The Warwick PAL Junior Legion team has found itself in seven one-run games this summer, three that have gone to extra innings. That’s made for an up-and-down season – PAL has lost three and would have the best record in the league without those losses – but with the playoffs right around the corner, all the close games could finally yield a positive result.
PAL heads in with a 12-6 record and is looking to do some damage.
“Hopefully, being in so many one-run games has prepared us for the playoffs,” said manager Peter Palermo. “You know the competition’s going to be tough. The games are going to be tight. We’ve been there before because we’ve been in so many one-run games. I think that’s going to help us.”
PAL closed out the regular season on Tuesday with a 12-2 victory over Hurd Auto Mall. The team has the fifth-best record in the league and finished just a game behind West Warwick for first place in the Southern Division.
PAL just missed out on a playoff bye and, as a result, will have to compete in a single-elimination play-in game later this week. The team will be leaning on experience as it tries to keep its season going with a win in that game.
“A one-game play-in is tough,” Palermo said. “Hopefully we can get off to a good start. A lot of times, we’ve gotten off to slow starts, so we need to work on that.”
Whatever happens in the playoffs, it’s already been a productive summer for the PAL squad. Not only has the team been one of the best in the division, but Palermo has seen improvement across the board. At the junior legion level, that’s a major objective.
“A lot of these kids have been together for a few years, and we’ve seen huge improvement,” Palermo said. “We’ve really seen a lot of maturity, both in their skill level and their baseball knowledge. They’ve come a long way.”
PAL has relied on a deep pitching staff, a group that’s helped the team stay in virtually every game it’s played. Danny Greaves, James Fisk, Bryant Palermo, Ben Mann and Jared Cipriano have carried a big load, with David Babcock and Brandon Provencher also contributing.
“They’ve done well,” Palermo said. “They’ve kept us in every game.”
Mann, Fisk, Palermo, Brendan Rix, Andrew Swain, Devon Gamba, Alex Lefebvre, Kyle Perry, Trent Perry, Mark Lenz and Joey Paliotte have led the offense.
Palermo is assisted by coaches Jack Paliotte, Dave Gamba and Jesse Babcock.
In all, the various units have jelled into a solid team.
“We’ve got a lot of returning players so the chemistry has been great,” Palermo said. “We’ve had a real enjoyable season.”
Palermo is hoping that the offense – which has been up-and-down – can hit its stride come playoff time. The pitching and defense need to remain steady.
Beyond that, it’s the team’s toughness that Palermo likes the most as PAL gets set for the postseason.
“We’ve learned how to battle through adversity and learned to stay steady no matter what’s happening,” Palermo said. “I think our toughness is our biggest strength.”