They say 'defense wins championships'.
Last night, defense was the difference early on as Tamaqua put together a solid game against Lansford, winning 10-0 in the winners bracket of the District 18 Little League tournament.
The tone of the game was set early on as Lansford committed three errors in the first two innings whereas Tamaqua's defense stayed solid.
Tamaqua starter Zeke Wassel got the first three Lansford hitters to go down in order in the top of the first inning. All three were plays in the field made by the Tamaqua defense.
"We work hard on our defense," Tamaqua coach Charlie Kistler said. "This is a fundamentally sound team."
In the bottom of the first, it looked as if the game would be a pitcher's duel as Cody Scherer grounded out for the first out. Thaddeus Zuber had other things on his mind as he stepped to the plate. His monster solo home run opened the flood gates to a five-run first inning.
"I didn't think it was going out," Zuber said. "If you put the good part of the bat on the ball anything can happen."
A couple of walks and a two-out error allowed Tamaqua to plate two more runs on Ty Kistler's single. A second error extended the inning and Dair Miller's two-run double staked Tamaqua to a 5-0 lead.
In the top of the second inning, Lansford looked to gain back some ground with a single by Anthony Prudente and double by Tristan Blasko, but a Wassel strikeout ended the threat.
"Those first two innings, we hit the ball hard but it was right at them," Lansford coach Tim Doida said."If we get a couple of those to bleed through then we could get a couple of runs on the board and put some pressure on them to make plays and it would be a different ball game."
In the top of the second, Tamaqua added three more runs. Scherer singled and Zuber almost cleared the bases again with a double off the centerfield fence.
"He's the leader of the team. As far as fielding, hitting, and keeping the kids motivated, we rely on him a lot. He's the super glue to this team," Kistler said.
Josh Inama roped an RBI single leaving runners at second and third with one out and providing room for the error bug to come back to Lansford.
A pitch by Lansford reliever Cody Buzzard found its way past catcher Matt Jungbaer. Zuber safely scored but the Lansford battery failed to connect on the throw back to the plate and Inama scored from second.
"I've got a young team and they are learning on the job all the time," Doida said. "Once we get down early, the heads start to hang."
With an 8-0 lead, Wassel began to cruise on the mound by firing strikes at a quick pace and allowing only one hit the rest of the way including striking out the side in the fourth inning. He reached his pitch limit with two outs and two strikes in the top of the fifth. Zuber relieved him and needed just two pitches to end the inning.
"Zeke did a very good job on the mound from the start, he kept them off balance from the start," Kistler said of his pitcher, who finished with seven strikeouts.
With runners on first and third in the fourth frame, Tamaqua plated a run on a double steal. Leading 9-0, Tamaqua ended the game in the bottom of the fifth a pair of back to back doubles by Brad Clemson and Cody Scherer.
Tamaqua moves on in the winner's bracket and will play at Freeland on Friday.
Lansford gets another shot as they slide over to the loser's bracket. It will face Jim Thorpe on Wednesday.
"We were able to limit our pitchers. We only have one guy that is not available so we should be in good shape," Doida said. "One thing about this young team is they bounce back. So hopefully we'll bounce back for [our next game]."
Lansford 000 00 - 0 3 3
Tamaqua 530 11 - 5 12 0
Hafer, Blizzard (1), Conde (3) and Jungbaer; Wassel, Zuber (6) and Inama. W-Wassel. L-Hafer. HR: Zuber (1st, none on).