CAMDEN, N.J. -- This wasn't a typical high school game, by any stretch of the imagination. Then again, this wasn't the typical high school pitching showcase on Monday night, with Barnegat High phenom Jason Groome, ranked No. 1 on MLBPipeline.com's Top 100 Draft prospects facing fellow New Jersey prep standout Tyler Mondile of Gloucester Catholic, who has top five round potential himself.
Then add in the fact that the two Jersey aces turned this marquee matchup into a fund-raising event, with all proceeds from the $5 tickets being split between a pair of charities of the pitchers' choosing. The game was originally scheduled for April 10, but was moved to a later date and a larger venue, Campbell's Field, the one-time home of the now defunct independent league team, the Camden Riversharks, and it's a good thing. More than 6,000 people poured into the stadium for a good cause and to hopefully to see some good baseball.
Groome and Mondile didn't disappoint. It was Mondile who got the win, a 1-0 shutout with 10 strikeouts. The lone run in Groome's column was unearned and the big lefty finished the game with 14 strikeouts in six innings.
"I have to give all props to Mondile," Groome said. "He pitched a great game and they came out on top with a couple of errors. Other than that, I'm happy we had such a great turnout. It was sold out. It was great."
With scores of scouts on hand to watch both pitchers, the pair put up zeroes until Barnegat allowed a run on an errant throw on a bunt play in the third. While Groome did put a few runners on with some walks as he struggled a bit early with his command, that was the only time he really was tested.
Mondile was up to the task in matching Groome on the mound. Barnegat loaded the bases with no one out in the second inning, but the right-hander got a force play at the plate on an attempted squeeze play and recorded a pair of strikeouts, showing a lot of emotion on the mound. He also struck out the side in the sixth, clearly showing he wasn't going to give Barnegat a chance to tie the score, retiring the last nine batters he faced. The Florida State recruit touched 95 mph early in the game and consistently hit 92 mph throughout the rest of his start.
Using a fastball that touched 94 mph early and sat 90-92 mph all night and a devastating breaking ball that got better as the game wore on, Groome showed why he's likely to hear his name called in the very early stages of the first round of the Draft on June 9. The southpaw struck out the last eight batters he faced.
"My fastball was definitely working best," Groome said. "My curveball came along as the game went on with a lot sharper break. It came along in about the fourth inning and I stuck with it, got some strikeouts with it."
After a performance like that, in front of so many evaluators, it would be understandable for a 17-year-old to want to sit back and rest on the accomplishment, even temporarily. But while Groome, who is committed to Vanderbilt, knew he threw well, he also was well aware he didn't show scouts everything he's capable of.
"As far as my command goes, I think that's pretty good, but I need to show a little more depth to my changeup," Groome, a southpaw, said. "I'm not really getting out in front of it and left a couple up high today. They fouled it off, they didn't really make me pay. Later on down the road, I have to get that good depth on it."
He had no complaints about the charitable cause part of the evening, however. More than $32,000 was raised for the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and the Kari Jenkinson Fund. Groome picked CHOP largely based on his experience visiting the children's hospital in San Diego last summer while playing in the Perfect Game All-American Classic. Mondile wanted his share to go to Kari Jenkinson, a 15-year-old three-sport athlete from Audobon High School who is battling brain cancer, and her family.
"This game was awesome to play in," Groome said. "It would've been better to come out on top, but the charity was the most important thing."