Buffaloes ready to refocus for playoffs
As much as North Parkland (13-1) would have liked to go through the Lehigh Valley Legion season undefeated, its 2-0 loss to rival South Parkland might not be the worst thing in the world.
It may turn out to be one of those losses that sends a message through the dugout and helps to refocus the team at just the right time.
"I think it's important that every season, we usually have one or two that usually slip away, but it brings us all a little closer," said pitcher Nate Kern. "It's hard to stay on track when you're going through all of these games undefeated. Once those losses come along is when we really bind together and I'd rather have it happen now.
"My dad always says 'rather have it happen now than in the last game,' and that's kind of what our mentality is now."
The North Parkland offense has averaged just over eight runs per game, which is impressive considering that its had a couple of hiccups offensively this season.
Two weeks ago, the Buffaloes scored a total of nine runs in three games and the loss to South Parkland put them at a total of four runs in two games. Of course, they've also scored double-digit runs in seven games this season.
Last year's team won the regionals, the first Regional 2 championship in the long coaching career of Terry Stoudt, but ran into trouble in the state tournament, primarily because of a lack of pitching depth.
This year's team has considerably more depth on the mound, which will help once the postseason arrives.
"We learned that the hard way last year when we got to states and we had to run me out there four games in a row and Walter Roland's out there throwing 12 innings," said Kern. "I think this year, we're really poised to make a long run into the regional and into states and, hopefully, even beyond.
"I don't know any team in the state that's got starting pitching like we can roll out. [Brett] Kosciolek's been amazing. I've thrown pretty well. [Evan] McAndrew and [Alec] Bartholomew have done a good job for us. Even our guys coming in out of the pen, Rhett Jacoby and [Tanner] Vitovitch, they've all been great."
In addition to the success of the team, Kern got to play on his first all-star team this season and was the starting pitcher for the Lehigh Valley Legion team in its 5-5 tie against a team from the Schuylkill-Berks League. Kern, who is attending Boston University, has already had a lot to be happy about this season and is looking forward to seeing how far the North Parkland team can go.
"I'm really excited," he said. "I've been playing for coach Stoudt, this is my third year now. I have to thank him for a lot of stuff. He's given me the opportunity to come out and show what kind of baseball player I am. I take pride in what I do day in and day out."
Kern was joined in the all-star game by teammates Justin Afflerbach and Brett Kosciolek. Kern threw both the first and 10th innings in the game, allowing one hit, one unearned run and recording three strikeouts. Afflerbach went 0-for-2, while Kosciolek finished 1-for-2.