Trojans finish season with three straight wins
South Parkland could be one of those teams that others need to keep an eye on in the Lehigh Valley Legion playoffs.
While the Trojans finished in the middle of the pack (9-9) and are the league's fifth seed coming into the postseason, they've shown that there are some reasons to fear them in the double-elimination tournament.
The regular season ended with a strong 5-1 win over Fullerton (10-8), with Zach Miller picking up a single and a double to drive in two runs in the win, which gave South Parkland a three-game winning streak heading into the playoffs.
South Parkland endured a five-game losing skid early in the season and slowly started to play better baseball after that stretch to get back into playoff consideration.
At first glance, it might look like South Parkland has survived thanks to some big offense. After all, its averaged just under five runs per game this season.
When you look closer though, half of those runs have come in just three games and 26 of those 43 runs came in two games against Salisbury, the only team in the league to not qualify for the playoffs. When you take those three games out of the mix, the runs per game average drops to under three runs per game.
South Parkland has actually done most of its damage with pitching. Miller and Eric Constant combined to collect six of the team's nine wins this season and both posted ERAs under two (Constant 1.63; Miller 1.97). Sean Boyle (3.36) and Kyle Buchman (1.08) rounded out the rotation and Cole Matrishin (2.80) started one game and was the go-to guy out of the bullpen for South Parkland.
Overall, South Parkland finished with a team ERA of 2.55 on the season.
While pitching carried the day for South Parkland, there's enough offense to make teams wary. After all, three times this season, South Parkland scored double-digits in runs, including putting up 17 runs against West Allentown. When things click offensively, South Parkland can be a scary team to play.
Miller finished second in the league in average (.449) and on-base percentage (.565) and led the league in RBI (17) and slugging percentage (.714) this season. Ryan Horvath was second on the team in hitting at .375 on the year.
One area where South Parkland is going to have to play well to have success is on defense. TheTrojans' defense was spotty at times this season and they're not a team that can afford to give opponents extra outs.
The season has played out much the way assistant coach Mitch Ohl thought that it might.
"I think that you're going to see this team play better baseball," Ohl said after a loss earlier in the season. "We have a young team, but they work hard and they're always looking to do better.
"As they continue to develop, we'll be a better team at the end of the season than we were at the start and that's what you strive for."
Ironically, the playoffs start the way the regular season ended for South Parkland, with a game against Fullerton. The only difference being that this time the two teams will play on Fullerton's home turf.
Fullerton downed South Parkland 6-4 early in the season before the two teams squared off in the season finale.