Former St. Mary player JR Hilcher.

RUTHERFORD – JR Hilcher had a good year and the hope is for more to come for the 2016 spring season, his sophomore year with Rutgers-Newark baseball.

The St. Mary graduate lefty hurler culminated his freshman season with the Scarlet Raiders by being named to the All New Jersey Collegiate Baseball Association Rookie team.

But it didn’t start out well for Hilcher, the 6-foot-4-inch pitcher, last fall in his first taste of college baseball.

He was hit hard during scrimmages against the other members of the Rutgers-Newark team and wasn’t on the roster for the fall game against Morris Community College. “I had a tough fall, and I was hit hard,” said Hilcher. “It was a little big discouraging.”

But Hilcher didn’t give up and changed some of his pitches, dropping the four-seam fastball and going to the two-seam fastball. “I scrapped the four-seam and became more with the two-seam fastball that acts like a sinker,” said Hilcher. “I was able to get a lot of ground balls.”

The result was that he won a team-high three games with a 3-2 record as a reliever and was second on the team in appearances. He also had 15 strikeouts in 16.1 innings.

And so far from the Rutgers-Newark coaching staff he has received raves, and they are looking for more in his sophomore season.

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