With such a condensed regular season, the Senerchia Post 74 American Legion baseball team hasn’t had a lot of time for practices this year.
If it’s had any negative affect, though, it hasn’t shown, as the team cruised to a 16-5-1 regular season, the No. 4 seed in the state and a bye through the first round of the playoffs, which was played over the weekend.
But armed with a few days off for the first time in a long time, Senerchia actually did get on the practice field a couple of times over the past week as it tries to fine tune its gameplan while gearing up for what it hopes is an extended run in the playoffs.
It opens up its postseason today against Gershkoff/Auburn Post 20 as one of the final eight teams remaining in the state. The tournament is double-elimination from here on out until a champion is crowned.
The time and location of the game was unavailable at press time.
“We didn’t get to practice really at all this year because we played so much,” Senerchia manager Chris Sheehan said on Monday. “It was nice to have a few practices to go over things like bunt defense and pick-off plays and stuff. Those are things that could get us out of a big inning and really help us.”
Fifth-seeded Gershkoff beat East Bay-Riverside Post 10 11-2 and 12-2 this past weekend to sweep its first round series and build some momentum heading into its showdown with Senerchia.
The teams played three times during the regular season, and the results were about as even as could be. They went 1-1-1 in the three games, which included a 6-6 tie, while Gershkoff outscored Senerchia by a total of one run, 13-12.
As two of the best teams in the state – Gershkoff finished with an identical 16-5-1 record, which was the second-best mark in the state – the game figures to be close to a must-win if either team is going to take the title.
“I actually went and watched them play yesterday,” Sheehan said. “They’ve got a really good team. They have a deep pitching staff. They have a few guys in their lineup that you’ve got to keep off the basepaths, because once they get on it’s like a triple. They steal second, they steal third. Those are the things that we have to neutralize.”
But Senerchia has every reason to be confident, as it closed the regular season with a flurry, winning nine of its final 11 league games. The only two losses during that stretch came to top-seeded New England Frozen Lemonade/Shields Post 43.
Senerchia did drop its final game of the regular season to NEFL, a 5-1 loss that determined who would be the top seed and who would be seeded fourth, yet the team has already moved on from that.
“We won some big games when we had to at the end of the year,” Sheehan said. “It would have been nice to win that last one going into the playoffs, but it wasn’t really that big of a game. I think the kids realize that we had a really good regular season. They’re playing with confidence.”
Senerchia should also get a boost from today’s starter, rising senior Mike King.
King, a Boston College commit, has had a strong summer on the heels of helping Hendricken win the state championship in the spring, and he’s Senerchia’s unquestioned ace.
“He’s been our best guy all year,” Sheehan said of King. “When you’ve got your best available, you’ve got to go with him.”
That said, Senerchia will need strong performances from the rest of its pitching staff as well if it wants to come out on top in the long run.
Depth is as important as ever this time of year with the games moving from standard seven-inning contests to nine innings for the playoffs.
“Obviously we’re going to need all of our pitchers,” Sheehan said. “Those are long games. I want to make sure that my team stays focused.”
Health-wise, Senerchia is in good shape, as it has basically a full roster. Jarek Krajewski has missed a chunk of the season with an injury, but Sheehan is hoping he gets cleared to play for the postseason
If that’s the case, he’ll provide a valuable bat either off the bench as a pinch hitter or possibly as a designated hitter.
“Everyone is ready to play,” Sheehan said. “Everyone is feeling good.”
Win or lose today, Senerchia was scheduled to be back in action on Wednesday.
The state tournament concludes on Saturday.
“I think they’re confident going into tomorrow,” Sheehan said on Monday. “The pitchers have had rest. A few guys who were banged up have had some rest, too. So we’re feeling good.”