NP splits with So. Lehigh in LVL
With high school seasons ending late and various summer sports tournaments, the Lehigh Valley Legion baseball schedule becomes condensed with a number of teams having to play day after day.
Just four hours after North Parkland defeated Southern Lehigh 15-5 at Orefield Middle School, the two teams met at Limeport stadium for the second of a day-night doubleheader. The night cap was not as friendly for the Buffaloes as the Spartans left with a 4-1 win and a split for the day.
It was a meeting of the top two teams in the league, and fittingly the day ended with each team adding a win in the standings.
"It's interesting now because we're tied with them," said North Parkland assistant coach Matt Merkle, with both teams 10-3. "If we finish tied at the end of the year there will be a one game playoff. If we had won tonight we would've held the tiebreaker. Every game is tough, and we have two more really tough ones with Salisbury and Fullerton left."
North Parkland was first to get on the scoreboard in the top of the first inning. Boo Weaver reached on an infield single, and advanced to second on a missed pickoff attempt by the catcher.
Two batters later, Zach Merkle brought Weaver home with a base hit up the middle and a 1-0 lead.
The Buffaloes held the slim advantage for three innings, thanks in large part to starting pitcher Nick Helfrich keeping the Spartans hitless through three.
But in the fourth inning, Southern Lehigh took the lead. Two consecutive free passes, two singles, and a sacrifice fly gave the Spartans a 2-1 edge.
In the fifth, a leadoff hit was negated by a groundball double play. But a walk, a double, and two errors allowed Southern Lehigh to score another two runs.
"It was funny because in the first game we hit the ball well and they made seven errors," noted Merkle. "Tonight we didn't make the plays. It should've been 1-1 or 2-1 there, and it's a different game for us. With runners on first and second in the sixth we could've bunted, but down 4-1 you can't. It was one of those things where it just wasn't our day. We just have a lot of tired kids."
With six players on the Lehigh Valley Carpenter Cup team, which played four games over eight days, the staff wants to protect the arms and legs of its young players.
Helfrich went the distance and gave up only four hits while striking out four. North Parkland threatened in the sixth and seventh, putting two runners on base in both innings, but could not break through.
After beating Lower Macungie 10-0 on Sunday and downing West Allentown 9-6 on Tuesday, the Buffaloes were 11-3 and held a half-game lead over Southern Lehigh (10-3) heading into the last week of the season.
North Parkland has four games remaning. After a day off Wednesday, the Buffaloes play at Salisbury (Thursday), at Orefield against Coplay (Friday), at South Parkland (Saturday, 1 p.m. at Lehigh County Field No. 2) and finish off the season at home against Fullerton (Tuesday, July 2).