Lower Mac falls to Salisbury in LVL
It’s not as if Lower Macungie didn’t have its chances. But when it did, it wasted them and it cost the No. 2 seed mightily.
Lower Mac squandered 10 runners on base, and top-seeded Salisbury capitalized on those wasted opportunities. The Falcons used a six-run fourth inning to pull away from Lower Mac and end its season last Tuesday, 8-1, in the Lehigh Valley Legion playoffs.
“We faced [Andrew] Sukanick and he’s their ace,” Lower Mac manager Jeff Smith said. “It’s not like we didn’t get guys on base. These guys know this; we just talked about it. We killed ourselves with some mistakes tonight—passed balls and errors. You can’t do that against Salisbury. They’re the No. 1 seed for a reason.”
The most glaring missed opportunity came in the third inning. With Salisbury holding a 2-0 lead after the first inning, Lower Mac had a prime chance to take the lead in the third.
Ryan Kasye led off with a double and scored when Vincent Viola reached base on a Falcon error in the next at-bat. Brandon Robinson and Adam LeMaster each singled, loading the bases with no outs.
But Sukanick got out of the jam and left Lower Mac searching for answers. Sukanick got both Gunnar Schichtl and Bryan Horton to strike out, and Shane Martrich’s groundout got Salisbury out of the jam with minimal damage.
“That hurt us,” Smith said. “We need to get those runs in. We’re not that deep of a team where we can afford not to get those runs in. We know our team. We know our guys. We try to roll with the percentages on that.
“That’s been our Achilles heel all year. It’s unfortunate. You think about bunting, but we had Schichtl up at the plate, and if he gets ahold of a ball he can hit it. So, there’s no sense of squeezing at that point.”
Lower Mac only had one more runner in scoring position the rest of the game. Brendan Schaaf was stationed on second base with one out in the fourth inning when Kasye was hit by a pitch to take first base. But Sukanick got Viola to ground out into a double play to end the frame.
Then Salisbury’s offense exploded in the bottom half of the fourth. After Bladimill Gautreaux doubled to start it off, a Lower Mac error helped Cole Warmkessel reach base and score Gautreaux. Taylor Linn then singled to score Warmkessel and push Salisbury’s lead to 4-1. Linn and Joey Galantini scored on passed balls.
“We did a lot of this with duct tape, smoke and mirrors,” Smith said. “That is to the kids’ credit. Our pitching was phenomenal. Our defense was decent. We had some games like tonight with some timely errors. But tonight we were missing two of our best hitters.”
Nino Encarnacion singled later in the inning to scored Ryan Miller. Kevin Cruz would later cross home on a balk to make it an 8-1 lead.
It was a disappointing end to the season after Lower Mac nearly had a chance to compete for a legion title. Lower Mac came up short to North Parkland, 4-3, in the winner’s bracket of the double-elimination tournament. A win against the Buffaloes would have set up a matchup against South Parkland, with the winner advancing to the championship game.
But Smith believes he got the most out of this team. He expects even more next season with plenty of talent returning.
“We were a lot younger than I think a lot of people thought we were,” Smith said. “We’re going to have a good team next year. We’ve got some good kids coming up from junior legion as well…A couple of things got away from us. We are here. We made the final four as a No. 2 seed. I can’t complain.”
South Parkland went on to defeat Salisbury in the championship game, 7-0, and advance to regionals.