Brooklawn Excited to be in the NJ American Legion State Tournament

Brooklawn Excited to be in the NJ American Legion State Tournament
It wasn’t easy, but Brooklawn’s senior American Legion baseball team is back in familiar territory, competing for a state championship.
 
Brooklawn advanced to the eight-team state final by earning the second spot in the District 4 playoffs. After losing 11-1 to district champ West Deptford to even its record to 1-1 in the districts, Brooklawn needed to beat Allentown on Monday to earn the state tournament berth.
 
Brooklawn overcame a 5-3 deficit to begin the sixth innings in defeating Allentown, 10-5.
 
Thus, the team with 29 American Legion state titles and four World Series championships, is still in the hunt.
 
The eight-team state tournament begins on Friday at Kean University. Brooklawn will open the tournament with a 10 a.m. matchup against defending state champion Broad Street Park 313.
 
Brooklawn won’t be considered among the favorites, but if the team can regain its health, especially in the pitching department, head coach Dennis Barth likes his team’s chances to compete.
 
“If we get healthy and we are getting there, I think we have a deep staff,” he said.
 
Colin Taylor, a recent graduate of Triton, earned the win in relief over Allentown.
 
One of the top pitchers is lefthander Zack Grace, a recent graduate of Timber Creek who is an Iona recruit.
 
Grace allowed three runs in the loss to West Deptford and left when he felt tightness in his forearm. Barth said the team hopes that Grace would be ready for the state tournament.
 
Mike Shannon, a recent Triton graduate who will continue his education and baseball career at Rowan University, is another quality pitcher.
 
Recent Audubon graduate Joe Kidd, who started the game against Allentown, has also been a key pitcher.
 
Shortstop Chase Conklin, a rising senior at Bishop Eustace has been one of the offensive mainstays along with rightfielder Logan Manuola, a recent graduate of Timber Creek, and second baseman Ryan Coyle, a recent graduate of Audubon.
 
The team is actually known as Brooklawn Red, because there were two Brooklawn senior American Legion teams.
 
This year Brooklawn finished second in the Camden County American Legion League. Besides winning the District 4 title, West Deptford was also the champion of Camden County American Legion League. (Even though West Deptford is in Gloucester County, it plays in the Camden County League).
 
Counting the postseason, Brooklawn lost four of five games to West Deptford.
 
“They are a very good team and there will be other very good teams in the tournament, but we feel we can play better than what we showed against West Deptford,” Barth said.
 
Brooklawn will get the chance to show it while competing in yet another state tournament. This is the team with 29 state titles, the most in New Jersey. Brooklawn won the national World Series in 2013 and 2014 and last earned a state title in 2015.
 
The team had to scrap and claw just to make the states, but nobody should discount a program that has set a high standard for American Legion excellence not only in New Jersey but statewide.
 
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Author: Marc Narducci; Photo by Marc Narducci

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