Allentown defeats Brooklawn to win second consecutive American Legion state crown


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The players on the Allentown American Legion baseball team made history during the summer of 2021 when they won their first state championship.

And right after his team’s memorable run ended in the semifinals of the American Legion Mid-Atlantic Regional Tournament, Allentown manager Sahil Thakur was already hearing from current and prospective players who wanted to help the program win another state crown in 2022.

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And that is exactly what has transpired, as Allentown won its second consecutive New Jersey American Legion state championship with a 2-0 victory over Brooklawn Post 72 on July 27 in Wood-Ridge.


“I’m so happy for the players,” Thakur said. “It feels great. It took every one of these guys to get it done again and I could not be more proud of them.”

Allentown claimed the 2022 state crown behind a solid performance on the mound by three pitchers and clutch hitting by Mike Doran (Allentown High School).

Doran, who played on the 2021 state championship team, was responsible for both of his team’s runs against Brooklawn.

In the bottom of the third inning, he doubled to score Thomas Strauch (Howell High School) for a 1-0 lead.

In the bottom of the fifth inning with two out, Doran hit an opposite field line drive to right field that just cleared the fence for a 2-0 lead.

“I didn’t think I got enough of it, but it went over (the fence). It felt awesome to put us up 2-0,” he said.

Doran’s home run was Allentown’s first home run this summer. His heroics at the plate earned him MVP honors for the championship game.

“This is a great feeling. This was the expectation coming into (the 2022 season). We got the job done. It feels awesome,” Doran said.

On the mound, Zachary McCabe (Jackson Memorial High School), Gavin Kincs (New Egypt High School) and Patrick Burns (Freehold Township High School) held Brooklawn’s batters to four hits.

McCabe started and pitched five innings to earn the victory. He allowed three hits and picked up his only strikeout out of the contest against the final batter he faced to close out his performance.

“I was very happy (with how I performed). I loved it. This was one of the most exciting things that has ever happened to me,” McCabe said.

Kincs came on in relief in the sixth inning and escaped a one-out bases loaded jam as his defense turned a double play to end a Brooklawn threat.

Burns took the mound in the seventh inning to close the game. The former Freehold Township pitcher allowed the first two hitters he faced to reach base. He retired Brooklawn’s next hitter on a groundout as the runners advanced to second and third.

With the tying runs in scoring position, Burns reached back and struck out the next two batters to secure the state title for Allentown. He earned the save in relief.

“It means the world to me to close out a championship game,” Burns said. “Getting that first out was huge. It really settled the inning down. I just started to get into a groove and got the job done.”

The 2022 Allentown American League roster also includes Griffin Murphy (Freehold Township), Carl Barth (Jackson Liberty), Joseph Butera (Allentown), Alex Bischoff (Allentown), Daniel Keenan (Jackson Liberty), Thomas Kendrick (Jackson Memorial), Slade Harrill (Allentown), Devin Nitschmann (Allentown), Christopher Sasso (Jackson Liberty), Brody Pasieka (Hun School), Jackson Wargo (Notre Dame), Jacob Kramer (New Egypt) and Brendan Buecker (Notre Dame).

With the win over Brooklawn, Allentown (20-4) has advanced to the American Legion Mid-Atlantic Regional Tournament in Morgantown, WV. The tournament will begin on Aug. 2.

Competing in the regional tournament and reaching the semifinals of that competition in 2021 was an exciting experience for his players, Thakur said, but the Allentown manager knows the young men have bigger aspirations this year.

“The expectations are to go win (a regional championship),” he said. “We know what to expect. We have 18 guys who are all in and are collectively looking at one goal, and that is to win a championship.”

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