Coming into the opening week of the season, senior Julian Costa and his fellow Clearview teammates searched around the South Jersey baseball scene and felt as if there wasn’t as much excitement about the Pioneers being a top team in the region as there should’ve been.
Fortunately, Costa says that just the way he and his teammates like it.
“We’re not really on anyone’s radar right now as being a top team,” said Costa. “But that’s fine with us, we’re not worried about that. We’re just going to try to win as many games as possible and try to make the Diamond Classic this year, make the playoffs this year and go as far as we can.”
As if speaking directly to the entire region during their first game of the season, the Pioneers backed up their belief that they’d been overlooked with a stunning 27-0 victory over Deptford in their return to the field after a year off due to the COVID-19 pandemic taking away the 2020 season.
Before the game, Costa had made a lofty statement to his teammates, albeit rather jokingly, that he would produce a masterful pitching performance while on the mound in their first game.
Costa more than delivered on his promise; he would go on to strike out 13 batters in a no-hit performance, while allowing three walks as Deptford’s only base runners.
“Before we all got there I had told my friends and teammates that I was going to do it,” said Costa. “I was just joking around, but once we started playing I was just trying to throw strikes as much as possible.”
Costa also delivered at the plate, as the Widener-commit drove in six runs on four hits. Collectively, Clearview scored 27 runs on 21 hits while also working 11 walks in the five-inning game, called due to the mercy rule.
In being able to play their first regularly-scheduled game in nearly two years, first year coach Derrick Reagan said there was plenty of excitement and emotion coming into the game.
Fortunately, he said his players were able to take control of the game early and get the Deptford alumnus his first victory as Clearview head coach against his alma mater.
“There was a lot of emotion [in that first game] I think in just getting a chance to play in a game that means something,” said Reagan. “Our guys did a really, really good job of doing what we talked about and executing our game plan to make sure our approach was smart.
“Kudos to our players who did a really good job of not letting the game get too big for them in the moment,” added Reagan.
The first game of the 2021 season was a day of firsts for many, according to Reagan, with many players getting their first varsity hits and first varsity RBI’s. Meanwhile, senior Abdias Leon-Garcia collected his first varsity hit as a towering pinch-hit home run over the left centerfield fence.
In such an overpowering victory, Reagan said the team will certainly enjoy the win, but that they will also be sure to not overreact and get too confident after the first game of the season.
“Enjoy today and come back tomorrow with the mindset that we’re going to highlight everything we did, but our goal is to go back and get ready for our next game,” said Reagan. “We did a great job in that first game and I have to do a good job of having a good feel of where we are as a team each and every day to make sure we’re not too high or too low.”
Either way, the first year head coach, much like his ace, says expectations for his squad remain high moving forward.
“Every year, we’re going to set the expectations and the standards as high as possible,” said Reagan. “Our goal is to win the conference, our goal is to make the Diamond Classic, our goal is to go as deep in the playoffs as possible — every good program is going to have the same goals.
“We’re going to have to compete with Kingsway and Williamstown, with Kingsway being the returning champions of the division, but I’m confident in our group and our ceiling is high.”