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Pirates rally past Palmerton

ALLENTOWN - Tuesday’s Colonial League semifinal playoff game between Palmerton and Palisades had all the expectations of a pitcher’s duel as it was when the teams met a few weeks ago.

In that contest, the Blue Bombers pulled out a 1-0 win with both clubs getting only one hit.

It seemed like it would be another low-scoring affair again as Palmerton kept the Pirates scoreless through three innings and held a slim 2-0 lead. But second-seeded Palisades exploded for five runs in the fourth, and added three in each of the fifth and sixth en route to an 11-2 victory and a trip to the league finals.

Ailish Kelleher led off the home fourth with a walk and advanced to second on a passed ball. Erin Wallbillich then singled her home.

Aubrey Boushell followed with a walk, and when Brooklynn Lucas’s bunt was misplayed the tying run scored. With runners now on second and third, a wild pitch brought in the go-ahead run. Catie Russo singled to plate a fourth run, and two more walks in the inning pushed the Pirate advantage to 5-2.

Altogether, Palisades sent 11 batters to the plate in what became a fatal fourth frame for the Bombers.

“We scored those two runs early and were knocking on the door for more, but they made some plays on us,” said Palmerton head coach Robert Hock. “And then came that really bad inning.”

Palisades’ pitcher Karlye Teman allowed two hits in the first two innings, striking out three. Her effort was matched by Carly Gaffney. The Bombers’ senior hurler gave up just one hit and fanned three in getting the first six outs of the game. That’s when it appeared that another duel was going to last until the later innings.

The Bombers broke a scoreless tie in the top of the third. With one out, Sydney Frantz reached second on an infield throwing error. Megan Matsko then pulled off a brilliant strategy. While the pitch was coming into the hitting zone, she faked a bunt to draw the infield up, and then slapped a single to center to score Frantz. A wild pitch sent Matsko to second.

Gaffney lifted a short pop fly to third that was dropped, scoring Matsko who kept running on the play to score all the way from second base. That, however, would be all the runs the Bombers would score in the game as Teman shut them down the rest of the way, allowing just two more hits.

The Pirates tacked on three spots in both the fifth and sixth innings. Both rallies resulted from only two hits, which were combined with five walks and five wild pitches.

“Carly struggled today,” said Hock about his pitcher. “She’s been bothered by a thumb issue, and didn’t have her usual command.”

There were 11 hits in the game - all singles. The Bombers (19-3) managed five hits by five different players. The Pirates (16-4) had six hits.

Matsko had an RBI for Palmerton. Ninth-place hitter Chesney Mosher was 2-for-3 with an RBI.

“You have to beat the best to be the best,” said Hock, “and today was not our day to do that.”

WEB GEMS … Two outstanding defensive plays were recorded early in the game by Palmerton. In the bottom of the first, Matsko speared a line drive at third and then dove head first to tag the bag and double up the runner to end the inning. In the third, with two runners on base, center fielder Frantz took a home run away by reaching over and collapsing into the flexible outfield fence.

WILD THINGS … The starting pitchers - who are known for their great control of the strike zone, - combined for 15 walks and 10 wild pitches.

UP NEXT … Palmerton now awaits the District 11 Class 3A tournament, which begins next week.

Palmerton 002 000 0 - 2 5 1

Palisades 000 533 x - 11 6 3

Gaffney, Barry (5) and Delgado; Teman and Hunter. W - Teman. L - Gaffney.

Palmerton baserunner Megan Matsko looks back to find the ball during Tuesday's Colonial League semifinal game. NANCY SCHOLZ/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS