SP goes 20-0, wins LVL title
The South Parkland Legion team made it through the regular season and playoffs undefeated, finishing 20-0 and holding the Lehigh Valley Legion championship trophy Monday night after beating Northern Valley 2-0 at Weiland Park on the campus of De Sales University.
The Trojans made it through games against Emmaus and North Parkland in the postseason in addition to beating Northern Valley (11-11) twice in the double-elimination tournament. The win sends South Parkland into the Region Two playoffs, which begin Friday.
Both runs came in very similar situations and were helped along by aggressiveness on the base paths. South Parkland runners stole four bases in the game without being thrown out, while the Chargers attempted the same type of game plan and were thrown out both times they attempted to steal.
“We knew that we might have to manufacture some runs today, because they have good pitching,” said coach Tom Kahn. “Our guys were able to get good jumps and put themselves in a position where we could drive them in and that’s what we needed to do against this team. Both teams only had five hits, so we knew we had to make some things happen.”
Going against Ryan King, one of the better pitchers in the league, South Parkland put up a first inning run. With one out, Adam Mellinger was hit by a pitch and promptly stole second to get into scoring position for tournament MVP Alex Oliver, who singled to right to put the Trojans up 1-0.
The same scenario played out in the bottom of the sixth when Matt Ervolina singled with one out and stole second. Again, Oliver was in the right place at the right time and singled up the middle to give the Trojans an insurance run, making it a 2-0 game.
Adam Smith got the start for South Parkland and seemed to get stronger as the game went on. The only real threat came in the second inning when Smith gave up singles to the first two hitters to put runners on first and second. From there, Smith took things into his own hands and struck out the next three batters to work out of the jam.
Catcher Jack Giovenco threw out a base runner in each of the next two innings, preventing Northern Valley from getting anything going.
“I did feel really strong late in the game,” said Smith with a big smile. “I was kind of tired after the high school season, but they didn’t have me pitch for a while and the rest really did me good. I feel really strong now and am ready to go.”
The Chargers put two runners on in the fifth, but it came with two outs and Smith got a little tapper in front of the plate to end the inning. He ended the game by recording the final five outs of the game on strikeouts, finishing with nine strikeouts on the day.
“We wanted him to be fresh for the playoffs,” said Kahn about his judicious use of Smith on the mound. “As tempting as it was to throw him out there, we had enough other guys who could eat innings for us, so we were able to keep him fresh and I think it’s going to pay off.”
Ervolina and Oliver both finished the game with two hits, with Oliver driving in both runs and Ervolina scoring one run.
“It’s amazing. I was terrified of these guys all day long,” said Kahn of Northern Valley. “They’re a really good team and I was worried about them. You can lose a 3-2 or 2-0 game as easily as you can win one.”
South Parkland now plays at 1 p.m. Friday afternoon against Quakertown in the opening round of the Region Two tournament, which is also a double-elimination tournament. All games will be played at Bear Stadium in Boyertown.