Indians crush NL
mike feifel/times news Northern Lehigh catcher Austin Sodl forces out Lehighton's Josh Kern at home.
One day after being shut out by Stroudsburg, the Lehighton baseball team rediscovered its offense and made Northern Lehigh pay the price.
The Indians hammered the Bulldogs 18-1 Saturday afternoon in non-league play and looked very much like the club that went to the District 11 Class AAA title game last year.
Northern Lehigh (0-5) had a few hard hit balls in the early going off Lehighton starter Thacher David, with Tyler Dibilio and Travis Nelmes each smoking doubles to left in the first inning, which led to the Bulldogs only run of the contest. Those would also be the only hits the Bulldogs would get the rest of the way, as David and reliever Tyler Crum held Northern Lehigh hitless over the final three innings.
The Indians exploded for eight runs in the second inning to break a one-all tie, led by Jacen Nalesnik's two-run double. Nalesnik finished with six RBIs and two hits in the contest.
Josh Kern was 4-for-4 with four RBIs for the Lehighton while Jordan Knappenberger went 3-for-4 with two RBIs and a home run.
Indians' coach Brian Polaha was pleased that his team was able to bounce-back after a tough loss and earn such a decisive victory.
"We went up to Stroudsburg and got hammered, basically," Polaha said. "They took it to us pretty good. But we're a young team so I expect to take some lumps along the way.
"The beauty of high school baseball is that that's yesterday and in less than 24 hours we've already played another game and we get to get after it. It's a good non-conference win."
The win is certainly a boost for Lehighton (3-2) as the team heads into the heart of its Mountain Valley Conference schedule, with games against East Stroudsburg South and East Stroudsburg North on the horizon.
"My goals will never change," Polaha said. "I want us to make the MVC playoffs; I want us to qualify for districts, obviously and that's why you play.
"You play to win championships and you play to win postseason games. Games that if we win, we advance; if we lose, we go home. That's where you want to be."
The season is still young, but Polaha thinks his team is going in the right direction.
"We just need to keep getting better offensively," Polaha said. "If our hitting keeps improving, I think we'll be where we want to be."
While Northern Lehigh may seem further away than Lehighton from being where they want to be, coach Erv Prutzman points to one key factor as the reason why.
"One word: inexperience," said Prutzman. "I've been coaching for 38 years and this is the most inexperienced team we've ever had.
"We lost seven starters from last year's team and we have one returning pitcher, so that's quite an uphill battle."
Prutzman noted the previous night's game against Pen Argyl, in which the Bulldogs lost 11-5, as another example of how the team has struggled in certain situations this year.
"Last night, we were leading going into the sixth inning and we gave up six runs there," Prutzman said. "This is an indication of what inexperience will do, especially when you get behind and you try to come back and just try to do more than you're capable of doing. Inexperience has shown up in every game that we've played this year."
While the results may not be what Prutzman is accustomed to, he knows the team has the right ingredients to be successful in the future.
Lehighton 183 6 - 18 17 2
No. Lehigh 100 0 - 1 2 6
David, Crum (4) and Nalesnik; Dailey, Hamm (2), Klass (3), Steele (4) and Sodl, Landis (5). WP - David. LP - Dailey. HR; Lehighton - Knappenberger.