De­fense key to Falls Le­gion’s suc­cess

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

There is lit­tle doubt about what the strength of this year’s Falls Post 834 team should end up be­ing.

When it comes to of­fense, this group has plenty, as has been ev­i­dent in their re­cent string of con­tests. Since June 5, Post 834 has put up at least four runs in ev­ery game, in­clud­ing a pair of dou­ble dig­its out­ings against Northamp­ton and bphrata Post 429.

With that in mind, though, the fate of Falls may come down to the other side of the ball. De­fense hasn’t been a par­tic­u­lar strength for Post 834, which was on dis­play in a late Fa­ther’s Day morn­ing show­down with vis­it­ing bphrata. In it, a 13-run slug­ging day was good for just a tie, as er­rors and a pair of poor in­nings forced Falls to play catch-up for much of the game.

“They weren’t mak­ing the right de­ci­sion with the ball,” re­lief pitcher Tim Hild said. “We haven’t re­ally been that pumped up.”

That has been the prob­lem when it comes to de­fense. From small mis­takes like not play­ing a bunt prop­erly to get­ting caught out of po­si­tion on a po­ten­tially rou­tine play, Falls gave bphrata plenty of op­por­tu­ni­ties to light up the score­board. Post 429 took full ad­van­tage, as it had a pair of in­field bunt hits and an ad­di­tional in­field sin­gle as part of a 16-hit morn­ing against four Falls pitch­ers. All but two bat­ter in the start­ing lineup also had a hit in the ef­fort.

Start­ing pitcher Con­nor Ward, a ris­ing se­nior at Penns­bury, had a dif­fi­cult day as a re­sult. In the first in­ning, he yielded three hits to start things off, which helped lead to three bphrata runs be­fore his team came to bat. In the sec­ond in­ning, he gave up an­other pair of runs and wound up be­ing pulled af­ter the third out.

In his place, though, came Tim Hild, a ris­ing se­nior at Tru­man who has also seen ac­tion in right field. He had just one hic­cup, namely a sin­gle given up to bphrata catcher Colin Al­bright in the fourth in­ning, which brought in a pair of runs. In his other two in­nings of work, Hild help Post 429 with­out a hit.

Al­bright, how­ever, proved to be a tough out for more than just him. He drove in a run on a ground out in the first in­ning, and then in the sixth frame, crushed a Scott Jensen of­fer­ing for a tworun dou­ble that gave Post 429 the lead. Jensen wound up yield­ing five runs in that in­ning, as bphrata bat­ted around thanks to six hits and a hit by pitch.

“We come out flat,” catcher Shaugn Wright said. “We need to come out with straight in­ten­sity and help us out.”

Wright, an­other Penns­bury prod­uct who has played catcher, first base and out­field pri­mar­ily in backup duty this sea­son, had one of his best days so far. A first year player, Wright walked twice, once on a hit by pitch, and drove in three runs. The first was on a fielder’s choice that capped a five-run bot­tom of the sec­ond for Falls, while the other two came on a clutch one-out dou­ble in the sixth in­ning to make it 1211 bphrata. He later scored the ty­ing run on a two-out hit by wach Szu­mi­gala.

“I’m try­ing to work my way up, and hope­fully by the end of this year, I might have a start­ing spot,” Wright said.

Wright is 4-for-6 this year at the plate. The big hero of­fen­sively against bph-

it’ll

rata, how­ever, was Jensen, who played first base in this one. He smaFked a pair of two-run dou­bles and added a 5B, sinJle in five at-bats to help Falls keep match­inJ Post 429 throuJhout the con­test. His first dou­ble scored two runs in the bot­tom of the first to help start a come­back, and then in the sec­ond, his sinJle al­lowed Falls to take a brief lead at 6-5.

Trail­inJ by three runs JoinJ into the bot­tom of the sec­ond, left fielder Justin Jacko (Penns­bury) started a rally with a 5B, hit. Third base­man 6hane Mon­a­han, who was 3-for-5, fol­lowed with an­other 5B, sinJle and Beau Flem­inJ (also 3-for-5) did the same to tie thinJs up. Af­ter Jensen, WriJht drove in his first run on a fielder’s choice.

Down 12-7 in the bot­tom of the sixth, Falls loaded the bases with one out be­fore Jensen crushed his other dou­ble to make it 12-9. That set the staJe for WriJht and 6zu­miJala to tie thinJs up.

Post 834’s Justin .abana came in to re­lieve Jensen in the top of the sev­enth, but af­ter a walk, wild pitch and Jround out helped Ethan 6ipe Jet to third, a pass ball al­lowed Ephrata to Jo ahead. ,t was the fourth pitch to Jet away or Jo er­rant on the day for Post 834, two of which re­sulted in Ephrata tal­lies. Falls an­swered, thouJh, af­ter short­stop Billy Bon­fiJ led off by Jet­tinJ hit by a pitch. Af­ter a balk moved him to sec­ond, Flem­inJ, who was the de­siJ­nated hit­ter in the five­hole, belted a ty­inJ sinJle down the left field line. Jensen then lined out to close out the tie.

“Our lineup’s the best it’s ever been re­ally,” said Jensen, a re­cent Tru­man Jrad­u­ate and four-year leJion player. “We can hit one throuJh nine in our lineup.”

Mean­while on the mound, Flem­inJ, Ward, Mon­a­han and lead­off hit­ter Bran­don Gar­rett fi­Jure to han­dle much of the start­inJ du­ties. 6zu­miJala, Hild, Jensen and Chris Thomp­son have also shared re­lief du­ties, and how the pitch­inJ staff comes toJether could Jo a lonJ way in de­ter­min­inJ Falls’ fate this sea­son. With all but three play­ers, namely 6teve Bar­rinJ­ton, James Wal­lace and Daulton Ge­orJe back from 2012, the ex­pe­ri­ence is there to take the next step. 5evenJe could also be on Post 834’s side, as af­ter win­ninJ the reJu­lar sea­son ti­tle last sea­son, it fell to Bris­tol in the Lower Bucks Amer­i­can LeJion LeaJue (LBALL) cham­pi­onship round.

“6tay pos­i­tive and work toJether as a team,” Jensen said. “We’re try­inJ to win it this year.”

Falls is puttinJ it­self in Jood po­si­tion to do so. Af­ter a 5-0 vic­tory over Lower 6out­hamp­ton a few hours af­ter ty­inJ Ephrata, Post 834 im­proved to 7-3-3 on the sea­son. Even if it does not win the leaJue, Falls will Jet a chance to con­tend for biJJer thinJs, as it is hostinJ the 5eJion 3 tour­na­ment this sea­son.

♦♦♦

Photo by Steve Sher­man

Falls Le­gion bat­ter takes his swings for Post 834 in a re­cent win for the Dirt­bags over the Bombers June 12 at Northamp­ton.

Photo by Steve Sher­man

Falls Le­gion left­hander Chris Thomp­son works the hill for Post 834. Chris is a re­cent grad­u­ate of Fa­ther Judge.

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