It was hard for the entire Lehighton Legion team to get back into the feel for the game.
Since the Lehighton varsity program just finished its season a few days ago, it forced the area's Lehigh Valley Legion Baseball League team to push back the season until the majority of its players were eligible to take the field.
Yesterday afternoon, Northern Valley made it impossible for Lehighton, who has to play 21 LVLBL games over the next 18 days, to get back on track.
Joe Seremula, the Northern Valley's starting pitcher, held Lehighton's bats in check by firing a season-high 15 strikeouts; while his offense backed him with some early runs to spoil Lehighton's opening day with a 7-1 setback.
While striking out the side in each of the first two innings, it was evident to Northern Valley manager Jim Kester on why his ace was able to handle the brunt of the storm against a team where the majority of players just finished playing varsity ball in the state playoffs.
"It's just indicative of the way he's been playing all year long," said Kester, of the Colonial League First Team All-Star pitcher. "He has a solid 1.11 ERA no matter where he pitches. He's almost predictable. And, we saw that again today."
While Seremula's performance was predictable in its own way, Lehighton manager George Zellers expected a sluggish day from his players in the batter's box since it was their first game against live pitching.
"They left way too many first pitch strikes go by," said Zellers, in which his players did 17 times in 28 appearances at the plate. "He was ahead of almost every hitter. We had some kids that didn't even swing a bat in a month. It was their first game. They (Northern Valley) have played nine games already before they even got to us."
Seremula held Lehighton to a Kyle Hunter single in the first, a Greg Pecha single in the second and fourth, a Pat Janecki double in the fourth which produced Lehighton's lone run and a Tyler Harris single in the seventh; while Northern Valley jumped on opposing pitcher, Pat Janecki, on the first two innings.
Northern Valley scored its first two runs in the first on a two-run single by Adam Wehr. In the second, Northern Valley handed Seremula a 5-0 lead thanks to some fine base running. Billy Moyer walked and then moved to second on a Gio Fricchione single. Moyer moved to third on a Tyler Bolton sacrifice.
Moyer later scored when Billy Dayton reached on a Lehighton fielding miscue. Fricchione scored on a Breininger's fielder's choice RBI. Dayton stole a base, moved to third on the fielder's choice and then trotted across home plate after a wild pitch.
Janecki settled down after that and kept pace with Seremula. The righty only allowed an infield single to Dayton and Breininger collected his third hit of the game until Tyler Harris relieved him in the sixth.
Zellers added later that Janecki hasn't pitched since the last game of Jim Thorpe's regular season.
While Zellers watched Janecki work out the kinks, the Lehighton manager chose to give everyone a chance to do the same after Northern Valley took a commanding lead with two more runs in the fifth.
"All these kids got in," Zellers stressed. "They all hit. It usually takes me three or four games to get things going. But, we didn't get a real practice until I got the Jim Thorpe, Panther Valley and Lehighton kids on the same page.
"They're a good bunch of kids. I couldn't yell at them today other than taking too many first pitch strikes. That's the only thing I'm not happy with. We'll be alright."
Northern Vy. 230 020 0 - 7 7 0
Lehighton 000 100 0 - 1 5 1
Seremula and Boyd; Janecki, Harris (6) and Nalesnik, Pecha (6). W - Seremula. L - Janecki.
Tamaqua posted a 9-5 victory over Northern Schuylkill County in a Schuylkill-Berks Legion game on Thursday.
Tamaqua used a four-run seventh inning to break open a tie game. Chris Pilla's home run was key the blow.
In addition to Pilla's homer, Tamaqua (5-1) got an RBI double from Ty Rother in the first and an RBI single from Jay Pilla in the fourth.
Tamaqua 103 100 4 - 9
NS Rebels 112 010 0 - 5