Northampton Press

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Balliet Vikings will advance to states

Thursday, July 12, 2018 by CJ hemerly Special to the Press in Sports

The Balliet Vikings Connie Mack baseball team played near flawless ball Monday evening at Sammy Balliet Stadium in Coplay, and in doing so, shutout Salisbury 8-0 in the first round of the playoffs.

There was a five-way tie in the standings after the last game of the regular season, as five teams all had 12-6 records. Balliet was awarded the eighth seed and home game against the ninth seeded Falcons, who both had the same record.

The Vikings will now have a game against the top seed South Parkland, which was played Wednesday after Press deadlines. However the win over Salisbury gives Balliet a berth into the Connie Mack State Tournament.

“It’s always nice to get that first win and give the guys some confidence and momentum moving forward,” said head coach Tom Shak. “We both came in with the same record, so we knew this game was going to be tough. We just played a good, all-around game tonight.”

After a scoreless first inning, Balliet broke the deadlock with their at-bats in the bottom of the second. Dominick Miller led off the frame beating out an infield single, and then stole second a few pitches later. Four of the next five batters recorded hits, with the Vikings getting two runs across the plate.

In the top-half of the third inning, Vikings starting pitcher Zack Curto, who went six innings and allowed just three hits, got his team out of a jam as Salisbury put two runners on with just one out, but were unable to get them home.

Balliet tacked on another run in the bottom of the third. With two outs, Brian Horoshko and Miller hit back-to-back doubles to bring the score to 3-0.

In the top of the fourth, Curto gave up a triple, but kept the Falcons runner at bay, striking out the next batter to end the inning.

The bottom of the fifth proved to be crucial in the Vikings’ quest to put the game out of reach. They produced another five-hit inning, but this time, had five runs come across the plate.

George Hlavac led off the frame with a triple over the right fielder’s head. The next six batters all reached base safely, chasing Salisbury’s starting pitcher. Horoshko smacked a two-run double and Miller added an RBI single to highlight the inning, as Balliet led 8-0.

“That’s exactly what Vikings baseball is about,” Shak said on his team, which also consists primarily of players from Central Catholic High School. “It just seems that a lot of games it takes us a few innings to get going, and then we have one or two big innings.”

Curto pitched a scoreless sixth, and then was relieved by Mason Abramitis, who threw a scoreless seventh, striking out two to secure the victory.

Balliet now gets South Parkland (16-2), a team they have confidence that they can beat.

“We’ve beaten them before,” said Shak. “We actually 10-runned them earlier this season, so the guys won’t back down from the challenge of facing the top seed.”