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Solehi tops WHS

The Southern Lehigh baseball team prevented Whitehall from duplicating last year’s postseason run, exacting some revenge in the district semifinals to end the Zephyrs’ season on May 23 at Parkland.

Last year Whitehall who took home the inaugural District XI 5A baseball crown, defeating Southern Lehigh to begin their magical ride to the state finals. This year the Spartans derailed their hopes of repeating a long postseason run, defeating them 3-1 in the opening round of the 5A playoffs.

Spartan starting pitcher Andrew Lievendag allowed just five hits over six innings of work, picking up fifth win of the season. One of those hits came in the top of the first as Whitehall got the early jump, scoring a run to make it 1-0.

Zephyr manager Shaun O’Boyle said that their first two batters reached base, and with a runner standing on third, they had the meat of the lineup coming up. But they failed to plate another run, and that missed opportunity loomed large as the game progressed.

“That was big,” said O’Boyle. “If we could put up three runs, those would have been big later in the game.”

It would have given them a cushion to withstand Southern Lehigh’s two-run third inning which ultimately decided the game.

The first inning, powered by Ryan Pavone’s RBI, would be all the runs the Zephyrs would score, finishing the game with eight runners left on base.

“That was the difference,” said O’Boyle. “We couldn’t get that hit with guys in scoring position.

Starting pitcher Robbie Lamm, who overcame a rocky first inning, allowing one run after hitting a batter, surrendering a walk, and giving up a double, stay composed and pitched out of trouble to keep the Zephyrs in the game.

“Once he settled down, Robbie pitched a great game,” said O’Boyle.

With the way they had been swinging the bats lately, O’Boyle was confident his team could come back against the Spartans. And with Lamm dealing on the mound, allowing just five hits during his stint on the rubber, also played a role in his belief.

O’Boyle said that if you had told him beforehand that the Spartans would manage just three run on five hits, he’d say that they’d win that game 10 out of 10 times.

Still, he believed one of the factors that helped seal their fate was their willingness to take pitches at the plate. While he said you can’t take credit away from Lievendag who kept them off balance a little bit, they weren’t as aggressive at the dish as they had been toward the end of the regular season.

“We didn’t swing the bats very well,” O’Boyle said.

The Zephyrs had nine hits and seven runs against Northampton, and then closed out the season with a run and three hits against Parkland.

The team will now say goodbye to seniors Jake Lisicky, Matt Ziminsky (second team all Eastern Pennsylvania Conference, pitcher), Robbie Lamm, Ryan Pavone, Ben Antonchak and Jack Kaintz.

That group played a ton of baseball for the Zephyrs, having also been integral parts of last season’s trip to the PIAA 5A Championship game. Their absence both on and off the field will have a major impact, said O’Boyle.

“They’re going to be hard to replace,” said O’Boyle.

O’Boyle said the he’s sure his seniors are tired of hearing him speak about them in glowing terms, but he’s adamant when he says that they’re one of the best senior classes to ever come through Whitehall, and that all began with their work ethic.

“They were a special group,” said O’Boyle.

O’Boyle said that they provided great leadership all season long, and worked as hard as any class he ever coached.

Copyright 2018