LEHIGHTON – Greg Pecha had been having a tough month. The only thing falling faster than his batting average was his place in the batting order.
With his team's back to the wall, Pecha's two-out, bases loaded single sparked a four-run seventh. Pecha eventually scored the winning run as Lehighton beat Coplay 8-7 to stay alive in the Lehigh Valley Legion playoffs.
"Huge, huge hit from a guy I had to drop in the line up the last two games," Lehighton coach Derrick Reis said. "Pecha's been really struggling at he plate and for him to come up with a hit like that shows you what kind of kid he is."
With Coplay in control of the game and leading 7-4, Palmerton's Christian Marcin, who had struck out two in the sixth, looked to close out the game. Lehighton mustered a leadoff single by Kyle Hunter. Jacen Nalesnik reached on an error and Casey Lawrence got an infield hit to load the bases.
"It was an up and down game. We just got a couple of runners on and the ball went between the shortstop and third baseman and got through," Pecha said about his single that scored Hunter and Nalesnik to cut the deficit to 7-6 and pave the way for the comeback. "It's a lot weight of my shoulders because I didn't have a hit in a while. I've been switching righty and lefty and just couldn't get a hit."
Tyler Knauss relieved Marcin and proceeded to walk Dan Russo to reload the bases. After Knauss struck out Tyler Harris, Ryan Porambo worked a walk that brought in Lawrence to tie the game. Leadoff hitter Kyle McEvoy worked the third walk of the inning – a walk off walk – to bring in Pecha with the winning run.
"Coming in here for the top of the seventh I told them to play for base runners," Reis said. "Put the bat on the ball, take pitches, get pitches you drive. It worked out for us and we came away with a 'W.'"
Down 2-1, Lehighton took the lead in the third inning. Nalesnik (3-for-4) hit a two run single and he scored on a single by Lawrence to give Lehighton a 4-2 lead.
That lead melted away quickly with Coplay's five-run sixth. Coplay broke out the 'thunder sticks' with pair of identical home runs to leftcenter by Dan Brookswells and Knauss to tie the game at 4-4.
Lehighton starting pitcher Kyle McEvoy gave up three more singles and another run as Reis hurriedly try to get Tyler Harris warmed up. He was one batter too late.
Marcin's deep fly to left-field handcuffed Lawrence. Off balance when the ball hit his glove, it slipped out allowing two runs to score and giving Coplay a 7-4 lead.
"I wanted to get him a batter earlier but Harris wasn't ready," Reis said
Hunter stole home in the first inning when Coplay tried to throw Nalesnik out trying to steal second. With two on and no out in the bottom of the sixth, Harris was on third and attempted to do the same on Ryan Poremba's attempt to steal second. The results were disastrous.
Coplay shortstop Pat Bet cut off the catcher's thrown and fired home to catcher Nick Amaike. Harris was caught stealing by your 'usual' 2-6-5-2-6 run down and Poremba was tug out by Amaike who was now covering third.
"It's just a mental mistake from a guy that I wouldn't expect to make one," Reis said. "Luckily it didn't hurts and we battled back.
"Today was such an odd game with all the mental mistakes and miscues. Coming away with a win tells you a lot about our team."
Lehighton will continue its quest for the Lehigh Valley Legion title as it travels to Coplay tonight where it will face North Parkland at 7 p.m.
Coplay 101 005 0 – 7 10 1
Lehighton 103 000 4 – 8 12 3
Brookswells, Marcin(6), Knauss(7) and Amaike; McEvoy, Harris(6), and Pecha