COPLAY – Stayin' Alive!
If this were the 1970's, then the Bee Gee's No. 1 hit would be playing in the background. Jacen Nalesnik's five RBI led a 14-hit attack that bought Lehighton one more game in the Lehigh Valley Legion Tournament with a 14-8 win over North Parkland last night.
"It was a slug fest, we knew that they could hit," Lehighton Coach Mike Thomas said. "We are a tale of two teams. Some days we come out flat, other days we come out and hit the lights out of the ball and luckily – today was one of those days."
The slug fest could have been much worse than the score indicated. Lehighton loaded the bases with no outs in the first. Jacen Nalesnik plated the only run of the inning by grounding into a force out. Buffalo starter Jared Corey snared a line shot by Casey Lawrence and doubled up Nalesnik to get out of the inning.
North Parkland (18-7) scored three in the bottom of the first for a 3-1 lead, but Corey would not keep the lead or survive the second inning. After allowing the based to be loaded once again, Corey balked forcing in Greg Pecha for one run. Another walk loaded the bases again and Ryan Blasko reached on an error to drive in Pat Janecki. Kyle Hunter's sacrifice fly to right scored Ryan Porembo to give Lehighton a 4-3 lead.
With two on and two out Nalesnik drilled a three-run blast over the centerfield fence for a commanding 7-3 lead.
Lehighton starter Kyle Hunter was hit hard by the Buffaloes. After giving up three runs in the first, Derek Freibolin doubled to lead off the second. Alex Jarossy then sent a towering two-run blast into the twilight to cut the lead to 7-5.
"Hunter is really a rock and he's coming back on just three days rest." Thomas said. "He did what we needed him to do. We needed him to throw strikes and put the ball in play and give them credit, they hit the ball hard."
Hunter would give up two more runs before leaving after four innings. Tyler Hill and Tyler Harris came in and quieted the North Parkland bats giving up just one run over the final three innings.
"We wanted to get Hill one inning to get some work in and Harris, our closer, really does the trick. He comes in and shuts the door," Thomas said.
Lehighton broke the game open in the fourth with three consecutive hits from the bottom third of the batting order. Janecki's second hit of the night drove in two runs followed by RBI singles by Dan Russo and Ryan Porambo pushed the lead to 11-5.
"We came out here with one loss and we knew we needed a win," Nalesnik said. "We scored a lot of runs, played good defense, and our pitchers did their job."
Nalesnik (3-for-5) drove in five and scored three runs while Hunter added three hits. Blasko, Russo, and Janecki each had two hits.
North Parkland has already clinched a spot as co-champion of the Lehigh Valley Legion tournament, locking in the top spot in the regional tourney that starts Saturday.
Lehighton (18-8) will now face South Parkland tonight at Coplay (7:30) with the winner claiming the other spot as co-champ, qualifying as the second Lehigh Valley legion team in this weekend's tournament.
"Hopefully we'll come out [today] get another win and we'll go on to regionals," Nalesnik said.
Lehighton 160 421 0 – 14 14 1
No. Parkland 320 200 0 – 7 9 2
Hunter, Hill(5), Harris(6) and Nalesnik; Corey, Hudak(2), Tulio(5), O'Leary(6) and E. Steigler. W-Hunter, L-Corey; HR – L-Nalesnik (2nd, 2 on), NP – Jarossy (2nd, 1 on), E. Steigler (7th, none on)