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Brookers' title a tribute to pitching depth

08/27/2014, 3:15am EDT
By Mike Shute, SJSD

With their backs against the wall in the American Legion Mid-Atlantic Region tournament, Brooklawn's pitching staff responded with 23 straight scoreless innings propelling them to the World Series and a second straight title

EDITOR'S NOTE: For a video on Brooklawn's pitchers scroll down the page.

The Brooklawn Senior American Legion team went to Shelby, N.C., in mid-August trying to make a run at a second straight American Legion World Series title. They succeeded in rousing fashion, winning five straight games in which the offense outscored the opposition 42-17.

However, the Brookers were staring at a big problem after losing their third game of the Mid-Atlantic Regional, dropping an 8-3 decision to Cecil County, Md., at Campbell’s Field in Camden. It left Cecil County as the region’s only unbeaten team. As for Brooklawn, another loss and it would be denied a fourth straight trip to the World Series.

At that point, only one thing could ensure them a return trip to the World Series – they had to win three games in a span of two days, a task that could put a real strain on their pitching staff.

But the three starting pitchers head coach Dennis Barth ran out to the mound for those three must-win games got the job done and then some.

Matt Parr, Pete Farlow and Johnny Malatesta combined to throw 21 scoreless innings as starters in those three games as Brooklawn collected three shutouts to collect its fourth straight Mid-Atlantic Regional title and make a fourth straight trip to Shelby, which of course culminated in a second-straight American Legion World Series Championship, marking the first repeat in 40 years. Kevin Terifay also tossed two scoreless innings in relief in the penultimate game started by Farlow.

“The main thing we did was we threw strike one,” said Brooklawn pitching coach Josh Kopskey after the Brookers won the regional in Camden. “We try to start people’s bats. Sometimes we don’t have the most dominating pitchers but we can hit our spots, we can mix it up and we can actually pitch. There’s an art to what we’re trying to do and our guys executed very well throughout the tournament.”

Parr started the run of scoreless innings with his performance on Sun. Aug. 10. He went all seven innings with six strikeouts and allowed just four hits while walking two in a game shortened by the 10-run rule as Brooklawn won 16-0 over Swoyersville, Pa.

“Coming out, it was an elimination game after a loss,” said Parr, who faced just four hitters over the minimum of 21. “I was happy Beans gave me the ball — he showed some confidence in me. My job was to come out and throw strikes, just get ahead of hitters and let them hit the ball and let my defense play. I knew our offense was going to come out strong because we struggled a bit the night before.”

“When you step on the mound in the first inning of an elimination game, you’ve got the pressure,” said Farlow, who went seven innings, struck out six, walked three and gave up three hits in a 6-0 win over Northampton, Pa. “But we scored in the second inning and then in the fourth inning and as soon as you get a lead it takes it right off of your back, it makes it easier to pitch, easier to play and perform all around.”

“Our (pitching) staff is just phenomenal and no other team can match our staff in this tournament and it showed,” said Johnny Malatesta, who went seven innings in the regional final, a 10-0 win over Cecil County, Md. He struck out five and gave up just five hits while facing 24 batters (three over the minimum). “Matty and Pete, they came out and did what they had to do and we just scored runs.”

Despite the situation — having to win three games in two days to advance to the World Series — Brooklawn head coach Dennis Barth felt good about his team’s chances.

“We thought we had a good chance because our pitching is pretty deep,” said Barth, also the head coach at Rutgers University-Camden. “Everybody was expecting that we were going to throw Tyler Mondile (in the regional final), but we have other good arms and we didn’t have to throw Tyler on short rest. He was going to pitch in relief if we needed him but Pete and Johnny Malatesta are two of our better pitchers . We’ve got a deep staff so why throw a guy on short rest when you have fresh arms? We’re going to need them all anyway.”

“From the beginning of the year, losing John Murphy (a rising senior at Gloucester Catholic who pitched for Brooklawn last year but decided to take this summer off since he’s already made a college commitment to the University of Maryland) and losing Mike Shawaryn (about to start his sophomore year at the University of Maryland) was two big arms,” said Parr. “Tyler Mondile stepped up big becoming the ace but our pitching coach, Josh Kopskey, does a great job with us, keeping us in line and everything he does for us, I have all the confidence in the world in all of our pitchers.”

Pitching propels Brooklawn to rare repeat

Johnny Malatesta, Matt Parr, Pete Farlow

Pitchers Johnny Malatesta, Matt Parr and Pete Farlow were the starting and winning pitchers in the final three games of the American Legion Mid-Atlantic Regional Tournament and propelled the Brookers to the World Series.

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