NW Bethlehem wins LV Connie Mack title
The Northwest Bethlehem Cyclones clinched the Lehigh Valley Connie Mack League championship after their 14-10 victory over Moore Township on July 16 at Northampton Area High School.
“We started really slow, but after that, we kicked it into gear,” said Northwest catcher Mikey Mariano, Jr., whose RBI double in the third inning broke a 3-3 tie. “It put a charge in the offense at most. We started rolling after that. It was really big. We won last season, and I wanted to go back-to-back and keep this rolling for us.”
True to his word, Mariano’s triple in the sixth inning put the Cyclones even farther ahead, 13-6.
“It felt great off the bat,” Mariano said. “He hung me a curveball, and I waited on it.”
Through the first four innings, Northwest and Moore Township matched each other, run for run, but that would end after Northwest third baseman Justin Goire’s triple to deep center field and designated hitter Kole Zellner’s RBI double.
“I was just looking for any pitch I could get. I wasn’t trying to wait or anything. Wherever it came, I was trying to get a hit. Oh yeah, I was really anxious; I really wanted to get home,” said Goire, who also had 2 RBIs in the fifth inning. “I was thinking about getting those runs in. It wasn’t my initial thought to hit a liner up the middle but it came off the bat like that, and I got to second safely, so I’m grateful for that.”
Northwest pitcher Paul Erfle entered the game in the second inning, when he faced just four batters and struck out two.
“Every time I come in, I come to shut down and work to try and keep hitters off balance and do my job,” Erfle said. “Curveball- that’s my bread and butter. Every single time I’ve thrown that pitch, I can get a first strike or get a swing and a miss.”
Moore Township appeared to be starting a rally in the bottom of the seventh inning when Redhawks catcher Isaiah Alicea reached first base on an error, got to second base, and stole third. Michael Jordan walked and then stole second.
But Mariano, who relieved Erfle in the sixth inning, forced three straight ground outs to end the game.
“I’ve been behind the plate all season and felt the pressure a little bit in the last inning,” he said. “I was waiting for that (last out). I was so hoping he made that play, and everything felt relieved after that.”
The Cyclones finished in second place in the regular season with a record of 18-4 behind Wilson, 19-1.
“We came in here hot,” said Cyclones manager Paul Fiore. “We were hot after Wilson last night. That was a tough game. Moore is a fantastic team, and it’s odd that it came down to us again. We always play each other well. I’m sure we’re gonna see one of these teams in States again, so we gotta be ready.”
Northwest’s championship team also includes JJ Cruz, Dylan Pyle, Dylan Metzgar, Zander Frey, Angel Fuentes, Zander Lynn, Gatlin Giering, Ethan Fleck, Ezra Figueroa, Tristan Strawn, Luke Pirapavel, Tommy Coughlin, Dominick Fiore, Adam Unangst, and Miguel Diaz Rivera, along with assistants Dave Pyle, Bryan Wald, and Tim Frey.
“All-in-all, we did great. They’ve been on a high. They wanted it. They had to win all three games last week to get here, and they didn’t mess around,” Coach Fiore said. “The season ended a little rough for us; we ended with two straight losses, and we had a forfeited game against us, so we had a little break. We were only able to throw in one practice, so we were a little nervous going in, but maybe we needed the break.”