West Xtra: Bats staying silent for New Brighton Legion team

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The good news for New Brighton's Post 19 American Legion baseball team is it has allowed 24 runs in its first six games.

The bad news is the team has won just one of those six contests.

New Brighton has lost five games by a total of 10 runs and has scored 17 runs through Monday's 7-5 loss to Beaver Falls.

"I think we're looking good," New Brighton coach Whitey Debo said. "We had four close ballgames, and I don't think our record shows how we've played.

"We just need to get the bats going."

New Brighton made the playoffs last season and finished in the top three in the Beaver County League in 2011 and 2012.

But losses to Ambridge (twice), South Side Beaver and Beaver Falls have put New Brighton in an early-season hole. The team's lone victory was a 7-4 win against Hopewell.

"I'm hoping we'll start coming around by the time playoffs come," Debo said. "We haven't really been striking out much. It seems we are hitting it right at the other team. Nothing is falling in.

"It's kind of like somebody has put a spell on us."

The team's offense is led by two of Debo's grandsons, shortstop Jake Debo, who played this past season at Geneva College, and catcher R.J. Debo. Jake Debo graduated from New Brighton last season, while R.J. was a freshman on the Lions' squad that missed the WPIAL Class AA tournament by one game this season.

Riley Smith, the team's center fielder, also played for the Lions this season, while the team's top pitcher, Chuck Zahn, graduated from New Brighton last season.

But because New Brighton is short on numbers, the team is allowed to pull players from other areas without American Legion squads.

Starting left fielder Sam Beckey and pitchers Nick Schwab and Colin Macon are among a few players from Freedom. New Brighton also has a player from Rochester and in the past has pulled players from Riverside.

The fact that the team is made up of players from different communities and high school programs, coupled with the fact the squad hasn't been able to practice much due to either weather or the inability to get a practice field, are why Debo believes the team has failed to click on all cylinders in the early part of the season.

"We weren't able to play for eight days in a row," Debo said. "We haven't practiced together much at all, and once the season starts, it's tough to find time to practice.

"But we just have to keep playing and we should come around."

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