Blazers pitcher Cody Stoneback of Quakertown works out with the team Sunday as they prepare for the season opener Sunday at Memorial Park at 1 p.m.
On the final day of the 2013 Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League season, Blazers' pitcher Brandon Kulp dominated as part of Quakertown's doubleheader sweep of the Jersey Pilots. It was Kulp's only start for the Blazers, and he tossed a one-hit shutout in a 2-0 victory. "I really came alive at the end of the season," Kulp said of his longest outing since high school.
In his second season with the team, Kulp hopes to earn a spot in its starting rotation.
However, just competing in the Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League is most important to Kulp.
"I just want to throw the ball," he said. "I'm feeling pretty optimistic."
Kulp says his ultimate goal is to pitch well enough this summer to earn a spot in Lehigh University's starting rotation next spring.
The Blazers open their 40-game schedule Sunday with a doubleheader against the Allentown Railers, beginning at 1 p.m. at Memorial Park Stadium.
Kulp – listed at 6-foot-2, 200 pounds – has the potential to earn a spot in Quakertown's rotation, according to manager Mark Angelo. Angelo said the coaching staff would like to see him step into the closer role for the Blazers, "but we're not ruling out the possibility of him being a starter for us."
When Kulp locates his pitches, hitters struggle to keep up with his fastball and lay off his breaking ball, according to Angelo. "Kulp throws hard," he added. "He's a big athletic kid. He's built like a football player.
In recent years, innings have been rare for Kulp, a 2012 graduate of Quakertown Area Senior High School. In two seasons at Lehigh University, he threw just 21 2/3 innings. This spring, injury and illness limited him to just 14 innings for the Mountain Hawks.
Last summer for the Blazers – who compete in the wooden-bat league – working mostly out of the bullpen, Kulp permitted 19 runs and 22 hits in 20.1 innings.
According to Angelo, the pitcher needs to become a more consistent game manager.
"In relief, Kulp needs to be able to manage base runners and get ahead of hitters," Angelo said. "He improved with these things as the summer progressed [last year]...We will expect him to improve them even more this summer."
The Blazers feature a collection of college players from southeastern Pennsylvania and beyond. The roster features Tyler Kirkpatrick and Shane Allen, products of the Pioneer Athletic Conference, as well as outfielders Tyler Kirkpatrick (Marist), Jackson Martin (Seton Hall) and Vince Careghini (Shippensburg).
Quakertown will host the ACBL All-Star Game on July 17.