Legion team has postseason goals
When Ryan Miller walks up to the plate, he’s always looking a first pitch he can drive. He got one early in Sunday’s game against North Parkland pitcher Collin Duff and made the Buffaloes pay.
Miller drove a first pitch fastball over the left center field fence to bring three Salisbury runs across home plate. That started a five-run first inning for the Falcons (8-0) as they remained unbeaten in legion play and held off a late charge from North Parkland for an 8-7 win.
“I’m honestly just up there looking for a first-pitch strike, and just trying to hit it regardless of where it is,” Miller said, who finished with six RBIs. “If I take pitches I get too nervous, so I feel like if I just look for that first pitch fastball I can drive it. I got two right in my wheelhouse and I took them.”
Miller’s first homer scored Joey Galantini and Lucas Irwin for a quick 3-0 lead before Salisbury recorded its first out.
Miller wasn’t be done, and neither were the Falcons. Cole Warmkessel walked later in the inning to bring home Colten Hagadus for a 4-0 advantage. Peter Dubois’ RBI-groundout scored Nino Encarnacion in the next at-bat.
That 5-0 lead held until the fourth inning. After Parkland got two runs back on a two-run home run from Dylan Miller, cutting the deficit to 5-2, Miller and the Falcons responded.
Joey Galantini led off the bottom half of the inning with a double to left field. Two batters later, Ryan Miller drove another ball over the left field fence, nearly the same spot he hit his first home run of the evening.
“The second was an 0-2 count, and he wasn’t throwing me anything when I hit the second home run,” Miller said. “He finally threw one in the strike zone and I just hit it.
“We are playing unbelievable [compared] to how we played in varsity. Varsity is different with school. Maybe there is a little bit more pressure because of school. Some players are ineligible. It’s cold. In the summer it’s a little more laid back.”
The Buffaloes (5-5) made things interesting with two more runs in the fifth and three in the top half of the seventh. With one run already across, Will Algard ripped a single to left field that brought another Buffalo home in the seventh. Then, Miller came through with another RBI to cut Salisbury’s lead to a single run.
But Miller’s RBI-double in the bottom of the sixth proved to be a key insurance run for the Falcons and their quest to remain unbeaten.
“It’s always good to beat Parkland,” Miller said. “They are a cocky team. But this one was great. They almost came back, which made it an even better win knowing that they were coming back. We did a good job on the mound. Pitchers threw strikes for the most part.”
After a bit of a letdown season during the spring, the Falcon legion team is having another remarkable summer, reminiscent of its run last year to the regional tournament. To go along with the core of Falcons from the high school season, Salisbury’s success relies on four players from Dieruff in Encarnacion, Bladimil Gautreaux, Kevin Cruz and Angel Mota, who injured his wrist early in the season.
And much like last season, manager Scott Heppenheimer and his players have goals of this team reaching regionals again. They are also hoping to make some history along the way.
“Our big goal is to go back to regionals,” Miller said. “That is our number one goal because no Salisbury team has ever won a regional game in legion. Coach Heppenheimer’s main goal is to have us win at least one regional game.”