Northern Vy. rallies past Lehighton 11-8
NANCY SCHOLZ/Special to THE TIMES NEWS Lehighton's Kyle McAvoy shows the ball to the umpire as Northern Valley's Colton Breininger is called safe.
Entering the bottom of the third inning on Tuesday night, the Northern Valley legion team trailed Lehighton 8-3 and looked lost out on the field.
One half-inning and one stern talking-to by coach Jim Kester later, Northern Valley led by two runs and was on its way to an 11-8 win at Northwestern High School.
"Started off the game real frustrated, wondering what the heck we are doing. We're flat, we're not hitting the ball, we're not playing defense well," winning pitcher Nate Kester said. "Once my dad came out, to just yell at us and pump us again, it just flipped right over. We started making plays."
Northern Valley (14-7) put together eight hits and seven runs in the third inning to take a 10-8 lead and set up its sixth straight victory.
Jake Kern hit a two-run triple, Adam Wehr smashed a solo homer and Kyle Creyer, Billy Moyer and Colton Breininger all added RBI singles in the third inning.
"It was amazing how the flow of the game changed. The first two innings we were just flat as we can be and you just can't do that against a team like Lehighton because they're just so strong," Jim Kester said. "We came alive in the third inning when we got the bats rolling and that was it."
The offensive explosion in the third also settled down Northern Valley's pitching.
After allowing eight runs, seven hits and three walks through his first three innings, Kester pitched two no-hit frames to finish his outing.
"In the beginning, I had a hard time finding my arm slot and getting things right," Nate Kester said. "But by the end of it, I was finally getting it down again and started to feel good."
Gio Fricchione then worked out of jams in both the sixth and seventh innings to secure the win for Northern Valley.
Lehighton (15-7) starter Ryan Blasko lasted just 2 innings, surrendering 10 runs on nine hits.
"RB's (Blasko's) a guy who's usually working down in the zone. He wasn't down in the zone today," Lehighton coach Derick Reis said. "Everything was up and they squared a lot of balls up on him."
The loss snapped Lehighton's three-game win streak and cost it a chance at the Lehigh Valley Legion regular season championship.
But Reis still knows his team has plenty to play for with the playoffs starting next week.
"We've been pretty hot lately. It would have been nice to see it carry through today," Reis said. "But if we're going to have a bad game, today was the day to get it out of our system, rather than blow one of the games in the tournament."
Lehighton center fielder Dan Russo went 3-for-4 with three RBIs, coming up a home run short of the cycle. Blasko was on base all four of his plate appearances with an RBI double in Lehighton's three-run second inning.
Breininger and Kern each recorded a triple and a single and scored two runs for Northern Valley. Kester, Wehr and Moyer each added two hits for the home team.
Northern Valley has now racked up double-digit run totals in five of its last six games. With only one game remaining at Lower Macungie on Thursday, the squad made up of former and current Northwestern and Northern Lehigh players sits in good position heading into the playoffs.
"We've just been playing together well as a team," Kern said. "We've been meshing together with the guys we didn't really know and just playing baseball like we know we can."
Lehighton 233 000 0 - 8 11 2
No. Valley 307 100 x - 11 12 3
Kester, Fricchione (6) and Wehr; Blasko, Hunter (3) and Pecha. W - Kester. L - Blasko. HR: NV - Wehr (3rd, none on).