NV beats SP for LVL title
After losing to South Parkland for the third straight time last Friday, the Northern Valley Chargers weren’t a very happy bunch. The loss was worse than each of the first two, because it came in the playoffs and left the team one loss away from being eliminated and having their season end.
That 7-6 loss ultimately served as a driving factor for the Chargers to bounce back and pull off a bit of a surprise in the Lehigh Valley Legion, when they beat South Parkland not once, but twice to finish as LVL champions and earn a spot in the Regionals.
“That loss only made things much tougher for us,” said coach Brad Rauch of his team’s 7-6 defeat at the hands of South Parkland. “It didn’t mean we were out of it. It didn’t mean that we couldn’t come back, it just meant that we were going to have a much tougher road, and that’s what I told these guys.”
Northern Valley came back to beat West Allentown 1-0, setting up the rematch with South Parkland in the double-elimination tournament. The only catch was that they would have to beat South Parkland twice in a row or they would be the ones going home for the rest of the summer. On Sunday, Northern Valley rode the arm of Josh Williamson and the bat of Ben Cordova to a 3-2 win over South Parkland. Williamson threw a complete game and Cordova delivered the big blow offensively for Northern Valley.
Cordova had been the losing pitcher in Friday night’s loss, so delivering a key two-run triple to tie the game on Sunday was a bit of redemption. Scoring the go-ahead run just moments later after a wild pitch from South Parkland’s Michael Jenkins put Cordova even closer to having his final revenge.
“We lost a tough one Friday, and I think that really stuck with a lot of our guys,” said Cordova. “That was a game that we really wanted to win and I think that we showed that coming back here after being down and putting together a rally against a pretty good team. I think that game was what pushed us to get a win here.”
The redemption for Cordova would be completed Monday night when he threw a complete game and helped Northern Valley to a 4-3 win and a spot in regionals for his team.
Credit goes to Rauch for helping to prevent a repeat of a scenario that helped South Parkland to defeat Cordova Friday night when errors behind him made him try to be too perfect and ultimately proved to be his undoing. After two errors allowed Parkland to score three times in the third inning and take a 3-2 lead. Rauch made a trip to the mound, but didn’t have anything to say to his pitcher. Instead, it was his infielders he had a message for.
“I went out to talk to the guys behind him,” Rauch said of the reason for his visit. “I made him [Cordova] walk away. He didn’t need to hear that we made errors. I told them that we play seven innings for a reason. You can have an inning where you lose your focus, as long as you come back from that and stay positive. They did.”
Northern Valley came back in the fifth on two walks and a hit-by-pitch that loaded the bases. After a pitching change, a South Parkland throwing error allowed two runs to score, putting the Chargers up 4-3. From there, Cordova simply handled the rest to send Northern Valley to their first championship since 2011 when they were the top seed. This year’s team won as the fifth seed in the playoffs, finishing the regular season with a 9-9 record after a 2-6 start.
The regionals begin Saturday in Quakertown, with the Chargers facing Oley-Topton, the winners of the Schuylkill-Berks Championship.
“We came through at the right time and they never hung their heads,” Rauch explained. “They fought all year and they really turned it around.”