Defense key to Falls Legion’s success
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-
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.
Falls Legion batter takes his swings for Post 834 in a recent win for the Dirtbags over the Bombers June 12 at Northampton.
Falls Legion lefthander Chris Thompson works the hill for Post 834. Chris is a recent graduate of Father Judge.