The Bordentown Post 26 America Legion baseball team’s run was halted during the state tournament but the end result did not diminish a bright season.
This summer, Bordentown finished only a game behind the Mercer County American Legion League (MCALL) champion, Hopewell Post 339, while the squad claimed the District 3 title and punched a ticket to the state tournament.
punched a ticket to the statet Bordentown proved they had just as much of a chance to compete among the best final eight teams in July’s state tournament at Kean University in Union after being crowned District 3 champs a week prior.
Bordentown defeated Washington Township Post 521, 4-2, on July 21 at Gilder Park in Bordentown to capture the district championship.
That victory sent Bordentown to the state tournament’s Elite Eight that began with pool play on July 26 at Kean University in Union.
Bordentown was eliminated after three consecutive defeats in pool play.
Despite falling short, Bordentown manager Tom Dolan said he still felt the team had a lot to be proud of this season.
“We always played from the first pitch to the last pitch. Our kids never gave up,” Dolan said. “A lot of our kids won individual awards at our banquet. It was a good season, and we had a good mix of kids this year.”
Although Bordentown was ousted in the state tournament, Dolan praised his team’s victorious District 3 tournament that was played on its home field.
“Winning the districts was big, especially at Gilder. That meant a lot to us to defend our own field,” Dolan explained.
But even in a season where Dolan said that his squad dominated in multiple aspects, especially hitting and pitching with players like utility fielder Will Mesa, first baseman Gavin Martin, outfielders Dillion Drew and John Schroeder and pitcher Kyle Kato, the team’s performance at the state tournament left more to be desired.
“It was very disappointing in the final eight because we just couldn’t seem to get that key hit or the key defensive play, or even our pitchers who dominated like the way they did during the regular season,” he said.
As the Bordentown manager reflected on the overall year though, he said there were definitely players who helped lead the team to the state tournament as well as achieve an overall winning regular season.
Dolan pointed out the contributions of Mesa, Drew and Schroeder.
“Our leader was Will Mesa,” Dolan said. “Will had a great year and the kid came to play. He hustled every pitch and played adequately at each position because we had two real good catchers, and Will was so athletic that he can play the outfield and first base – even played a little third base this year.
“He was unselfish because he is such as great catcher and catches in college, but was willing to help the team out,” Dolan added.
While Dolan touched on Mesa being the leader of the squad, he said he was also impressed with the growth of Drew’s play, too.
“Dillon Drew had a real good year,” he said. “I could just see the big difference from [his performance] last year to this year. He played a little bit in college and matured so much.”
The Bordentown manager also praised center fielder John Schroeder, who won the American Legion League’s “Gold Glove Award” for his play in the outfield.
“Anything hit in the gap, [Schroeder] is going to run down,” Dolan said.
With the season wrapped up after the state tournament though, the Bordentown manager said that among Mesa and Drew, designated hitter Dylan Wood as well as pitchers Tyler Blue and Kyle Marchetti will all be key players not returning for next season and who will be missed.
But even with notable players on their way out, Dolan said there is still much to look forward to for next season with a good portion of players returning.
“[The players] we have eligible to come back, and two or three kids coming in that we know who have already played travel ball and showcases this year, will definitely help us next year,” he said. “There is a lot of upside.”