Bears get by Indians
Pleasant Valley's Jordan Caffrey slides into third base as Lehighton's Brady Niehoff holds up his hands to stop the throw. Caffrey eventually scored the first run for the Bears. MIKE FEIFEL/TIMES NEWS
On the first two occasions Pleasant Valley loaded the bases, the Bears' came away empty handed. The third time proved to be the charm.
Having previously filled the bases in both the second and sixth innings, Pleasant Valley was unable to push across any runs in its Mountain Valley Conference game against Lehighton. In fact, the Bears left a total of 13 men on base in the contest.
But in the bottom of the seventh, Pleasant Valley's Austin Yoffredo came up with the bags full once again and this time made the most of the opportunity. Yoffredo hit a ball to the Indians' Brady Niehoff, which the sophomore misplayed, allowing Howie Stevens to score, giving the Bears' a 3-2 win.
The game was a back-and-forth affair throughout, with Pleasant Valley (12-4, 8-2) jumping out to an early 1-0 lead in the first on a James Shank RBI single.
Lehighton (9-7, 5-5) got two runs in the fifth on a Jordan Knappenberger RBI that was set in motion when the Indians' executed a hit-and-run to perfection. Pleasant Valley shortstop Dan Hrbek made an error on the next play, allowing Lehighton's Josh Kern to score, which gave Lehighton a 2-1 advantage.
The Bears' answered in the bottom half, as Pleasant Valley starter Howie Stevens smoked a one-out RBI single, scoring Jordan Caffrey and knotting the game at two.
Lehighton had another opportunity in the sixth, with runners at first and third, but was unable to cash-in, as Kern grounded out the end the inning. Hrbek came on in relief in the seventh and made quick work of the Indians', retiring the side in order. Lehighton left a total of 11 men on base in the game.
The win is certainly a nice bounce-back for Pleasant Valley, after the team lost to Pocono Mountain West in MVC play earlier in the week.
"We're very fortunate, that's the bottom line," Pleasant Valley coach Charlie Inserra said afterwards. "We had numerous scoring opportunities and really didn't cash in on any of them. The game was there for the taking a couple of times."
Inserra was pleased with the resiliency of his squad, overcoming a late deficit and remaining focused until the last out.
"Obviously, if you're going to be a good team and win a lot of games, you're not always going to be at your best," Inserra said of his team's resolve. "We have run into a bit of a tough stretch here, but we battled.
"We showed some resiliency. When they (Lehighton) went up 2-1, it was very important to come back and tie the game. That was a big point in the game."
The win no doubt gives the Bears' momentum with only a few weeks left in the season.
"Right now, you come down to the last two weeks, finishing up the league schedule, and people start to talk about seeding for the conference tournament and the district tournament," said Inserra. "It comes down to, 'did you get the W or not?' A W's a W here.
"We have four games left and they're tough. We're talking about four of the best teams in the district and we have our work cut out for us. We're just going to take it one at a time."
Lehighton, on the other hand, came in on a high note after defeating East Stroudsburg South earlier in the week. The result in this contest certainly wasn't what the team was hoping for, but interim coach Matt Dierolf knows his squad has the makeup to bounce-back for a late season surge.
"The team battled and they showed a lot of resiliency today," Dierolf said. "That's the group of ballplayers that are on that bus and they're going to battle every time they get off the bus and play the game.
"It shows a lot for their character for the way they play the game."
Lehighton 000 020 0 - 2 8 2
Pleasant Vy 100 010 1 - 3 7 1
David, Rex (5), J. Farano (6) and Nalesnik; Stevens, Hrbek (7) and Shank. WP - Hrbek. LP - J. Farano.