Mustangs look forward to playoffs
Lower Macungie Legion manager Jeff Smith decided to start the season without players from the Emmaus High School team who were competing in districts and states at the time the Lehigh Valley Legion season opened. He could have pushed a few games back to late in the schedule, but it would have meant a hectic final week or two of the season.
The result was that the team endured a 2-6 start, but Smith was correct in assuming that his club could turn things around in the second half once the high school reinforcements arrived. While Smith hoped that the high school team would go deep into states, he was happy to welcome them back after their first-round loss. That was when the season really started for the Mustangs.
“We made the decision not to push a bunch of games to late in the season,” said Smith. “We didn’t want to run into a stretch where we were really pushing guys and having guys run out of innings and so we had a tough start. Fortunately, we flipped things around in the second half of the season just like we thought we would be able to do, and now, we’re playing really well heading into the playoffs.”
Lower Macungie went 7-1 over the second half of the season, with the only loss coming against South Parkland, who finished the season undefeated at 14-0.
The turning point came when Lower Mac pounded North Parkland 14-0, sending a message that the real Lower Macungie team was now complete and it was prepared for the tough road ahead. From there, the Mustangs just kept knocking off teams who had beaten them earlier in the season and found themselves closing ground between them and the top of the league.
They were able to finish the season at 9-7, good enough for a fourth-seed going into the playoffs, giving them a home game for the first round, at least.
After a 4-1 loss to South Parkland Friday night, Lower Mac bounced back the next day with a dramatic 7-6 walk-off win over Allentown.
Lower Macungie held a 6-3 lead over Allentown going to the top of the seventh. A leadoff walk was followed by a double and a hit batter to load the bases with nobody out. A sacrifice fly made it 6-4 and one out later, the Mustangs thought they had the game wrapped up. A wild pitch brought home one run and Allentown tied the game on an error with two outs. Lower Macungie avoided any further trouble in the inning.
In the bottom of the inning, two singles and a walk loaded the bases with one out. James Hamilton took the first pitch he saw and laced it into right field to score Braden Waller from third to give Lower Macungie the win.
Jaden Diaz delivered two hits and scored a run in the game, with Ryan Kasye and Vince Viola each driving in two runs.
While he falls six plate appearances short of qualifying among the league leaders, Brandon Robinson leads the Mustangs in hitting with a .371 mark. Kasye is just behind him with a .367 average on the season and also leads the team with 13 runs scored. Waller and Robinson have each scored 12 runs and Viola has 11. Brian Horoshko has the team lead with 11 RBI, just ahead of Diaz, who has 10.
The Mustangs now face Northern Valley in the first round of the Lehigh Valley Legion playoffs. Lower Macungie dominated in a 16-2 win nine days ago against the Chargers at Northwestern Lehigh High School. Earlier in the season, Northern Valley beat Lower Mac 4-3. The first-round game will be played at the Church Lane field Wednesday at 6 p.m. The LV Legion playoffs are a double-elimination tournament that will decide which team will represent the league in regionals.