One might say that the Emmaus Legion team limped into the postseason after going just 4-6 in its final 10 games of the regular season. That, plus a history of playoff frustration over the years, left a difficult task ahead of the Hornets as they played a single-elimination game at South Parkland in the first round of the Lehigh Valley Legion playoffs.
Some early miscues and the lack of being able to get a big hit at the right time led Emmaus to a 6-3 loss, ending the Hornets’ season.
While much of Saturday brought beautiful weather to the Lehigh Valley, a quick storm roared through late in the afternoon, bringing just enough rain to put the scheduled Lehigh Valley Legion playoff game between Carbon and Lower Macungie in doubt.
A squad of coaches and parents from both teams worked over an hour to clear the field and make it resemble somewhat of a baseball field ready for a playoff game.
After a fierce storm moved through the Lehigh Valley Saturday, forcing the postponement of most of the day’s Lehigh Valley Legion games, Lower Macungie had to regroup on Sunday, the final day of the regular season, and play two games at different locations.
After a 7-2 win over North Parkland early in the afternoon, the team reassembled about 30 miles to the north to face Carbon County at Lehighton High School, where things didn’t go nearly as well with the Monarchs downing Lower Mac 12-2.
Just as most coaches are after a loss, Emmaus Legion manager Tom Cichocki was admittedly not feeling too great after a 4-1 loss to South Parkland in the regular season finale on Sunday.
The loss brought out more frustration than anything in Cichocki, because of how the team lost, thanks in part to bad calls from umpires early in the game and an uninspired performance from his team.
On back-to-back plays in the second inning, the field umpire missed two obvious calls and refused to ask the home plate umpire for a second opinion when asked by Cichocki.
As it turned out, when the Emmaus and Lower Macungie Lehigh Valley Legion rosters were set for the 2017 season, Lower Macungie got much of the younger talent. The Mustangs did get some quality pitching, including Matt Lanzone, who was the ace of the Emmaus varsity staff this past season. They also got senior Todd Moxey, who can contribute both at the plate and on the mound, and first baseman/pitcher Adam LeMaster.
With the Emmaus Legion team hovering right around the .500 mark this season, a Sunday doubleheader against rival Lower Macungie seemed the perfect spot for the team to try to burst out for a late season run.
After taking the opener 6-5, Lower Macungie rallied back in the second game to grab a 7-6 win over Emmaus, splitting the two games.
In the opener, Emmaus got an unearned run in the bottom of the first inning when Eric Cichocki led off the game with a ground ball to short that was booted, allowing Cichocki to reach base.
At a recent signing ceremony, 12 Emmaus High School student athletes officially announced their college choices, signing letters of intent to attend colleges and universities to further their academic and athletic careers. The athletes represented nine different sports and chose 11 different institutions.
The players on the Emmaus softball team were understandably upset after their loss to Liberty in the district semifinals. As the team gathered on an out-of-the-way set of bleachers at Patriots Park, more tears started to flow. Then, assistant coach Amy Oswald, who played for coach John Eyer on a team that won districts 10 years earlier, started to wipe tears from her eyes.
With two pretty young teams, you get the feeling that Emmaus and Liberty are set for some pretty big battles over the next couple of seasons.
The first two real salvos in the war came in softball’s postseason this year when Emmaus downed the Hurricanes 3-2 in eight innings in the EPC semifinal before Liberty took revenge, winning the District 11 Semifinals 11-2 over the Hornets last week at Patriots Park in Allentown.
When the District 11 baseball semifinal game against Liberty went extra innings, fans had to figure that Emmaus had a bit of an advantage. After all, the Hornets were the team that battled Parkland to a 16-inning, 1-0 win during the regular season, so playing longer games was nothing new to them.
The Baseball Gods had other ideas on Monday as Liberty erased a two-run deficit with two outs in the bottom of the 11th inning to beat Emmaus 4-3 and end the Hornets’ season.