NV found ways to stay alive in league tourney
For three games in a row, the Northern Valley Chargers had their backs against the wall. A loss to undefeated South Parkland on Friday forced them to play the rest of the Lehigh Valley Legion playoffs one loss away from being eliminated.
The situation didn’t faze the Chargers. They played some of their best baseball of the season after that second-round loss in the double-elimination LVL playoff tournament.
Northern Valley won three straight games to get another shot at South Parkland in the tournament finals.
After the loss to the Trojans, Northern Valley (11-11) came back with a 7-3 win over Salisbury the next day.
The Chargers picked up 11 hits in the game, three from Justin Holmes and two each from Derek Holmes, Ryan King and Luke Eitner. Eitner scored twice and drove in two runs in the game.
Eric Nothstein held Salisbury (6-12-1) to just three hits and struck out 11 batters to get the win. Nothstein seemed to have enough gas in the tank to keep going, but had reached his pitch limit, throwing 107 pitches in the game. Derek Holmes came on and gave up a hit and two walks, but was able to keep Salisbury from catching up to the Chargers on the scoreboard.
On Sunday, things got even tougher when the Chargers were forced to play two games in different locations against teams they struggled against during the season. First, they faced Carbon County (11-9), a team they split two games with during the regular season. After winning that contest, had to face North Parkland (14-6), which had swept the Chargers in their two previous meetings.
All went well and after a 2-1 win over Carbon early in the afternoon, Northern Valley downed North Parkland 9-4 in eight innings. The back-to-back wins sent them to the LVL finals for a rematch with South Parkland, which meant the Chargers had to beat the Trojans twice in a row to become league champions.
Owen Schoch came up big against the Monarchs, driving in both of the Chargers runs and Nick Henry gave Northern Valley a complete game effort, scattering five hits and walking just one batter on the day.
“Nick’s outing was huge, because the one thing you don’t want to do when you have two games on a hot day is burn through pitching,” said acting head coach Ben Breidinger. “That kept us in good shape for the second game and then we got good pitching there, so we came out of this in good shape.”
In the nightcap, North Parkland and Northern Valley just looked to one-up each other, with the Buffaloes tying the game in the bottom of the seventh to send it to extra innings. Northern Valley appeared to have had enough of the back-and-forth momentum and put up five runs in the eighth and then shut down North Parkland in the bottom of the inning.
Over the three games, Derek and Justin Holmes combined to hit .478 (11-for-23) with five RBI and six runs scored. Aaron Rudolph and Ryan King each hit .375 (3-for-8) over the three games and each contributed two RBI, with King also scoring two runs.
“Our heart is into this game,” said Schoch. “We just stick together and find ways to pull through. It’s all heart and it’s all sweat and tears.”
The Chargers earned the No. 5 seed for the league tournament and opened it last Wednesday with a win over No. 4 Lower Macungie.
Nothstein went 2-for-4 with four RBIs in the win over Lower Mac, while King was also 2-for-4 and five Charger teammates each had a hit in the win. King pitched an efficient 93 pitches over seven innings, allowing four runs (two earned) on six hits while striking out nine and walking none.
After a rain out Thursday, the Chargers fell to the top-seeded Trojans on Friday, 2-0. They were held to five hits by South Parkland starter Joshua Miller. Luke Eitner pitched all six innings for Northern Valley, allowing two runs (one earned) on five hits.
The Chargers then won their next three games, but fell to South Parkland in Monday’s league final.