The A.J. Jurek American Legion Post 1672 baseball team has championship aspirations this season. The Williamsville-based club has the talent to compete with anyone in District 8 and New York State.
So a little midseason skid isn’t going to derail anyone’s hopes.
Early on for any American Legion team, fielding a full team can be a challenge with many players playing for several different teams. It’s been no different for Jurek.
“This is typical of any season,” coach Mike Brown said. “You get whatever nine or 10 show up because a lot of them play other games as well. Typically by the end of the year we lock it down with a lot of the players showing up for playoffs. We’re not worried about dropping a couple of games mid-season.
After a 6-0 start to the season, Jurek lost four of five over the last week. But the expectations are based on the postseason and with everyone on board, Post 1672 seems to have what it takes.
“I’m looking forward to seeing what we can do in the playoffs,” Brown said.
Leading the way this season for Jurek are standouts such as second baseman Tyler White, who helped Clarence to the Section VI Class AA championship this season, pitcher/outfielder Mike Poturalski (Williamsville East/Ithaca) and former Williamsville North star Connor Thomas, an infielder.
Jurek also lost four of its best players to other leagues: First baseman Josh Surowiec (Williamsville North/Mercyhurst College) is playing for the Academy Stars, catcher Matt Cross (Starpoint/Niagara County Community College) is playing with the Jamestown Jammers, Peter Battaglia (Williamsville East/Niagara University) is with the Newark Pilots and pitcher Anthony Brophy (St. Joe’s/St. John Fisher) is playing in the New York Collegiate Baseball League.
“It was tough to lose four standouts,” We tend to recruit so well that by the time our best players are eligible to come back after their freshman year in college we end up losing them. That was happens. If we didn’t recruit as heavily as we do, we’d probably have everybody coming back for their final year of eligibility. Those guys are difference makers.”
Brown is in his ninth season as Jurek’s coach and he has won four District 8 championships in that span. He also serves as an assistant baseball coach at Niagara County Community College, recently completing his second season under Matt Clingersmith.