Princeton Senior Babe Ruth Keeps Rolling; Routs Western Monmouth in Playoff Opener
By Bill Alden
When the Princeton-Cranbury Senior Babe Ruth team started the summer by dropping four of its first five games, second baseman Chris Brooks feared the team could be heading for a long season.
"I didn't know how well we were going to do," said Brooks, who is heading into his sophomore year at Princeton High and played for the school's JV baseball team this past spring. "After we lost four straight, our coach [Scott Goldsmith] kept telling us to get back on a winning streak. We listened to him and we did it."
Goldsmith's message certainly resonated as the team reeled off a nine-game winning streak to end the regular season with a 10-4 record, climbing to a tie for second in the Mercer County Senior Babe Ruth final standings.
Last Sunday, P-C made it ten in a row as it cruised past a shorthanded Western Monmouth 17-2 at Smoyer Park in the opening round of the league playoffs.
Danny Etherton went the distance on the mound to get the win while P-C's potent order batted around in both the first and second innings as it built a 14-0 cushion.
In Brooks' view, the team's hot streak has been the product of a simple formula. "The hitting, definitely the hitting," said Brooks in assessing P-C's surge. "We hit a lot in practice. It has really helps in the games. We have good hitters from top to bottom of the lineup."
Goldsmith, for his part, was happy with the way his club took care of business against a Western Monmouth team that played with only eight players.
"We didn't want to come into this game overconfident yet we knew that as long as we showed up and played we would get the win. We played pretty well today. There were some good defensive plays. We worked on hitting the opposite way a lot today."
In the semifinals, P-C will face the winner of the Lou Gehrig Blue versus Lou Gehrig Grey opening round clash, which was rained out last Monday. Depending on the weather, the game should be played either August 10 or 11 at Hilltop Park.
Goldsmith believes his club has the mindset necessary to earn the title. "We're so focused right now," asserted a smiling Goldsmith. "Like I said a couple of weeks ago, we are the team to beat."
Regardless of whether P-C takes the title, it has certainly turned some heads with its sizzling summer. "At the All-Star game everybody was talking about how well we have done and how much progress we have made," said Goldsmith, whose club sent Brooks, Etherton, Richie Von der Schmidt, and Ryan Gordy to the All-Star game.
"They all want to knock us off. We know either matchup will be tough. Hitting is our key. As I told them today, as long as we hit it, we're going to win."
Reflecting the confidence that comes from playing on a team that has won 10 straight, Brooks believes P-C can finish the deal. "We can beat 'em," said Brooks referring to the team's potential opponents in the semis. "We're winning this."