Machinski steps up for C.H. West

Brad Machinski, a shortstop and pitcher, has led Cherry Hill West on a seven-game winning streak since the Lions' slow start.
Brad Machinski, a shortstop and pitcher, has led Cherry Hill West on a seven-game winning streak since the Lions' slow start. (CHARLES FOX / Staff Photographer)
Posted: May 01, 2013

When Cherry Hill West opened the baseball season with three losses in its first four games, coach Dan McMaster didn't have to focus on maintaining a positive atmosphere.

Senior shortstop Brad Machinski took care of that.

"He's one of the best leaders I've ever been around," McMaster said of Machinski, who has helped the young Lions develop into one of the surprise teams of the South Jersey season.

Cherry Hill West (8-3) has won seven in a row. The Lions have emerged as strong contenders in the Olympic Conference National Division as well as a team to watch in the South Jersey Group 4 tournament.

Not many people expected that before the season.

Even fewer folks imagined it after the Lions lost their first two games and dropped to 1-3 with a 10-8 setback against Camden Catholic on April 8.

"Somebody needed to step up, and I figured it might as well be me," Machinski said. "You can't have guys down. I knew we had a pretty young team and that one of the older guys would have to step up as a leader.

"I was willing to take ownership of that."

Machinski has done more than talk a good game. The Rowan University recruit is batting .421 as the Lions' leadoff man, with 16 hits, 10 runs, and 10 RBIs.

On the mound, Machinski is one of three seniors who have sparked the Lions' remarkable resurgence. He's 1-1, but he has pitched like an ace in three no-decisions - no-hitting Cherokee for five innings, holding fifth-ranked Washington Township to one run in six innings, and leaving the Camden Catholic game with a three-run lead.

Combined with senior lefthander Will Allen (4-0) and senior righthander Brandon Perna (2-0, 0.32 ERA in 22 innings), Machinski has helped the Lions outscore their opponents by 44-8 in the seven-game winning streak.

The highlight of the streak was a pair of walk-off victories last week. Machinski pitched six strong innings in a 2-1 win over Washington Township, then made two strong defensive plays in the top of the eighth inning in a 1-0 win over Paul VI.

"We've gotten hot," Machinski said. "We're a young team with a lot of young talent. The seniors have led the way, and the young guys have stepped up."

As a junior, Machinski was a starter for a Cherry Hill West team that entered the 2012 season with high expectations. Although the Lions had some good moments - including two victories in the Joe Hartmann Diamond Classic - they finished 16-12.

"Last year was supposed to be our big year," Machinski said. "But the team chemistry wasn't right. We lost that big class, and not a lot of people expected too much from this year's team.

"But I could see during tryouts that we had some young kids that were going to be good."

Behind seniors such as Machinski, Allen, Perna, third baseman A.J. Sohacki, and outfielder Matt Giampetro, the Lions are trying to turn what was supposed to be a rebuilding year into something special.

"Brad is the engine that makes us go," McMaster said. "He makes plays when we need them, and he's always willing to step up and be a leader when we need it."


Contact Phil Anastasia at panastasia@phillynews.com. Follow on Twitter @PhilAnastasia. Read his blog, "Jersey Side Sports," at www.philly.com/

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