Salisbury falls one win short of playoffs
The Salisbury baseball team had its season end in a tough way. A young team that made a strong run throughout the season wound up with four straight losses to finish the season, leaving them outside looking in for both the Colonial League and District 11 playoffs. Their fate was sealed when they lost Monday night to rival and league opponent Southern Lehigh (17-2 overall, 16-1 Colonial) in an 8-4 game.
Before that came losses to Palmerton (13-5, 11-5), Pen Argyl (7-12, 6-12), and Northwestern Lehigh (13-7, 11-6).
“We ran into some tough teams late in the season and just weren’t able to get the wins we needed,” said Salisbury head coach Justin Aungst following Saturday’s loss to the Tigers. “We have some young guys and they have played well overall. There are just some things we need to tighten up – mainly defensively – and we can beat a lot of teams.”
Against Northwestern on Saturday, the Falcons (9-11, 8-9) took an early 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first when they opened with a double down the third base line by Nate Nunez. An infield single by Tom Lovelidge put runners on first and second before a wild pitch moved both runners up a base. One out later, Jake Bucchin singled on a line drive to left to score Nunez and a second wild pitch scored Lovelidge.
Salisbury had Lovelidge on the mound and he worked his way through two innings unscathed before a fielding error put the leadoff runner on base in the top of the third inning. A walk put two runners on and a single brought in the first run for Northwestern to make it 2-1. Lovelidge stranded two runners on base and got past a leadoff double in the fourth with no damage.
In the fifth, the Falcons ran into trouble when the Tigers put runners on second and third with nobody out. A sacrifice fly by Bob Croneberger tied the ballgame and with two outs, Chase Moyer gave Northwestern their first lead of the day at 3-2.
In the top of the seventh, the Tigers got to Lovelidge. With runners on second and third and nobody out, a fly ball to left brought in one run and a base hit put runners on the corners with one out, ending the day for Lovelidge. Owen Fogel came on in relief and walked a runner to load the bases before pinch-hitter Shane Hulmes cleared the bags with a double to make it 7-2 in favor of Northwestern.
“We were going to ride with Lovelidge today; this was his game,” said Aungst. “He really did not pitch badly today, there were some plays that we should have made behind him and I think he just got tired there in the last inning.”
The Falcons looked for a rally in the seventh against reliever Wes George. With one out, Bucchin reached on a fielding error and went to second on a wild pitch before Jordan Tocci delivered an RBI single to make it 7-3. George rebounded and finished the inning with two strikeouts to finish off the game.