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Blazers weather tough away stretch


Forgive the Quakertown Blazers if they forgot where to find Memorial Park.

They haven’t been there in a while.

The Blazers (14-14-1) finished a weekend that featured two doubleheaders plus the completion of a fifth, suspended game. Although Quakertown was the “home team” for two games, every inning was played on the road.

Quakertown’s road trip started last Wednesday night with a 3-0 loss at the Trenton Generals. In his Blazer debut, Kade Jones (Widener) yielded two runs to the first four Generals he faced. Yet Jones settled down, facing the minimum in his final 4.2 innings, fanning nine and walking none.

“It seems I let up two runs in almost every game in the first inning,” Jones admitted. “Once I get over the first, it determines how the rest of the game is going to go. If the second and third are bad, it’s going to be a bad outing. But if the second or third are good, I usually get in a groove.”

Jones credited his splitter command. “I had been pitching and working so I decided to get on the mound,” Jones said. “It was about time. I try to do that in most games: keep the competition out of my head, go out there and ball out.”

Quakertown loaded the bases in the third and ninth. In between, Trenton reliever Dan Frake, the ACBL strikeout leader, was borderline unhittable. Frake K’ed 13 in 5.1 innings.

“He was bringing it,” said Brian Nicolas (Bryant). “He was really competitive and we couldn’t make the adjustment today.”

“Against their starter, we were fine,” continued Blazer skipper Chris Ray. “We ran into an out on the bases and couldn’t quite get them in. Their reliever was throwing pretty hard. It was a little bit elevated and it was getting called tonight. Trying to adjust to coming down would have been nice to see. We got caught in a rut and in the emotions of the game so that happened. We’ll keep working on it.”

Nicolas extended his hit streak to nine with two knocks against Trenton. He batted .484 (15 for 31) during the run. “I’m swinging at more balls in the strike zone and not trying to do too much,” Nicolas explained. “Just trying to get a good barrel on the ball.”

Quakertown got two hits from centerfielder Andrew Fisher (Elizabethtown) and two more, including a double, from Bill Hitman (California Pa.). Hitman represented Quakertown at the 2019 ACBL-NYCBL All-Star game.

“It was a good experience. It was fun with Vig (Anthony Viggiano), (Luke) Cantwell and everybody else in the ACBL and NYCBL,” Hitman offered. “It was a good atmosphere with a lot of scouts and a lot of talent. It was definitely something to remember.”

Quakertown started its hectic weekend by completing a suspended game on Saturday, resulting in a rare 1-1 tie with the Ocean Gulls. The Blazers stayed in Point Pleasant to split two games with the Ocean Ospreys. Ocean walked off a 6-5 winner in game one, despite three hits from Viggiano (Bloomsburg). Cantwell’s (West Chester) two-run homer keyed a five-run fourth inning in Quakertown’s game two 5-3 win.

On Sunday, the Blazers returned to Mercer County where Trenton swept them 4-3 and 2-1. Nicolas had two hits in the opener. Pennridge’s Andrew Mayhew (Millersville) pitched well enough to win in game two, allowing two runs in six innings while striking out seven; catcher Hitman gunned down three base runners.

The Blazers, who were one game behind Trenton for the Wolff Division’s second playoff spot, took on North Jersey at DeSales on Wednesday. Results were unavailable at press time. Quakertown finally returns to Memorial Park on Thursday to host the Allentown Railers.

“The good thing about this kind of baseball is that you get to play right afterwards,” Hitman concluded last Wednesday. “We’ll see how it rolls.”