Absegami senior Michael DeBlasio had 70 strikeouts this season in less than 45 innings and also threw a no-hitter against Holy Spirit. (South Jersey Glory Days photos/Sully)

By KAYLIN FLUKEY
Correspondent
Senior season for any baseball player is one of the most stressful and exhilarating times in a player’s career. Not only is there the thought that one chapter is coming to an end but also where the next chapter will continue.
The pressure of showing up for the team but also for yourself.
Every team has that one player who everyone turns to for guidance, but to also to get the job done when the team needs it the most. However, very rarely is that player seen on the mound and in the batter’s box.
Absegami High’s Michael DeBlasio entered his senior baseball season unsure of what the future held but excited for the opportunity to be the Braves’ ace and one of their most productive hitters. DeBlasio has been playing baseball since he was 7 years old. He knows the game like the back of his hand and gained a lot of knowledge throughout the past 12 years — enough to know that nothing comes easily — and he was going to have to work for what he wanted.
“I had not committed yet and I knew I was going to be a late commit no matter what, so there was the pressure of performing well to get the attention of a school and there was also the fact that I knew I was going to be the ace of my team.” he said. “It was the mindset of using that nervousness as positive energy to go out and get the job done.”
In order to perform at his best during the season he knew all of the work began in the offseason. He drove hours each week to get the best training possible.
The next step was making those around him aware of what he wanted for himself and his team for the upcoming season.
“He had goals. He knew what he wanted to accomplish,” said Braves head coach Junior Mejia. “He knew that to accomplish those goals, he knew that he was going to have to come in and work hard and really have a good season.”
Once the season started and the anticipation of everything leading up to the season began to fade away, it did not take long for DeBlasio to settle in and show off everything he worked so hard for. He secured wins in his first two appearances on the mound with 17 strikeouts in just 8 1/3 innings pitched. He also pitched a complete game no-hitter with 10 strikeouts against Holy Spirit.
As the ace of the pitching staff, DeBlasio was put up against tough opponents and he came up with big wins against Buena Regional and Lower Cape May. He finished the season with 43 innings pitched, 70 strikeouts and a career-best ERA of 1.63.
“Michael was the guy that we would go to when we had a tough game. Every game that he pitched we were in it, he gave us an opportunity to compete,” Mejia said.
When DeBlasio wasn’t on the mound, he was making plays at first base and continuing to produce for his team. At the plate he manufactured 13 runs, 18 hits, 12 RBIs and a final batting average of .353.
Along with his standout performances on the field, DeBlasio made sure to put a big focus on the leadership aspect of his game and to be someone that the younger players could look up to. His main goal, he said, was to take his team deep into playoffs. Unfortunately, the Braves fell to Moorestown 3-2, in the opening round of the South Jersey Group 3 playoffs. However, their 15-8 record turned heads in the baseball community. They finished third in the Cape-Atlantic League National Conference behind Buena and Cedar Creek, teams that combined to win 46 games.
Following his standout senior campaign, DeBlasio’s was invited to represent the Tri-Cape team in the annual Carpenter Cup. DeBlasio made two appearances, one of which was in the championship game at Citizen’s Bank Park in Philadelphia. As a huge Phillies fan, it was a dream come true, he said.
“It was a great experience having the opportunity to play high-level teams and to also play at the Bank,” DeBlasio said. “That is something I will never forget.”
Coach Mejia was able to make the trip to Philadelphia to watch his star pitcher compete in something not many players get the chance to experience.
“Seeing him pitch at the Carpenter Cup was a proud moment for me as a coach.” Junior said. “It is a big accomplishment, not only for Michael, but for the program.”
The stress of what DeBlasio’s senior season entailed was all worth it, he said, as he will walk away as one of the best all-around players in Absegami history while finding his next home at Rowan University, where he plans to continue his baseball career.
DeBlasio is a prime example that things can work out well as long as you are willing to put in the work.
Kaylin Flukey is a 2020 Absegami High School graduate and a rising senior at Iona University studying journalism. She’s a contributor
for South Jersey Glory Days.