The Bucks County Generals ’24, at left, defeated the ’23 team in the Fall League final.
The Bucks County Generals is a very tightly knit organization and that is reflected on the field as its teams tend to play a game that is fundamentally sound and pleasing to the eye. But that doesn’t mean they don’t like to have a little fun with each other.
Once Diamond Nation’s Fall League quarterfinals and semifinals were completed on Tuesday and the organization had qualified its two teams for the championship game on Wednesday, the pre-game fun began on social media.
“Coach Squid put something out on social media,” said Buck County Generals recruiting placement director J.R. Barder. “He said, ‘Which team do you have tonight?” And that set off some healthy and good-natured fireworks.
Coach Squid is Bucks County Generals coach and coordinator Pat Devlin, who had an impressive career pitching for Rider University and has done a terrific job with the organization’s pitchers.
That was clear as the championship game’s starters, Logan Potter of the Generals 2024 team and Trey Sajeski of the ‘23 squad, set the tone immediately that this would not be a hitter-friendly contest.
The 2024 squad manufactured a run in the fourth to tie the game and struck for two runs in the fifth to erase a 2-1 deficit and take a 3-2 lead it would carry to the championship victory. Indeed, the younger version of the Bucks County Generals would get the better of the older squad in this one.
“It’s very cool to beat them,” said Potter, who was outstanding in a six-inning performance in which he permitted two runs, neither of which were earned, on six hits, struck out five and, importantly, walked none. He did hit a batter with a pitch.
“My fastball was good and my changeup was there for me as well,” said Potter, who estimated you leaned on the changeup 15-20 times and threw about 10 curveballs. He certainly gave the 2023 team plenty to chew on in each at bat.
Lefthander Ryan Jacobson closed out the victory with a 1-2-3 seventh inning. The only fright for Jacobson and the 2024 squad was Will Slamm’s two-out shot down the left field line that appeared earmarked for a stand-up double. But the ball fell to the left of the foul line by an inch. Jacobson then got Slamm swinging to end the game.
Interestingly, Potter had faced his teammates in a summer camp at Rutgers University when he surrendered home runs to Jack Mislan and Chase Harlan.
“At the time, I think that rattled him,” said Barder. “Logan wanted revenge tonight. He’s not the type of kid to back down. He has a Division 1 mindset.”
The righty Sajeski was strong, too, opening the game with three scoreless innings for the 2023 Generals. He permitted just one hit, struck out six and walked one. But Sajeski, clearly on a tight pitch count, gave way to Max Slaymaker, who permitted all three runs, none of which were earned, in the fourth and fifth innings. But Slaymaker hurt himself with five walks in his two innings of work. Joey Santora then pitched a 1-2-3 sixth to keep the 2023 Generals within a run heading into their last at bat.
James Schaffer, the 2024 Generals second baseman, was named the Fall League playoffs Most Valuable Player. Schaffer singled leading off the fourth inning to trigger that one-run rally and drove home a run in the fifth on a bouncer to the left side. He also batted .350 during the fall season and did not commit a single error over the team’s 10-0 run through the league.
“Winning is simply a sign of success,” said Barder. “When both teams made it to the final, it was an organizational success for us.”
As the Fall League playoffs approached, it was clear the teams of most concern for the contenders were Whitehouse Post 284, two quality entries from Hustle Baseball Academy and the Bucks County Generals’ 2003 and ‘24 squads. The 2024 Generals, in fact, entered the playoffs on Monday undefeated. Still, Whitehouse Post 284 was ubiquitous with a 13-1 record and an imposing run differential of 122-23.
But Whitehouse, the No. 2 seed, was picked off in the quarterfinals on Tuesday, 4-3, by Hustle’s seventh-seeded 16U squad. Meanwhile, the top-seeded Generals 2024 team and the third-seed 2023 Generals were rolling along unabated. The ‘23 squad knocked off Hustle Baseball 16U, 3-2, in the semifinals and the ‘24 team rolled through the fifth-seeded Hillsborough Cardinal, 8-0. The stage was set for the All-Generals championship game.
“The fall for our teams is really about making improvements, but, yes it felt great getting both teams to the championship game,” said Barder.
Potter was focused more on his 2024 team.
“We wanted to win pretty bad,” said Potter. “The social media thing was going strong, too.”
The game time temperature was a very late-fall-like 47 degrees that would seem balmy in hindsight as temps quickly plummeted to 37 degrees in the briskly played 1:45 game. The temperature was certainly reflected in the urgency of the play. There was no dilly-dallying on the mound or in the batter’s box. That urgency created an even crisper look to the game.
The Generals 2024 squad had a terrific summer, to boot. “I think they lost maybe two or three times all summer,” said Barder. “And when they lost it was to older teams.” And the 2023s already have three D-1 commits in Max McGlone (West Point), Tim Schuler (Villanova) and David Rodriguez (St. John’s).
“We’re very happy about the performances by our teams this summer and fall and this was a great way for the year to end,” said Barder. “It just shows the result of the kids’ hard work.”
The Generals, like every other program in the Northeast, transitions quickly now to winter training.
“This time of year we tell the kids, now it’s time to get bigger, stronger and faster,” said Barder, who also is an assistant with the 16U and 17U Generals. “We tell them to watch a college game to see where they need to be. That’s their competition. Their goal should be to look like them, play like them and have polished skills like them.”
The Bucks County Generals program is in its 17th season and has facilities in Trevose and Chalfont, Pa. It has teams at the 9U to 17U level and some levels have two teams. And today they are Diamond Nation’s Fall League champions and runners-up.