Earlier in the week, the Lehighton baseball team suffered an upset loss to East Stroudsburg North. While they rebounded well with a win against ES South, the Indians appeared to be on the verge of another upset loss Saturday.
Down a run in the bottom of the sixth inning Darren Wanamaker's grand slam, however, sparked a six-run inning that propelled the Indians to an 11-6 victory over Northern Lehigh in non-league action.
The game teetered back and forth with Northern Lehigh (3-6) giving the Indians all they could handle. The Bulldogs' hopes for an upset were dashed, though, with one swing of the bat.
With the score 6-5, James Farano reached on an errant Nolehi throw on a grounder to short. Anthony Farole and leadoff hitter Steve Shanton drew walks to load the bases with Wanamaker approaching the box.
"We were in good position with the bases loaded and no one out," Lehighton head coach Brian Polaha said. "I was just hoping he could put a good swing on something, puts the ball in play and drive in a run."
Wanamaker was hoping as well. His early game resume featured a half-swing, bloop single in the third inning that drove in Farole to tie the game 2-2.
"My first two at-bats were not strong at all. I wasn't making solid contact," Wanamaker said. "I honestly thought it was going to be caught, it wasn't hit hard at all."
With the urging of his coaches, Wanamaker took his time to see Bulldog reliever Kyle Wasilkowski's pitches, drawing a full count.
"He gave me an inside fastball and I pulled it." Wanamaker said, "It felt really good coming off the bat."
The homer gave the Indians a 9-6 lead. Two batters later AJ Weinrich (2-for-4, 2RBI) doubled in Jacen Nalesnik and the game was put out of reach.
"We're a young inexperienced team," Northern Lehigh Coach Erv Prutzman said. "We only have three kids back from last year's team. We're battling. The last three games we were capable of winning them, unfortunately we came up on the short end. There is one inning where we just fall apart. "
The Bulldogs had a two-run lead against Palmerton and fell short. On Friday against Palisades, they gave up seven runs in the first inning and fell short 9-5.
Nolehi's Kris Seiler went 3-for-3 including a two-run homer off Indian starter Anthony Rossino to put the Bulldogs up 4-3. Joel Seyler added three hits and two RBIs for the Bulldogs.
Every time the Bulldogs made a move the Indians countered. The Bulldogs took leads into the bottom half of four innings only to be tied or behind entering the next frame.
"Ever since I've been here I have just loved it. We play till the final out," Polaha said. "I think eight of our nine wins are come-from-behind."
Weinrich relieved Rossino, who was making his first high school start, and kept the Bulldogs off the base paths to grab the win.
Wanamaker (3-for-4) scored three runs to go with his five RBIs. Weinrich and Shanton also had two hits for Lehighton (9-1).
"I'm glad we're 9-1," Wanamaker said. "We had a tough loss to North and I am glad we are back on track."
"It's a big win. It finishes off a week where started off a little rocky," Polaha said. "We were kind of sluggish but our bats woke up in time for us to get another come-from behind win.
Both teams face league foes this afternoon. Lehighton travels to Pleasant Valley while the Bulldogs try to regroup at home against Saucon Valley.
For Northern Lehigh, the fight continues.
"I am going to tell them what they accomplished," Prutzman said. "They almost beat a team that only has one loss. It's a positive thing that we played as well as we did against a better team."
No. Lehigh 002 211 1 – 7 12 2
Lehighton 003 116 x – 11 11 1
Pierce, Wasilkowski(5), Hallman(6), and Williams, Bender(5); Rossino, Weinrich, and Nalesnik. W – Weinrich. L – Wasilkowski. HR : NL - Seiler (4th,one on); L - Wannamaker (6th, three on).