Ques­tions amid prom­ise for Penns­bury

The Advance of Bucks County - - SPORTS - By Vince Par­avec­chia

To be de­ter­mined may be the three words most fit­ting for menns­bury’s base­ball team this team.

In­deed, the cal­cons have tal­ent, both young and veteran, in all facets of the game. Then again, sev­eral key play­ers have grad­u­ated, and even with them last year, too many mis­takes were made and op­por­tu­ni­ties missed to pre­vent menns­bury from win­ning more than six games.

That said, whether the cal­cons will be able to turn the cor­ner quickly and de­velop into a con­tender or fall short again ap­pears to be the ques­tion on ev­ery­one’s mind.

“It’s go­ing to be a sur­pris­ing year, be­cause as of now, we don’t know who’s go­ing to play where,” se­nior co- cap­tain and pitcher Bran­don dar­rett said.

“This is the first year where we really think any­thing can hap­pen,” he con­tin­ued. “We’re real ex­cited to get the sea­son started.”

dar­rett is likely to be the ace of the staff in this, his third full sea­son of var­sity ac­tion. He com­piled a 1-5 record last year while mus­ter­ing a P.T9 EoA and a team-high 44 strike­outs. He also played nearly ev­ery po­si­tion in the field and drove in five runs while bat­ting .PM5. dar­rett, who fur­ther led menns­bury with seven stolen bases, was awarded pub­ur­ban lne League EplL) Na­tional Con­fer­ence Hon­or­able Men­tion hon­ors for his ef­forts.

pince then, dar­rett has signed to play at the rniver­sity of ohode Is­land next sea­son, mak­ing him one of four cal­cons to com­mit to col­lege base­ball to this point.

lne of the oth­ers join­ing him in the ranks of fu­ture col­le­giate ath­letes is fel­low pitcher goe pa­batino, a lefty who has com­mit­ted to aivi­sion II mhiladel­phia rniver­sity. cor now, though, the co-cap­tain will try to bet­ter his 2M12 per­for­mance, when he was 1-5 with a S.4P EoA. He will be the No. 2 pitcher in the ro­ta­tion and, like dar­rett, could come in for re­lief duty, as well.

“I just want to be able to lo­cate my fast­ball and curve ball on the out­side,” pa­batino said.

lther pitch­ers that should fac­tor into the mix in­clude Connor Ward, Brody Mccad­den, gake dold­berg and aan Kleisch. rn­for­tu­nately, the team al­ready has an in­jury in Kleisch, a Mis­eri- cor­dia rniver­sity re­cruit who may not be back un­til late in the sea­son, if at all, af­ter hurt­ing his an­kle dur­ing wrestling sea­son.

They will all try to make up for the pro­duc­tion lost to grad­u­a­tion in maul dos­selin, who was 4-M and now play­ing at Mercer County Com­mu­nity Col­lege, and Tyler men­nett, who didn’t see much ac­tion on the mound but, of­fen­sively, was sec­ond in hits with 2P. dos­selin was even more prolific at the plate, as he bat­ted .PTP with a team-lead­ing five home runs, 22 oBI and .S9M slug­ging per­cent­age. men­nett, though, led the team with a .PTT av­er­age and dou­bles with nine, and the pair tied with 1T runs scored.

“I think pitch­ing and hopefully de­fense is go­ing

to be the strength,” coach Joe Pesci said. “What we need to work on is ad­just­ments at the plate and elim­i­nat­ing ex­tra outs.”

Those were the Achilles’ heels of the Fal­cons last year, as they went 6-14 over­all and 5-9 in the SOL Na­tional Con­fer­ence. In- cluded in that were sev­eral set­backs, in­clud­ing the league opener, in which they lost close games that they ei­ther led and gave away or had a chance to win but couldn’t come through. Sa­batino also had a game in which he yielded less than four hits in eight in­nings, but fell, 1-0, on a walk-off ex­tra-base hit.

“As bad as our record was last year, I don’t think it was in­dica­tive of what our team was like,” Pesci said.

Had an er­ror here or lack of a si­t­u­a­tional hit there gone the other way, Penns­bury may have made its first post­sea­son ap­pear­ance un­der Pesci. As it stands, they’ll try again in this, his fourth year, and have five re­turn­ing starters to help the cause. Be­sides Sa­batino and Gar­rett, ju­nior left­fielder Justin Jacko, who bat­ted .263 last year, catcher Kyle Mar­shall and sec­ond base­man Bren­dan Camp­bell, who had 12 hits and scored 11 runs in 2012, have re­turned.

“This year, we have a lot more chem­istry,” said Jacko, an­other co-cap­tain and the team’s three-hole hit­ter last year. “We’re pretty solid de­fen­sively. We have a lot of good play­ers, and we have a lot of play­ers that can play mul­ti­ple po­si­tions.”

In­field­ers Mike Haber­mehl and the squad’s other col­lege base­ball re­cruit, Jake Lin­dahl, among oth­ers, also fig­ure to be in the mix. The team is fo­cus­ing on the so-called “lit­tle things,” in­clud­ing how they ap­proach at-bats and not swing­ing for the fences as much.

“We don’t have power hit­ters. We have a lot of line-drive hit­ters and sin­gle hit­ters, so I think we’re go­ing to be able to push some runs across that way,” Sa­batino said. “We have really fast out­field­ers and kids we brought up last year have a lot of speed. That’s one of our strengths on of­fense.”

“We have to make sure we’re pre­pared for ev­ery sit­u­a­tion,” Pesci added. “I think it all comes down to really hav­ing the right at­ti­tude.”

The Fal­cons lost their first scrim­mage March 14 at Hat­boro-Hor­sham, com­mit­ting sev­eral er­rors in an 8-3 loss. They did, though, belt eight hits and will have an­other chance at a pre­sea­son win March 19 against Bris­tol. The real thing gets un­der­way March 23 at home against Cen­tral Bucks East, while the league slate be­gins two days later at Coun­cil Rock North.


File photo by John Glee­son

Penns­bury is get­ting set for an­other sea­son on the base­ball di­a­mond. The Fal­cons and seven SOL Na­tional ri­vals be­gin a race to a berth in dis­tricts, which has eluded the or­ange and black the past few years. Here, se­nior Bradon Gar­rett chases down a baserun­ner in 2012.

File photo by Steve Sherman

Small-ball, long-ball – the Fal­cons have to do what­ever it takes to get back to the post­sea­son.

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