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LOWER ALLEN TOWNSHIP — If Camden New wasn’t the most feared hitter in Cedar Cliff’s stocked lineup before, he’s definitely made it clear he should be in the conversation.

New blasted a pair of solo home runs Thursday evening — he has three this season after hitting another in the last game — to lead the Colts to a 7-3 nonleague win over Mechanicsburg at Cedar Cliff High School.

A year ago, New batted .455 in 22 at-bats. He showed flashes of his power with two homers then. And head coach Scott Lackey told him he would be needed in 2019.

“Lackey last season told me, ‘We need you next season, and you need to have a big role on this team,’” New said. “So I focused on being able to hit the ball hard. … Nothing too much mechanically, a lot of it is mental.”

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Cedar Cliff Mechanicsburg Baseball
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Cedar Cliff Mechanicsburg Baseball
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Cedar Cliff Mechanicsburg Baseball
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Cedar Cliff Mechanicsburg Baseball

So the senior — one of 11 on the team — spent all offseason trying to further increase his pop at the plate, utilizing Cedar Cliff’s new indoor batting cages to develop gap-to-gap power and improve his eye at the plate. It was on display against Wildcats starting pitcher Hunter Fegan.

With two outs in the bottom of the first following Bobby Whalen’s leadoff bomb, New crushed a 2-1 fastball to the deepest part of center field. Two innings later, he barreled the first pitch he saw (a changeup) to left to give the Colts (8-1, 6-1 Commonwealth) a 4-0 lead to start the bottom of the third inning.

“Coach Lackey told me, he told everyone, ‘Sit on that fastball,’” he said. “I tried to stay fastball. I did the first at-bat. And then the second at-bat, he threw me a first-pitch changeup — it sort of just floated in there. I saw it well, was able to get a hard piece on it.”

“He’s another guy that didn’t play much last year, that really has embraced his role and has done a lot of things over the winter to help,” Lackey said. “He’s worked hard, he really has.”

New entered the season overshadowed in a lineup that includes Louisville-bound Whalen, Tayven Kelley (Penn State), Trey Law (Youngstown State) and Donovon Ball (Penn State wrestling). That’s quickly changing.

“He worked hard all winter, and these last couple games he’s gotten really hot,” Whalen said. “Hopefully he can keep it rolling and help the middle of the order.”

New (2-for-4 on the day) has taken over at first base for the injured Justin Resto, who Lackey said may be back in May, potentially creating an even deeper lineup. He is batting .387 this season with a team-leading nine RBIs and a second-best 12 runs scored. He, Whalen and Law have five extra-base hits.

He is safely cocooned in one of the Mid-Penn’s best lineups, fourth behind Whalen, Law and Ball, with Kelley and Chris Dare right behind him. It’s a perfect spot for a player getting his first extended action with the team.

“It feels great to have a couple great guys behind me and in front of me,” New said. “I think everyone has a role on this team, and they all do it really well.”

Game notes

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Whalen got hold of a pitch in the Colts’ first AB of the game, driving a solo homer the opposite way.

“It felt good today,” he said. “To get it started like that was really good, and got the team energized.”

.@bobbywhalen2 feeling good. Laces this double to LF to score Goodling. Whalen now 2-2 with the HR and 2 RBI. pic.twitter.com/EdmBoTOlbS

— Jake Adams (@jakeadams520) April 18, 2019

Mechanicsburg (8-3, 6-2 Keystone) nearly made a game of it in the fifth, scoring three runs in the top of the fifth with two outs. Josh Jamiolkowski doubled to right to plate a run, and Sam Zercher doubled to nearly the same spot to score two more.

But Bueno, who had been strong in the first inning of relief, coughed up two straight wild pitches that plated two runs and set the 7-3 final score.

Bueno gifts @CedarCliff_AD two runs to make it 7-3 B6. @bobbywhalen2 singled and @TreyLaw4 doubled. Then both scored on consecutive wild pitches. That’s a killer. @GoMechanicsburg had a real chance with the top of the lineup up, but now the hole is that much bigger. pic.twitter.com/0RBzdMKGl8

— Jake Adams (@jakeadams520) April 18, 2019

Colts senior Joe Matter lasted 4.2 innings, running out of gas in the fifth inning. He fanned seven, walked three and allowed three hits.

“He’s solid, and he’s gonna get guys out in this league,” Lackey said. “And [his improvement] was a surprise for us over the winter.”

Matter gets his second backwards K of the inning to strand a runner. @CedarCliff_AD holds @GoMechanicsburg in check T1, and now my first look at the top of the Colts’ lineup. pic.twitter.com/Bb26YPQDUs

— Jake Adams (@jakeadams520) April 18, 2019

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Email Jake Adams at jadams@cumberlink.com or follow him on Twitter @jakeadams520

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