K-Kids, Hornets will meet a fourth time
The three baseball games between Emmaus and Northampton have resulted in one of the better series of games in the Lehigh Valley this season.
The two teams met in the second game of the regular season and Emmaus shut down Northampton 2-0, with Kellan Tulio throwing six hitless innings that gave Northampton a streak of 13 straight innings without a hit to start the season.
The two teams met again in late April and it was Kids pitcher Evan Zwolenik who had the hot hand, striking out 10 Emmaus hitters in a 3-2 Northampton win.
The Hornets shocked Parkland in the opening round of the East Penn Conference playoffs, shutting out the Trojans 3-0 to advance to the conference semifinals, where the Konkrete Kids were again waiting for them.
This time around, Emmaus threw their third different starting pitcher against Northampton in Dylan Lehman, while Northampton went back to Cole Rufe, who was the hard luck losing pitcher in the early-season match up between the two teams.
As it turned out, Northampton would get all the offense it needed in the first inning of that EPC semifinal. After Rufe put Emmaus down in order in the top of the inning, Lehman struckout Andy Kovalchik to start the bottom of the inning. From there, things got a little off track when Lehman allowed a base-hit and then hit a batter before bouncing back to get the second out of the inning. Isaac Tucker and Cam Eaton followed with singles that each drove in a run for Northampton to make it 2-0.
Lehman had some scrapes with trouble in each of the first four innings, but worked out of them without allowing any further runs. Meanwhile, Emmaus couldn’t muster any offense against Rufe and didn’t have a baserunner until Justus Darville led off the bottom of the fifth with a triple to right. Rufe regrouped and got the next three batters to end the inning, stranding Darville at third.
Emmaus got leadoff singles in both the sixth and seventh innings, but Rufe responded by getting the next three batters, including striking out the side in the bottom of the seventh.
Northampton went on to beat Liberty 3-1 in the EPC championship game, winning its first league championship since 1998. As luck would have it, when the brackets for the District 11 playoffs were announced over the weekend, there was Emmaus seeded eighth and Northampton in the top spot, setting up round four of the series between the two teams. The game was scheduled for Tuesday afternoon at Northampton High School with the winner taking on the winner of the Stroudsburg and Easton game that will be played at Easton.