Emmaus Connie Mack reaches postseason
With only two games remaining in the Connie Mack regular season, the Emmaus Hornets seemed unbeatable. The team had won 10 straight games and had quickly risen to second in the league standings, infringing on South Parkland’s claim to the top seed.
If Emmaus was to overtake the first place spot, its would need to maintain that dominance through its final matchups.
Momentum from the win streak wouldn’t be enough to carry the Hornets. The team lost its last two games to Hellertown and Lower Mac by scores of 5-3 and 7-1, respectively, dropping the Hornets to the sixth seed entering the league playoffs with a 14-7 regular season record.
“We had a nice win streak that propelled us to the top of the standings, and ultimately it came down to [those last few games],” said Emmaus head coach Ryan Schaffer. “I think everybody, players and coaches, would agree that we should have finished higher.”
According to Schaffer, the Hornets’ late-season tribulations were similar to those the team faced in its first few games, when his team had struggled to remain above .500.
“We finished up the season the way we started it, leaving too many runners on base,” he said. “We couldn’t get runners in [the way we were during] our win streak.”
Emmaus recovered from its late-season losses in the first round of postseason contention, shutting out 11th seed Lower Mac team, 8-0. The Hornets progressed to the quarterfinals with renewed confidence, slated for a matchup against No. 2 seed Bethlehem Catholic, a team they had beaten 5-3 in regular season competition.
Despite a strong defensive showing, the Hornets fell 1-0. Bethlehem Catholic went on to win the league title two games later.
“The game at Becca was the first time we were shut out all year,” said Schaffer. “It was kind of a shock to us.”
According to Schaffer, the Hornets’ tournament hopes rested heavily on the performances of starting pitchers Austin McEllroy and Dylan Lehman. And both surpassed expectations, surrendering only a single run through two games.
With the league tournament concluded, Schaffer and his players shifted their focus to the state playoffs, scheduled to begin July 20th at Limeport Stadium. The Hornets entered the double-elimination bracket seeded seventh, pitted against regular season champion South Parkland in their opening matchup.
After falling 7-5 to South Parkland in the first round, the Hornets lost their second and final game to Catasauqua by a score of 10-5, bringing an end to their season.
“[but] I think we certainly should’ve finished better than we did,” said the Hornets’ head coach, “Overall, the kids played well. It just didn’t end the way we wanted.”
As for next season, Coach Schaffer and his staff aren’t quite sure what to expect from next year’s unit. They remain optimistic that their team will be a likely contender for the league title.
“It’s hard to speculate for next year,” Schaffer said. “I know we’ll have some of the younger guys coming back, and I was pleased with how they did. So I think we’ll have a decent core of kids [next season].”
While the Hornets’ postseason may have been cut short, their accomplishments this summer are not to be disregarded.
Having won 10 straight games in the regular season, including a victory over the eventual league champions, Emmaus proved themselves a worthy contender and a force to be reckoned with in the Lehigh Valley League. And with a formidable contingent of athletes returning next year, the Hornets are already prepared to take another shot at the title.