Chargers fall to Mustangs, 16-2
The Northern Valley Chargers faced something of a perfect storm Monday when Lower Macungie rolled into New Tripoli. The Chargers were missing two key players, their pitching was thin and the Mustangs have spent the last week pounding the ball on a four-game winning streak that brought them back to the .500 mark on the season. The result was a particularly bad storm that saw the Chargers fall to Lower Macungie in a 16-2 loss.
The Lower Macungie offense is one of the hottest in the Lehigh Valley Legion. The win over the Chargers puts them above .500 for the first time this season and they have plated 58 runs on their current win streak.
“It’s tough, because sometimes, it’s one guy missing and you can get away with it,” said Northern Valley head coach Brad Rauch. “In our case right now, it’s two. You don’t want to say they’re your best players, but when you don’t have your full roster, it hurts. One [Justin Holmes] is a pitcher and we’re already limited on pitching and that’s where I was today.”
Rauch came into the week with his pitching plan laid out, but it also was predicated on getting a lot of innings from Monday’s starter, Eric Nothstein. The hot bats of the Mustangs limited Nothstein to four innings after he had reached the 96-pitch mark.
In the first inning, it was the Chargers jumping on Lower Macungie starter Ryan Kasye with two runs.
Colten Hagadus singled and stole second ahead of back-to-back walks to Daulton Lorrah and Nothstein. Nick Henry hit a long fly ball to left to bring home Hagadus. After another walk loaded the bases again, Aaron Rudolph singled to right to make it 2-0. Kasye regrouped and struck out the next two batters to avoid any further problems.
Lower Macungie put together some timely hits in the top of the third and scored five runs against Nothstein to take a 5-2 lead. The first six batters reached base, three of them on walks, which have been an issue for the Chargers.
Northern Valley pitchers issued 22 walks in back-to-back losses against South Parkland and Salisbury last week. In their next two games – both wins – Chargers’ pitchers allowed just seven walks against Carbon and Allentown. In the losses, nine of the 22 walked batters wound up scoring and against Lower Macungie, seven of the 12 walks that Northern Valley pitchers issued scored, as did the two Lower Mac batters who were hit by pitches.
“They scored five in the third and it just seemed like we went down,” noted Rauch. “It seemed like we were OK with them scoring five runs and we have to get better.”
In addition to getting four innings from Nothstein, Rauch was able to get 1 1/3 innings from Chris Lucykanish, who then handed the ball over to Lorrah in the sixth.
The Mustangs plated four more runs in the fifth, with three more walks being issued to Lower Macungie hitters. In the sixth, Lower Mac saw eight straight batters reach base with one out and seven of them scored.
After his rough first inning, Kasye settled in and allowed just two hits over the next three innings. Vince Viola came on to pitch the final two innings and struck out three batters, giving Mustang pitchers eight strikeouts in the game.
“We’ve got four games left and we’re thin on pitching, although we have our two best pitchers coming up on Wednesday and Friday,” said Rauch. “The bottom line is that we have to play better baseball. We have to start limiting our mistakes, limiting the walks and play harder or things could get pretty bad the rest of the way.”
With the playoffs set to start on July 10, a Northern Valley win over Lower Macungie combined with the right outcome in a couple other games, could have secured at least third in the playoff seedings for the Chargers. Instead, the loss makes things especially tight in the middle of the Lehigh Valley League standings, with four teams – Lower Macungie, Carbon (6-7), Northern Valley and Salisbury (5-6-1) - all within one game of each other. With games left against Carbon, North Parkland (9-4) and a double-header against Emmaus (4-8), the Chargers will need to turn things around to wrap up a higher playoff seeding.