NV goes deep in CM state tourney
LIMEPORT — Northern Valley looked to ride its wild wave of momentum into Friday’s loser’s bracket semifinals of the Connie Mack state playoffs against Doylestown at Limeport Stadium.
What did the Chargers have left in the tank? A lot. But Doylestown had just a little bit more.
The Chargers searched for more late-game heroics and tallied three runs in the top of the seventh to take an 8-5 lead. But Doylestown found some magic of its own with three runs in the bottom of the frame to send the contest to extras.
Northern Valley was blanked in the top of the eighth, and Brady Lott hit a walk-off RBI single in the home-half of the inning to secure a 9-8 victory for Doylestown.
“Anytime he puts the ball in play it’s hit hard,” said Doylestown head coach Ray Rudek of Lott, whose walk-off single was hit in the hole to left field. “That’s all you’re looking for in that situation, especially with the infield up. I had the utmost confidence that he was going to be able to execute as needed.”
Both teams were knotted at five entering the seventh, when Northern Valley made most of its noise.
Aaron Rudolph singled up the middle, and advanced to second on a throwing error. Nate Goodolf hit an infield single, which moved Rudolph to third. Jake Dellicker then entered the game for the first time and laid down a tricky suicide squeeze bunt, which allowed Rudolph to prance home. Derek Holmes then added a sacrifice fly to right, which made the score 7-5. Lastly, Jack Turner’s Texas Leaguer down the right-field line was perfectly placed, and his attempt to stretch it to a double led to a Doylestown throwing error, which plated Holmes.
But in the bottom of the seventh, Doylestown fired back with gutsy two-out hitting. The Chargers were just one out away from surviving and advancing another day. But with two down and runners on first and second, Danny Loving crushed a double to left-center field that scored Alex Gatto and Nate Bash. Next, Connor Bates roped a double down the third-base line. Dellicker’s throw from left field was a good one, but Loving just beat the throw and slid under Holmes’s tag to tie the game at eight.
Chargers’ reliever Eric Nothstein struck out Tommy Webb to end the threat with the bases loaded — and the game was decided in extra innings.
Despite coming one out short of moving forward, Northern Valley made team history in 2017 winning three state playoff games and placing fourth in the state.
“I’m sad that it ends, but this is the farthest we’ve ever gone,” Northern Valley head coach Erich Klein said. “This is my 17th season coaching at Northern Valley. We’ll try for the next step next year. It was just a great season with great kids and parents.”
Vinny Castrine started on the bump for the Chargers and gave Northern Valley six competitive frames.
“He’s our MVP of the tournament,” said Klein. “ A lot of kids stepped up. I shouldn’t leave anyone out. It was a whole team effort to stay here that far. I know they’re sad, but I know they know that they accomplished a lot. They have the heart, and that’s why you play baseball.”
The Chargers beat South Parkland last Friday to set up the game against Doylestown.
Down three runs heading into the top of the seventh against the Lehigh Valley League regular season champion Trojans, Klein called his team together for a reality check.
“I knew that everyone had some mixed feelings about pulling [it] out,” said Klein. But (assistant coach) Joe (Seremula) reminded me that Vinny Castrine was pitching the bottom of the seventh. I just smiled and knew it could be our night.”
Klein’s intuition was right.
The Chargers rallied for four runs in the top of the seventh and held off South Parkland in the bottom of the inning to capture a dramatic 5-4 victory and continue their march at Limeport Stadium.
It was the third straight victory for Northern Valley (18-8) since its opening-round loss to Nazareth in the double-elimination tournament. Jack Turner hit a two-out, two-strike double in the gap that plated the go-ahead run for the Chargers in the seventh. Derek Holmes also hit a two-run double, and Nic Beers brought the tying run home with a sacrifice fly.
Holmes, who also knocked in another run, and Turner had two hits apiece to pace the Chargers’ seven-hit effort.
Luke Eitner started the game and went six strong innings before giving way to Castrine in the seventh.
South Parkland jumped out to a 3-1 lead in the first taking advantage of two Northern Valley errors.
“We gave them five outs in the first inning with the errors,” said Klein. “We had our chances to get more runs in the top of the first, but we didn’t capitalize. But these kids really have a lot of heart and it showed after the opening inning. We were down to our final three outs of the season and they responded in a big way.
“Eitner did a nice job for us. We had the two errors, but he (Eitner) kept us in the game. Vinny (Castrine) gave up a leadoff double in the seventh, but he battled through it and got the final batter to pop up.”
The Chargers defeated the top three seeded Lehigh Valley teams (Bethlehem Catholic, Northampton, and South Parkland) and they were the lone Lehigh Valley entry left of the four teams remaining in the tournament after Friday’s action.
Northern Valley ends the season with a 19-8 overall record, including the postseason.
Hatfield-Towamencin won this year’s state Connie Mack championship, beating Warrington 11-3 in the tournament final.
No. Valley 002 210 30 - 8 13 1
Doylestown003 101 31 - 9 11 4
Castrine, Nothstein (7) and Holmes; Gatto, Rudek (5) and Lott. W - Rudek. L - Nothstein.
No. Valley 100 000 4 – 5 7 3
South Parkland 300 010 0 - 4 7 5
Eitner, Castrine (7) and Holmes; Gibbons, Leiby(5) and Viola. W- Eitner L-Leiby