READING - Conrad Weiser starting pitcher Mike Weinhold was in a zone.
The short lefthander struck out 19 batters and took advantage of the four runs his team put on the scoreboard in the first inning for a 4-1 victory over Lehighton in a PIAA Class AAA first round playoff game at Muhlenberg Township High School on Monday afternoon.
The only two outs that weren't strikeouts for the Indians was a sacrifice fly by Dave Behler in the fourth and a fly out to center field by Jacen Nalesnik in the sixth.
"They did what we couldn't do, " said Lehighton head coach Brian Polaha afterwards. "They put the ball in play in the first inning. One ball they hit hard. Other than that, two of them just found places through our infield. That's the difference between striking out and putting the ball in play. We obviously didn't do a real good job of that today with 19 strikeouts.
"He wasn't really throwing much of anything else but a fast ball and he really didn't need to. He had a nice curveball, but sometimes when you have a big curveball like he had you have a hard time throwing it for strikes. So he didn't throw it much. We've seen pitchers throw with that kind of velocity this season so I can't really put my finger on it."
Tyler Hill started for the Indians and saw the misfortune of the first five batters he faced reach base on two doubles, two singles and a walk.
Nate Peiffer led off the game with a double and he scored on a single by Weinhold. Tanner Lutz reached on the walk and Zach Guiles doubled to score Erick Rodriguez, a courtesy runner for Weinhold. Marik Minisce singled home Lutz and Guiles scored on a fielder's choice by Zach Burke.
Hill settled down and scattered three hits through the next four innings before Tyler Harris came on in the sixth and shut down the Scouts after Aaron Price reached on an error and Adam Carman drew a walk.
"We've been coming back and coming back and coming back," said Polaha. "We knew this team wasn't going to die by any stretch of the imagination, but at the same time, sometimes you meet your match when you fall behind and you can't make up the runs and that happened today."
For the Scouts, who are now 24-3, it was their 21st win in a row.
Weinhold, who is headed for Alvernia to continue his education and baseball career, is 9-0 with an ERA under 1.70. He has struck out 93 batters in 56 innings.
Peiffer is now batting over .500 after going three-for-four on the afternoon including 10-for-14 in the last four games. He has scored 21 runs and has 20 RBIs in the post-season.
"For the most part, when he (Weinhold) stays fluid, throws the ball well, throws for certain spots and good things happen for us," said
Weiser head coach Scott Michael. "We came out firing today and we're lucky and very fortunate that we scored four runs early because that's all we were able to put on the board.
"Nate (Peiffer) right now has been in a zone for the past month that I've never seen in a high school baseball player. And Mike (Weinhold) has throw well at this park (It was the fifth time the Scouts played at Muhlenberg this season). He's thrown the ball a couple times here this year and he's had good success here. He was throwing a lively fast ball and they struggled with it a little bit.
Lehighton's lone run came in the fourth inning when Kyle Hunter led off with a single, stole second and moved to third on an error by the Weiser catcher. Hunter scored on a sacrifice fly to right by Behler.
J.T. Keer's infield single in the second, Hunter's single in the fourth and a Tyler Hill single in the sixth was all Lehighton (18-8) could get off of Weinhold.
Backing up Peiffer was Guiles, who had two hits for the Scouts, who will now take on Tunkhannock (a 3-2 winner over Montoursville) in the quarterfinal at a site and time to be named.
Lehighton 000 100 0 - 1 3 1
C. Weiser 400 000 x - 4 7 1
Weinhold and Minisce; Hill, Harris (6) and Nalesnik. W - Weinhold. L - Hill.