With only one game remaining on the Greater Norristown American Legion Baseball League regular season schedule, the postseason picture is all but set.
JP Mascaro and Whitemarsh finished first and second in the standings and clinched first-round byes and both teams are hot heading into the postseason. The Haulers (13-5) won six of their final seven games while the Patriots (12-6) took five of their last six.
“(The first-round bye is) huge,” Mascaro manager Lucas Denczi said. “This group we’ve had here, we’ve taken our lumps the last couple years. We finished runner-up last year, which was good for them, but it would be huge to get over the hump. We finish the year in first place and set our table for the playoffs and set the rotation going forward. It’s huge for these guys.”
The Haulers have been in first place for essentially the entire season. They’re tied with Valley Forge for the highest scoring offense in the league with 117 runs and lead the league in runs-against with 64.
Ten batters are hitting over .300 for Mascaro. Conor Smith leads the way at a white-hot .475 followed by Chad Evans at .395, Perry Corda .375, Zach Griffin .364, Ben Christian and Richard McDonald at .353, Josh Dubost .343, Logan Kelly .333, Ryan McDonnell .327 and Mark Engelman .312. Evans and Smith lead the way in RBIs with 16 and 14, respectively.
On the mound, Robert Maloney, Evans and Griffin have been carrying the load. Maloney is 2-2 with a 2.33 ERA in 21 innings, Evans is 3-2 with a 1.65 ERA in 17 innings and Griffin is 2-0 with a 1.29 ERA in 16 1/3 innings.
When the playoffs start, Denczi knows those stats don’t matter.
“We have a little bit of a break,” Denczi said. “Hopefully get some hitting in over the break here and tighten things up a little bit. I’m not happy with baserunning and a couple minor things, but again it’s a whole new season. Everybody starts at 0-0 and we have to give it our best every night.”
Whitemarsh has a team filled with players from Plymouth Whitemarsh’s Suburban One League American Conference championship team. Drew Kliesh, Jacob Nunez and Michael Orensky are three of the top hitters for the Patriots while Brett Bottinger and Steve Gallagher are reliable arms on the mound.
Mascaro and Whitemarsh will start their playoff runs at home Wednesday in the second round at 5:45 p.m.
The other two teams locked into their playoff seedings are Valley Forge as the No. 3 and back-to-back defending champs Chadwick’s as No. 7.
The fourth, fifth and sixth spots are still up for grabs.
Perk Valley can’t finish worse than fifth while Roxborough is battling to finish ahead of sixth-place Mount Carmel and avoid the play-in game against Chadwick’s Sunday at 10 a.m.
Roxborough (7-10) faces Perk Valley in the regular season finale Saturday at 10 a.m. A win secures that Roxborough finishes ahead of the Mounties (7-11). If Perk Valley wins, the fifth seed will come down to a runs-against tie breaker. Roxborough has allowed 90 runs through 17 games while Mount Carmel surrendered 101 in its complete 18-game schedule.
The first round of the playoffs starts Tuesday at 5:45 p.m.