Carbon ousts No. Valley from LV Legion playoffs
Northern Valley team ran into the hottest team in the league at the wrong time.
Last week in the first round of the Lehigh Valley Legion playoffs, No. 2 seed Northern Valley faced Carbon County, which had won a play-in game a day earlier to make the eight-team LVL tournament field.
The Monarchs stayed hot. Just a day after sending North Parkland home with a 4-1 win in the play-game, Carbon defeated last year’s league champ, Northern Valley, 9-3 to end the Chargers’ season.
Carbon County lost it’s next game to top-seeded Salisbury, but rebounded to win two more games in the losers bracket, including a revenge game against Salisbury, before falling to South Parkland in Monday’s title game.
In the win over Northern Valley, Carbon got superb pitching from Anthony Micholik and a few big swings of the bat broke open their Lehigh Valley Legion playoff game against Northern Valley.
With a full lineup intact, the Monarchs cruised by the Chargers at Northwestern Lehigh High School on a rainy afternoon
“Today we had all of our team here,” said Carbon interim head coach JT Keer. “A lot of the season, we were missing a lot of our guys for vacations. It just so happened it wasn’t during the same week, so we were missing key players each game. Playoffs came around and everyone showed up.”
Ben Cordova started for the Chargers, and rolled three easy Carbon ground balls to start the game in the first inning. Neither pitcher relinquished a hit until the top of the third, when Anthony Collevechio notched the contest’s first hit. He then scored on Micholik’s sacrifice-fly.
The Monarchs struck once in the fourth, but delivered a big blow in the fifth, when Blasko cleared the bases with an opposite-field double, which extended the lead to 5-0.
“It was my third at-bat and I was looking for something to hit,” Blasko said. “Cordova was throwing a real good game, and he gave me something on the outer-half, so I took that one to right.”
Micholik successfully worked out of trouble in the third when the Chargers left the bases full, and again in the fourth, stranding a pair of runners.
“I knew of them and how good they hit,” said Micholik, who fanned seven across five-plus innings. “I pitched (against) them early on the season and had trouble with them, but came back and got through strong.”
Northern Valley head coach Brad Rauch agreed that cashing in with the bases loaded could have helped his club change the course of the game.
“When we got bases loaded, I was kind of like ‘here we go, we’re going to put something together and score some runs’,” Rauch said. “It didn’t work that way. We haven’t played well from behind this year. For most of the year we were able to jump out and stay ahead. We got behind and we couldn’t bounce back. Our three losses this year are when we fell behind and couldn’t rebound.”
The Monarchs helped put the game away in the sixth, when Derek Joyce’s two-run homer cleared the left-field fence. Carbon tagged on two more in the frame, to make the score 9-0 at that point.
“I feel pretty good,” Joyce said. “I just wanted to hit the ball hard. I saw a pitch down the middle and I just wanted to put a good swing on it. That’s a good team we played over there. We were the underdogs, so it feels good to win.”
Northern Valley tacked on three in the bottom of the seventh. Leadoff hitter Jake Haas was the only Charger to reach base twice.
The Chargers will send seven player to play in the All-Star Game, which is a Lehigh Valley League record, according to Rauch. Catcher Tyler Wiik, second baseman Evan Meixsell, short stop Justin Welch and outfield Tyler Schreiner were voted as starters for the game, which was played Tuesday in Reading. First baseman Trevor Schreiner and outfielder Austin Hemingway earned spots as reserves. Cordova and
Rauch is from the Nazareth area and just completed his seventh year as head coach for Northern Valley, which is primarily made up of players from the Northern Lehigh and Northwestern school districts.
“I don’t have a tie to Northwestern or Northern Lehigh,” Rauch said. “I do this because I love baseball and I love the guys within the Northern Valley organization. It’s a good group of guys and we all do it because we love the game.
“I have the best coaching staff in the Lehigh Valley and they’ve been with me for six years now. We all have a passion and a love for the game.”
Carbon 001 134 0 – 9 11 2
No. Valley 000 000 3 – 3 3 3
Micholik, M. Goida (6) and A. Joyce; Cordova, White (5) and Wiik. W – Micholik. L – Cordova. HR: D. Joyce (6th, one on).