Buffaloes win pitchers' duel over SP
North Parkland (10-2) and South Parkland (4-7) may be at opposite ends of the standings in the Lehigh Valley Legion Baseball League, but they put on quite a show when they faced each other Sunday night. The game took just under an hour and fifteen minutes thanks to a pitching duel between North's Walt Roland and South's Sean Boyle.
The two pitchers allowed just a combined seven hits and two walks, while teaming up for 10 strikeouts. Boyle threw just 63 pitches over six innings, but came up on the losing end of a 2-0 game as North Parkland scored a couple of early runs and then used defense and Roland's arm to get the job done.
Evan McAndrew led off the bottom of the second for North Parkland with a base hit through the middle and Nick Helfrich followed that with a base hit of his own to left to put runners on first and second with nobody out. Perhaps sensing that runs would be hard to come by, the Buffaloes Tanner Stufflet dropped a nice bunt to move both runners before Isaac Neal delivered a two-run double to left center field that would produce the only runs of the game.
Boyle allowed a third inning single to Nathan Kern, then retired the next 11 batters, giving his team the chance to do some damage against Roland, who was up to the challenge.
Roland went through a streak where he retired nine of 10 batters, with the streak interrupted only by a two-base error.
South Parkland tried to mount a rally in the seventh when Ryan Dunbach reached on an infield single and Zach Miller was hit by a pitch to put runners on first and second. Ryan Horvath then hit a ball back to Roland, who fielded the ball and fired to third to eliminate the lead runner for the first out of the inning. Roland retired the next batter on a foul pop to third and finished the game with his seventh strikeout of the game to give North Parkland its 10th win of the season.
The only time that Roland seemed to struggle was when he threw seven straight pitches out of the strike zone in the seventh.
"I actually had some control issues and left some balls up in the zone, but the movement that I have on my pitches still kept them off balance and left me stay in the game," said Roland.
Roland seemed to get tougher when runners got on base. A third-inning walk was quickly erased by a double-play and after Cole Matrishin was able to go all the way to second on the error to lead off the sixth inning, catcher Dan Zaccaro threw out Matrishin attempting to steal third before Roland responded by getting the next two batters to end the inning.
South Parkland was a little handicapped by the fact that it had just nine players available for the game and even coach Tom Kahn was missing, handing the reins over to Mitch Ohl.
"We've got a young team and we were missing a lot of guys today," said Ohl. "We only had nine guys, but the nine who were here came to fight and our pitcher threw a great game. We missed a couple of opportunities and had a base-running blunder, but that happens.
"Sean Boyle pitched a phenomenal game. This is the second time he's faced North Parkland and both times he's pitched I'll call them gems he's thrown great games both times and I just can't say enough about him."
North Parkland hosts Fullerton Thursday night before playing against West Allentown on the road Sunday evening. The regular season wraps up next week with home games against Emmaus and Northern Valley.
South Parkland hosts Coplay Thursday before playing road games at Emmaus, Northern Valley and West Allentown over the next week. The Trojans' regular season ends on July 6 when South Parkland hosts Fullerton.
As of Monday, North Parkland is in first place with a two-game lead over Southern Lehigh, while South Parkland is one game ahead of West Allentown and Salisbury for the final two playoff spots.