Buffs need to win three straight games
The Buffaloes of North Parkland are without manager Terry Stoudt, but are pressing on through the Lehigh Valley Legion Baseball League playoffs with close games all the way through.
As the three-seed in the double-elimination tournament, North Parkland had beaten Northern Valley 5-4 and Lower Macungie 4-3 leading up to their meeting with rival South Parkland Tuesday night. North Parkland had won each of the two meetings between the two teams during the regular season by scores of 4-3 and 7-0.
Offense is always a question mark for Parkland teams who rely much more on pitching and defense to win games. That’s exactly the way the meeting between the two teams went Tuesday night with the exception of one big play that helped South Parkland to gain some revenge and take a 1-0 decision over the Buffaloes to advance to the league championship.
With the loss being the first of the tournament for North Parkland, they’re still alive and could wind up facing the Trojans for the championship later this week.
Cullen Wadsworth doubled off Buffalo starter Phil Schoch with one out in the first inning and one out later, defense would fail North Parkland and put runners on first and third with two outs. With Koby Staivecki at the plate, Schoch attempted a pickoff throw to first and threw wildly allowing Wadsworth to score what would turn out to be the game’s only run.
Schoch got back to work and retired Staivecki on a ground ball but nobody realized that enough damage had been done to give South Parkland the game.
“The high school team prides itself on pitching and defense and that’s what we look toward to win games,” said interim North Parkland manager Chris Peischl. “We just had that one inning where we let ourselves down a little and that was enough because they have good pitching, too.”
South Parkland got a gem from starter Adam Smith, who was making his first start of the season for the Trojans after leading the high school team’s staff during its postseason run. Smith allowed five hits and struck out four batters in the game.
Looking to get right back into the game, North Parkland got a leadoff single from Austin Imler and two outs later, Will Algard singled to left to put runners on first and second before Smith recorded the final out of the inning.
The Buffaloes would challenge again late in the game when they caught a two-out break when Smith bounced a ball that Algard swung through to strikeout. The ball bounced away from catcher Ethan Russell, allowing Algard to reach first with two outs. Dylan Miller then followed with a base hit to left but Smith again responded by getting a pop-up for the final out of the inning.
After Schoch put the Trojans down in order in the top of the seventh, the Buffaloes looked to win the game in their last at-bat. Colten Peischl led off the bottom of the inning by chopping a single over first baseman Mike Morren’s head. At that point, South Parkland manager Tom Kahn went to the mound to talk to Smith.
“He basically just told me to settle down and stay calm,” said Smith of the meeting. “It was basically just a chance to collect myself and get back into a rhythm.”
Jared Kucharczuk dropped a perfect sacrifice bunt that Smith fielded and threw to first, allowing Peischl to advance to second with one out. Remembering what his manager had told him, Smith then struck out Andrew Sorrentino for the second out and got Imler to fly out to left to end the game.
“We’re capable of bouncing back,” said Chris Peischl. “We need three more wins and we’ve done that before. Granted that this time we need them against two really good teams, but we have shown that we can play with anybody so we’re not down at all.”
Peischl was appointed by Stoudt to take over the reins when the longtime manager of the team was hospitalized late last week.