Tribe upsets top-seeded Tigers in districts
Momentum is a mysterious creature. Anything can happen when it’s on your side.
Lehighton grabbed the early momentum and held onto it during the District 11 quarterfinals against Northwestern. The Tribe scored three runs in both the first and third frames en route to an 8-3 upset victory over the first-seeded Tigers.
“The most important thing to pulling an 8-1 upset is throwing the first punch,” said Lehighton head coach Brian Polaha. “Throwing up three initially was huge for us. That’s what’s great. It’s like the NCAA tournament.
“They’re better than us. They’re deeper. They hit better. But it’s all about tournament format: one game. If we play our game and play it well, we’re going to win and we came out of the box hitting.”
The Tribe hit just one homerun all season. They mashed two of them in the third inning against Northwestern. Joe Heery led off the frame with a solo shot that just cleared the left field fence.
“I haven’t hit one since little league,” he said. “I’m used to hitting doubles off the wall. I’m not used to seeing it go over, so I sprinted to first base.
“They beat us up pretty hard earlier this season, but we were able to stay motivated. We have no quit at all. No matter what the score is, we’re in it from the first pitch to the last one.”
Dominic Buchinsky left the yard three batters later, and he knew it was gone. His long ball brought home Collin Haupt, who smacked a pair of doubles during the win. Lehighton’s second bomb of the third inning extended its lead to 6-1.
“I started jogging right when I hit it,” said Buchinsky. “Our momentum was crazy in the beginning. We started early and it carried throughout the game. We chipped away all season and we finally turned it around today. A lot of teams look at us as the underdog. It feels good to move on.”
The loss left the top-seeded Tigers devastated that their season came to an abrupt end.
“Thursday night (in the Colonial League championship) we had runners in position, we just couldn’t get that that timely hit, much like today,” said Northwestern head coach Duran Porrino. “Part of that is on their pitcher (Ben Cordova). He threw a real good game today. He threw the pitches when he needed to make them.
“We had high expectations. I’m sort of at a loss of words here. The wheels sort of fell off after the (Colonial League) championship game and we just couldn’t regroup from that. We’re a young team at the end of the day, and I think it’s a great learning experience.”
Cordova tossed a complete game for the Tribe; scattering six hits and striking out five. He limited damage during the entirety of the game, as Northwestern left eight on base, including a bases loaded fifth inning jam.
“He’s thrown a lot of pitches this year, but he’s kept himself in great shape,” Polaha noted. “I kind of wanted to take him out there (after the fifth), but he had a 1-2-3 sixth and he went back out in the seventh going on fumes. He wanted to finish, and I wanted him to finish. He’ a senior, he’s been my guys, and he’s a captain and the a team leader- the guys trust him.”
Lehighton will square off with No. 4 Southern Lehigh on Monday at Parkland.
Northwestern star, Jake Augusts, wasn’t in the lineup on Tuesday. He left the dugout and the rest of his Tiger teammates during the midst of the game.
“He made some comments during Thursday’s game that we needed to address,” said Porrino. “We had a situation with him on Friday that we also needed to address. My biggest thing is, I am going to hold the kids accountable. I put character above everything else.”
Lehighton 303 110 0 – 8 11 1
N’western 001 020 0 – 3 6 1
Cordova and Scherer; Vogwill, White (4), Fager (6) and Wiik. W – Cordova. L – Vogwill. HR – Lehighton: Heery (3rd inning, nobody on), Buchinsky (3rd inning, one on).