Falcons stay alive in LVL playoffs
Salisbury manager Scott Heppenheimer let his team know about the conditions of the infield prior to Sunday’s game against Coplay.
Maybe he had a hunch of what was in store.
A friendly bounce on a Joey Galantini single kept Salisbury’s comeback bid alive in the fifth inning and played a key role in keeping the Falcons’ Lehigh Valley Legion season alive. The No. 1 seeded Falcons scored six runs in the frame, two on Galantini’s single, and defeated No. 8 seeded Coplay, 8-7, in a win-or-go-home playoff game at Salisbury High School.
Salisbury faced No. 2 seed Lower Mac on Tuesday. See next week’s Press for results of that game.
“I remember coach Heppenheimer saying that the field is a rock,” Galantini said. “We were just trying to hit the ball hard on the ground, and good things happened. I saw it hit the lip, and in my head I was thinking, ‘Skip, skip, skip.’ I saw the ball go over his head and I was just excited.”
The fortunate hop bounced over Zachary Hamscher at shortstop, scoring Bladimil Gautreaux and pinch runner Andrew Sukanick to bring Salisbury within 7-6. The Falcons trailed 7-3 heading into the bottom of the fifth inning, and the grounder to shortstop could have been a double play.
The Falcons built off that fortune. Kevin Cruz reached base on a Coplay error two batters later, allowing another Falcon to score and tie the game at 7-7. The Falcons took the lead moments later when Nino Encarnacion singled to third base and another Coplay throwing error allowed Galantini to score. Cruz scored late in the frame to make it 9-7 ball.
“Home field advantage came into play today,” Heppenheimer said. “The kids battled. We were down basically the whole game, and we couldn’t stop them until the sixth and seventh inning. I tip my hat to Quinn [Warmkessel]. He pitched 102 pitches today and 20 yesterday at 15 years old. He’s a horse.”
Coplay got a run back in the top of the sixth inning on a Zachary Bilder RBI-groundout. But Warmkessel, who allowed a single and walk to open the frame, got out of the threat with little damage.
Encarnacion allowed just a walk in the seventh inning and Salisbury held on to complete the four-run comeback. It was a change of scenery from Saturday’s game against South Parkland, where the Falcons couldn’t erase an early deficit and got knocked into the loser’s bracket of the LVL playoffs.
“[Saturday against South Parkland] we were down at first, and we came back but we couldn’t hang on,” Galantini said. “But today I really think we had that mentality that we weren’t losing. It was the next man up. If someone made a mistake, everyone was picking them up. We got the key hits today.”
Coplay jumped in front 2-0 in the first inning after an RBI-double from Alexander Bruneio and a Falcon infield error. That lead grew to 5-2 after the top of the fourth inning after Jake Lisicky drove in a run and another Falcon error led to one more run.
Taylor Linn finished 3-for-5 with two runs scored, while Cruz went 1-for-2 with an RBI and run scored.
Salisbury opened the LVL playoffs with an 11-1 win over No. 10 seed West Allentown last Friday. The Falcons then dropped a 9-6 decision to No. 4 South Parkland, which was slated to meet No. 3 North Parkland in the winner’s bracket final on Tuesday. The loser of that game will play Wednesday against the winner of Tuesday’s Lower Mac-Salisbury game.