By Phil Anastasia
Alex Hochberg took the mound in a varsity game once as a sophomore.
It didn't go so well.
"First batter hit a triple," Hochberg said. "Next batter hit a single. Next batter hit a home run."
Hochberg returned to the varsity mound on Monday afternoon and shut down Paul VI in the first round of the Grand Slam Classic at Washington Lake Park in Sewell.
The junior right-hander allowed four hits and one run in six innings, leading Clearview to a 3-1 victory in a well-played season opener for both teams.
"He's worked hard to get where he is," Clearview coach Rocco Cornacchia said of Hochberg. "He's coming off a great preseason."
Sophomore Jacob Drozd and junior Dalton Reim delivered RBI singles as Clearview broke a 1-1 tie with a pair of runs in the sixth.
Clearview will face the winner of Saturday's Cherokee-Millville game in the second round. That game was postponed from Monday to Saturday because of wet field conditions.
Shawn Semple pitched five strong innings for Paul VI, allowing one unearned run.
"Our pitching was good and our defense was decent," Paul VI coach Pat Fisher said. "We have to turn some of those fly-ball outs into live drives."
Drozd was only in the game because of a collision in the fourth inning that knocked Clearview shortstop Dave Young and leftfielder George Kerasinis out of the game.
The two Cleaview players collided on a fly ball that Kerasinis caught. Both were on the ground for around 10 minutes and both left the game.
Drozd replaced Young and ended up delivering the game-winning hit, a bloop single over a drawn-in infield.
Reim followed with another hit for an insurance run.
Hochberg mixed a fastball with a sharp curve. He walked three, one intentionally, and struck out three.
He said he was motivated by his tough outing as a sophomore.
"It made me want to work harder," Hochberg said. "I threw a lot in the off-season."
Junior lefty Keith Ryback closed the victory with a 1-2-3 seventh, striking out two.
I have to give credit to my teammates," Hochberg said. "They made all the plays behind me."
Clearview 000 102 0 -- 3 4 1
Paul VI 000 010 0 -- 1 4 3
WP: Alex Hochberg. LP: Nick Gallo.
Contact Phil Anastasia at email@example.com. Follow @PhilAnastasia on Twitter.