Lehighton opens with convincing win
RON GOWER/TIMES NEWS Kyle Hunter throws a pitch to a Coplay batter during last night's Lehigh Valley Legion playoff win.
It's not always the long ball which carry a baseball team to victory.
Lehighton's Legion baseball team didn't shower the outfield with balls in its game last night. It used patience at the plate and got key hits when needed to easily defeat Coplay, 7-1, in a game played at Lehighton Area High School.
The game was the opener in the Lehigh Valley Legion League playoffs. It's a double-elimination playoff tournament, so both Lehighton and Coplay remain alive in the championship quest.
Lehighton now travels to Parkland High School for a 5:45 matchup against South Parkland .
It wasn't only the batting that was responsible for such a good Lehighton showing. There also was some top-notch pitching by Lehighton's Kyle Hunter.
The lanky right-hander tossed for six innings, giving up six runs, striking out seven and walking only three. He seemed unphased by the 90-plus degree heat and did a great job of mixing up his pitches.
Acting Lehighton manager Derick Reis said he feels having Hunter on the mound made the difference.
"Any time a pitcher holds a team to one run, there's a good chance they'll win," he said. "It was a typical Hunter game. He had good velocity on his fast ball and his curve ball had good break."
Lehighton began the game very tentative with a one-two-three first inning. In the second, though, the Carbon County squad rallied for five runs, two of them on a steaming single by Kyle McAvoy.
McAvoy had a great night at the plate, going three-for-four. In the fourth, he hit a double for what was the only extra-base hit in the ball game.
"McAvoy's been the picture of consistencey for us," Reis remarked. "He hits and there's nothing flashing about what he does."
For Coplay, there were no extra base hits. All seven of the team's hits were singles.
Admittedly the visitors didn't do much to help themselves.
Starting pitcher Pat Bet had trouble adjusting to the mound and even asked for additional raking of the area. In the five-run Lehighton second, he hit two batters, walked three others, gave up two hits and threw a wild pitch. Bet also walked seven.
Twice Lehighton left the bases filled, including in the fifth inning.
Catcher Jacen Nalesnik was hit by a pitch, then moved to second when Greg Pecha walked. Pat Janecki hit a single and Nalesnik scored on an error by the catcher. Dan Russo loaded the bases when he walked, then Ryan Porambo was hit by a pitch and Lehighton led, 2-0.
Then came McAvoy with his big hit.
Lehighton scored again in the fourth and fifth innings.
In the fourth, McAvoy whacked his double, moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Blasko, and ran home on a passed-ball.
In the fifth, with two outs, Porambo got a single, went to third on a McAvoy single, and scored on a single by Blasko, who incidentally is Lehighton's lone entry on the Lehigh Valley Legion All-Star Team.
Coplay scored its only run in the fifth thanks to a single by Aaron Cook and a couple of walks. Den Brooks-Well hit a single to let Cook score, but a second batter tried to stretch a run and was picked off on a great toss by Porambo from left field to home for the final out of the inning.
During the regular season, Lehighton (16-7) and Coplay (14-8) split their two meetings.
Coplay 000 010 0 - 1 7 2
Lehighton 050 110 x - 7 8 0
Bet, Marcin (6) and Amaike. Hunter, Harris (7) and Nalesnik. WP - Hunter. LP - Bet.