By Phil Haddad
The Boyertown Bruins (black) team is off to a good start. Manager Jay Repko knows that with a record of 5-2 in the league there is always room for improvement. The Bruins beat two of their biggest rivals Spring-Ford and Pine Forge, but of course the teams will meet again later in the season. "We did expect to have a decent team this year," said Repko.
The big expectation that Repko has in his fifth year is to make the playoffs and play for a championship.
"We aren't afraid to tell the kids that," said Repko. "We have come close to winning a championship, and we have played in the championship game twice in my four years. Every year we make the playoffs and make a run in the playoffs. We have a goal to win a championship. Nothing less than that is aceptable, and it would be unsatifying if we don't."
Repko knows that the league will be tough this year. "Norchester has a really good team," said Repko. "They are 6-0 as of right now. Twin Valley will be tough and they have one of the top pitchers who shut us down once. They are in the running. It's a wide open league this year anyone can win it. They are the two teams that we have to keep an eye on.
"There are a few teams that are a little down this year, and Oxford is a new team in the league. We don't know much about them and they have some nice pitchers."
Repko knows that if the team plays well, there isn't a lot that could stop them from reaching those expectations. "We are pleased with our pitching so far," said Repko. "I would say that our biggest question mark right now is defense, trying to find a solid defense and find the best position players and the best defensive players.
"Hitting-wise, we are coming along pretty nicely. Pitching can always be better, but we are somewhat satified. I think that if anything is going to derail us, it's our defense and we need to keep working on that and get better defensivly. I think if we do that, with our pitching and our defense, we are on our way to a run."
Repko believes that they need to work on their weaknesses, and June 5 was the first time that he had a full squad for practice.
"With everyone healthy and high school baseball going on through much of May, we didn't have our team finalize until the middle of May," said Repko. "We have picked up some good drills over the year and we are going to do them in practice.
"The coaches (myself, Don Heller and Bill Sherry) and I are going to emphasize defense in all of our talks and in all of our practices."
Repko has some key players who he is counting on to help the team be sucessful this year. Alex Speilman who is a four-year starter and Repko's most experienced player, is one of those players.
"He is a solid player in the field," said Repko "He plays first base and outfield. He is also our only lefty pitcher. He is our key guy in the way of leadership and an all-around kind of player."
Drew Harvey ( a St. Pius X player) has played for the Bruins Black three out of the four years he was able to play. "Offensivly, he is going well," said Repko. "He hits in the top of the line-up. He also plays one of the outfield positions for us."
Repko is also looking for big things from two 18 year-olds, Kevin Thompson and Zach Wasson, who will anchor thier pitching staff. Repko is also looking for contributions from Jared Haber, Justin Bernhard and Robert Kershaw.
With Bernhard and Wasson having some legion experience, he (Repko) is hoping that the leadership and the experienced they have gained from that will help the players on this year's team.
Repko had some players who moved up to the legion roster, but he would not consider his team a young team. "I would consider our team to be a mixed team," said Repko. "We have a fair amount of veterans, but we also have a fair amount of youth as well. We have a nice crop of 16 year-olds, we have a nice crop of 17 year-olds, and 18 year-olds. Each age group is well represented. It's a nice combination to have."
There are many reasons why Repko feels there is a big rivalary between the Bruins and Pine Forge. "There are all Boyertown kids," said Repko. "They know each other, they go to school together. They also play other sports with them. Another reason is they are 10 minutes up the road.
"They run a nice program up there. They have good coaches and they have a nice facility as well. They offer kids good baseball experience. They are always tough and they are always competitive. We play them again on June 22nd. We almost always see them in the playoffs."
Repko won't change much the next time the two teams face each other. "We had some success against them," said Repko. "The question always becomes do we throw the same pitcher who beat them before or give them a different look with a second pitcher. Then you have that confidence that you beat them with two different pitchers.
"We haven't decided what route we are going to take. We are going to put our best defensive team against them, and work our hitters in as DH's (designed hitters) and EH (extra hitters).
"They are going to make adjustments. They didn't pitch their best guy and I am sure that we will see them if he is healthy. When they threw their best guy last year they shut us down. I'm sure that we will see a much different game. I'm expecting a one or a two run game."