CAMDEN — With their backs against the wall, Brooklawn’s hitters came out swinging Sunday afternoon.
And not only were they swinging, the Brookers were connecting in their elimination game against Swoyersville, Pa.
The team sprayed a 2014 Mid-Atlantic Region-high 18 hits all over Campbell’s Field and plated a region-high-tying 16 runs in ousting the Pennsylvania squad from the American Legion tournament, 16-0, in a game shortened to just seven inning under the 10-run rule.
Now, Brooklawn faces the unenviable task of having to win two games Monday to retain the Mid-Atlantic Region title and advance to defend its 2013 American Legion World Series Championship in Shelby, N.C. next week.
The Brookers will play the other Pennsylvania representative in the region, Northampton, Pa., at 1 p.m. Monday.
Then at 4 p.m., the winner of the Brooklawn-Northampton game will face Cecil County, Md. for the regional title.
Northampton beat Cecil County in Sunday’s late game, leaving three teams standing in the region, each with one loss. However, Cecil gets the automatic pass to the regional final by virtue of its 9-3 victory over Brooklawn Saturday – a game between the last two unbeaten teams in the region.
But for Brooklawn and Swoyersville, Sunday’s game was over well before the seventh inning.
With Brooklawn wearing its white uniforms with blue pinstripes and a black patch on their chests that said POP in whie capital letters, Sean Breen delivered a huge blow in the fourth inning. Breen slammed a two-out, two-run double that scored Phil Dickinson and Eric Schorr to cap a four-run inning and put Brooklawn ahead 6-0.
Then, in the fifth, Schorr delivered the knockout blow, slamming a ball over the head of a leaping center fielder that rolled all the way back to the wall. Schorr rounded the bases behind designated hitter Tyler Mondile (walk) and first baseman Anthony Harrold (reached on an error) for a three-run inside-the-park home run. The round-tripped accounted for the first three runs of a six-run inning that made the score 12-0.
“We just knew that we had to come out better offensively (Sunday) and I feel like we did a good job doing that,” said Breen, who was 4-for-5 with three RBIs and two runs scored. “(Early in the game) we came out with some runs (to lead 2-0 in the second). That’s what we talked about in the locker room before the game. That was our main goal and we got it done.”
The 18-hit attack was aided by Phil Dickinson, Fran Kinsey, Harrold and Schorr who each had two hits and combined for 8 RBIs and 8 runs scored.
But what should not be overlooked amidst the offensive fireworks is the effort turned in by Brooklawn pitcher Matt Parr.
The left-hander tossed all seven innings, allowing just four hits (two in the seventh) while striking out six and walking two. He faced just 25 batters, only four more than the minimum.
“Matty came out and did a nice job,” said Breen, the region’s leading hitter with a .667 batting average in four games. He’s the only batter in the region to collect 10-or-more hits so far (10-for-15). “He threw stirkes and got the outs that we needed. He did a good job.”
Brooklawn jumped ahead, 2-0 in the second on RBIs from Tyler Mondile and Anthony Harrold and that helped Parr settle in on the mound.
“From pitch one, my goal was to get ahead of hitters and throw strike one because Beans (head coach Dennis Barth) always says that’s the best pitch in baseball,” said Parr. “But knowing my offense was going to produce and the defense was playing great behind me, I felt comfortable.”
More importantly though, Parr’s effort prevented Brooklawn from having to use anyone out of its bullpen which will be an important resource as it tries to win two games Monday, capture the Mid-Atlantic Region title and advance to the American Legion World Series.
“Anytime you can go out and go the distance to save pitching when your team has a doubleheader the next day is big,” said Parr, who will start his senior year at Gloucester Catholic in the fall. “So me going the distance for my team was huge but I wouldn’t have been able to do it without my defense making plays and the offense producing.”
And what’s the mentality going into a situation where you know you have to win two games in a span of about five or six hours.
“We’re just going to take it one game at a time and try to come out with our offense again (Monday),” said Breen. “That’s the main thing we’re going to try and do and we think we have a good shot.”
Brooklawn beat Northampton in the second day of the tournament, 9-3, back on Friday night. And Cecil County handed Brooklawn its only loss, 8-3, on Saturday night.
“(Knowing we have two games to win) will make us come out with a lot of fire. We’ll be pumped up and ready to go.”