SP’s Polumbo baffles Salisbury
South Parkland faced previously unbeaten Salisbury at Parkland High School last week. None of Salisbury’s previous opponents had much fun playing the Falcons. However, for Trojan pitcher A.J. Palumbo, it was a lot of fun. He was locked in against Salisbury and kept hitters way off balance throughout the game. The end result was a 2-1 win for South Parkland.
The key was a breaking ball that he was throwing for strikes whenever he wanted to. Match that with a strong fastball and Falcons hitters were left to only guess what was coming.
“Something was on tonight and I know something over the last couple days, I don’t know what it is, clicked and everything was on,” said Palumbo. “I was getting a lot of people off guard. I started with a breaking ball, a fastball and then another breaking ball and they had no idea what was coming. The slider and the breaking ball were both catching people off guard and freezing a lot of hitters.”
Even when he would fall behind in the count, he threw a breaking ball and would generally either get a called strike, a swing and a miss, or at worst, a foul ball.
In every start, Palumbo studies hitters. After their first at-bat, he’s pretty well locked into what they’re looking for at the plate and what they can handle. He figures out which pitches are working for him and which pitches hitters are apt to chase and then he starts to pick them apart after that.
Salisbury had to get inventive to score its run, using a double steal of second and home in the fourth to get on the board and cut South Parkland’s lead to 2-1.
Palumbo had put the Trojans up 1-0 with an RBI single in the second and they added a second run in the following inning when they picked up three singles.
Palumbo could have bowed out after six innings but wasn’t ready to concede anything even with his team holding just a one-run lead.
“I’m glad I finished that game,” he said. “It meant so much that I could finish it and I really wanted to go out there. Coach [Tom Kahn] was like ‘if your arm’s not good and you want Koby [Staivecki, the team’s closer] to finish it, that’s all right.’
“I have every confidence in the world in the other pitchers on the staff, but my arm was good and I wanted to finish it. It feels good finishing this game, especially against this team.”
Perhaps the biggest compliment came from the opposing manager, Scott Heppenheimer, who guided the Falcons to last year’s league title and regional playoffs.
“That kid [Palumbo] was on today,” said Heppenheimer. “His breaking ball was awesome and he mixed his pitches really well. You have to credit him.”
Heppenheimer let Palumbo know that he was impressed.
“He talked to me after the game, he said ‘what’s up with the breaking ball, do you have that much confidence in it?’ It was great,” said Palumbo. “Typically, I don’t have that much confidence to throw the breaking ball behind in the count but I was able to utilize it properly.”
South Parkland placed two players on the Lehigh Valley Legion All-Star roster. Staivecki was named to the pitching staff and Adam Mellinger will start in the outfield for the team when they play a team of stars from the Berks/Schuylkill League at Reading’s FirstEnergy Park on July 9.
Through Tuesday, the Trojans (9-6) reside in third place in Lehigh Valley Legion, three-and-a-half games back of first-place Salisbury (12-2), just behind Lower Macungie (10-4) and tied with rival North Parkland (9-6).
South Parkland has games remaining against North Parkland (Thursday at PHS), Coplay (Saturday) and Southern Lehigh (Sunday). The league playoffs begin July 5.