No. Valley defeats Salisbury
nancy scholz/times news Northern Valley's Zach Palansky slides safely into third base.
Looking to improve upon its playoff seeding with the Lehigh Valley Legion baseball playoffs just around the corner, Northern Valley took care of business on Saturday night with an 11-5 victory over Salisbury.
Going into the game, the Chargers were tied with Fullerton for third place in the standings at 8-7, with Lower Mac holding down the second seed at 8-6.
But with a Lower Mac loss to West Allentown on Saturday, the Chargers have moved up into the number two spot and control their own destiny from here on out in the playoffs.
North Parkland holds down the league's number one seed, but if Northern Valley wins out, they'll be the number two seed come playoff time.
"It was a big win for us because it clinched us getting into the playoffs," said assistant coach Benjamin Breidinger. "So that's the goal we've had from the beginning of the season."
It took the Chargers a little longer then they expected to find their groove offensively, however.
After being held hitless and to just one run through the game's first three innings against Salisbury pitcher Spencer Kuhns, the Chargers exploded for a five-run fourth inning to retake the lead for good after trailing 2-1 after the top of the fourth.
"He dominated us through the first three," said pitcher Zachary Palansky. "Then we just turned it on, started hitting, linked them together and scored some runs."
Palansky helped out his own cause on the mound. He led off the fifth inning stampede with a single to center field, and advanced all the way to third base on a Salisbury error in the outfield. The next batter, Cody Hallman, reached base on another Salisbury error in which the ball was lost in the sun, and Palansky came across home to tie the game at 2-2.
Tyler Harris then tripled to deep right center field that scored Hallman, and Harris scored during the next plate appearance when Sawyer Smith lined a single to center field, making it 4-2 Northern Valley.
Two more runs came across home plate in the inning, as Smith and Payton Bachman each scored a run to make it 6-2 after four innings.
"The players feel like they can just kind of turn it on whenever," said Breidinger. "And that's one thing frankly we've struggled with all year, is starting right from the beginning. We feel like baseball is a sprint. When the ump says play ball in the first inning you got to be sprinting [and] not jogging. You can't just flip the switch."
The Falcons responded with three more runs in the fifth inning to close to within one run, but the Chargers offense scored two more runs in the bottom half of the inning and three more in the sixth to seal the victory.
"I said this to the kids after the game - 'Hey lets build on this now, lets try to win out our last two regular season games and really have some momentum going into the playoffs'," said Breidinger. "This is huge for us. And we hit the ball as well or better than we have all season today."
Palansky, who had a 0.72 ERA prior to Saturday's game against the Falcons, will tell you himself this wasn't his best performance on the mound. But the combination of his pitching and offensive output on Saturday was on full display.
He pitched a complete game, allowing four earned runs on six hits against the Falcons. He added six strikeouts and walked three batters in the win.
Palansky also went 3-for-4, scored three runs, and added one RBI.
The Chargers will close out the season with games against Coplay on Thursday and West Allentown on Saturday, with the mentality of holding onto the league's two seed for the postseason.
"If we can win out the rest of the season I think we'll take that head of steam into the playoffs," said Palansky. "Hopefully do some damage in the playoffs."