Salisbury Press

Saturday, June 24, 2017
PRESS PHOTO BY NANCY SCHOLZWill Rodriguez pitched a complete game to lead Salisbury to a 6-1 Lehigh Valley Legion win over Lower Macungie last weekend. PRESS PHOTO BY NANCY SCHOLZWill Rodriguez pitched a complete game to lead Salisbury to a 6-1 Lehigh Valley Legion win over Lower Macungie last weekend.
PRESS PHOTO BY NANCY SCHOLZCole Warmkessel slides into base during Salisbury’s doubleheader against Lower Macungie last weekend. PRESS PHOTO BY NANCY SCHOLZCole Warmkessel slides into base during Salisbury’s doubleheader against Lower Macungie last weekend.

Falcons split two games vs. LM

Thursday, June 15, 2017 by TODD KRESs tkress@tnonline.com in Sports

The first game of Salisbury’s legion doubleheader against Lower Mac didn’t go as planned Saturday. An 8-1 defeat handed the Falcons their first loss of the young season.

But they responded when the two teams took the field in the evening. Led by 15-year old Will Rodriguez’s complete game, one-run effort, Salisbury took game two of the doubleheader, 6-1 on its home field.

Perhaps seeing an offense score eight runs hours earlier would have intimidated most pitchers, particularly one that just cracked his teenage years and just finished his sophomore season at Dieruff. But not Rodriguez.

“I tried to go pitch-by-pitch and player-by-player,” Rodriguez said. “I tried to take it one player at a time, and confidently throw strikes knowing fielders were behind me.

“I think everybody is doing well on this team. The first game we started off rough. The second game we came back and got the victory.”

Another thing that might rattle most pitchers is giving up a game-tying homerun to one of the East Penn Conference’s top hitters from this past spring. When Lower Mac’s Todd Moxey launched a solo home run in the fourth inning to even the game at 1-1, it could have become the ignition to another strong offensive showing from Lower Mac.

But Rodriguez wasn’t fazed. He proceeded to get the next three batters out in the inning, and didn’t allow another hit until the seventh frame. No Lower Mac base runner reached second base in the final three innings.

A big reason Rodriguez was able to settle down after Moxey’s bomb to left field was the way Salisbury rallied behind its ace. Immediately after Lower Mac tied the game, the Falcons responded with two runs in the top of the fifth to retake the lead. Incoming senior Ryan Miller ripped a double into the left field gap that scored Colin Wagner. Miller scored after Kevin Cruz reached base on a Lower Mac error.

“I knew that there was somebody on second base, so I knew I had to do something big,” Miller said. “In my mind I was just thinking that I need to do something, have a big hit or something. I connected with the ball and it went pretty far.”

“It calmed me down a lot,” said Rodriguez. “I knew he could do that because the left fielder wasn’t really guarding the plate.”

The offense provided even more insurance for Rodriguez in the seventh inning, although he wouldn’t need it.

After Wagner led off the seventh with a walk, followed by a single from Nino Encarnacion, Miller came through again. He smashed another double, this one just inside the third base line, to score Wagner.

Cruz then launched a double off Moxey, who took the mound in relief in the seventh inning, to bring home Encarnacion and Miller.

“I was really shocked and expecting it to happen at the same time because Will pitched against us in the regular season against Dieruff,” said Miller, who started on Salisbury’s high school team this year and faced the Huskies in the regular season. “He’s only 15 years old. That’s really impressive from him. I couldn’t possibly expect anything more than that.”

Results from Tuesday’s game against South Parkland were not available at time of press. The Falcons will face Coplay on Thursday at Sam Balliet Stadium at 6 p.m.