East Penn Press

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PRESS PHOTO BY DON HERB Nick Edelman Copyright - Don Herb 2017_ PRESS PHOTO BY DON HERB Nick Edelman Copyright - Don Herb 2017_
PRESS PHOTO BY DON HERBIan Hertzog and the Lower Mac Connie Mack team won their final two games to make the playoffs. Copyright - Don Herb 2017_ PRESS PHOTO BY DON HERBIan Hertzog and the Lower Mac Connie Mack team won their final two games to make the playoffs. Copyright - Don Herb 2017_

Lower Mac made run to LV Connie Mack playoffs

Thursday, August 3, 2017 by CHRISTOPHER HIPPENSTEEL Special to the Press in Sports

With only two games remaining in the Connie Mack season, Lower Macungie’s playoff hopes appeared grim. Coming off two straight losses, the team stood at a record of 8-9, just outside of postseason contention with two of their toughest matchups of the year lying ahead of them. To earn themselves a spot in the tournament bracket, Lower Mac would have to upset league leader South Parkland, as well as highly-ranked rival Emmaus, to close out their season.

Against all odds, Lower Mac came through in its final matchups, scoring two consecutive victories to qualify for the Lehigh Valley tournament. Even more impressive, the team bested both of their top-seeded opponents by six points, topping South Parkland 9-3, followed by a 7-1 win at Emmaus the subsequent evening.

Although Lower Mac put up a substantial number of runs on both occasions, head coach Tim Hertzog contends that his team’s performance on the mound was instrumental to their late-season rally.

“It was all about pitching in both of those games,” stated Hertzog. “Vince Viola pitched a great game against South Parkland, and Ian Hertzog pitched a great game against Emmaus.”

The statistics reinforce Hertzog’s claim; against Emmaus, Lower Mac struck out its opposition sixteen times, rarely allowing the ball in play. Hertzog also made a point of recognizing pitcher Vince Viola for his consistency throughout the season. “[Viola] was very good offensively, and he ended up being our ace on the pitching staff,” the Lower Mac coach added.

After rebounding to win their final two games, Lower Mac entered the Lehigh Valley playoffs seeded 11th, scheduled for a first-round rematch against Emmaus on July 10th. Despite the results of their previous encounter, Emmaus struck back with an 8-0 shutout, dashing Lower Mac’s championship hopes and keeping them just shy of state playoff qualification.

Coach Hertzog, however, was content with his team’s success this summer, and commended his players for their resilience in the face of staunch competition.

“I was pleased [to have] made the playoffs, although it would have been nice to go a little farther,” said Hertzog. “We had a lot of kids that hadn’t played travel baseball before, [but] I think we fared well in a tough league.”

Lower Mac’s postseason aspirations may not have panned out as they may have liked, but Coach Hertzog still expressed pride in his players for persevering through two difficult final games. He went on to cite the matchups against South Parkland and Emmaus as two of his team’s best performances of the season.

With their season over, Hertzog isn’t quite sure what to expect from next year’s Connie Mack unit. “Quite a few of these kids are going to be playing Legion baseball next year,” explained Hertzog. “It’s hard to [predict] what will happen with the Connie Mack Team.” Hertzog has also stated that he is unsure whether he will continue on with his role as head coach, possibly leaving a vacancy on the Lower Mac staff to be filled next summer.

Emmaus, who eliminated Lower Mac in the first round of the league tournament, lost in the quarterfinals to the eventual champion, Bethlehem Catholic. Both Becca and Emmaus, along with six other teams from the Lehigh Valley, will go on to face opponents from the Bux Mont League in the state playoffs, held from July 20th to 29th at Limeport Stadium.

Despite not qualifying for the state tournament, Lower Mac overcame seemingly insurmountable obstacles in their last two matchups to earn themselves a spot in the league playoffs. While they may not have taken home the championship, the perseverance exhibited by the players over the course of a demanding, nineteen-game season is deserving of commendation nonetheless.