The Post 28 Warriors won two of four games this past Independence Day week, keeping them four games above .500, with a 10-6 record, at the halfway mark of the season.
Post 28 split one of two games against RC DuPont on July 2, beating them 2-0 in the first game but losing the second game 3-1 in extra innings. The following day, Post 28 collected their second win in as many days by beating Newark 7-4.
The Warriors almost pulled out three out of four games but got out hit by Sussex West, 11-8, in the losing effort.
“We hit the ball against Sussex West,” said Head Coach Mearl Layton. “We just got out hit.”
Catcher D.J. Clark (with an RBI single in the game) and second baseman Colin Warner (two RBI singles) started off by putting Post 28 on the board for three runs for their only hits of the game.
Right-fielder Jerry Meiklejohn blasted a grand slam in the fifth inning to pull his team within two runs at 9-7. Leadoff hitter Justin Collins led his team with two hits in the game, highlighted by seventh-inning solo homerun.
Cody Jensen earned the loss while giving up 10 hits (two of which were homeruns by Sussex West starting pitcher Cody Collins) and allowed three walks but struck out nine in his first pitching assignment of the season.
“We haven’t gotten deep enough in our rotation to get Cody geared up, and we expect him to help us going down the stretch,” said Layton. “It’s hard to get him in there because he’s so good in the field and we need his bat.”
Utility outfielder/pitcher Trevor Abbott continued to improve this season by earning his third win of the season against Newark on July 3. Starting pitcher James Davis worked the first five innings while giving up four runs on four hits and striking out six and allowing no walks.
Down 4-3 in the sixth, Abbott worked a quick 1-2-3 inning, which was highlighted by a called strikeout (his only one of the game). His teammates rallied behind him to tack on four more runs for a final score of 7-4.
Shortstop Colin Warner led the team in hitting with his 3-4 effort, which included two doubles and three RBI’s. Warner just missed a grand slam by about a foot when he belted a two-RBI double in the bottom of the sixth inning.
Davis added two singles and Kevin VanVorst continued his hot batting by going 2-3 with an RBI.
Over the past four games, VanVorst has hit 7-12 and drawn three walks. VanVorst credited his recent success to a lot of practice, patience and mental preparation.
“I’ve been busting my [tail] lately, hitting a lot of soft toss to try to get my hand eye coordination to where I want it,” said VanVorst. “Though 85 percent of hitting is mental, it’s human to think about how you did last time,” he noted, referring to his previous hitting slump. “When you’re not hitting it bothers you and when you’re hitting it helps you — it works both ways.”
Post 28 almost pulled out two games from the RC DuPont, but the Warriors blinked first and allowed RC DuPont to break a 1-1 tie in the top of the ninth for the eventual 3-1 loss.
Zac Spece pitched six strong innings that were highlighted by a series of great defensive plays by centerfielder Collins.
Collins displayed great range in the field and robbed a RC DuPont hitter with a full-extension snag to keep the bases clear.
Zach Spudis relieved Spece in the top of the seventh and would earn the eventual loss. Spudis (0-1-5) gave up four hits and only struck out one, but RC DuPont would capitalize on a couple of ill-timed errors.
In an attempt to turn a double play in the top of the ninth, Spudis overthrew the ball to second base, allowing the runner to score on the next batter.
The other error came by VanVorst on a bunt attempt that was overthrown to third and allowed the third and final run.
The Warriors were able to hold onto the first game of the double header, though, by defeating RC DuPont 2-0.
Starting Pitcher Colin Warner (1-2) pitched a complete game shutout while fanning seven and allowing only two hits and two walks — and all under the watchful eye of an East Stroudsburg coach who was in attendance, scouting local talent.
“I was a little nervous at first but I felt good, so I just kept my cool and I was able to shut them down,” said Warner. “Hopefully, I showed him that I could pitch at the next level.”
The Warriors scored on a fielder’s choice by shortstop Josh Dean, which in turn scored Spece, who reached base on an error. Third-baseman Jay Marsh delivered the final run of the game on a RBI-single that scored VanVorst. Marsh tried to stretch a single into a double but was nabbed with time to spare.
Post 28 has won and lost some close games but to get over the hump to win the games that should be won, Layton’s batters are going to have to clear the bases — especially in scoring position.
“Right now, we’re leaving too many runners on base. We would need four buses to bring them all in,” said Layton.
Over the past four games, Post 28 has stranded 29 runners on base — 27 in the past three games — and with a team ERA of 3.33, only a few more runs would give them the advantage.
“It’s time for the older guys to step and lead this team, and I think that they are starting to do that,” said Layton.