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Lower Mac tops Whitehall

The Lower Macungie Lehigh Valley Legion baseball team was cruising along in the semifinal game of the playoffs, leading by three runs and only needing nine outs to secure a spot in the championship game.

But then Whitehall woke up and rained on the parade, tying the game heading into the sixth.

Lower Mac, however, answered right back in a big way, bringing five runs across the plate in a pivotal five-run sixth inning that helped send them to Monday’s championship game against North Parkland with an 8-5 victory last Saturday evening at Sammy Balliet stadium in Coplay.

It was the first appearance in the title game since 2015 for Lower Mac and head coach Jeff Smith.

“This was such a great game and the guys played great,” said Smith. “I’m so proud of them. This is what Lower Mac baseball is all about. Battling until the last out is made. When they tied the game I wasn’t sure how we’d respond. But the guys stepped up and got it done.”

Lower Macungie scored the game-clinching five runs on just two hits, as the go-ahead and eventual game-winning run was scored thanks to a fielder’s choice to second base out of the nine-hole hitter, Ryan Latchford. Whitehall actually outhit them 6-5 in the game.

While the offense may not have had its best stuff all game, Smith helped it out by playing small ball and taking chances on the base paths. A walk, followed by two stolen bases led to a runner on third before Latchford dropped down a bunt in a squeeze situation to bring home Taylor Davis for the first run of the sixth. Anthony McWhinney then touched home plate following a groundout by lead-off hitter Alex Pion. The scoring was capped by a hit by pitch from Dom Chiego with the bases loaded.

Adam Kleist then came in to relieve Lower Mac starting pitcher TJ Geist, who threw five strong innings and gave up just three runs and four hits.

“I thought TJ pitched his best game I’ve seen him throw,” said Smith. “He had it going and he really came up big for us tonight.”

Kleist allowed two runs in the bottom of the sixth inning, but shut it down from there to preserve the win.

McWhinney led the offense going 2-for-3 with a run scored. Latchford, Chiego and Jackson Merk each had two RBIs and Pion added one. Taylor Davis scored twice for Lower Mac, while Joe Cook, Geist, Latchford, McWhinney, Kleist and Pion all touched home plate once.

PRESS PHOTO BY NANCY SCHOLZ TJ Geist, seen here sliding into second base against Salisbury, pitched five strong innings against Whitehall Saturday to help Lower Mac advance in the Lehigh Valley Legion playoffs.