Loss to NV ends Legion season
Salisbury head coach Scott Heppenheimer has seen his team struggle hitting the ball all summer. And that issue was evident once again over the weekend during the Lehigh Valley Legion playoffs.
The Falcons mustered just four hits and struck out 11 times in a 7-3 loss to Northern Valley on Saturday evening at Church Lane Park. The loss ended Salisbury’s run in the LVL playoffs.
Salisbury, the No. 7 seed in the tournament, started off strong with two runs in the top of the first inning. After Ernesto Fermin walked and Quinn Warmkessel was hit by a pitch two batters later, Will Rodriguez brought home the Falcons’ first run with a single to left field. An RBI-ground out from Taylor Linn made it a quick 2-0 lead for the Falcons.
But the Falcons recorded just three hits the rest of the day and didn’t score again until the seventh inning when Northern Valley starter Eric Nothstein was pulled.
“I think we sort of relaxed a little bit,” Heppenheimer said. “I don’t know. I’ve never seen a team not be able to hit the fastball like this team. We had a couple of guys hit over .300, but basically that guy was throwing fastballs all day. We struck out 11 times.”
Northern Valley steadily chipped away at the deficit. Derek Holmes recorded an RBI-single in the bottom of the first, and Aaron Rudolph’s sacrifice fly in the second tied the game at 2-2.
The Chargers’ big break came in the fifth inning when they scored five runs due in large part to four Salisbury errors. Ryan King’s fly ball to left field should have been caught, but instead an error allowed Benjamin Netznik to score on the play. Luke Eitner’s two-run double in the next at-bat put Northern Valley in front 5-2. Justin Holmes later singled and Nicholas Henry reached on another Falcon error, both bringing home runs.
“I know we had a fly ball that should’ve been caught,” Heppenheimer said. “It was up there a long time. Taylor gave us everything he had. He threw 102 pitches, and then we kind of fell apart a little bit. But he gave me everything. He pitched well, and we just couldn’t hit the fastball.”
When Holmes replaced Nothstein on the mound with two outs in the seventh, Salisbury loaded the bases on two walks and brought a run home. But a groundout from Rodriguez back to Holmes ended the Falcons’ summer.
Salisbury will bring back several players for next year, but some key parts of the team over the past few seasons won’t be back next year.
“We lose Kevin Cruz, and he had a pretty good career for us,” Heppenheimer said. “The last two seasons we were regular season champions, and we made it to regionals two years ago, and he was a big part of that. Taylor Linn is done. He was a big part of that. He played for me all the way from ninth grade through freshman year of college. He helped win a Connie Mack title, two Lehigh Valley Legion titles and a regional berth.”
Bladimil Gautreaux is also done and his void will be missed in the lineup.