Connie Mack team falls in league playoffs
The Salisbury Connie Mack baseball team experienced some setbacks in 2017. But the team bounced back and had a winning season in 2018.
The Falcons had a 12-7 overall record and qualified for this year’s league playoffs. They were the number nine seed and fell to number eight seeded Balliet Vikings, a team primarily consisting of Central Catholic players, 8-0 in the first round last Monday evening at Sammy Balliet Stadium in Coplay.
But there are still plenty of positives to take away from this season, even if it fell short of a playoff victory. A 16-game improvement over the course of the spring and summer is something special.
“I told these guys yesterday that the core of this group went 7-34 between Salisbury JV and then Connie Mack [in 2017],” said head coach Steve Wagner. “This year they’ve won 23 games since March until now. There’s a massive improvement there. Our goal at the beginning of the year was to make the playoffs. There’s nothing we could’ve done in practice to replicate a playoff-type atmosphere. Now when they get to the varsity level at Salisbury, they’ll have some big-game experience.”
After a scoreless and hitless first inning, Salisbury broke up the game’s no-hit bid with a single by Colin Weiss in the top of the second.
In the bottom half of the inning, the Vikings got onto the scoreboard, recording two runs on five hits, two of which never left the infield. All five hits were singles. The Falcons threatened in the third, putting two runners on with one out, but could not muster up a hit.
With two outs and nobody on in the bottom of the third, Balliet ripped back-to-back doubles to tack on another run for a 3-0 lead after three.
Josh Negron tripled with two outs in the fourth, but was stranded at third.
The bottom of the fifth proved to be a dagger for the Vikings. They produced another five-hit inning, but this time scored five runs to hold an 8-0 advantage into the sixth.
Salisbury got a single from Quinn Warmkessel in the sixth, but that was all Balliet starting pitcher Zach Curto allowed. He went six innings and gave up just three hits in the shutout.
“He had good stuff, but we had some opportunities and just didn’t take advantage of them,” Wagner said. “There were some bad approaches at the plate, especially late with some balls that didn’t get out of the infield. We’re young, and it’s a group that’s just coming through. Hopefully they’ll learn a lot from this playoff game.”
The Falcons started Hayden Kuhns, who lasted four-plus innings in his final start and Salisbury’s final game of the season.
“He’s been our number one guy all year,” said Wagner. “We rode him all season, and he’s come up big for us in getting us a lot of our victories.”