. He allowed just two hits — singles by Riley Gunnels and Evan Taylor — and didn’t walk a batter. He helped his own cause with an RBI, while teammate Jackson Conroy added a pair of runs batted in for the Eagles.
“I was probably fully ramped up around the end of January, and today in the bullpen I felt all my pitches were there,” Flukey said. “I felt my two off-speed pitches working well and I said to my pitching coach, ‘it might be a good day today.’ I kept the splitter until late, so It was just fastball/curveball for the first four innings. I worked well with the curveball, keeping it at the hitters’ toes, and when I felt I needed it, around the fifth inning, I went to the splitter and I got about five strikeouts in the last couple innings. The splitter was really clutch for me.”
Flukey said he had no trouble warming up in the bullpen despite it being a somewhat cold and windy day at the field at 5th & Bay in Ocean City. “Some days when I’m warming up I’m like, ‘dang, I’m throwing hard today.’ But (Monday) I just felt really easy. It didn’t feel like I was throwing that hard. It got cold toward the end of the game, but I was sweating in those first few innings.”
Several reports on Twitter had Flukey in the 93-to-95 mph range, topping out at 97.
“I kind of expected that because of the offseason I had over at BPC (Baseball Performance Center in Pleasantville). But I haven’t been clocked in a while, so I was excited to see myself back up there,” he said. “That’s the first time I’ve hit 97. I don’t know if (that speed) was true. There was one gun that said I hit 99, but I don’t think that’s true. But I was definitely throwing hard. The best takeaway for me was no walks. I have a pitch count, for the beginning of the season, at least, but I wanted to go out there and finish the game because I had kept my pitch count down with no walks. My arm was feeling really good.
Egg Harbor Township went 21-7 a year ago and lost in the quarterfinals of the sectional tournament, but with Flukey and fellow senior Justin Sweeney (Rutgers University commit) the Eagles have one of the best one-two punches in the state on the mound. They also have a bunch of returners as well as Oakcrest transfer Joel Thompson.
“The whole anticipation part — I wasn’t even nervous coming into school (on Monday), I just wanted to get out there. I love the sport and I love pitching, and now that we’re back I’m super excited,” Flukey said. “(Getting this win) was huge. Getting a win over an arm like (McCarron) is a big deal as a program. The first win is always the hardest to get, and we just have to keep building on this win. I’m pumped about this season. This is the last season I get to play with the guys I’ve grown up with my whole life, so I really just want to focus on the team and win as much as we possibly can.”
McCarron and Flukey train together at BPC, and McCarron was just as impressive, fanning eight in 3 2/3 innings before coming off the mound after 75 pitches.
“Me and Duke are good friends and we train together, so I knew it was going to be a pitchers’ duel coming into this game,” Flukey said. “You just have to compete with each other on the mound.”
OTHER NOTABLE GAMES:
Millville 14, Hammonton 10: The Bolts scored eight runs in the final two innings to overcome a 7-6 deficit on the road against the Blue Devils. Wayne Hill led the way with two hits, two walks and four runs scored while Connor Lacy racked up five RBIs while going 3-for-5 with a pair of runs scored. Sergio Droz added four hits and two runs scored for the Bolts, while Landon Haines went 2-for-4 with four RBIs for Hammonton.
Lower Cape May 8, Holy Spirit 7: The Caper Tigers rallied for five runs in the fifth and three more in the bottom of the seventh to walk off with a one-run win. Matt DiCave had three RBIs for Lower while Evan Shoffler went 2-4 with an RBI and two runs scored. Ty Mercado, a St. Joseph Academy transfer, went 4-5 with two runs scored for Holy Spirit.
Mainland 6, St. Augustine Prep 0: The Stangs got to the Hermits’ bullpen, scoring a couple of runs in the bottom of the fifth to cruise to a shutout win in the season opener. Cohen Cook, Brandon Dearborn and Jake Lodgek combined to strike out 13 in the win for Mainland while limiting St. Augustine Prep to just one hit.
Oakcrest 11, Middle Township 1: Will Grayson was the star for the Falcons, allowing just one hit through six innings while striking out 11. He also went 2-2 with three RBIs.
BIG GAMES TODAY: (Tuesday, April 4)
All games at 4 p.m. unless otherwise noted
Eastern at Bishop Eustace
Vineland at Holy Spirit
Mainland at St. Augustine Prep
Shawnee at Moorestown
Hammonton at Millville
Absegami at St. Joseph Academy