Bris­tol down, not out, in quest for an­other ti­tle

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

Three-peats easy.

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

are

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.

♦♦♦

Pho­tos by Teri Seib­ert

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.

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