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Northern Valley Knee-Hi team makes LVL playoffs

The Northwestern Knee-Hi travel baseball team defeated Freemansburg 14-6 on Sunday, June 8, to improve to 8-3-1 on the season and qualify for the Lehigh Valley League playoffs.

With two weeks left in the regular season, there is a log jam at the top of the LVL standings with four three-loss teams (Northwestern, South Parkland, Emmaus, and Northampton) and three four-loss teams (Freemansburg, Bethlehem, and Salisbury) vying for the regular season crown.

The Tigers played three first-place teams over five days last week, defeating Freemansburg and Emmaus while losing to South Parkland. The Tigers defeated the other first place team (Northampton) earlier in the season.

"We would love to have the Salisbury and North Parkland games back", said head coach Frank Rauscher, Sr. "But we're obviously very pleased to be in the thick of things at this point in the season with a great opportunity to still win the regular season title and grab the top seed in the playoffs".

After losing their first two games of the season to Bethlehem and North Parkland, the Tigers have won eight out of their last 10 games, which includes a tie to Salisbury.

The 7-5 win over Emmaus on June 4 was a signature win for the Tigers this season as Emmaus won last year's LVL Midget Division Championship. In 2013, the Tigers were unable to beat Emmaus losing to them twice during the regular season and twice during the playoffs.

Pitching has been outstanding for the Tigers this season.

In 12 games the Tigers have used nine different pitchers. Tyler Wiik is the leader on the mound with a 3-0 record and a 2.33 ERA. Mason Vogwill, Jared Buzinski, Frank Rauscher and Gio Colon have also picked up wins and/or saves and have each pitched more than 12 innings. Drew White, Tanner Klotz and Colin Rex have also contributed on the mound this season for the Tigers. The team is hoping that Jake Haas, who has seen limited action on the mound this season due to a sore arm, will be fully recovered in time for the playoffs.

Offensively, more than half of the Tiger lineup is batting over .300. Leadoff hitter Colin Rex leads the team with a .389 batting average followed by Frank Rauscher (. 387), Jared Buzinski (. 357), Noah Minnich (. 333), Austin Stasko (. 318), Gio Colon (. 308), Matthew Rauscher (. 308) and Mason Vogwill (. 300).

Frank Rauscher leads the team in singles with 12. Rex leads the team in doubles with three. Buzinski leads the team in triples with two.

Sam Seyfried and Buzinski each have home runs. Wiik is the team's cleanup hitter and is batting .296. Not only is Wiik the team's leading pitcher, but he is also arguably the best catcher in the league.

Other defensive standouts include outfielders Jake Haas and Sam Seyfried, shortstop Jared Buzinski, first baseman Gio Colon, second baseman Colin Rex and catchers Austin Stasko and Jacob Rodriguez.

The Tigers have had a very special season up to this point with a lot of great memories. With the regular season title still to be determined and the Tigers assured of a playoff spot, the team is hoping that this season's best memories are yet to come.

Youth travel teams will officially become Northern Valley.

NYAA Baseball Director Dave Laudenslager is in the process of combining Northwestern and Northern Lehigh organizations in the Lehigh Valley League at the Biddy, Midget, and Knee-Hi levels with the official name to be designated as Northern Valley once approved by the league.

That name change is expected to be officially voted on and approved by the league in March of 2015. Northern Valley uniforms, however, are already being worn by this year's Northwestern travel teams and the rosters include some Northern Lehigh players. The Knee-Hi squad has one Northern Lehigh player (Gio Colon).