Legion Baseball: Junior HiToms off to best start in Rob Shore era
Lucky No. 7?
It might just be for Post 87 head coach Rob Shore, currently in his seventh season as skipper of the Junior HiToms.
The last six years, the American Legion program has improved dramatically, visiting the state tournament in two of those seasons. Off to an 8-1 start in legion play and 13-1 on field record, the Junior Tommies have been fantastic in the early portion of the schedule.
“We have never started like this in my time here,” Shore said. “The two years we went to the state championship, we had a losing record after our first six or seven games and then we turned it on. This year we have turned it on from the get-go. And I think it is because they are teammates who like playing together.”
All championship-caliber teams begin with a strong defense. Post 87 has that covered with a deep pitching staff and players that can play the rag well.
With only six league games that truly matter in the regular season, Shore has elected to rest some of his top pitchers in the rotation to give them extra time to recover from their high school season. It is a method that has worked well. What they have found is some valuable arms that could challenge for a starting rotation role as the season progresses.
In the field, very few balls have been mishandled by the defense. The great fielding percentage has made it a lot easier on the arms of the pitchers that endure a grueling schedule in legion baseball with games being played nearly every night.
“We are solid defensively,” said Shore. “We've made very few errors and that is one thing I remind the guys of. To make the routine plays that you have to make. Our pitchers have been at a low pitch count because we are making the routine plays.”
Thursday's 17-0 thrashing of the Hitting Zone displayed just how dangerous the offensive lineup for Post 87 is. They had 16 hits with three balls leaving the ballpark on home runs. Infielder Zach McLean leads the club with seven home runs, good enough for half of the team total. But they can play small ball as well. Gregory White and Cesar Trejo provide a lot of speed at the top of the lineup. With good contact hitters mixed throughout the lineup, Shore is able to hit-and-run a lot with his players.
“We have been swinging the bat well all year. Even in the games we did not swing the bat great, we still were able to put up runs playing small ball,” said Shore.
Post 87 is in the Northeast Division with Burlington-Graham, Eastern Randolph and Randolph County. The first divisional game is not until June 14, leaving a week for the HiToms to continue improving.
Winning a state championship is not easy to do, but the track the team is currently on is definitely one that is full of optimism.
Sports Editor Zach Kepley can be reached at 888-3631, or firstname.lastname@example.org.