NP tops No. Valley in extras
During Northern Valley's legion postseason run last year, North Parkland broke a scoreless game in the seventh inning to earn a 1-0 victory.
That was the last time the Chargers faced North Parkland previous to Monday night's meeting.
By the time the final out was made last night, it seemed all too much like déjà vu for the Chargers.
In a scoreless game through seven innings of play, the Buffaloes broke away in the top half of the eighth with a two-run homerun from Brett Kosciolek. The Chargers had a chance to tie it, but a one-two-three inning sent the Chargers to 4-5 on the season with their 2-0 loss on Monday at Northwestern High School.
"We went into the bottom of the seventh inning, and we had two outs with a full count," head coach Brad Rauch said of last year's matchup. "One of their guys hit a solo shot walk-off. It's the second time in the last 15 innings that's happened to us.
Despite sitting a game below .500, Rauch believes his team is certainly playing better than its record. Of their five losses, three have come by one or two runs.
"As a whole, I couldn't ask for a better game," he said. "They stayed in it. It's been a good year. Right now we're one game under .500, but we should be undefeated. We've been in every single game we've played. Two games we lost in the bottom of the seventh inning."
One of the biggest concerns for the Chargers all season has been coming up with key hits during crucial moments. The Chargers certainly had the opportunities on Monday.
In the fourth inning, Collin Breidinger and Kris Seiler led off with back-to-back walks. Taylor Breininger's sacrifice bunt moved Breidinger and Seiler into scoring position with one out. But two straight groundouts ended the Chargers' threat.
"We do struggle to produce runs," Rauch said. "We leave a lot of guys on base, and it does come back to haunt us. Our defense is phenomenal, but we're getting guys on in scoring position, second and third, and we're not getting that big hit.
"We have guys that are hitting the ball well, but when we're getting to that crunch time, we're not getting that one hit that we need every single game. That's pretty much what it comes down to every game."
The Chargers left a total of seven runners on base, with at least one left on in six of the eight innings.
Much like has been the case all season, the Chargers' defense and pitching staff was terrific against the Buffaloes. Josh Williamson, who pitched the entire eight innings for Northern Valley, allowed just four hits through the first seven. In the eighth, he allowed two runs on two hits and two walks. But despite nearing 100 pitches, Rauch didn't see any signs of fatigue in his ace.
"The umpire came up to me after the game and said that he was still throwing just as hard at the end as he was in the beginning," Rauch said.
"Josh Williamson pitched a heck of a game. Our pitching staff altogether this year has been phenomenal. They've thrown strikes, [and] they've stayed ahead in the count. I haven't had to go in and pull guys out in the middle of innings. We've been getting gems from them all year."
The defense turned two double plays, getting the Chargers out of jams in both the fourth and fifth innings. Williamson and the defense also escaped a bases-load, one-out opportunity for the Buffaloes in the third.
The Chargers alternated wins and losses through nine games, but Thursday's meeting against West Allentown, a team that handed Northern Valley a 1-0 loss in the season opener, will give them an opportunity to even their record.
Game time for Thursday's game is 6 p.m. at Northwestern High School.