Whitehall baseball falls to Nazareth, 4-2
Whenever the Whitehall and Nazareth baseball teams meet, it seems inevitable that they’ll be locked in a close game that could swing either way.
In their last six meetings, the largest margin of victory has been three runs, and in three of those games, one run wound up being the difference. So when they met for their first time this season at Whitehall, it was no surprise that the Zephyrs and Blue Eagles game would come down to the final inning.
With Whitehall trailing 4-2, Joe Lisicky singled to right. Andrew Snyder then ripped a deep drive that glanced off the center fielder’s glove for a double, putting runners on second and third with one out. But the ensuing two batters couldn’t push those runs across and the Zephyrs fell 4-2 to their league rivals.
With Friday’s loss, the Zephyrs are now 3-2 on the season.
The game was originally scheduled for Nazareth’s field at Borough Park, but it wasn’t ready for action, prompting the move to Whitehall.
The Blue Eagles got on the board in the first, taking a 1-0 lead. The Zephyrs answered when Matt Ziminsky drove in the tying run in their half of the frame.
The Blue Eagles tacked on three more runs to make it 4-1, but the Zephs drew closer in the bottom of the fifth after the Zephyrs loaded the bases with one out. That prompted a pitching change by Nazareth who had been riding the effective arm of starter Ben Suter.
With Ryan Pitts now on the mound in relief, Joe Lisicky stepped to the plate and promptly greeted him with a bloop single to right that cut the deficit in half. But Pitts extinguished the threat by inducing a foul out, and then got the last out on a strikeout to end the inning.
However, the Zephs kept up the pressure. They were able to get two runners on base in both the sixth and seventh innings, but were unable to bring home those runners. They wound up leaving seven men on base in their last three innings.
Manager Shaun O’Boyle said that proved to be their Achilles’ heel, stranding 14 runners throughout the game. Moreover, they left eight runners on base with runners in scoring position and less than two outs.
“We had a lot of situations where all we needed to do was hit a ground ball, and we either popped out or struck out,” said O’Boyle. “Unfortunately, we didn’t do what we needed to do.”
O’Boyle said that they may be pressing at the plate in those situations. He said they’ve had no problem getting on base to put them selves in position to get that winning hit, so it’s not an ability question. He said it’s about relaxing, taking a deep breath, and having good at-bats.
The Zephs finished the game with six hits. In their 5-4 loss to Pleasant Valley, they banged out five hits.
O’Boyle said it’s a team loaded with hard workers so it’s something that’s bound to improve.
Ziminsky started the game for the Zephyrs. He registered nine strikeouts while only walking two batters. He kept the Zephyrs in the game, and his shutdown sixth after they trimmed the lead to two showed how effective he was as the game progressed. In that inning, Ziminsky allowed just two dribblers in front of home plate, while also getting a strikeout.
O’Boyle said that they’ve gotten excellent pitching from all their pitchers, characterizing them as a rotation of “battlers” who have kept the team in each of their games. He said that Ziminsky pitched well enough to win against the Eagles.
“I don’t think we’ve seen the best of Matt yet,” said O’Boyle.
In the game against the Bears, Adin Hoderewski had two hits, including an RBI. Hoderewski leads the team in hitting with a .357 average, while Jake Lisicky is next at .333.