Looking to address some unfinished business, Rohit Chawla decided to return this summer for another season with the Princeton Post 218 American Legion baseball team.
“Because we were one game away from the playoffs last year, I felt good about coming back this year,” said Chawla, a former Princeton High star who played club baseball this spring in his freshman year at Rutgers University. “I felt we were going to be right in there this year.”
Playing club ball kept Chawla sharp as he looked ahead to the summer. “We had 20-22 games,” said Chawla.
“We had weekend series against Delaware, Hofstra, and other colleges around here. I played shortstop and I pitched a lot during the end of the year. I got a couple of starts and some relief appearances. Our main pitcher was also a shortstop. I played short when he was pitching and when I was pitching, he was playing shortstop.”
This summer, Chawla has assumed a similar role for Post 218, serving as one of the team’s starting pitchers and playing shortstop when he isn’t on the mound.
In assessing his pitching, Chawla acknowledged that he has been a little inconsistent.
“I started pretty good but I am getting a little tired now,” explained Chawla. “It’s tough because I didn’t throw a lot during the school year so now I am working back. I am going to step it up now.”
Chawla has stepped things up at the plate and in the field. “I hit well during the school year, that was one of my stronger assets when I was playing club ball,” said Chawla, who had a sharp single last Thursday as Post 218 played Ewing Post 314 in a game that was suspended in the fifth inning with Princeton trailing 6-3.
“Now I feel good at the plate. I am seeing pitches well and I am staying hot. It is helping our team out because we need to hit better. I feel comfortable at shortstop.”
Post 218 has picked things up offensively as it has gone 4-4 after starting the summer by losing five of its first six games. “We were pitching well in the beginning and we weren’t hitting and then we were hitting but not pitching,” said Chawla.
“We are hitting; we had eight runs against South Brunswick and 14 against Lawrence. We just have to put everything together. We have solid pitching, as we did last year, and once our bats come around, we will be really dangerous.”
Utilizing his experience, Chawla has provided some solid leadership this summer for Princeton. “I try to encourage the guys as much as possible, especially the pitchers,” said Chawla.
“Pitching over all of these years, I have a decent idea of what to do on the mound. Like Ben Grass going out there today (against Ewing), he hasn’t thrown much and he is a pretty young guy. I tried to help him throw first pitch strikes and not walk the leadoff hitter and all of that stuff. He is learning out there; he is doing a good job. That is basically what I try to do. I use my experience and what I see and try to help out the other guys.”
Noting that Post 218 has a good group of guys, Chawla believes the players will keep competing hard down the stretch, with the team slated to host South Brunswick Post 401 on July 9 and play at Hightstown Post 148 on July 11 before hosting Bordentown Post 26 for a doubleheader on July 12 and North Hamilton on July 14.
“We have a lot of chemistry; we have fun,” said Chawla. “It is frustrating when we lose those close games. We are feeling more confident putting runs on the board now; it was just a matter of getting the rust off and now everyone is producing. Everyone can play. Once we play to our capabilities, we’ll be right there.”