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PRESS PHOTO BY NANCY SCHOLZ Northern Valley's Zachary Rex swings at a pitch during an early-season Lehigh Valley Legion game. PRESS PHOTO BY NANCY SCHOLZ Northern Valley's Zachary Rex swings at a pitch during an early-season Lehigh Valley Legion game.

Northern Valley falls to SP in LV Legion playoffs

Thursday, July 16, 2015 by CHUCK HIXSON Special to The Press in Sports

Northern Valley made a nice run in the Lehigh Valley Legion playoffs, but ultimately, the Chargers' season ended short of where they wanted to be. On Sunday, in the first game of two potential games that they would have had to play that day, Northern Valley was blanked by South Parkland, 7-0, ending their season.

The loss capped a wild weekend of baseball for Northern Valley, which came into the tournament as the number-eight seed and had a tough road to the end of the double-elimination tournament. After an opening round loss to top-seeded North Parkland on Friday, Northern Valley was back at it Saturday, beating fifth-seeded West Allentown 14-0.

"I was a little nervous, only because we had guys that were out of position, and that's where I was concerned, but we came out and hit the ball and that was important," said NV manager Brad Rauch, who was without Taylor Breininger and Josh Williamson for Saturday's game.

The rest of the team stepped up to cover the shortage in players. Pitcher Ben Cordova was masterful on the mound and seemed to have plenty of gas left in the tank even after throwing all six innings of the game. Cordova allowed just three hits and struck out three hitters to get the win.

"Ben has been getting stronger as the year has been going on and to see him pitch today, compared to the first game of the year when he pitched for us, it's a complete turnaround," said Rauch. "He's throwing the ball harder, even in the last inning; six innings pitched and he was still throwing the ball with some good velocity and his location was good."

The big blow came from Ian Silfies in the third inning.

The Chargers strung together three hits, a walk and had two hit batters that produced two runs, but with two outs, were looking for a big hit and Silfies delivered, driving a 3-2 pitch to deep center field to clear the bases with a triple.

Two more walks and a double by Dante Salerno made it 7-0 Northern Valley.

"Anybody could have done it," said Silfies. "I was just in the right spot and I was just trying to hit the ball with two strikes, and it happened. Two strikes, two outs, I was just trying to hit it hard somewhere and it turned out nice."

Unfortunately, Sunday didn't go as well for the Chargers when they had to face the number-two seed South Parkland. The offense wasn't able to crack through against the Trojans' Sriharsha Bollu, who limited them to just three hits in the game.

"We got down early and it's tough to play catch-up against a team like that, but we were battling and I'm proud of our guys for that," said Rauch. "The season we had says a lot about the character of our guys.

"We've got guys from smaller schools and they never fail to step up. Five straight seasons that we've been in the playoffs in this league and that says a lot."

The season may have ended with a 7-0 loss, but Northern Valley left an impression on South Parkland manager Tom Kahn.

"I can't say it was a comfortable win," said Kahn. "They're a team that will always battle. They get down to their last out and they still believe they can win and you can never take a team like that lightly."