With his team’s recent split against Jersey, Quakertown Blazers manager Chris Ray anticipates his club can continue its recent upward climb.
The Blazers posted a convincing 14-7 victory in the opening game of a doubleheader against Jersey at Drew University June 9 before suffered a 3-2 defeat in the nightcap.
After the split, the Blazers raised their overall mark to 4-5, remaining 1.5 games behind lead Allentown in the Wolff Division of the Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League (ACBL). They also have won four of their last six games.
“We had started off 0-3, and we have been playing a lot better since then,” said Ray, who is in his third season at the helm of the Blazers. “We have had a number of guys dinged up, and we also played eight games in nine days.
“We were happy to get a couple of days off.”
Ray also is confident his pitching staff is starting to round into shape.
Right-hander J.J. Spehrley, a senior at Bloomsburg University, leads the team with a 1-0 mark along with 12 strikeouts in 11 innings with a modest 4.09 ERA. Fellow right-hander and Monmouth sophomore Steve Aldrich has a 1-0, 0.00 mark with 15 strikeouts in 10 innings.
Former Pennridge High School product and Millersville junior Andrew Mayhew has been effective in short relief, as he has seven strikeouts in five innings with a save and a spotless 0.00 ERA.
“I like our staff and where it can go,” said Ray. “Andrew Mayhew, John Turner and Nick Picariello have been throwing well. Spehrley and Aldrich are off to good starts for us.
“We have the ability and depth to stretch a lot of guys out. We have a good look and feeling from our starters and our guys have been able to mix their pitch sequences well. We have a lot of guys who can throw for us.”
Offensively, the Blazers have been led in the early going by Bloomsburg sophomore Anthony Viggiano (.400) – fourth in the ACBL in hitting – and Elizabethtown junior Andrew Fisher (.353). The Blazers have struggled with an overall .233 batting average and 55 strikeouts in 210 total at-bats.
Still, Ray sees his team turning the corner.
“We made a big turn (against Jersey),” said Ray. “We had a lot better at-bats and more productive at-bats. We need to get more hits and we have to start moving more runners. This will be a big key for us.”
Ray welcomed a respite from a hectic start. After three days off, the Blazers are back in action Thursday against division-leading Allentown at Memorial Park before they hit the road to meet the New York Phenoms for a doubleheader Saturday. They then have a quick turnaround Sunday with a home doubleheader against the Ocean Gulls.
“We have some nagging injuries and the days off will help,” added Ray. “We have been playing better lately, and we are coming around.”