Lower Macungie came into the Lehigh Valley Legion playoffs as the No. 6 seed. But in the in the first three days of the tournament the Mighty Macs showed they're a top contender as they beat two of the top three seeds.
Saturday Lower Macungie used a solid pitching performance and a pair of big innings to beat Northern Valley, 11-2, eliminating the No. 1 seed Chargers from the tournament. As the regular season champ, Northern Valley has already secured the league's first berth into Saturday's Region 2 Tournament.
"It's obviously disappointing," said Northern Valley head coach Brad Rauch. "But we have regionals left. We have a week off now. We haven't had more than two days off in a month and a half."
Lower Macungie jumped out to a 6-1 lead in the second inning. Six hits and one error led to a 6-run inning, which was highlighted by Nick Wieder's 2-RBI triple that made it 2-1 with no outs. The inning ended with Northern Valley turning its second of three double plays in the game.
After scoring in the bottom of the first, the Chargers didn't plate another until the seventh as Lower Mac pitcher Brady Knerr settled in.
The Emmaus graduate struck out three, walked two and allowed just five hits.
"That was his best performance of the year," said Lower Mac head coach Don Breisch. "I think he had a two hitter earlier, but today in terms of keeping the walks down and keeping hits down, it was definitely his best performance of the year."
Lower Mac opened the LVL tournament with a win over No. 3 seed South Parkland then lost to No. 4 Fullerton, putting them in a losers bracket game against Northern Valley. The Macs scored three more runs in the fifth and two in the seventh against the Chargers to take an 11-1 lead into the bottom of the seventh.
Northern Valley tried to rally late. Dylan Botlon led off the ninth with a double. Andrew Hoch walked. Payton Bachman singled to score Bolton. Jake Kern walked to load the bases with one out.
But Knerr got a strike out and ground out to end the threat.
The Chargers got their first-inning run when Jake Kern doubled and then scored when Ty Cunningham reached base on an error.
Lower Macungie's Wieder went 3 for 4 with 6 RBI and his team had 15 hits in the game. After getting shut out by Fullerton, 5-0, earlier in the day, Lower Macungie was able to get timely hits in its second game on Saturday.
The Macs, which went 9-9 in the LVL regular season, have overcome a rough start.
"I knew we were better than a .500 team," said Breisch. "We started 1-4 and went 8-5 from there. I figured we would do reasonable well in the playoffs. So far so good."
Northern Valley won its first LVL playoff game, beating Southern Lehigh 4-0 on Thursday. After a 4-3 loss to Coplay on Friday, the Chargers were bounced into the losers bracket.
Northern Valley, which already holds the league's top seed in regionals, will get some much-needed rest before. The Region 2 Tournament begins Saturday at Nor-Gwyn in Montgomery County.
"Our pitching staff is going to get a chance to rest up," said Rauch. "Once this team gets good rest, we're going to come back have a good shot at regionals."
Lower Mac. 060 030 2 – 11 13 3
No. Valley 100 000 1 – 2 5 2
Knerr and Ben Johnson, Kolton Von Kiel (3); Smith, Harris (5) and Hoch.