C.J. Hertz always is in the middle of the action for Sterling.

Hertz is either on the mound as the Silver Knights' ace, or he's behind the plate as a top defensive catcher. In the lineup, he's in the heart of the order as the clean-up hitter.

"C.J. has done everything from hitting to defense to pitching for our team this year," Sterling coach Chris Hoffman said. "I don't know where we would be without him."

Hertz said he takes pride in his versatility. He's signed to attend the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia next year, and probably will play multiple positions for the Blue Devils.

"Mostly pitching but they want me to play third, middle infield, wherever," said Hertz, who lives in Magnolia. "I've always moved around to a lot of positions."

Hertz has helped Sterling to a 13-3 record and into the quarterfinals of the Joe Hartmann Diamond Classic. He had a three-run double on Saturday as Sterling beat Burlington Township, 13-3, in the first round of the tournament.

Hertz has a 3-1 record with a 1.15 ERA. He had 38 strikeouts and just eight walks.

Hertz is batting .304 with five doubles, 22 runs and 14 RBIs.

"I think we were a little under the radar at the start of the season," Hertz said of Sterling's success. "Teams in the conference knew we'd be good and we knew we'd be good. But we're a little surprised at our record. We're really playing good baseball."

Sterling's biggest games are ahead. The Silver Knights can clinch the Colonial Liberty title in the next two weeks, and also will be a contender in the South Jersey Group 2 tournament.

"We've played great but we know we have a lot of baseball ahead of us," Hertz said.

   - Phil Anastasia