Allentown bids to rally in its pursuit of a second straight state baseball title

Brett Carroll
Staff Writer

Issues must be first settled before the Allentown High School baseball team can focus on repeating as the Group 3 state tournament champion.

Allentown has run into some inconsistent play that has left the coach, Bob Nice, looking for answers.

“A little bit of everything,”Nice said about what has been the causes for the Redbirds’ recent play. “Effort is the biggest thing. We decide to show up and play, we can beat anyone we play. When we have days like today, when we don’t play with our ‘A’ game, we can loose to anybody. So, we can win the state tournament, or we can be done next Monday. That’s just where we’re at.”

“We need to find a leader to pick this team up,” senior first baseman Brandon Gaul said “We need to have the mindset that last year’s over. We won three championships, and then this year, we get bounced in the Mercer County Tournament (MCT’s). We can’t let it drive us into the ground. We need to focus now on sectionals and states. Just shoot for that.”

Those comments can after Allentown’s 3-1 loss on the road to Hightstown High School on May 14. That loss left Allentown with a 17-5 record.

Despite a late rally at the top of the seventh inning, the Redbirds could not get enough runs to extend the game, although the tying run was at the plate.

“We pitched alright in certain situations,” Nice said. “We got ourselves in trouble, but we kept ourselves in the game. Other than that, unfortunately, we didn’t do much.”

“In that last inning, the fire started to build,” Gaul said. “Unfortunately, it was a little too late. Pitching in certain spots were good. But, yeah, other than that, we didn’t have it today.”

The loss stung a little bit more for the Redbirds because they were still feeling upset after their surprising 8-7 loss to Princeton High School in the quarterfinals of the Mercer County Tournament last week.

Allentown, which was the second seed in the county tournament, was the defending MCT champion.

Now, the Redbirds will turn their attention to winning a second straight Group 3 state title when the Central Jersey, Group 3 sectional tournament opens this week.

“Obviously, our goal is to do some of the things that we did last year,” Nice said. “At the end of the day, we need to be a much better team than we have been.”

“We need to show that we deserve to be a returning state championship team,” Gaul added. “That’s it.”

Gaul is looking for his senior teammates to be the spark when Allentown seeks a repeat state championship.

“Our catcher Chris Reeder,” Gaul said. “He’s been on the varsity team for three years now. He knows the ins-and-outs. He knows coach. So, I think it’s gotta be him. Honestly, it’s gotta be any of the seniors, including myself. For a lot of us, this is our last chance to play. Some of us aren’t moving on to play in college. Some of us are. Either way, it would be nice to go out with a bang.”