East Penn Press

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Lower Mac splits with first-place Falcons

Thursday, June 28, 2018 by STEPHEN ALTHOUSE Special to the Press in Sports

Lower Macungie’s 3-2 loss in the first game of a doubleheader to Salisbury on June 24 at Church Lane Park in Senior American Legion action must have been frustrating for Lower Mac starting pitcher Adam LeMaster.

After a shaky first inning where Salisbury grabbed a 1-0 lead, the 6-foot, 1-inch, 180-pound right-handed pitcher settled into a fine display of flame throwing, changing speeds and location with a variety of pitches. In the process, managing to weave in and out of most jams against the prodigious Falcon lineup.

LeMaster found himself in a pitching duel with Salisbury’s Andrew Sukanick and was still firing in the top of the sixth trailing 2-1 when his Lower Mac defense betrayed him. A lazy pop fly off the bat of Salisbury’s Nino Encarnacion fell in shallow right field between three fielders.

Encarnacion stole second and moved to third moments later when on a wild pitch. But as he had done most of the afternoon, LeMaster refused to back down. He got tough and got the next batter to strike out looking while admiring some heat.

The Lower Macungie defense then made a solid infield defensive play by throwing Encarnacion out at home on a bleeder, but a throwing error on the double-play attempt put another Salisbury runner in scoring position.

Manager Jeff Smith decided it was the end of the line for LeMaster, and replaced him with fireman Brendan Lynch. LeMaster got a nice hand from the Lower Macungie contingency in the stands for a solid day’s work.

Despite some rough patches, LeMaster had managed to hold down Salisbury’s offense enough to give his team a chance.

The change in hurlers didn’t help as the right-hander Lynch was greeted with an RBI single to right, plating Salisbury’s third run of the game and giving them a 3-1 lead.

Lower Mac didn’t lay down. In the last of the seventh, Shane Martrich started off a rally against Falcon relief pitcher Pete Dubois with a walk. After Lynch struck out looking, a wild pitch advanced Martrich to second, as batter Connor Lysek joined him on the base paths moments later thanks to a bases on balls shortstop Ryan Kasye then froze looking at a wicked Dubois curve ball for the second out.

But Lower Mac refused to pack it in as a dribbler off the bat of center fielder Robert Roman handcuffed Salisbury’s defense for a single and a bases loaded situation.

Brandan Robinson got downright stingy with his pitch selection to earn a free pass and an RBI to close the gap to 3-2.

It seemed fitting the next batter was LeMaster, who with one well-timed swat could start a Lower Mac walk-off party and wipe out a day of dissolution.

The right-handed batter dug in and waited for his pitch. With two strikes he saw a fastball he didn’t like, but the home plate umpire did, ruling it the third strike and final out of the game.

Lower Mac rooters fervently questioned the proficiency of the umpire’s eye prescription, while Falcon fans, players and coaches thought this humid June afternoon was Christmas morning. Meanwhile, Adam LeMaster, who was collared with the loss to drop to 2-1 on the season.

The afternoon improved for Lower Mac as it earned a split with the Falcons, winning the second game 3-2, to end the day 10-4 on the season.

Through Monday, the Mustangs were a game and a half behind first-place Salisbury (11-2) and a game ahead of South Parkland (9-5). They were back in action Tuesday against Coplay and had three game remaining on the schedule after that, including Friday at Southern Lehigh, Saturday at West Allentown and Sunday at Northern Valley.

The league tournament is set to begin on July 5 but Lower Mac will likely have a bye through the first round.