Lehighton enjoys Tigers for breakfast
Lehighton's players showed up on time for a 10 a.m. start Saturday morning against Northwestern. But the Indians' bats didn't seem to wake up until after 11.
It took five innings for the Indians to solve Northwestern starter Sawyer Smith. When they finally did, it resulted in 10 runs over two innings and a 10-0 win
"Lately our bats come around a little late," said winning pitcher Dave Behler. "But we manage to score runs every game."
Behler and Smith were locked in a pitchers' duel early in the game. Through four innings the teams combined for just five hits and each team had each gotten just one runner past second base.
Lehighton (8-4) finally broke out in the fifth inning, taking advantage of a hit batter and walk to start the inning. JT Keer's bunt single loaded the bases with no outs.
Back to back one-out singles by Tyler Hill (2 for 4, 2 runs scored, 2 RBIs) and Derek Heffelfinger (2 for 4, 3 RBIs, 2 runs scored) each pushed a run across. Two more scored on Jacen Nalesnik's double to right field that made it 4-0.
Lehighton kept it going in the sixth. A walk and an error put runners at the corners. Hill singled in one run and two more came in on a Heffelfinger double for a 7-0 lead. Nalesnik (2 for 4, 5 RBIs) finished off the Tigers with a three-run homer that invoked the mercy rule.
Hill, the team's lead-off hitter, knew his team's offense would get rolling eventually.
"We've been slow starters all year," he said. "We're a late-inning team I'd say."
Behler threw all six innings for Lehighton, allowing four hits while striking out three and walking one. He shut down a Northwestern offense that was averaging an area best 9.8 runs per game.
"He's our senior," said Lehighton head coach Brian Polaha. "He's one of our captains. Every time he takes the ball he means business. He usually gives us a great outing."
"All I have to do every time I take the mound," Behler said, "is give up as little runs as possible and let our bats take care of it."
Behler saw error-free defense behind him and a key double play in the fourth inning. After Northwestern got runners on first and second with no outs, Heffelfinger took a hard grounder at third base, mad a tag on the lead runner then threw to second for the force.
Sawyer Smith matched Behler's effort for a while. He allowed just two hits while striking out two through four innings. On most days it would have good enough for his team's offense. But on Saturday morning the Tiger bats never got going.
Even down four runs heading into their half of the sixth, the Tigers (7-6) felt like they could get right back in the game. They came back from a 10-run deficit earlier this season and won the game by 10. But Saturday they couldn't solve Behler.
"You always feel that way because we have the potential to do that, to have a big inning," Len Smith said. "We just didn't find out bats.
"You have to give [Behler] credit. He kept us off balance a little bit. He pitched a good ball game."
It was Lehighton's fifth win in six games. The only loss in that stretch was a 5-4 setback to Pleasant Valley.
"We've been playing pretty good baseball the last six games now," Polaha said.
Northwestern 000 000 0 4 2
Lehighton 000 046 10 10 0
Smith, Wehr (6) and Boyd; Behler and Nalesnik. W Behler. L Smith. HR: L Nalesnik (sixth, two on)