Salisbury Press

Sunday, April 22, 2018
PRESS PHOTO BY NANCY SCHOLZNino Encarnacion is one of three Dieruff High School baseball players that are part of this year’s Salisbury American Legion team, which is off to a 2-0 start. PRESS PHOTO BY NANCY SCHOLZNino Encarnacion is one of three Dieruff High School baseball players that are part of this year’s Salisbury American Legion team, which is off to a 2-0 start.

Salisbury starts 2-0 in LV Legion

Wednesday, June 7, 2017 by TODD KRESs in Sports

Last year’s Salisbury Connie Mack baseball team won the regular season championship. A banner hangs on the fence at the high school field just behind home plate acknowledging those Falcons and their feat.

Now, many of those same Connie Mack players have moved up to the legion level looking to get a team back on track that has struggled in recent years. And through two games, it looks like the Falcons have carried that momentum over to the legion ranks.

Salisbury improved to 2-0 in the early going of the season with a 10-2 victory over the Carbon County Monarchs on Sunday. The Falcons defeated Emmaus 7-3 to open the season last Thursday.

“We’re looking good, a lot better than we were in the season,” said pitcher Cole Warmkessel. “We looked at what we were doing this season, and we had to work on a lot of stuff. I think we are coming out with a lot more confidence for the summer. We got a lot of guys coming from Dieruff, and that helps us, too.”

Warmkessel, along with much of this year’s starting lineup, played Connie Mack last year. It’s a unit that has gone through the ranks together, and largely has had success at every level of play.

The incoming senior pitched six innings of one-run baseball, allowing just five hits to Carbon County. By the time the Monarchs got on the scoreboard in the fifth inning, it was well too late.

“I haven’t thrown in awhile,” Warmkessel said. “I was glad to get back on the mound. I just went out trying to do my best. Whatever situation I got in, I just tried to stay focused and get the next batter.”

“Most of them are all Connie Mack kids,” said manager Scott Heppenheimer, who coached the Connie Mack team last year and coached legion in 2013. “Plus, the starting catcher from Central [Killian Mailander] and three Dieruff kids. It’s a nice mixture.”

Dieruff’s Kevin Cruz, William Rodriguez and Nino Encarnacion have made the chemistry between the three different schools look seamless.

Carbon County’s best chance at the plate came in the first inning when the bases were loaded with two outs. But Warmkessel got out of the jam and never looked back. He allowed just four hits the remaining five innings.

Salisbury, meanwhile, took advantage of Carbon County’s missed opportunity in the bottom half of the opening frame. Ryan Miller launched a single to center field that put the Falcons in front 2-0. Then Colten Hagadus connected on a single to left field that tacked on two more runs.

Hagadus went 3-for-4 with four RBIs. He was one of four hitters with at least two hits.

“We have great approaches at the plate,” Hagadus said. “Our pitching has been really solid. Defense has been really good.

“We expect to compete every game. We expect to be in every game.”

Joey Galantini walked in the third inning to force in Miller and increase Salisbury’s lead to 5-0. And then the Falcons doubled their lead to 10-0, nearly putting in effect the 10-run rule before the Monarchs got on the scoreboard.

Hagadus’ two-run single down the third base line gave Salisbury a 7-0 lead in the fourth inning. Colin Wagner then brought in two more runs with a single to make 10-0 after Galantini walked in another Falcon base-runner from third base.

It’s been a pleasant start to the legion season after a disappointing high school season for the blue and white. Heppenheimer, a longtime assistant on the high school team, is hoping the legion success continues in the upcoming week with games against West Allentown (Tuesday), Southern Lehigh (Wednesday), North Parkland (Thursday) and Lower Macungie (Saturday).

“If you watched these past two games, we made every play,” he said. “We hit, and we pitched. “I don’t know if they are more relaxed. Or maybe they know since I have 18 guys and about six of them on the bench that can play, that they know we have options.”