Northampton Press

Monday, June 26, 2017

Despite early exit, baseball had great year

Wednesday, June 7, 2017 by Jeff moeller Special to the Press in Sports

On paper, this appeared to be a transition year for the Konkrete Kids.

They had lost 10 veteran senior players from a team that went 10-10 in the regular season and was eliminated in the opening round of the District 11 playoffs. Hope hung on a handful of returnees and others from a junior varsity team that posted a 17-3 record.

Area prognosticators saw the Kids struggling mightily and finishing last in the always competitive Skyline Division of the East Penn Conference (EPC).

However, the Kids never followed the plan.

The Kids had one of their more successful campaigns as they posted 15 regular – season wins (15-7) – the first time since the 1998 season – and finished second behind Parkland in the Class 6A District 11 power rankings.

In the Skyline Division, they finished second behind Parkland with a 7-3 mark and had an overall 11-5 record in the EPC.

Unfortunately, their season ended prematurely with an 8-5 loss to Emmaus in the opening–round of the district playoffs. The Kids did beat Emmaus, Whitehall, and Allentown Central Catholic twice and split their games with Nazareth during the regular season, a feat that hasn’t been accomplished in quite some time.

They captured the attention of the baseball community when they began the season with five consecutive wins. After a loss to Parkland, the Kids won seven of their next eight games.

It not only gained them respect, but it also elevated their status.

“The kids had a tremendous year,” said head coach Mick Sugra, who completed his seventh year at the helm. “They really did a pretty awesome job. They definitely did what they wanted to prove to everybody.

“We beat three teams in our division twice and split with another. These kids showed and proved that they were a legitimate team this year.”

The Kids finished the year with an overall team batting average of .305. They were paced by Carson Gantz, who hit .368, a team-high 28 hits and 14 RBIs; Issac Tucker, .366, 11 RBIs; Timmy Antigua, .342; and Brittain Shander, .336, a team-high 18 RBIs, 26 hits.

On the mound, the Kids were led by Kyle Serman and Mike Ettl.

The Kids will lose eight seniors from this year’s squad, and they will expect to fill some holes from a JV team that won 13 games this spring.

“We lose some seniors who will be tough to replace,” said Sugra. “We lose Kyle Serman, but we have Mike Ettl coming back. He (Ettl) a great year and pitched great games against Liberty and Parkland.

“We’ll also have Jared Hunsberger and Cole Rufe coming back to join Ettl in the rotation next year.”

Sugra noted how his team has achieved consistent success despite not having a “power arm” like most other teams in the EPC who have had Division-I pitching prospects.

“We never had that type of pitcher since I have been here,” he said. “Serman had 18 strikeouts and Ettl 15. We preach a blue-collar work ethic and we have been able to achieve through consistent pitching and offense.”

Setting a new standard this year, the Kids will be in the forefront next season.

“We had some guys who gained some valuable experience this year,” added Sugra. “Our cupboard isn’t bare for next year. We’ll get back at it soon and keep working. We have our work cut out for us, but I like our chances.

“Next year, we’ll be on other teams’ radar.”