Post 777 American Legion JV team sparkles on the diamond this year
By STEPHEN GLOVER
For the Call
The Crestwood American Legion junior varsity baseball team may have gotten off to a slow start this season, but it has shaped itself into one of the better squads in the area.
"Our season actually went pretty well," Crestwood Head Coach Drew Walk explained to the Call. "Coming into districts, I felt that we were a pretty strong team. Overall, I thought that we were competitive and could compete with anyone in the district."
To fully explain how much progress the Post 777 squad made this season, the team started off the year with a 2-7 record. But a 16-7 slamming of Manchester on June 8 is what Walk believes was the turning point of the season. In fact, Crestwood went on to string together a six-game winning streak.
"The high point of the season was when we won eight of 10 games going into the district tournament," Walk explained. "We had a great group of kids that really went out there and worked hard."
When looking at Crestwood's hitting statistics, one trend immediately is obvious — the fact that 12 of 17 players hit for better than .300 this season. Seven players were in double-digits in relation to runs batted in, while the team had 52 stolen bases.
"The biggest thing that happened which I was most happy with was that we hit the ball really well," Walk said. "I also thought that we were strong in pitching too."
First baseman Brian Tiefenbruck was one of Crestwood's deadliest hitting threats with a .457 batting average. He led the team in hits (43), singles (29), and RBI (31), while taking runner-up honors in doubles (12) and walks (8).
"Brian was one of the best hitters in the league this year," Walk said. "He really made a big difference for us this year. He hit a lot of hard line-drives and really worked hard on his hitting this year."
Mike Costa also was a hot hitting threat for Crestwood this season. The starting third baseman carried an impressive .430 batting average, while leading the team in doubles (17), triples (4), home runs (2) and was second in RBI (25).
"Mike's a strong defensive third baseman who hits the ball hard," Walk said. "He was our number four hitter all year long and really came through in the clutch for us."
Starting pitchers Justin Miller and Chris White were very strong on the mound for Crestwood as they both carried a record of 4-2 this season. Miller held a 3.65 earned run average, while striking out 19 batters.
"Justin's one of those guys that really knows how to pitch," Walk said. "When you put him out on the mound, you know that he knows what he's doing."
White, on the other hand, had a 3.90 earned run average and lead the team in strikeouts (33).
"Chris really made a big difference for us this season," Walk said. "He's got a very good fastball and some off-speed pitches. He's thrown some really good games for us."
Another pitcher whom Walk spoke very highly of was Matt Burton. This season Burton was 2-2 with a 2.92 earned run average. Burton threw two complete games this season and was second on the team in strikeouts with 20.
"Matt's like a bulldog on the mound," Walk said. "He's very competitive in big games for us and is one of those kids that you know is going to work hard whenever he's out on the mound."
A good majority of the junior varsity squad will be moving up to the varsity level next season, but Walk is quite optimistic about next year's team. "The freshman team has got some talent," Walk said. "They hit the ball well and have some guys that can also pitch. I think that next year's varsity team is going to have a lot of good players to choose from."