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Legion: Pennridge ready to make noise

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Pennridge Legion Post 255 head coach Cory Landes can count on one hand the number of times he has had a full squad this season due to vacations, AAU teams and other commitments.

But those factors still haven’t deterred Pennridge from staying in the hunt for one of the top spots in the Bux-Mont American Legion League this summer.

Post 255 recently split a doubleheader with Perkiomen when it hosted the Indians June 29, winning the first game 3-1 and then had to halt the second game after two innings tied at 1-1 due to weather issues.

When the second game resumed at Perkiomen the following day, Pennridge was on the short end of an 11-1 score.

In the opener, Ray Knight and Paul Croyle had RBI singles and Knight went 2-for-3. Alex Podraza went the distance with five strikeouts and no earned runs, lowering his ERA to 0.58 in the process.

With the victory, Pennridge matched its win total from last season (9-5) and stayed on the heels of Quakertown and Hatfield for the top two spots.

“We are very pleased with the way things are going,” said Landes. “We have been able to pull everything together despite missing some people.

“I have been very happy with our overall hitting, and we have been pretty consistent. We have a lot of contact hitters and not power hitters. Our pitching situation has worked out well with a four-man staff.”

Podraza (2-0, team-high 21 strikeouts in 24 innings), Nick Christ (2-0, 1.95, 20 strikeouts in 14 innings), Anthony Helbling (2-1, 2.10) and Jon Nase (1-2, 2.05) have handled the bulk of the starts this season. Sean Duffy, who recently allowed one run over six innings against Nor-Gwyn, and Josiah Smith also have been in starter roles.

Smith, one of the leading hitters on the team (.441, tied for a team-high 15 hits) and a Faith Christian Academy standout, sees his teammates making the most of situations.

“We only had nine players in our second game of the doubleheader,” said Smith. “That has been an issue for us.

“But the guys we have on the field are very passionate. We all go out and do whatever we need to do to pull out a victory. We know we have to keep battling to stay close to Quakertown and Souderton is right behind us.

“Guys like Ray Knight, Jon Nace and Anthony Helbling have brought it all season. I feel like I have been swinging the bat well all season, and I still think I have more to come. I think we all can continue to do well.”

Pennridge began the week with six games remaining on its regular schedule. Landes, who is in his first year as head coach after taking over for the legendary Rocky Wright, will enjoy the ride.

“For the most part, this has been an enjoyable season,” said Landes, a Pennridge grad who last played in 2007. “AAU wasn’t as big 12 years ago when I played, and we rarely missed a game.

“But the competition in the Legion this year is very good. If we continue to play well, we’ll make some noise.”


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