With two men on base in the third inning last Saturday against Hamilton Post 31, Alex Deutsch came through for the Princeton Post 218 American Legion baseball team.
Centerfielder Deutsch stroked a liner to center to knock in a run, sparking a four-run rally.
“I had seen him in my first at-bat; I walked when he threw me 4 balls and I knew he was going to come with a fast ball,” said Deutsch, reflecting on his approach in that at-bat. “I was looking for the fast ball over the plate and I hit it over the middle.”
Unfortunately for Post 218, the four-run outburst came after the team had dug an early 12-0 hole on the way to a 16-4 loss.
With Princeton having dropped several nailbiters in the first two weeks of the season, the rally was an encouraging sign.
“It’s funny because that is what we needed the entire season,” said Deutsch, who graduated from The Hun School earlier this month and was a co-captain and starting centerfielder for the Raider baseball team this spring.
“We have gotten one or two runs here or there and then we had one big inning when we were down by 12 runs. I think it was more that we were just playing loose.”
After an uneven senior season for Hun, Deutsch has been coming up big this summer for Post 218.
“I have been hitting really well,” said Deutsch, who went 3-for-3 with a two-run triple last Monday to help Post 218 beat Hopewell Post 339 8-4 in eight innings and improve to 2-5.
“I wasn’t consistent over the course of the season for Hun. I have had a hit every game so far with this team. I had a big hit yesterday (an RBI double in a 3-1 win over North Hamilton).”
The Middlebury College-bound Deutsch is enjoying playing his first season with Post 218. “I did all the showcase and the travel stuff the last couple of years so I wanted to play for my town in the last year,” said Deutsch.
“It is fun; it doesn’t get better than playing with a bunch of guys from your town.”
As he heads to Middlebury this fall, Deutsch is looking forward to playing with a new bunch of guys.
“Definitely the playing in the NESCAC (New England Small College Athletic Conference) is a huge thing, it is so competitive,” said Deutsch.
“It is great athletics balanced with academics. When I visited and went up there, it just felt right, they always talk about the cliché moment when you walk on campus. I also love the guys on the team; they have had a rough last couple of years so I am hoping to go up there and help turn things around.”
Post 218 manager Tommy Parker loves having Deutsch on the squad. “Alex has been a great addition, he really has been a catalyst,” said Parker.
Parker is hoping that the four-run rally on Saturday could be a catalyst for his club going forward.
“That is something we can build on, these guys are capable of doing that,” said Parker. “There is no quit in them. You don’t lay down, you just keep pushing and things will happen.”
While the lopsided loss to Post 31 was disappointing, Parker doesn’t believe it is an accurate reflection of his team’s quality.
“We have been playing a lot of close games; we are a much better team than we showed here today,” maintained Parker.
“These guys are as talented as anyone in the league. We have had some really tough ones. The bats are beginning to come alive and that has really been the difference in the games that we haven’t won; we haven’t been able to get the offense. The pitching has been excellent. It will turn around; I can say that.”
In order to turn things around, Post 218 needs to display a mental toughness.
“What I think they need to do to get over the hump is to just have the old school mentality of putting them away when you get up,” said Parker, whose team plays Broad Street Park Post 313 on June 27 at Nottingham High, hosts Trenton Post 93/182 on June 28, Robbinsville Post 530 on June 29, and then plays Lawrence Post 414 at Eggerts Crossing Park on June 30 and faces Ewing Post 314 on July 1 at Moody Park.
“It is learning what true swagger is and having the confidence that when you are down, you are never out until the last strike or the last out. We have 21 more games to go and I have seen things turn around before. Last year, we made a push and this team is better than that.”
Deutsch, for his part, believes Post 218 can make a push. “We are a good hitting team, it is going to come along over the course of the season,” asserted Deutsch. “I honestly can tell you that I have not seen a team that we can’t beat.”