Tonawanda News — It's been a long and, at times, trying year for the North Tonawanda baseball team. The Lumberjacks have only managed three Niagara Frontier League wins and despite good stretches, the team just never seemed to put it all together.
Until now — the final week of the regular season.
The Jacks (3-11) won back to back games for the first time in 2013 to close out the season over Kenmore West and East. NT scored a combined 24 runs in those games after scoring a combined 19 runs in its last six games.
NT coach Eric Partell has been preaching the importance of executing in all three phases of the game, and said he is proud of the way the Jacks have kept fighting. Especially through the hard times.
"I've been preaching all year that we needed to play in all three phases of the game to win: hitting, defense and pitching," he said. "For a lot of the season we'd have good pitching but the defense wouldn't back them up, or we'd have good hitting but we'd make a lot of errors. The last two games against East and West we've had all three phases going for us. We're trying to ride that high."
At the heart of the team and in the middle of the resurgence is senior center fielder Josh Brosius, who has raised his batting average to .302 after a slow start to the season. He leads the team in doubles (7) and walks (8).
Partell said Brosius is a talented ball player who puts in more time than anybody else to try and be the best.
"All off season he was at Sports Performance working on his swing," Partell said. "He was disappointed in his average last year. He's one of the few guys that's here before practice, stays after practice and is trying to get into the cage and take as many cuts as he can."
Brosius is quick to push the credit toward his teammates, specifically Matt Noakes, Chris and Taylor Mellott.
Noakes has come on late in the season and has logged a ton of innings for the Jacks. He has two complete games and leads the team with 11 RBIs at the plate.
The Mellott brothers, No. 3 and 4 in the NT batting order, are the big run producers for the Jacks. Taylor is hitting .478 with a team-leading 22 hits, 16 runs and is tied for a team-high with 11 RBIs. Chris, a senior, hits cleanup and has posted a .341 average with 14 hits and 10 RBIs.
"The beginning of the season was rough for us. We thought we had a good team, but we were 1-3 and then we really started to fall off," Brosius said. "It's not a one-man sport. I really couldn't do anything without the rest of the guys out there. Noakes and the Mellott's are big contributors to the team and they deserve a lot of the credit."
At practice and on the bus after the game, Brosius, who will play college ball at Erie Community College next season, is a true teammate.
Partell said Brosius always knows how to lead depending on the situation.
"He's always a guy that, when the music is blasting, he'll get up and start dancing to put a smile on everyone's face," Partell said. "He'll be the first one to crack a joke on the bus to lighten the mood, but he'll also be the first one to let everyone know when they need to get going."
A true fan of the sport, Brosius' passion comes from the love he has for the game of baseball.
"You have to enjoy the sport. It's a beautiful game, I love it," he said. "Every time you come out here it's a new day and a new start — a new day for baseball."
The Jacks will learn who they face in the opening round of the playoffs today at 5 p.m.Contact Sports Editor Matt Parrino at 693-1000 ext. 4117 and find Tonawanda News sports on Twitter @TonaNewsSports.