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Falcons go 2-2 in LVL playoffs

Salisbury reached the Lehigh Valley Legion postseason tournament as the eighth and final seed. The Falcons knocked off top-seeded South Parkland in their opener and went 2-2 before getting knocked out of the double-elimination event last week with losses to Lower Macungie and Whitehall.

“We know that no matter what nine guys we show up with that we’re coming to play,” said Falcons’ manager Brad Vangeli after his team’s elimination bracket win over Carbon County last Wednesday. “This team has been playing short-handed all season, but we battle.”

Salisbury finished eighth in the 10-team league and faced No. 1 South Parkland in the first round. The Falcons’ playoff opener was rained out Monday and they were forced to play two games last Tuesday.

Tim Schware threw a four-hit shut out to beat South Parkland last Tuesday at Limeport. He struck out seven batters while walking just two over seven innings. Jacob Bucchin went 3-for-3 with two runs scored, while Jake Zellin was 2-for-3 as Salisbury outhit the league’s regular season champs 8-4 in the win.

Immediately after that win the Falcons headed to Emmaus Community Park to take on No. 4 seed Lower Macungie, which had gotten its game in the Monday and played just once on Tuesday. The Mustangs beat Salisbury 3-2 to knock the Falcons into the elimination bracket.

After opening the playoffs with two low-scoring games, Salisbury’s bats heated up in an 11-5 win over the Carbon County Monarchs. The Falcons hit three triples in their 15-hit night in Jim Thorpe.

The Falcons sent eight batters to the plate and grabbed a 3-0 first-inning lead, taking advantage of three bases on balls by starting and losing pitcher Mike Yeakel, who never finished the inning.

Tom Lovelidge drew a one-out walk to get things started. Tim Spisszak singled, and when Dominic Garcia was plunked with a pitch to load the bases, the table was set for the Falcons. Tim Schware drove in two runners with a single, before Jake Zellin singled in the third run.

The Monarchs bounced right back, however, and eventually tied the game.

In the first, Aiden Rarick uncorked a triple before Ian Rarick drew a walk and stole second. Both runners scored on Randy Bongiorno’s hit. The Monarchs had a golden opportunity to score more, but left the bases loaded.

Carbon evened the score at 3-3 in the third when Bongiorno doubled and a pair of errors allowed him to score the tying run.

The tie was short-lived, however, as Salisbury answered with a four-run fourth to take control. The Falcons used a walk by Mike Stauffer, and consecutive singles off the bats of Andrew Grejda and Brady Leiner set the table for Hunter Rothrock, who cleared the bases with a triple. Lovelidge added a hit and an RBI to give the Falcons a 7-3 lead.

Salisbury then added single runs in the fifth and sixth innings to increase its lead to 9-3.

Carbon didn’t go quietly as it scored a pair in the sixth when Ian Rarick tripled, plating pinch runner Matt Craigie, who came on after Evan Murphy roped his second hit of the contest, and Garrett Leinhard, who had walked. The Monarchs also added a run in the seventh on Craigle’s RBI single, but it proved to too little, too late.

Both teams turned two double plays. There was standout defense as well by Carbon’s third baseman, Bongiorno, and shortstop Lienhard. Ditto for the Falcons shortstop Lovelidge.

Lovelidge and Spisszak had banner days with three hits each in the win.

Salisbury’s season ended with a 13-4 loss to Whitehall-Coplay Friday in the elimination bracket semifinal.

A pair of Zephyr pitchers limited the Falcons to just four hits in the loss. Owen Fogel had to of Salisbury’s hits.

Whitehall went on to lose to Lower Macungie in Saturday’s elimination bracket final. Lower Mac was scheduled to take on North Parkland Monday and, if necessary, Tuesday for the league title. The Buffaloes went 3-0 in the winners bracket and would need just one win to clinch the postseason title. Lower Mac needs to beat the Buffs two days in a row to earn this year’s title.

South Parkland won the league’s regular season and will be one of two teams to represent the LVL in this weekend’s Region 2 Tournament, which will be held in Quakertown. The winner of the postseason tournament will earn the LVL’s second bid to regionals.

PRESS PHOTO BY NANCY SCHOLZ Salisbury's Hunter Rothrock tags out Lower Macungie's TJ Geist while teammate Andrew Grejda backs up the play during last week's Lehigh Valley Legion playoffs.
PRESS PHOTO BY NANCY SCHOLZ Thomas Lovelidge delivers a pitch during a Lehigh Valley Legion playoff game against Lower Macungie.
PRESS PHOTO BY NANCY SCHOLZ Tim Schware pitched a four-hit shutout against top seed South Parkland last week to help the Falcons advance in the Lehigh Valley Legion playoffs.