Kyle Harrington of Broad Street Park is one of many that will play a major role in the success of BSP at the American Legion Mid-Atlantic Regional Tournament both with his bat and as a leader on and off the field. File Photo by Michael A. Sabo.
By Rich Fisher
Aug. 7: The Broad Street Park baseball team is taking the near-four hour bus ride to Leesburg, Virginia today for the start of the American Legion Mid-Atlantic Regional Tournament.
It’s too bad this wasn’t two weeks ago.
After Kyle Harrington’s walk-off grand slam gave 313 its first state title since 1975, they could have flown down there on the natural high they were on.
Fortunately, coach Mike Petrowski feels his players have gotten their feet back on the ground since that memorable 6-4 win over Whitehouse on July 25.
“A couple days ago a few of them were struggling in BP (batting practice) and you could tell it was bothering them, so that’s good,” Petrowski said Monday afternoon. “You can tell they’re not succumbing to the success they’ve had. That’s the hardest thing. You’re state champ for the first time in 43 years and being satisfied is one of the hardest things to get over. It looks like they’re doing a good job with it.”
BSP has the longest layoff of any of the region’s eight teams; since the New Jersey states started 10 days before any others. Petrowski gave his team two days off after its epic victory just to make them hungry for baseball again. Since then, it’s been business as usual.
“I’m getting a good feel from them,” the manager said. “It was tough. It was more trying to gauge how the kids look. It looked like we had a little lull last week. After a huge win like that it’s tough to come out to practice. I think the two days off worked.
“We had a scrimmage against Gallagher (Baseball), we played pretty well. We had an intrasquad Sunday. It’s more gauging how they look, keeping them hungry, keeping them fresh. A lot of them have been playing since March. They shouldn’t be burned out. You just have to make sure their intensity and focus is still there.”
Post 313 finally gets back in action Wednesday as it plays the tournament’s first game by meeting Souderton, Pa., in a first-round game of the double-elimination tournament. Souderton is probably its closest geographic rival as it comes from the Bucks County League. Mercer County Pitcher of the Year Tim Sharpley will be on the mound for BSP.
The winner plays the winner of the game between Spring City, Pennsylvania and Vienna, Virginia, at 4 p.m. Thursday. The loser plays the loser of the same game at 9:30 Thursday.
“They play wooden bats in Pennsylvania, so they’ll probably play more small ball like we do,” Petrowski said. “There’s no easy road, that’s for sure. The whole Delaware team played in the Little League World Series, the Rockland (NY) team beat Whitehouse by a run, their coach told me they’re good, they play the right way.”
Petrowski got some input from Hopewell’s Mike Coryell, whose team won last year’s regional, about what to expect in Leesburg.
“He told me they do a lot of things right, on and off the field, like standing the right way for the National Anthem. Obviously, that’s real important to them,” he said. “They want to make sure you’re on time for everything. They want to make sure everything is clean and neat all the way around on and off the field. We have a one-hour orientation with all that. It looks like it’s pretty well run.”
BSP is hoping not to come back until Aug. 22 and has packed for two weeks. The regional runs from Aug. 8-12, and the winner buses directly to the World Series in Shelby, N.C., which runs Aug. 16-21. The World Series is telecast on ESPN.
Mason Fitzpatrick will pitch Game 2 and Adam Drosos will throw Game 3 if BSP gets that far. Adam Chiacchio will continue in long relief and Nick Diaz is the late-game closer. Harrington and Justin Wiltsey have also been throwing, just to make sure there are enough available arms. Petrowski noted that if Sharpley throws 80 pitches Wednesday, he cannot pitch for the rest of the regionals unless there are rainouts.
The lineup that he switched to in the final game of districts (and has gone 6-0) will remain intact, at least the first five with Darius Land, Brien Cardona, Harrington, Jose Rodriguez and Wiltsey.
As for suffering any kind of letdown from the states, or any kind of lethargy from the layoff, Petrowski feels what’s at stake should be a big enough spark.
“When you get to the regional and have a chance to go play on ESPN I think that speaks for itself,” he said. “I shouldn’t have to say too much to fire them up. They’re like that anyway. We’ve got pretty good leaders in Kyle and Brien and some other kids. I really shouldn’t have to say too much.”