Last spring, Clearview’s Ethan Hahn hoped for more time on the varsity mound with the Pioneers’ during the 2020-’21 season than the two-thirds of an inning he pitched between two games during a season in which they won the South Jersey Group 4 sectional title.
Instead, the then-sophomore spent most of his time at JV to ensure he could get more consistent work in games. Just a year later, Hahn has shown in the midst of his junior season that he’s ready for the challenges of varsity-level pitching.
Starting the first game of the season for Clearview, Hahn threw five innings and allowed three earned runs while striking out nine. After that, he pitched 6.2 innings while allowing just two earned runs and striking out eight in his next start.
Both games – despite strong pitching performances from the team’s ace – resulted in one-run losses for the Pioneers. But in the final game of the 6th annual Bob Burrough Classic, Hahn clinched Clearview’s tournament victory for his first win of the season. The junior went the distance to pitch a complete, seven-inning game, allowing just four hits and no earned runs while striking out 10 against Rancocas Valley.
Being on the mound for Clearview in a high-pressure situation – whether early in the season or not – boosted Hahn’s confidence and the trust of his coaching staff and teammates so far this year, while also validating the work he put in last season away from varsity.
“It really gave me an idea for what playoff baseball could look and feel like later in May, which is where we hope to playing later this year,” Hahn said, “and it was a great opportunity for me to go out there and prove that I’m the guy that you want out there on the mound in a situation like that.
“Now that I look back, that time at JV, even though it was frustrating, did take some pressure off my shoulders and allow me to work on things at my own pace like I needed,” the player added.
Clearview head coach Derrick Reagan is in his third year with the team. He and the coaching staff believed Hahn had the potential last year for something big, yet didn’t feel there was a good fit with guys already in the starting rotation. After spending time at JV last year, the coach said Hahn has returned as a completely different pitcher on the mound.
“We knew last year that he was going to be a big arm for us at some point, but last year, we just couldn’t really find that role for him with the rotation already kind of being filled and him being more of a starter and not really a reliever,” Reagan said.
“It was just a change for him, but he’s grown immensely over that time, both physically and mentally,” he added of Hahn. “He knew he was going to be our top arm going into the year, and he’s performed just as we’d hoped so far this season.”
As for the team’s offense, Clearview returned many big contributors from last year’s sectional championship team who are once again filling the boxscore. Anthony Charles, Michael Flax, Joseph Levenson and Corey Lyle are once again in the varsity lineup for the Pioneers, but there are plenty of new names as well.
Perhaps most notable in the team’s first eight games of the season is freshman Tyler Dell, whose big day between the team’s two Bob Burrough Classic games was a big reason why Clearview walked away from its own tournament as champions for the first time since 2016.
Dell did not play during the team’s first three games of the season, but has since taken full advantage since joining the lineup in the following five games. During the recent tournament, he went five for six between the two games, driving in five RBIs while also scoring five times. So far this year, Dell has racked up 10 hits in just 15 at-bats.
He entered the preseason unsure of what to expect in his first year of high school baseball, including making varsity. According to Reagan, Dell was entrenched in a position battle before the start of the season, so he sat to start the year. But he has clearly shown off his batting skills early on.
“He had the opportunity to compete for a job at the beginning of the season and he did nothing but give it his all,” Reagan said. “He’s got that kind of work ethic. He’s continued to get better each and every day, and he’s made the second-base job his with how well he’s played the last few games, especially in the tournament.”
Dell said he was simply looking forward to making the team at the start of the year and contributing in any way he could as a freshman. While he’s had strong success so far, Dell knows he still has plenty to work on moving forward as the team looks to repeat as SJG4 champion.
“I feel like it’s a lot of people’s goal to make varsity as a freshman,’’ he said. “So I had that in mind and was fortunate to make that happen. I’ve tried to take advantage of every opportunity I have at the plate so far, and I’m happy to have been able to do that.”