Palmerton eliminated by Salisbury
Palmerton’s Amanda Lalik swings at a pitch while her teammates watch from the dugout. RON GOWER/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS
For nine innings on Thursday, Palmerton’s Lexi Merkel and Salisbury’s Emily Silberman engaged in an unrelenting pitcher’s duel.
Both hurlers had allowed just one run up to that point.
In the top of the 10th, however, Silberman received some help from her younger sister.
Freshman Marcie Silberman connected for a two-run homer, her second fence-clearing hit of the game, to enable the Falcons to escape with a 3-1 victory in the District 11 Class 3A semifinals.
The win lifts Salisbury into Tuesday’s championship game and eliminates the Blue Bombers from postseason play.
Palmerton, champions of the Colonial League, had a hard time hitting the elder Silberman. The Bombers had only three hits in the contest and worked just one walk.
“It was a pitchers’ duel,” Falcons head coach Jeff Appleman said. “It was a real nice, clean game. It was fun, especially of course, when you’re the winning side.”
Despite the loss, Merkel had one of her best games of the season. She gave up just five hits — only two of which came in the seven regulation innings — and struck out 15.
Merkel fanned the first five Salisbury batters she faced. Then Marcie Silberman came to bat in the top of the second, and after fouling off four balls, blasted a pitch over the center field fence to give the Falcons a 1-0 edge.
Palmerton (19-5) tied it in the fourth after Paige Shupp hit a double, went to third on a sacrifice bunt by Kailah Altemose, and raced home on a wild pitch.
The score remained 1-1 until the 10th, when the format changed to international rules with a runner starting their half of the inning on second base. Gretchen Helsel, the base runner for Salisbury (11-11), stole third before Marcie Silberman pounded another ball over the center field fence, almost to the same point where she hit her first one.
“She’s only a freshman, and she’s really coming on,” said Appleman.
“She got a couple of good pitches and hit them out,” added Palmerton mentor Robert Hock. “We couldn’t get it done on our side. We have a lot of good hitters as well, but we just couldn’t make it happen.”
In the bottom of the 10th, three fly balls by the Bombers ended the game.
Hock praised Merkel’s pitching and the team’s defense, which made several remarkable plays.
“That’s something that’s been overlooked with this gang a little bit,” said Hock of the defense. “Lexi has been throwing a lot of strikeouts, so we don’t get to make a lot of defensive plays. But they’re very capable and able.
“Unfortunately for us, we just don’t hit Emily very well whenever we face her.”
The loss put an abrupt end to Palmerton’s season, which included its first-ever Colonial League championship.
“This year, we had it all,” said Hock. “We had the bats, we had the defense and we had the pitching. I’m just proud of these girls. It was a great season.
“I tip my hat to them and wish the seniors well; and, we have a great team coming back again next year.”
GREAT PITCHING STATS ... Merkel struck out six of the first seven batters she faced, with five of them going down swinging. Excluding the two home runs, only four pitches by Merkel were hit into the outfield.
THIRD TIME NOT A CHARM ... This was the third meeting between Palmerton and Salisbury. In the regular season, the Blue Bombers gained victories by scores of 7-3 and 1-0. “It’s always tough to beat somebody three times,” said Hock.
RAIN DELAY ... Not only was the game extended because of the tie score, there was a 30-minute delay because of a thunderstorm. The delay came in the top of the seventh with Salisbury having two runners on base and two outs. When they came back to the field, Merkel got the final out on three pitches.
Salisbury 010 000 000 2 - 3 5 0
Palmerton 000 100 000 0 - 1 3 0
E. Silberman and M. Silberman; Merkel and Frantz. W - E. Silberman. L - Merkel. HR: Salisbury - M. Silberman 2 (2nd, none on; 10th, one on).