Lehighton holds on to down No. Lehigh
Lehighton’s Michael Bozilesky gets caught in a rundown between Northern Lehigh’s Preston Bauer, left, and Luke Eitner. RON GOWER/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS
The Northern Lehigh and Lehighton baseball programs have seen their share of ups and downs this season. The Indians and Bulldogs have battled with their opponents in several outings, only to come up short in the late stages in several of their losses.
Those narrow defeats have crept into their record books and made things difficult. When the two sides squared off Wednesday, both were looking to reverse their fortunes.
After leaping out to an early lead, Lehighton held off Northern Lehigh for an 8-6 non-league victory.
Three runs in the top of both the first and second frames gave the Tribe a 6-0 lead. The Bulldogs rallied, ripping off five runs in the bottom of the second to make it a one-run game.
But Lehighton buckled down, allowing just one run over the final five innings to record its third win of the season.
“I have to give credit to our kids,” Indians’ head coach Matt Dierolf said afterward. “All season long, they’ve been battling and we’ve been hanging tight with teams in some pretty close games. Today we got one, and that’s a credit to our players, because at 2-8, it’s easy to go into a game and not be sure what you’re playing for.”
Lehighton pounded out 14 hits and benefitted from some untimely errors to push across enough run support for starting pitcher, Chris Whiteman, who recorded seven strikeouts and allowed just three walks in five innings to earn the win.
“It was nice to have that early cushion, and then just go out there and fire strikes and have my defense behind me,” Whiteman said. “I felt comfortable out there today.”
In the first, four Tribe hits and two Bulldog miscues saw the scoreboard light up three times. In the second, Mason Barndt singled, Logan Pagotto reached on an error and Zach Crum singled to load the bases.
Senior Michael Bozilesky then singled to center for an RBI to pad to the Tribe’s lead. Randy Bongiorno followed with a two-RBI single to make it 6-0.
“It feels good because the last couple days, we’ve been really struggling, and the last two games, we played against some tough teams, but we just came up short,” Bozilesky said. “So it was nice to come out, get the bats going and get the early lead.”
A double play ended the Indian charge, and the Bulldogs then went to work on their deficit.
“Any time your team can get out to an early lead, it just gives you that extra boost of confidence,” Dierolf said. “That’s really what carried us today.”
A lead-off double to left-center by Chase Misera jump-started Northern Lehigh’s comeback. Luke Eitner then teed up a RBI-single to left to light up his team’s side of the scoreboard. An AJ Berger walk and a bunt single by Daulton Lorrah kept the momentum going, and Josh Kistler smacked a two-RBI double to cut the Indian lead in half (6-3). Lorrah scored on a wild pitch and then Preston Bauer added an RBI-single to make it 6-5 after two innings of play.
In the top of the third, Barndt added some insurance with a RBI-double to center, before both teams’ pitchers did some work.
“I think it was a very competitive game, and I think we’re very evenly-matched,” Northern Lehigh head coach Greg King said. “We’re not just similar record-wise, but our rosters are alike with having a mix of older kids with some younger. But getting behind early really hurt us.”
With the Tribe leading 7-5, the Bulldogs made it closer in the bottom of the fifth, as Misera led off with a double, and eventually scored on a sacrifice RBI by Scott Schaeffer to make it a one run game.
Bozilesky padded the Indians’ lead in the top of the seventh with an RBI single to score Pagotto.
TRIBE CHIEFS ... There were plenty of standouts for the Tribe, but Whiteman’s mound win sticks out, along with the three Bs - Bozilesky (2-for-4, two RBIs, run scored), Randy Bongiorno (3-for-4, 4 RBIs), and Barndt (3-for-5, RBI, two runs).
‘DAWG POUNDERS ... Preston Bauer had a strong game for Nolehi, going 2-for-4 with a RBI, Misera had a pair of doubles and scored once, while Josh Kistler was 1-for-3 with a run and two RBIs.
Lehighton 331 000 1 - 8 14 1
No. Lehigh 050 010 0 - 6 7 4
Whiteman, Wentz (6) and Wentz, Whiteman (6); Berger, Misera (3), Bauer (4) and Rudolph. W - Whiteman, L - Berger.