The Quakertown Blazers will open their 37th season on Thursday night by hosting the Trenton Generals. First pitch is 7 p.m. at Memorial Park.
Quakertown, whose ACBL season was suspended last summer due to COVID, was scheduled to open on Tuesday at the Jersey Pilots. The game was postponed due to weather.
Two Blazers have short commutes. Infielders Jake Reed (Bloomsburg) and Mason Hicks (Harford C.C.) both graduated from Quakertown High. Reed overcame a slow start to post a .383 on base percentage in the last 15 games for the 2019 Blazers. Hicks slugged .531 down in Maryland this spring.
Other returning Blazers include pitcher Brandon Walters (Bloomsburg) and infielder Brian Nicolas (Bryant). Nicolas hit .306 for the 2019 Blazers and ranked second on the team with 34 hits. Walters made two starts for 2019 Quakertown and had a 1.59 ERA in seven appearances for Bloomsburg this spring.
The 2021 Blazer lineup should generate plenty of fire power. Catcher Sam Barletta (Chestnut Hill) was a first team all-CACC pick after hitting .387 and leading the Griffins with 11 doubles. Fellow backstop Mitchell Balint (Delaware) won the CAA Player of the Week on March 9.
A third catcher, Brandon Ernst, missed the Lackawanna College Triple Crown by one home run after a spring where he hit .488 with eight dingers and 50 RBIs. Infielder Joe Gorla was named to the Patriot League’s second team after hitting .322 and slugging .510. He co-led Lehigh with 34 RBIs.
Skipper Jeff Evans takes the reins this summer. He’ll look to Brendan Gray (Misericordia) to lead his pitching staff. Gray went 8-2 with a 2.79 ERA this spring; he walked just 11 in 58 innings. Another MAC product, Jake Reese (Alvernia) comes off of a college season where he ranked third on the Wolves in both innings and strikeouts. Kevin Small (Long Island) had a small sample size, but he allowed just one hit in 3.2 Division 1 innings.