Falcons fall in LVL title game
Salisbury’s Lehigh Valley Legion offense just ran out of gas during their championship battle with South Parkland on July 12 at Parkland High School.
The reason the tank was on empty had a little to do with fatigue and a lot to do with a dominant pitcher named A.J. Palumbo.
The Falcons had authored a 14-12 comeback victory the night before against North Parkland. However, North Parkland didn’t have Palumbo, who administered a 101-pitch, three hit, seven strikeout performance in a 7-0 victory to claim the league title for South Parkland.
“It just didn’t look like we had the intensity that we had yesterday (during the 14-12 comeback win over North Parkland),” said Salisbury coach Scott Heppenheimer. “When you’re facing a kid like that, who is throwing 3-0 curve balls and 3-1 curve balls for strikes, it’s tough. You have to tip your hat to him.”
The Trojans didn’t waste any time taking control of the affair, jumping on Salisbury starter Taylor Linn in the top of the first. Palumbo slapped Linn’s first pitch up the middle for a ground ball base hit. Adam Mellinger kept the party going when he deposited a 2-1 curve ball for an RBI triple down the right-field line for a 1-0 South Parkland lead. Offensive star Cullen Wadsworth then launched a sacrifice fly for the first of his three RBIs for the game and a 2-0 Trojan lead.
Linn, who offered a respectable pitching performance, recovered and closed out South Parkland with no additional damage.
Salisbury mounted its best threat in the bottom of the first, catching Palumbo before he was able to settle in.
Linn led off with a walk and Joey Galantini followed with a single before a passed ball runners to move up 90 feet. Ryan Miller slapped a sharp ground ball that South Parkland third baseman Adam Smith swept up and fired to home to cut down Linn. Undaunted, the Falcons later juiced the bases before Palumbo displayed some his finest hurling.
Using his repertoire of pitches, he whiffed Nino Encarnacion before getting Quinn Warmkessel to fly out to retire the side.
“The first inning. We had second and third no outs,” said Heppenheimer. “That’s what kind of set the tone for the day. If we answer them back right there in the first inning it might be a different ballgame.”
South Parkland added runs in the third and fifth innings, chasing Linn in the process. Palumbo continued to dole out nasty pitches.
The Falcons applied heat to Palumbo in the sixth as three Falcons reached base. However, the mound master stayed cool, squelching the uprising with two ground ball outs.
Salisbury’s exhausted pitchers, who managed to limit Trojan scoring to four runs through six innings, broke down in the seventh as the floodgates opened and Parkland plated an additional three runs off relief pitcher Cole Warmkessel.
Salisbury, the top seed in the tournament, had played six games in seven days because it fell into the losers bracket in the second round. South Parkland came into the contest having played just once in the previous three days. The No. 4 seed Trojans beat North Parkland 1-0 in the winners bracket final.
“I kind of ran out of arms today, but if you tell me it’s going to be 4-0 going into the sixth, I think we have a shot,” Heppenheimer said.
Palumbo struck out the side to the end the affair and claim the trophy for the Trojans.
“We had a good run this year,” said Heppenheimer, who guided his team to the state tournament in 2017 and to a 16-2 regular season record this summer. “These kids played great. I got most of them back next year. We’ll be all right.”