Falcons clinch top seed
Kevin Cruz is unable to be at all of Salisbury’s legion games, but when he is there he’s a vital part of the team. In Friday’s win over Northern Valley, Cruz smacked two home runs in the Falcons’ 8-3 win over Northern Valley.
Cruz’ first homer, which came in the second inning, was a no doubter. The ball arched toward deep left-center field and cleared the fence by a few feet to give Salisbury a 2-0 lead.
Cruz returned to lead off the fifth inning with his team up 5-3. This time he crushed a ball to just about the same part of the field. It lacked the height of his earlier home run but still had enough to clear the fence.
“I knew I hit it hard but I didn’t know if it was high enough to get out,” said Cruz after the game. “Both of them surprised me a little because I’ve been slumping lately.”
The two home runs were the first two of the season for Cruz.
“He’s one of our best hitters, actually,” said coach Scott Heppenheimer about Cruz. “He’s not always available to play but he knows how to hit and it’s tough when you’re not playing every game. I think that led to some of his struggles at the plate but he can hit.”
Salisbury built on its early 2-0 lead by putting together back-to-back three-run innings in the fourth and fifth. Most of the damage came thanks to errors by Northern Valley, which finished the game with six errors. Four of the six runs that Salisbury scored in the two innings were unearned.
Mark Wilson, Colten Hagadus, Ryan Miller and Taylor Linn also picked up an RBI in the game for Salisbury. On the mound, Drew Sukanick threw a complete game for Salisbury, allowing six hits and stranding seven runners in the game.
The win over Northern Valley was followed up by a 7-0 win over Southern Lehigh on Saturday that clinched the top spot in the playoffs for the Falcons. They will have home field advantage throughout the league playoffs, which begin on Friday for Salisbury.
In most seasons, the regular season champion would also secure a spot in the regional playoffs but the Lehigh Valley Legion League gets just one regional spot this season, which will be the playoff champion.
“A lot of teams are resting guys and kind of coasting through the end because first place isn’t as important, but we’re not doing that. I want every playoff game to be here,” said Heppenheimer, pointing to the Salisbury High School field. “Winning means we don’t have to travel and that’s what we want, so we’re not letting up until we have that locked up.”
The league will have play-in games for the four teams at the bottom of the standings. Two of the four will move into the eight-team, double-elimination tournament that will crown a league champion, who will move on to play in regionals. Salisbury will have to wait to see who it faces in the playoff opener on Friday.
While Salisbury isn’t guaranteed a spot in regionals thanks to the regular season championship, the Falcons do have bragging rights to back-to-back regular season championships in the LVLBL.