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Deep East wins 6th straight


CB East baseball has been Bliss-ful for much of this season. Although sometimes, the ball club is Moody.

That’s OK.

The Patriots, who entered press time 7-2 (6-0 SOL) after Tuesday’s come-from-behind 6-4 win at Bensalem, have been far more up than down. Bensalem marked the Patriots’ sixth consecutive win.

Infielder Chase Harlan, a Clemson commit who has received national recognition, headlines. But shortstop Reece Moody and pitcher Sam Bliss have been integral pieces to the Patriots’ success.

“We all bring different aspects of hitting,” Moody observed. “I’m the guy who will get on base, and then the guy behind me will knock me in. I feel like we complement well together. We’re able to put up runs and win ballgames.”

East had a sub .500 season last year, which did not sit well with the current Patriots. They’ve responded by winning their first four SOL Colonial games. Harlan, who has a .500 on base percentage joins JMU-bound Moody and Lafayette-signee Jack Mislan in providing thump to the lineup. Moody’s .462 batting average leads the team. Harlan and Mislan are two of four Patriots with six RBIs.

“We’ve put a lot of work in together as a group,” Harlan said. “A lot of us have been playing together since we were young kids. We’re coming from winning cultures with summer and Little League teams. A lot of the success as a group that we had from our younger days is carrying over to this group.”

“We have more hunger this year. Last year, we made a run at the end and missed playoffs by a few spots. I feel that has added an extra edge,” Moody added.

Defending Colonial champion North Penn was 5-0 before Chase Fulford’s monster two-homer, seven-RBI game helped the Patriots mercy rule the Knights 14-3 on April 8.

“It is taking one step at a time and trying to accomplish getting 1% better every day,” Harlan explained. “In previous years, we had some struggles and this year, we’ve been working them out.”

“I love watching these guys play and compete,” coach Kyle Dennis lauded. “They play hard. There are no excuses. They hold themselves accountable to playing the game the right way and it is really fun to watch.”

East can also win without posting lots of crooked numbers. The Patriots have allowed only 17 runs in their seven victories. Dickinson-bound Bliss outdueled CB South’s Luke Hillegass 2-0 on March 26 by firing a three-hit shutout.

“It was a mindset flip that I had to outpitch the other pitcher,” Bliss shared. “Some days, it is not a battle of lineups. The lineups and hitters are a vehicle through which we can compete with the other pitcher. South had a super talented guy who threw against us.

“The standard can’t be that giving up two or three runs is good enough. The standard is zero,” concluded Bliss. Bliss had high praise for teammate Damian Frayne, who allowed just five Souderton baserunners in five innings in East’s 4-3 win on April 10.

Bliss, who has a 0.77 ERA and a .66 WHIP, has built significantly on his strong junior season. “All the credit I can give has been to the guys behind me,” Bliss deflected. “The defense has stepped up in a huge way. The coaching staff has been even more involved with this team and me. There is a level of strength that empowers me to be who I am.”

Monday’s CR South tilt and Bensalem marked the first two of 13 games East plays over the next 30 days. Dennis will need to give innings to other, deserving arms.

Frayne “is a big, tall right-handed kid and he has tools,” Dennis stated. “He had limited innings last year but he grew into his body a little more and got into the weight room. Damian is going to play a huge role for us. Mike Scafidi is coming out of the bullpen for us.

“Sam takes care of his body so well that he is able to pitch late into games early in the season,” Dennis added. “He is really efficient, so he is maximizing his pitches. The surprise of the year has been Jason Abert.” The stoic sophomore closed Bensalem and the 3-1 win over Council Rock South.

All three Patriots pointed to team chemistry as a “10th man” that will help East get through the grind of the back half of the season.

“Some of us have been playing together for 10 years and it’s not just like a community,” Bliss said. “It’s the bond we’re going to have forever and that is what keeps us going.”

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