Todd Schmalzle is the first to admit that his team didn't exactly get off to a blazing start this summer in Junior American Legion Baseball action.
Post 311's veteran skipper watched in dismay as his lads suffered back-to-back losses in Week One.
However, it didn't take the Toros long to get back on the winning track. In fact, Hawley has been on fire ever since.
"We've won 11 of our last 13 games, so it kind of goes without saying that I'm very happy with how we've been playing lately," said Coach Schmalzle.
"We've been pitching well, playing good solid defense and getting big hits when we need them."
This past week, Hawley cruised to yet another impressive win. The Toros spotted visiting Triboro an early lead, but roared back for a 9-3 triumph.
"Our heads weren't really in the game those first two innings, but we got it together after that," Coach Schmalzle said. "All in all it was a pretty good win."
Post 311 returns home for a doubleheader on Sunday afternoon against Lakeland/ Carbondale. Game One of that District 11 twinbill is set for a 1 p.m. start on the shores of The Big Lake.
On the Hill
Pavel Sprague drew the starting mound assignment against Triboro and turned in a solid effort.
The crafty southpaw got off to a rocky start, allowing three runs in the opening two frames. However, he settled down and pitched brilliantly the rest of the way.
"Pavel's been throwing great for us this season," said Coach Schmalzle.
"He's been mixing his pitches really well and keeping batters off-balance. Pavel comes at you from so many different arm angles, it's very tough for batters or baserunners to get any kind of a read on him."
Page 2 of 3 - Sprague would go on to author a complete game gem on this particular day, running his overall record to 4-1 for the summer.
Pavel worked seven innings and surrendered just two earned runs. He struck out five batters, issued only two walks and was nicked for six basehits.
David Eckert provided all the run support Srague would need in this one.
Hawley's first baseman and clean-up hitter terrorized Triboro pitchers all afternoon long.
Eckert hammered out four hits in four at bats, two of which were doubles. He drove in Post 311's initial run in the bottom of the first with an RBI double.
David followed that up with singles in the third and sixth and another two-bagger in the fifth. All told, the talented young slugger tallied twice and drove in three runs.
"David just had a monster game today," said Coach Schmalzle with a smile.
"He was locked in at the plate all day long. David is our clean-up hitter for a reason. He has the potential to drive the ball just about anywhere on the field every time he comes to the plate."
Wade Gilpin and Austin Gilpin also contributed key hits for the Toros.
Wade ripped three singles in his first three at-bats and finished the day 3-for-4.
Hawley's catcher and two-hole hitter scored one run and drove in two more.
Austin Gilpin roped a pair of singles early on, then walked and tallied a run in the home fifth.
Mitchell Guerrieri, Chase Petroski, Ray Ortiz and Morgan Theobald rounded out the Toros' attack.
Page 3 of 3 - Post 311 sealed the deal on this one with a 5-run outburst in the bottom of the fifth.
"I'm very pleased with the progress we've made so far this season," said Coach Schmalzle. "The kids are working hard and they're getting better every time they step onto the field."
Score by Innings...
TRIB (5-11) 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 - 3
HAW (11-4) 3 0 0 1 5 0 x - 9