Indians fall to ES South
Ron Gower/TIMES NEWS Lehighton's Jacen Nalesnik swings at a pitch Wednesday against ES South.
The two contests between Lehighton and East Stroudsburg South during the regular season were competitive ball games to say the least. The average margin of victory in both games was just 1.5 runs, so it was expected that Thursday's play-in game for the Mountain Valley Conference playoffs would be another classic.
But stagnant situational hitting from the Indians (14-7, 7-6), along with a three run second inning from the Cavaliers, gave East Stroudsburg South the 4-1 MVC tournament win.
Neither team scored in the first, but in the second things started to swing the Cavaliers way. The Cavs had three hits and came through with three RBIs in the inning to get out to an early 3-0 lead.
"They got the big hits when they needed them, which was kind-of the opposite of how we hit today," said Lehighton head coach Brian Polaha. "We made some mistakes there in the second that put them in scoring position a couple of times and they took advantage."
The two mistakes Lehighton made during the afternoon turned out to be costly. The First coming in the second inning when the Cavs Stephen Grober hit a chopper back to the Indians pitcher AJ Weinrich. The throw to first was off target and Grober moved on to second, which got the ball rolling for the East Stroudsburg offense.
Another throwing error in the third on a pick off attempt to first also moved an East Stroudsburg runner into scoring position, eventually turning into another run for the Cavaliers.
"Our mistakes really hurt us today," said Polaha. "Overall, I was happy with the way we played defense, but in these type of games mistakes like we had today can decide the outcome."
Cavaliers pitcher Zack Werner was also on his game. Werner struck out three and gave up just one earned run in five innings of work.
"We knew coming in to this game that we were going to have earn everything at that plate," said Polaha. "Werner throws a lot of strikes and has good command. He pitched 60 innings this year and only walked 12 batters, so you know the kid can pitch."
The Lehighton hitting woes have been plaguing the ball club over the last four games and it's something the Indians certainly have to fix before heading into District 11 post season play.
"I'm a little concerned with how were hitting right now," said Polaha. "We definitely have to improve in that area, but we have a good team and a bunch of resilient kids so I think we'll be just fine."
ES South 031 000 0 4 5 2
Lehighton 000 100 0 1 5 2
Zack Werner, Dan Alicea (6) and Stephen Grober; A.J. Weinrich, David Parker (7) Jacen Nalesnik; W Werner L Weinrich