Bristol down, not out, in quest for another title
Sooner or later, a championship caliber team will go from being the hunter to the hunted. Of course, there’s also the maintenance factor, as over time, teams lose key players that help lead them to the success that’s achieved.
So is the case for Bristol Post 382 this year. A nuPEHr RI firsW-yHDr 6HnLRr American Legion players are on the roster, a factor WhDW FDn sSHOO GLIfiFuOWLHs when it comes to developing chemistry. Yet, there are returning veterans, too, as well as plenty to talent to go around, all of which could help Post 382 contend for a third straight Lower Bucks American Legion League (LBALL) title in the coming weeks.
“All we’ve got to really GR Ls FOHDn uS DnG finG D way to stay strong through a game, and we’ll make a run through the playoffs,” Dylan Evert said. “Once we
never get these little mental errors out of the way, they’re looking very strong for us again this year.”
The biggest problem so far, believes Evert, has been the offensive production. Even in situations where leadoff runners reach base, advancing and especially getting them home has been a struggle. With that frustration, a simple error or important late inning hit by an opponent has occasionally made the difference in Bristol’s contests this year.
Through June 17, Post 382 has amassed a 5-6-1 record in LBALL competition and has lost four of its ODsW fiYH JDPHs. 1LnH OHDJuH games remain through June 21, however, so the opportunity to make a run for a better playoff seed is still well within reach.
“We have been struggling a bit with the offense to try to put some runs up to help our pitchers out,” said Evert, the team’s three-hole hitter. “Overall, we don’t have a standout offensively.”
A rising senior at Bristol, (YHrW Ls Ln hLs firsW yHDr wLWh the Senior Legion team. Last season, though, he was in attendance rooting Post 382 on as it defeated Falls in the championship game of the LBALL tournament. The squad’s run ended in the Region 3 tournament with a 10-6 loss to Conestoga, but it was still a solid accomplishment to follow up on their state title in 2011.
Many players from that historic team are now gone. Add to that the switch to wooden bats, and several players have had to break in to the lineup while not only learning to play together, but also how to hit with the new bats. It hasn’t been as much of a problem for Evert, though, as he has played travel baseball for several years and has experience with the more challenging lumber.
“They’re [the league title teams] pretty big shoes to fiOO, EuW LW’s MusW DwHsRPH IRr the opportunity, said Bristol High product Coilean 0DORnH, DnRWhHr firsW-yHDr player for Post 382. “I’m not too concerned about it because we know we can hit, we know we can score runs.”
Malone has been the team’s starting second baseman and, lately, been batting second in the order. He switches that duty with Truman’s Matt Shea, a utility player primarily helpLnJ WhH LnfiHOG DW WhLs SRLnW. Shea is batting .312 with a .914 OPS, while in the leadoff spot has been another Truman Tiger in Gage Marshall.
A big concern is the health RI DHrHk WhLWfiHOG, Dn RuWfiHOGHr whR wDs EDWWLnJ cleanup before suffering an LnMury. 3rLRr WR WhDW, hH wDs batting .333 with four extrabase hits and seven RBI. Post 382 does have another solid hitter in Bensalem’s ZDFh 6FhwDrW] (RuWfiHOGHr, batting .300) in his absence, but having both of them in the order will help increase the potency of the lineup.
Truman’s A.J. Slezosky hDs EHHn SODyLnJ RuWfiHOG DnG EDWWLnJ Ln WhH fiIWh sSRW with a .597 OPS and pair of stolen bases, which ties Schwartz and Evert for the team lead. Fellow Tigers Devon Bowker (six runs scored) and Collin Pool
have stepped up to play shortstop and third base, respectively, while batting sixth and ninth in the lineup. Between them, Bristol High graduate Gino Cefalone has also contributed with three runs scored while starting DW firsW EDsH. HH Ls DOso 3osW 382’s top pitcher, so when he’s on the mound, ConwHOO-EgDn’s -DrHG 3DWmDn KDs fiOOHG Ln DW firsW EDsH, though he normally plays ouWfiHOG.
Other contributors inFOuGH 0LNH 3HWrLzzL DnG Mike Force, both of whom are batting .333 with a comELnHG fivH 5B, DnG sHvHn runs scored.
“We’re kind of injury struck right now,” Malone sDLG. “5LgKW now, LW’s D OLWWOH sOow, EuW ,’m surH wH’OO get our chemistry back up DnG wH’OO EH figKWLng for that league championship again.”
3LWFKLng DnG GHfHnsLvHOy, Bristol is solid, as Cefalone and Evert have risen to the top of the rotation and have amassed 3.57 and 2.69 earned-run averages, respectively. There’s depth, Woo, Ds 3DWmDn, 6KHD DnG 6OHzosNy KDvH DOso sHHn DFtion. Conwell-Egan’s Dan 6uOOLvDn KDs DGGLWLonDOOy contributed solid relief efforts, leads the team with two victories and has the ability to start if needed.
“That’s probably the strongest part of our game right now,” Evert said. “Most of our losses have been by only one run games.”
“With wood bats, you’ve goW Wo finG KoOHs KHrH DnG there and play small ball to finG D wDy Wo mDNH somH runs,” he continued.
That said, if the hitting LmprovHs, 3osW 382 FouOG not only prove to be a dangerous postseason club to match-up with, but may HvHn finLsK EDFN on Wop of a league they’ve battled to summit in recent years.
Bristol Legion pitcher Justin Patman on the hill for Post 382.
Bristol baserunner on his way to second in a recent American Legion Post 382 matchup with Yardley Morrisville.