Carbon Co. ends LM’s season
While much of Saturday brought beautiful weather to the Lehigh Valley, a quick storm roared through late in the afternoon, bringing just enough rain to put the scheduled Lehigh Valley Legion playoff game between Carbon and Lower Macungie in doubt.
A squad of coaches and parents from both teams worked over an hour to clear the field and make it resemble somewhat of a baseball field ready for a playoff game.
Both teams were hoping for a quick, low scoring game since the time spent preparing the field took away from the available daylight. That didn’t happen. At the end of the first two innings, Lower Mac held a 5-4 lead.
Trailing 1-0, the Mustangs bunched three hits to start their half of the first inning. Justus Darville got an RBI the hard way when he was hit by a pitch and one out later, Shane Martrich brought home two runs with an RBI single, putting his team up 3-1.
After Carbon responded with a three-run inning in the second, it looked like the Monarchs would shut down Lower Mac in the bottom of the inning, getting two quick outs. Jake Hahn reached on an error and two Carbon pitchers went on to walk the next three batters.
This time, it was Martrich getting the easy RBI when he drew the third walk, forcing home Hahn. The second error of the inning pushed another run across, to put Lower Macungie back on top.
“I was happy with how we responded there,” said Lower Mac manager Jeff Smith. “We took what they gave us. We were patient at the plate, did the right things, and it paid off for us.”
Starter Vince Rangione allowed some baserunners, but no runs in the third. His offense wasn’t going to be shut down as Ryan Kasye singled home Adam LeMaster, who led off the inning with a double and was sacrificed to third by Brendan Schaaf, making it 6-4.
Rangione wasn’t able to work out of trouble in the fourth. After allowing a leadoff double, an error – one of three on the day by Lower Macungie – put runners on first and third. Aaron Joyce doubled home one run and a walk to Tristan Blasko loaded the bases with one out. Smith lifted Rangione in favor of LeMaster, who had helped the high school team in a situation very much like this one in the EPC Playoffs.
LeMaster struck out David Marino before Anthony Collevechio was able to bloop a single to right field to score two runs. LeMaster then struck out Justin Marykwas to end the threat, but Carbon had taken back the lead at 7-6.
“You can’t say enough about that kid [LeMaster],” said Smith. “He never seems to feel pressure and he just comes in and throws strikes. That was a tough spot and he handled it well. There was nothing anybody could do about the little flare that their kid hit, and he struck out two batters.”
Marykwas, who took over for Tyler Baird in the second inning, settled in at just the right time for Carbon and kept Lower Mac off the board in the fourth and the fifth, as the daylight crept away.
The two coaches had agreed earlier that they would play as long as possible, but accepted the fact that the game might not go a full seven innings.
The umpires decided to play on after the fifth, but announced that the game would end after six.
The Monarchs put runners on second and third against LeMaster in the sixth, but a nice defensive play by Schaaf and a strikeout ended the threat, giving Lower Macungie one last shot.
Unfortunately for the Mustangs, Marykwas continued to pitch well and shut down the Mustangs in order to eliminate Carbon.
“I can’t complain,” said Smith. “We were 2-7 and here we are playing tough in the playoffs and we lost to a really hot team 7-6, and that’s the way it goes.
“We agreed to play the game under these conditions and we all knew what was at stake. Plus, the kids wanted to play, so we did what we could. I’m proud of these guys and they showed a lot of development this season and we turned things around. Absolutely no reason to hang our heads.”