SAYLORSBURG - High school baseball teams have seven innings to do whatever it takes to win a game.
Unfortunately for the Birches, it only took one bad inning to lose it for them.
Palmer Township scored all but one of its runs in the second inning and went on to defeat the Birches, 7-4 in NORCO Legion baseball action. Palmer scored six runs on six this and two errors in the second and used the big inning to preserve the road victory.
"(Palmer) really didn't hit the ball hard," said Birches' manager Allen Faust on the second inning. "They just hit them in the holes and hit them at the right time. There was nothing we could really do about it.
"I thought we played a good game other than that one inning. We have been playing good baseball all summer long. We were 6-2 up until this point and I expect us to bounce back."
All six of Palmer's second-inning runs scored with two outs. After consecutive singles put runners on first and second, Birches' starter Russell Baldino recorded two straight outs via a sacrifice bunt and a strikeout. However, Baldino couldn't fully escape the jam as the next five hitters reached base on either a single or an error. Three of the runs were unearned.
Still, Baldino pulled it together and allowed just one run on six hits the rest of the way. He sat down Palmer in order in the fifth and sixth innings before allowing a double and a run-scoring single in the seventh. He ended up striking out eight and walking none in seven innings of work.
"Russell has been a solid pitcher all year long," said Faust. "Not only for us, but for Pleasant Valley as well. He was 2-0 coming into today. I didn't pull him because I knew he would turn it around and bounce back."
The Birches also picked up all four of its runs in one inning. The team sent nine batters to the dish in the fourth and received some help from Palmer starter Colin Fagan. Fagan plunked Tom Agosta to load the bases and followed with another hit-batsman on Baldino to push across the first run.
John Guadagna then hit a sacrifice fly to center to plate Travis Raseley. Agosta later scored on a passed ball before Baldino came home on an error. It was the only inning the Birches picked up more than two hits.
"We didn't hit the ball like we have been hitting," said Faust, whose team stranded nine runners on base. "We have been averaging nine or ten hits a game. Tonight we just didn't hit the ball."
Derrik Walling (2-for-4), Joe Wiesmeth (2-for-4) and Raseley (2-for-3) were the only locals with multiple hits. Walling and Wiesmeth each had doubles.
The Birches (6-3) have a busy week, as the team will play Bethlehem Jeff's (Tuesday), The Wanderers (Wednesday), Freemansburg (Friday) and Lehigh West Bethlehem (Saturday) before Sunday.
Palmer 060 000 1 - 7 13 1
Birches 000 400 0 - 4 8 2
Fagan, Lawson (5) and Cooley; Baldino and Wiesmeth. W - Fagan. L - Baldino. S - Lawson.