Redbirds flying high during early going in 2022 baseball campaign


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If there is one thing Allentown High School baseball coach Brian Nice knows about the members of the Redbirds’ 2022 squad, it is that they will always put their competitive nature on display.

“We are going to compete,” Nice said. “Whether we are playing well or playing poorly, our guys are going to battle and play all 21 outs.”

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The players’ competitiveness has helped Allentown begin the season with a 6-2-1 record heading into a contest against Nottingham on April 18.

During its last four games, Allentown is 3-0-1. That stretch included a win over the 2021 NJSIAA Group IV state champion Middletown South and a key Colonial Valley Conference victory over Steinert in extra innings.

Allentown loaded the bases in the bottom of the eighth against Steinert and when Joe Butera was hit by a pitch the winning run scored in the Redbirds’ 6-5 victory. Butera was 2-3 with three RBIs.

The offense has been led by the trio of Butera, Jack Sweeney and Mike Doran in the middle of the lineup.

Sweeney has opened the season with two home runs and 12 RBIs. He has nine hits (six for extra bases) and five stolen bases.

Doran is batting .500 and leads the team with 12 hits. Butera has eight hits and has driven in nine runs.

On the pitching side, Mike Timberlake, J.D. Alster, Devin Nistchmann, Eddie Werse and Doran have all had success on the mound during the early weeks of the season.

“We have some pieces. We just have to put it all together,” Nice said.

Following a 10-2 victory over Hopewell Valley on April 11 in Pennington, Allentown returned home to host West Windsor-Plainsboro South on April 14 and the Redbirds proved Nice’s point of his team’s ability to compete.

Trailing 7-1 after one inning, the Redbirds fought back to earn a 10-10 tie with the Pirates. The game was called after the fifth inning due to darkness after the teams had resumed play following a one-hour rain delay in the top of the fourth.

Senior Frank Marra delivered two hits and two RBIs, and scored two runs against West Windsor-Plainsboro South. In the team’s last four games, Marra crossed the plate seven times and leads Allentown with 13 runs scored.

Hitting leadoff, Baden Delaney went 3-4 with three RBI against the Pirates.

“I’m really happy with it,” Delaney said after the game. “I have been trying to find my groove and tweak a couple things. Coming into (today), I just wanted to hit the ball hard and it played well for me.”

In the third inning against the Pirates, junior Antonio Dominici hit his first career home run, a two-run shot over the centerfield fence that cut the Redbirds’ deficit to 10-7.

In the fourth inning, Dominici drove in the game-tying run with a sacrifice fly. He finished the afternoon with three RBIs.

“It felt good,” Dominici said of his performance against West Windsor-Plainsboro South. “If we just stay consistent, I think we will do what we need to do.”

Following a road contest against Nottingham, Allentown is scheduled to play Lawrence on April 21 and will finish out the week with back-to-back home games against Northern Burlington and Donovan Catholic.

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