June 19, 2024

Princeton Post 218 Baseball Gets Off to Rough Start, But Squad Staying Upbeat as it Deals with Adversity

SWINGING AWAY: Princeton Post 218 American Legion baseball player Travis Petrone follows through on a swing in recent action. Last Monday, Petrone, a rising Princeton High senior, had a hit in a losing cause as Post 218 fell 7-1 to Hamilton Post 31. Princeton, which moved to 0-9 with the defeat, hosts Bordentown Post 26 on June 19, plays at North Hamilton on June 21, hosts Lawrence Post 414 on June 22, plays at Broad Street Park Post 313 on June 23, and at Allentown on June 25. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Having lost its first six games this summer, the Princeton Post 218 American Legion baseball team was primed for a breakthrough as it hosted Broad Street Park Post 313 last Thursday evening at Smoyer Park.

“It has been a tough stretch coming into this game,” said Post 218 manager Peter Nielsen. “I see the hunger in these kids. They are ready to get that first win.”

Post 218 built a 2-1 lead heading into the fourth inning on run-scoring hits by Mike Prete and Gavin Lauer.

But things fell apart in the fourth inning as Broad Street tallied six runs to go ahead 7-2 and pulled away to a 12-4 win.

Nielsen acknowledged that some sloppy play by his squad has been hurting its chances to get that first win.

“The thing is not to compound mistakes,” said Nielsen. “It is being able to minimize in the middle of the game and not letting it snowball into something else.”

Gathering his players in front of the dugout before the bottom of the fifth inning, Nielsen gave them an in-game pep talk.

“It was just to settle everyone down,” said Nielsen. “It is just being able to face adversity being able to put it past you in order to keep playing afterwards. That is really what that was all about.”

The Princeton players responded as they settled down to play some good ball over the last two innings.

“It was all clean innings on defense,” said Nielsen. “The offense was there too. It is just being able to string them together.”

Coming out of the bullpen, Dylan Green yielded one hit and no runs in 2.2 innings of work.

“Dylan pitched a great game,” said Nielsen. “He pitched very well in relief. He came out a little shaky at first but he got settled in.”

While Post 218 has gotten off to a shaky start this summer, Nielsen likes the way his players are staying upbeat in the face of adversity.

“I definitely see them keeping their heads up,” said Nielsen. “Travis Petrone is a good leader on the team to be able to fire them up. He is a good guy to have in the leadoff spot. I have him at the top of the order in each game because I know he has a nice swing with the ability to get on base and start a rally for us. He has got all of the leadership skills.”

In order for Princeton to rally down the stretch, the squad needs to be sharper in all areas of the game.

“To get on the winning side, it is just being able to execute anything you can,” said Nielsen, whose team fell 7-1 to Hamilton Post 31 last Monday to move to 0-9 and will be busy in the next week as it hosts Bordentown Post 26 on June 19, plays at North Hamilton on June 21, hosts Lawrence Post 414 on June 22, plays at Broad Street Park Post 313 on June 23, and at Allentown on June 25.

“On the offensive side, it is being able to execute a sacrifice bunt when we need to, move runners over or being able to execute and capitalize on offensive things when we have them ready and in scoring position. The pitching is keeping us in games right now. Some balls are getting kicked around, some balls get thrown around here or there. We compound the errors. When our pitcher makes a pitch to get that routine ground ball or that routine fly ball, we just need to make the play and get back in the dugout and score more runs.”

Nielsen, for his part, believes Post 218 is poised to get on the winning track.

“I keep telling them every single day, you have the ability to beat anyone in this league,” said Nielsen. “They have just got to believe it and be able to play a complete game and we will have a good stretch going. It will be nice when we get our first win.”