In sports, success is difficult enough to attain.
Continued success is just that much harder.
East Prospect manager Mark Toomey is finding that out first hand these days.
A year after sweeping to the Susquehanna League regular-season and playoff titles before also claiming the York County championship, Toomey is discovering that repeating that success is a challenge.
Other teams, obviously, are strongly motivated to give the defending champions their best shots.
In addition, some players who contributed a great deal of power to a very potent lineup last year are missing this year. Others are struggling to duplicate what they did a year ago.
Still, without that same firepower from a year ago, the Pistons and Toomey are still atop the Susquehanna League standings at 16-2 after a doubleheader sweep of Jacobus on Sunday, 10-1 and 4-0.
“Tanner Forry is hurt and a couple of our other players have been missing,” Toomey said after Thursday's 9-4 win over Jacobus. “But I’ll tell you what we have that we haven’t had in a while and that’s speed. I have some kids that can fly.”
Speed kills: So even without a guy such as Forry, who hit seven home runs in just 28 games a season ago, knocking the ball out of the park with regularity, the Pistons have been getting it done with timely hitting and speed, instead.
“Our whole outfield is just fast,” Toomey remarked. “You have a guy like Hunter (McClintock), who made that great catch in center field in the seventh inning (on Thursday). He’s just a real solid player. Then you have Nathan Loser, who played left field, he’s just as fast. So we have some wheels, and over the recent past, East Prospect has not been known for having guys with wheels.”
Toomey even joked that the additional speed makes life easier on himself, who has occasionally had to play a game here or there if players are in short supply.
“I don’t have ‘em,” Toomey said about his own "wheels." “I lost them a long time ago.”
Toomey is perfectly fine with the change in approach for his team, from a one-swing squad to one that has to peck away.
“We’ve gone from long ball to small ball,” he said. “We’re finding ways to just use all these young kids’ wheels. That’s about the biggest change so far.”
Pitching still strong: Pitching, another strength of last year’s championship squad, remains that way this year. Tyler Tubbs, in his first year at East Prospect, already has three victories.
Seth Lefever, who anchored the pitching staff a year ago, has been just as impressive so far this year, including a five-hit shutout vs. Jacobus on Sunday.
Hunter McVey, who pitched a complete-game, three-hitter in the 10-1 triumph over Jacobus on Sunday, has also been solid.
“We’re just moving right along,” Toomey said. “Our hitting is coming around and our pitchers are doing their job. Let’s hope it continues.”
Big hitters on Sunday: In the 10-1 win vs. Jacobus on Sunday, the Pistons were led by McClintock (two hits, three runs), Ryky Smith (double, two RBIs, two runs), D.J. Ream (two hits, triple, three RBIs, run), Mark Schauren (two RBIs) and Devin Strickler (double, two runs).
In the 4-0 win vs. Jacobus on Sunday, Ream (two hits, double, two RBIs), Bren Taylor (two hits, double, RBI, run), McClintock (triple, run) and Smith (double, run) led the way.
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org.