By Phil Anastasia
Tyler Kaiser has been throwing his knuckle-curve since he was 12.
It's still surprising batters.
But the bigger eye-opener has been the work of Kaiser and the rest of the Moorestown pitching staff through the first week of the baseball season.
"We lost most of our pitchers from last year," said Kaiser, a senior who worked three scoreless innings of relief in a 3-1 victory over Burlington Township Thursday in a clash of Top 10 teams and Burlington County League Liberty Division rivals.
Moorestown, the No. 9 team in The Inquirer preseason Top 10, is 3-0 and has allowed just three runs.
Junior Scott Zimmer pitched a no-hitter in a 12-0 win over Delran in the season opener. Junior Zach Michaud went five strong in a 13-2 win over Pemberton. And junior Alex Humes earned his first varsity win in the victory over No. 8 Burlington Township.
"We're young so it's nice to see," Moorestown coach Bill Donoghue said. "We've had some kids who are steppng up to the occasion."
Humes walked the first batter of the game and hit the third. But he escaped that jam and worked four solid innings, allowing an unearned run on two hits.
"I was a little shaky the first two innings," Humes said. "But I was able to settle down. As a pitching staff, we're hitting our spots and trusting our defense."
Moorestown managed just five hits as Burlington Township senior Ryan Bell went five strong innings and junior Aaron Crichlow worked a 1-2-3 sixth.
But the Quakers came through with some clutch hits as junior Dallas Clark delivered a two-out RBI single in the second and senior John Clark, who is not related to Dallas, slashed a two-out RBI single in the third.
Junior Justin Varga, who doubled and scored on John Clark's hit, added an RBI single in the fifth.
"You can't say enough about our pitching," Varga said. "They are keeping us in every game."
Junior Dave Viselli singled and scored in the fourth for Burlington Township (0-2). The Falcons committed just one error but weren't at their best on the field.
"They (Moorestown) were clean all through the game and that was the difference," Burlington Township coach Jason Stec said. "We misplayed a couple balls and it hurt us."
Kaiser, who has signed with Rider University as a infielder, said he starting throwing his knuckle-curve as a Little Leaguer.
He used the pitch to great results against Burlington Township, striking out five. He also was backed by strong defense, as catcher Alex Campbell threw out a would-be base stealer, and Dallas Clark made a diving catch of a sinking liner in left.
"The fast start is great," Kaiser said. "It's the older guys showing the younger guys not to fear anyone, just go out there and attack."
Burlington Twp. 000 100 0 -- 1 4 1
Moorestown 011 010 x -- 3 5 2
WP: Alex Humes. LP: Ryan Bell.
2B: M-Devin Connelly, Justin Varga.
Contact Phil Anastasia at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @PhilAnastasia on Twitter.