LEGION: Coplay edges Northern Valley
The name across Tyler Svetik's jersey reads Coplay but on Friday night you couldn't blame the right-handed hurler if he was thinking about a different team.
Pitching against Northern Valley, a club made up mostly of Northern Lehigh and Northwestern High School players, the future Palmerton senior admitted that a victory meant more than just improving his present club's position in the Lehigh Valley Legion playoffs.
"Yeah, this means a lot," said Svetik, who went the distance in a 4-3 win Friday night. "These guys usually beat us at Palmerton so it's nice to get a win against them.
"I got ahead in the count early and was able to use my curveball effectively ... This feels good right now. We're sitting in a good position. We just want to come out the next time we play and keep things rolling."
Svetik allowed just six hits, three of them infield singles, in his 110-pitch effort. He only walked one while striking out seven.
"He kept us off balanced," said Northern Valley mentor Brad Rauch. "The name of the game if you're a pitcher is to keep your opponent off balanced and that's what he did to us.
"We also made mistakes, mistakes that we haven't made all year. We got out of our game. We win games by playing Northern Valley baseball and we let one slip away today. Now we have to fight back."
Northern Valley was forced to fight back most of the contest on Friday.
After falling behind 1-0 and 3-2, the Chargers were able to pull even. But when Coplay took its third lead of the contest with a run in the top of the seventh Svetik made it stand up.
Ironically, it was Svetik's high school teammate that started the rally in the final frame.
Christian Marcin singled with one out and promptly stole second. The Blue Bomber graduate moved to third on an infield single and scored the go-ahead run on Tanner Madouse's bunt single.
"I've been in a slump but I knew that last at-bat was big," said Marcin. "I was down in the count but he came with a fastball. I was able to eye it up and hit it up the middle. It was just a bunt for a hit, but as soon as I saw him squaring I started shuffling toward home. The ball was toward the first base line and I went.
"I know almost every kid on the other team so being able to beat them in the playoffs feels pretty good. The Coplay kids on this team don't really know we're rivals with them and why this feels really good."
Northern Valley had to feel good in the home fifth when it went ahead for the first time. Payton Bachman reached on an error, moved to second on Jake Kern's basehit and to third on a walk to Tyler Hill. A wild pitch allowed the Northwestern product to race home for a 2-1 advantage.
That score didn't last long, though, as Mike Makara's two-run homer in the sixth put Coplay in front again.
The Chargers forced another tie in the home sixth when Kyle Schomp tripled to deep right and scored when Andrew Hoch stole second and the ball got away. A failed delayed steal, however, took away an opportunity for the host team to push across a go-ahead run.
"That was something we didn't do all year and something I don't like to do as a coach and I kind of went with it," said Rauch, whose team will host a loser's bracket contest today at 5:30 p.m. "It bit us there. I take responsibility for that. To make that kind of mitsake at that time hurts."
Kern started on the hill for Northern Valley and went five-plus innings. The Nolehi grad struck out eight but also walked five.
Ty Cunningham had a single and run scored for the hosts while Zach Palansky added an RBI single.
Coplay 001 002 1 - 4 6 4
No.Valley 000 111 0 - 3 6 2
Svetik and Fiouris; Kern, Harris (6) and Hoch, M. Williams (7). W - Svetik. L - Harris. HR: Coplay - Makara (6th, one on).