SCOTCH PLAINS/FANWOOD — Picking up right where he left off last season, Jake Friedman has been a key component to one of the state’s best pitching staffs this baseball season.
In five appearances (three starts) this year, the senior right-hander owns an excellent 1.15 ERA, 22 strikeouts, and a record of 4-0 with a save. That comes on the heels of a 2-0 record and 0.68 ERA in four games last year, which helped him land a prior Athlete of the Week and an essay contest scholarship.
His four-win mark — two of those wins coming this past week — is currently the highest total in the state of New Jersey, though it is shared with numerous other prominent hurlers. For his dominance on the mound, which showed in a big way recently, Friedman is this week’s Joint Motion Physical Therapy Athlete of the Week.
With Scotch Plains-Fanwood (9-3) atop the Union County Conference Watchung Division and in the midst of a six game winning streak that began two calendar weeks ago, it’s hard to imagine where the Raiders would be without Friedman’s arm. He has been the winning pitcher in two games — against Union Catholic on Saturday, April 14 and Mendham on Friday the 20th — during the week-long span.
Pumping a mid-80s fastball and wicked off-speed out pitches, Friedman was able to overpower the lineups of both Union Catholic and Mendham. Between the two starts, in which he accumulated 12.0 innings pitched, he combined to allow just two earned runs and struck out 14 while walking only three. Perhaps most impressive was how efficiently Friedman worked, keeping his pitch count total under 100 in each start, both of which lasted six innings.
While the righty battled and recovered from a shaky first inning to earn win number four in his start against Mendham (6 IP, 7 K, 5 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 2 BB), his outing six days earlier against Union Catholic was a pure masterpiece.
Against the Raiders’ crosstown rival, Friedman tossed a six inning shutout on just three hits, striking out seven and walking just one. It was his second career start without allowing a run, the first coming against New Providence last May.
Prior to this week, Friedman also picked up a win against Elizabeth on April 10, and a relief victory on Opening Day versus Cranford. As of Saturday morning, Friedman’s four wins were shared with Dan Frake of Shawnee, Peter Corcorean of Pope John, and Mike Falco of East Brunswick for the state lead.
In both victories this week, his offense — which is averaging over six runs per game — put together big late inning uprisings to provide him with more than enough run support for wins. The Raiders’ five run sixth against UC turned a nail bitter into a blowout, and they jumped ahead for good with a seven-run fourth against Mendham.
As Friedman is a state leader in wins, that means he also leads his pitching staff in victories. And given the Raiders’ wealth of pitching, that’s pretty impressive. Fellow seniors Matt Kipp (2), Nick McCormack, and Derek Cappadoccia combine for four other wins. Ace lefty Danny Wilkinson, a junior, only owns one win, but is New Jersey’s strikeout leader (47) and leads the staff in innings pitched (23 1/3).
Friedman and the Raiders embark on a crucial week of divisional matchups that starts on Tuesday, when they host and look for redemption against neighboring rival Westfield. The Raiders then travel to take on powerhouse Gov. Livingston on Thursday, before opening the County tournament and playing North Bergen in a doubleheader Saturday.
Joint Motion Physical Therapy is located across the street from the Stage House Tavern and shares a free, handicap accessible parking lot with the Scotch Plains Public Library. Joint Motion can be reached for an appointment by phone 908-322-3202, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also learn more at www.facebook.com/JointMotionPT.
Joint Motion Physical Therapy
373 Park Ave.
Scotch Plains, NJ 07076