JFK Legion team stumbles a bit

Staff Writer

Staff Writer

CHRIS KELLY staff Greg Slavicek has been one of the Middlesex County American Legion league’s top hurlers once again this summer, and has led his Milltown American Legion team to a gaudy 12-2 record entering this week’s action.CHRIS KELLY staff Greg Slavicek has been one of the Middlesex County American Legion league’s top hurlers once again this summer, and has led his Milltown American Legion team to a gaudy 12-2 record entering this week’s action.

The John F. Kennedy American Legion team had a tough stretch of games last week in which the team, to put it mildly, did not play well.

Kennedy, which has spent the entire summer looking to be among the league’s teams to beat, dropped its first two games and tied another, and now has to try to get itself back on track as the regular season winds down.

Kennedy tied Milltown on Monday, lost to South Amboy on Tuesday, and lost again on Thursday to South River.

The tie to Milltown is certainly not crushing, as Milltown does have a good team — one of the best in the county. However, Kennedy was never able to get the timely hit that they have seemed to get all season. Instead, the game finished after eight innings in a 3-3 tie. Most teams would be happy with tying one of the better teams in the county, but Kennedy views it as a missed opportunity, especially after having an early lead.

Joel Rodriguez, who has been lights-out all year, pitched beautifully for Kennedy. He pitched the entire eight innings and struck out 10 batters. Milltown didn’t score until the sixth inning. Kennedy jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning when Frank Hasenauer, who has come through all year for Kennedy, singled in the first run of the game. Kyle Fisher followed with another RBI single.

Five innings later, the tides changed. In the top of the sixth inning, Matt Metsch of Milltown drove in his squad’s first run with a RBI single. This gave Milltown hope, and before long, Kennedy blew its lead and Milltown was in the driver’s seat. Call it an error or a base-hit — whatever the case, Scott Dyckman rocketed a ball to first base, off the glove of the first baseman and into right field. Two Milltown runners crossed the plate, giving Milltown the lead, 3-2.

Something should be said of Kennedy’s perseverance, as they came back in the bottom of the sixth to score a run to tie the game on another RBI single by Fisher. In the end, it was disappointing for Kennedy to squander a victory that would have worked wonders for both their place in the standings and their psyche.

But the solid effort against Milltown was wiped away by the efforts in the next two games. Against South Amboy, Kennedy simply did not play well and lost by a score of 7-3. The score actually made the game seem closer than it really was, as Kennedy was never in this game.

Similar to the game Joel Rodriguez threw for Kennedy the day before, South Amboy’s Shane Connors pitched the entire game, striking out 10 Kennedy batters. This was the first loss in Kennedy’s season and, if the team continues to play the way it did in this game, and the next one against South River, Kennedy will likely have more losses before the season is over.

South River put up a 20-spot against a pitching staff that seemed to be peaking just one week ago. South River scored 15 runs in a three-inning span and collected six home runs on the day. Rob Arvanites hit two three-run home runs for South River. Also homering for South River were Tom Posik, who hit a grand slam, Tim Ballard (two-run homer), Dan Louis and Frank Gorchess. Hasenauer and Fisher hit two-run homers for Kennedy.

Kennedy hoped to get back on the winning track on Tuesday when they hosted a North Brunswick team that has struggled to a 3-9 mark this summer.

The Kennedy squad remains in good position to earn a playoff bid, but needs to regroup after last week’s poor efforts. One week does not a season make.

Diamond notes… Entering the week, only one of the three divisions in the Middlesex County League has an actual race on its hands.

The South Division is headed by Milltown, who enters today’s game with Middlesex at 12-2 (25 points). However, South River has emerged as a contender in this division with a 11-4 mark (22 points) entering Tuesday’s game with Perth Amboy. South River was also scheduled to take on Clara Barton yesterday, and will face South Brunswick (10-6, 20 points) today.

South Brunswick is also in the South Division, and could still make a run at the division title with a strong finish.

Kennedy appears to have the North Division locked up with its 12-2-1 mark (25 points), with Iselin a distant second (7-7, 14 points),.

Father and Son is 14-1 with 28 points to lead the way in the Central Division, and should take that title, barring a total meltdown. St. Joseph is second with a 8-6 mark (16) entering yesterday’s game with Perth Amboy. St. Joseph faces a stiff test today when they take on a JFK team looking to right the ship after last week’s 0-2-1 span.