Jacob Eisenberg readily acknowledges that he is not one of the top offensive threats for the Princeton Post 218 American Legion baseball team.
But last Wednesday, Eisenberg knocked in two runs with a line drive single up the middle in the bottom of the third inning to help spark a four-run rally as Post 218 overcame a 2-0 deficit and topped Hopewell Post 339 5-2 to earn its first victory of the summer after three straight losses.
“It felt good,” said a smiling Eisenberg, reflecting on his clutch hit. “I went 0-for-4 with four strikeouts in the last game and I struck out my first at bat today. I am just there, hacking away. I knew that he was going to come in with a fastball and I was just trying to put good contact on it and luckily it found a hole.”
Eisenberg, a former standout pitcher for Princeton Day School who just finished his freshman year at Princeton University, sensed that his unlikely moment of glory turned the tide for Post 218.
“That did get things going; hits are contagious,” said Eisenberg, who also starred as a soccer goalie at PDS and played club soccer this past fall at Princeton. “You get one hit, especially when I get a hit, and everyone feels they can get a hit. I never hit in high school; it is fun to get up there though.”
With Post 218 starting off the season with three one-run defeats, it was fun for the team to pick up a victory.
“This is our first win; it is definitely nice to get that on the board,” said Eisenberg.
“We knew we were playing well in the first three games so we came out and continued what we were doing. Rohit [Chawla] pitched an amazing game. He fooled their hitters; they were off balance the whole time. They did not know what was coming. They hit two balls hard the whole game.”
Eisenberg was proud of the way Princeton came back from the early two-run hole to pull out the win over Hopewell.
“We don’t panic, we don’t get down on ourselves because we know if we just play the way we can play, we can do good things,” said Eisenberg.
“We started chipping away; we had a great two-out rally there and that also shows some character. We are not folding with two outs; we think we can get a hit every time we get to the plate.”
As the summer unfolds, Eisenberg thinks he can help Post 218 on the mound.
“I threw against Broad Street on Sunday [a 4-3 defeat]; that was a good game,” said Eisenberg, who produced a fine pitching effort on Sunday, getting the win as Princeton topped Trenton 12-1 to improve to 2-4.
“I went six innings. It was a tough loss. I have been throwing. There was one kid at school, Chris Harwood, who pitched at Lawrenceville, and we threw a little bit in the spring. I kind of went right for it, my arm was a little extra sore the day after. I was glad to get back out there and get that first one under my belt. Going forward, I feel pretty good.”
Post 218 manager Tommy Parker was glad to see his team get in the win column.
“Like I told the guys before the game, if we maintain our focus and stay upbeat and aggressive, the wins will come,” said Parker, who is in his 24th summer at the helm of the Princeton program.
“The first three games were great games. I think folks are going to be looking at us coming forward. Tonight they put it all together. There were a couple of missteps but instead of getting down on themselves, they picked it up.”
PHS senior star Chawla picked up Post 218, going the distance on the mound.
“Rohit’s pitching was excellent, it was a good effort,” asserted Parker of Chawla, who had five strikeouts and gave up four hits in seven innings of work.
“I asked him how he feels because it is just his second time out in a couple of weeks and he said ‘I am great coach, I am good to go.’ He had a big spring with the Princeton High team and he is building on that. Even in his first outing [a 2-1 loss to West Windsor-Plainsboro], he pitched a great game.”
Princeton came through with some big hits in the victory over Hopewell. “Everybody’s bats started coming alive and I think that was a difference,” asserted Parker, who got RBIs from Jay Barry, Ben Sacco, and Mike Dunlap in addition to the two-run single from Eisenberg.
“In the first three games, the offense was there but not in a timely manner. Today it was timely.”
In Parker’s view, the squad’s breakthrough came at the right time. “This is the kind of win that I think will pick these guys up; they see what can be done,” said Parker.
“It was a total team win. I like the way the old guys are picking up the young guys. We have some nice depth. It was great. It was a feel-good win.”
Eisenberg, for his part, is looking forward to having a great summer with Post 218.
“We knew we were playing well in the last three games coming into today,” said Eisenberg, noting that this will be his final season of Legion ball.
“I am very confident that we can build on this and keep plugging away. It is so much fun. I love coming out here. Nothing can beat summer baseball.”