Camden Catholic senior catcher Joe Palumbo figures his teammate and classmate, pitcher Jay Crusemire, is "under the radar."

He also figures that's a good thing.

"It's a motivator, for sure," Palumbo said of Crusemire. "He's got something to prove. We all do."

Crusemire, a senior lefthander, wasn't a first-team, all-conference selection as a junior. He won't be attending college on a baseball scholarship. He wasn't on many lists of the pitchers to watch in South Jersey.

But if the first two weeks of the baseball season are any indication, Crusemire is set to make some serious noise.

And so are the Irish.

"He's such a quiet kid," Camden Catholic coach Bob Bergholtz said. "He's not a rah-rah type. But he's a fierce competitor. He wants the ball."

Crusemire is 2-0 with an 0.70 ERA for the undefeated Irish, who are 4-0 and No. 17 in the Inquirer Top 25 after a 13-3 victory over Cherry Hill East on Thursday.

Crusemire has allowed one earned run in 10 innings. He has 17 strikeouts and just two walks.

"Just throwing strikes," Crusemire said after shutting down rival Bishop Eustace in a 10-0 victory in a clash of Olympic Conference National Division rivals on Monday. "Get ahead with the fastball. Go up high to finish them off or throw a breaking ball to throw them off."

Crusemire was in complete command against Bishop Eustace, which entered the game 5-0.

"He got ahead," Palumbo said. "He threw strikes. That's the big thing."

Crusemire, who lives in Merchantville, said he's been a pitcher since playing the sport as a 5-year-old at the T-ball level.

"I just like throwing the ball," Crusemire said.

Crusemire mixed a lively fastball with tailing action with a sharp curve against Bishop Eustace. He allowed just three hits - including an infield single - and struck out nine in a game shortened to five innings by the 10-run rule.

"He did a great job out there," Bishop Eustace coach Sam Tropiano said.

Bergholtz believes Crusemire has the "stuff" to pitch at a high college level, perhaps even in NCAA Division I competition. Crusemire has decided to attend Virginia Wesleyan College, a Division III program in Norfolk, Va.

Crusemire said that he felt comfortable with the coaches and the program, and that the school was appealing because it has a good reputation in his intended area of study, computer programming and design.

"I think he could" pitch at a higher level, Berholtz said. "But that's a good spot for him."

Crusemire struck out 39 in 36 innings as a junior, so it's not as if he entered this season as an unknown. He was the Irish's opening-day starter and allowed one earned run in a 13-3 win over Schalick.

Crusemire believes his reputation will continue to spread.

"They might not know me when the game starts," Crusemire said. "But I feel like after the game, they will."

@PhilAnastasia

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