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Kingsway's brother act provides boost in win over Millville

Courier-Post (Cherry Hill, NJ) logo Courier-Post (Cherry Hill, NJ) 6/3/2021 John A. Lewis, Cherry Hill Courier-Post
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WOOLWICH TOWNSHIP – They find a way to beat you.

That's what the Maiers brothers did Wednesday.

For a while, it looked like Steven's pitching would get the job done. He allowed six hits over 6 2/3 innings and struck out 12 hitters, but it was a tie game when he gave way to Josh Herner, who got the last out.

“I was just kind of blowing my fastball by them,” he said. “When I started off, my curveball was a little off, and I started finding that, but to be honest, I just kept going back to my fastball.”

He didn't want to hand the ball over at that point.

“Senior night, first round of the playoffs – no way.”

But twin brother Ben, the Kingsway right fielder, was still in play. He launched a leadoff homer to left field that lifted the Dragons past Millville, 3-2, in their first-round, South Jersey Group 4 playoff game Wednesday.

It was the first career home run for Ben, who has 19 hits this season, including two doubles, six stolen bases and 15 RBIs.

“A couple times in batting practice, but other than that, (he'd never had one),” Ben Maiers said. “He (Millville pitcher Logan Musey) was wild in warm-ups, and the coach was telling me, anything under the belt, put a nice swing on it. I was thinking up the middle, and I hit it well.”

So well he could go into his trot between first and second base.

“I knew it was a home run. I just started jogging a little bit,” Ben said. “It was nice. I hit one in batting practice earlier, and it came off (the bat) the same way. So I knew it was a homer, but even if it went off the fence, I was probably going to get a double.”

a group of baseball players standing on top of a grass covered field: Members of the Kingsway baseball team wait to greet Ben Maiers (far right) after his leadoff home run in the seventh inning brought an end to their 3-2 win over Millville. © JOHN A. LEWIS/STAFF PHOTOJOURNALIST Members of the Kingsway baseball team wait to greet Ben Maiers (far right) after his leadoff home run in the seventh inning brought an end to their 3-2 win over Millville.

As the leadoff hitter, that's his job. Get something going. Figure out a way to get on and get around. He's a big element of the Dragons' attack in that capacity. Launching bombs is a new approach, but it couldn't have come at a better time.

a baseball player holding a bat on a field: Kingsway pitcher Steve Maiers follows through on a first-inning pitch during Wednesday's South Jersey Group 4 playoff meeting with Millville. © JOHN A. LEWIS/STAFF PHOTOJOURNALIST Kingsway pitcher Steve Maiers follows through on a first-inning pitch during Wednesday's South Jersey Group 4 playoff meeting with Millville.

Actually, that's not quite true; an inning earlier, and his brother would have been the winning pitcher.

“He was telling me that, but it's all right, you know? We got the win as a team,” Ben said.

The Dragons will face Jackson Memorial Saturday in a sectional quarterfinal.

“It feels great,” Steve said. “We were kind of low in confidence, we needed a big win to bring us up, and for my brother to hit that home run at the end of the game – that was awesome. We beat (Jackson) earlier in the year, in extra innings, so that's going to give us a lot of confidence.”

a batter catcher and umpire during a baseball game: Nate Maiers of Kingsway is safe at home as Millville catcher John Weatherby waits for the throw during the second inning of Wednesday's South Jersey Group 4 playoff game. © JOHN A. LEWIS/STAFF PHOTOJOURNALIST Nate Maiers of Kingsway is safe at home as Millville catcher John Weatherby waits for the throw during the second inning of Wednesday's South Jersey Group 4 playoff game.

Steve and Ben Maiers are seniors for the Dragons. Brother Nate Maiers, the shortstop, is a sophomore. He led off the second inning with a single and scored the first run of the game on a base hit by Connor Ward.

“We pick each other up,” Ben said. “It's pretty cool.”

It's about to change, though, at least among the twins.

“I play quarterback for the football team,” Ben said. “We all play varsity football and baseball. All my cousins and stuff are all wrestlers. We were the only family that didn't do that. We played football, baseball, and when we were younger, played a lot of basketball. But we stopped in high school.”

They're about to stop being teammates, too.

Ben will head south to Cumberland County College to study education. He could be facing his brother from a batter's box this time next year, because Steve will be pitching for Rowan College at Gloucester County, where he's going to study Biology.

“The goal for me is to be an optometrist – an eye doctor,” he said. “And that's the path you need to take. I'm a good biology student and I enjoy it, and also, my dad's a pharmacist, so he's been around it too. I got contacts at a young age, so I was always in the eye doctor's office, and it just interests me.”

In the meantime, they're two important elements for a squad trying to keep its season alive.

“The last half of the year, Steven's been really good for us, especially on the mound, and except for last year, would have been a three-year starter for us,” Kingsway coach Bill Alvaro said. “Ben's the leadoff guy. So as they go, we go.”

Kingsway has a 13-7-1 record. The going's been tough lately, because they've come through a whole gauntlet of elite teams.

But they're coming around.

“Our bats are starting to come alive,” Ben Maiers said. “We're not swinging and missing as much. We still do some, but it's not as bad as it used to be, and our pitching's gotten a lot better.”

That postseason atmosphere makes a difference.

“We have more energy. It's the playoffs,” Steve Maiers said. “People want to come play us, and people are coming out to watch the game. It's more energy.”

John A. Lewis is a sports writer for the Burlington County Times, Courier Post and The Daily Journal. E-mail him at jlewis@thebct.com or follow on Twitter @JohnLewis19. Please consider supporting local journalism with a subscription.

This article originally appeared on Cherry Hill Courier-Post: Kingsway's brother act provides boost in win over Millville

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