Unfortunate circumstances are a part of any game.
For the Northern Valley legion baseball team, they saw one of those unfortunates play a part in their 5-4 defeat to North Parkland in eight innings on Sunday evening.
After the Chargers had tied it at four in the bottom of the sixth inning, a scoreless seventh inning set the game into extra innings. In that eighth inning, a Parkland grounder took a bad infield hop that bounced over the head of second baseman Brady Mengel, resulting in the game-winning RBI single for the Buffaloes.
"It's a little bit of bad luck," said manager Brad Rauch. "I just told them, I'd rather have them play a game where we make a horrible error at the end of the game and lose the game that way, than to lose the hop pretty much by Mother Nature. That's a tough loss."
The Chargers led 3-1 after three innings, and starting pitcher Alex Smith looked comfortable from the gate. After loading the bases in the second inning, Mengel tallied a RBI-single for the Chargers two batters later. Smith then came across home following a Buffalo throwing error to take a 2-1 lead. Kris Seiler then connected on a triple to deep left field in the third, and scored after an overthrow at third base.
Meanwhile, Smith allowed just a run on three hits and struck out three Buffaloes through three innings.
"Besides pitching, he could pretty much play anywhere for me," said Rauch. "When he's out there, I know I'm going to get a good, solid performance out of him. Every game that he's been on the mound for us this year has been a close game.
"Our defense has been our key this whole year. Our defense has been sound all year. So we're doing well there; I can't complain about our defense.
The Buffaloes, however, began to figure out Smith as the game progressed. Following a pop-up single that found grass in shallow center field, the Buffaloes tallied four more hits and scored three runs in the top of the fourth to go ahead 4-3.
Nick Hoffer replaced Smith in the sixth and pitched the final three innings, allowing a run on three hits.
"We played well though," said Rauch. "That's one of the better teams in the league. We've been playing very well, and we've had a lot of baseball lately. We're getting a lot of good innings out of our pitchers and we're getting good at-bats."
Five different Buffaloes took the mound, and none of them pitched more than two innings. Walter Roland pitched the final two innings, and kept the Chargers hitless and recorded four strikeouts.
"When you see one guy for a whole game, by the fourth or fifth inning you kind of get in a groove, you know what he's pitching, [and] you kind of know his tendencies and what he's going to start you off with," said Rauch. "By seeing a different guy every inning, it does throw you off a little bit."
The loss snaps the Chargers' four-game winning streak that stretched over the previous four days, including a double-header against Coplay (3-2) and South Parkland (7-3) on Saturday.
They'll continue the season with games on both Monday and Tuesday. The Chargers will face Emmaus on Monday, before a rematch against North Parkland on Tuesday.
No. Parkland 010 300 01 - 5 11 4
Northern Vy. 021 001 00 - 4 6 1
Duff, Kern (2), Mosser (4), Kosciolek (6), Roland (7), and Jones; Smith, Hoffer (6), and C. Breidinger. W - Roland, L - Hoffer. HR - North Parkland - Kosciolek (NP).