Palmerton denied trip to D-11 finals
NEW HOPE — If a different part of New Hope-Solebury’s lineup had been at the plate for the eighth inning Saturday, things might have ended differently.
But Palmerton pitcher Zach Silfies had to get through the heart of the Lions order in the extra frame and the home team took advantage.
Silfies walked Lions lead-off hitter Michael Lehman, struck out the next batter and then, with Lehman at second base, intentionally walked Derek Smith, who was 3-for-3 with a two-run home run.
Clean-up hitter John Mangan made the Bombers pay. He singled to left to drive home the winning run, giving his team an 8-7 win in the District 1/11 Class 3A semifinal.
“The way our lineup is, it’s really tough to pitch around them,” said Lions head coach Tony Vlahovic. “Our first six guys are really solid.”
The top five hitters in New Hope’s batting order accounted for eight hits, all eight RBIs and all eight runs scored.
Mangan, who is headed to Rochester on a football scholarship, went 3-for-4 with four RBIs in the win.
“He’s a very bright kid with a high baseball IQ,” said Vlahovic. “He’s been solid all year ... He’s just one of those kids that’s a gamer.”
The Blue Bombers (13-9) took their first lead of the game in the sixth inning. They fell behind 2-0 in the first, but tied the score three times before finally going ahead when Blake Eitner led off the sixth with a single and eventually scored on a wild pitch for a 7-6 lead.
But the Lions responded with a run in the sixth and held off the Bombers in the next two innings to set up Mangan’s walk-off heroics in the eighth.
“We played tough,” said Bomber head coach Brian Taschler. “We got timely hits and then we didn’t get some timely hits.
“We played one helluva team there. They’re well-coached and a good bunch of kids. They put the ball in play. One of our weaknesses today was we didn’t put the ball in play when we should have.”
The Lions’ Cam Mertz singled with one out in the first and Smith followed with a homer for a 2-0 lead.
In the second, the Bombers’ Eitner singled home Tyler Roe, who had walked and moved to second on a Devyn Rehrig single. Ben Serfass scored on a Silfies single in the third to tie the game at 2-2.
The Lions responded by scoring a pair of runs on RBI singles from Mangan and Jack Gawason to take a 4-2 lead before Palmerton starter Ryan King worked his way out of the inning.
The Bombers cut the gap to 4-3 when Eric Nothstein singled and scored on a hit by Eitner. New Hope tacked on two more runs in the fourth, both driven in by Mangan’s line-drive single, for a 6-3 advantage.
Palmerton came back with three runs in the fifth, as King and Nothstein both delivered RBI hits.
Silfies relieved King — who threw 88 pitches in four innings. Silfies allowed one hit in his first inning as his team took its first lead in the sixth. It was the walk Silfies gave up to start the sixth that came back to hurt.
Mertz, who received that walk, eventually came home on a two-out single by Mangan to tie the game.
“It was a heavyweight fight from both teams,” said Vlahovic. “Both teams kept coming at each other.”
While he wasn’t happy with the result, Taschler was pleased with the effort.
“We have a great bunch of players on this team and a lot of them knew it was their last game and they gave everything they had,” he said. “They left everything on the field.”
The Bombers, who hadn’t played since a May 11 loss in the league quarterfinals, reached both postseason tournaments, but went 0-2 in those games.
“It was a good season, but we didn’t win any playoff games so I’m not feeling real good about that,” said Taschler.
BIG HITTERS ... Lehman had two hits for the Lions, while Mertz reached base four times and scored all four times. For the Bombers, Nothstein and Eitner each had two hits.
NORTHBOUND ... New Hope-Solebury (17-4) will be at Coca-Cola Park today to take on Notre Dame in the title game at 4:30 p.m.
UNFAMILIAR FOES ... Asked if he scouted the Lions, Taschler responded, “We knew nothing about them. But I do now, and they’re a good team.”
Palmerton 011 131 00 - 7 7 0
New Hope-S 202 201 01 - 8 10 1
King, Silfies (5) and Burnett; Dougherty, Smith (3), Shiller (8) and Mangan. W - Shiller. L - Silfies. HR: NH - Smith (1st, one on).