Northampton Press

Sunday, February 23, 2020
Press photo by Linda RothrockMike Kuzio slides into third base during the Kids recent victory over Whitehall. Press photo by Linda RothrockMike Kuzio slides into third base during the Kids recent victory over Whitehall.

NHS baseball hits five-game win streak

Thursday, April 11, 2019 by Jeff moeller Special to the Press in Sports

A few weeks ago, Northampton head baseball coach Mick Sugra likely wouldn’t had believed what his team recently accomplished due to their lack of hitting.

For the first time in three years, the Konkrete Kids had won five games in a row.

However, it truly wasn’t as easy as it sounds.

The Kids began the trek with a tight 6-4 win over North Pocono, a game in which they had a 6-0 lead going into the seventh.

But the Kids (7-2) then followed with convincing wins over Allentown Central Catholic (14-5), Whitehall (14-3), and Pleasant Valley (11-5) before they rallied for a 7-6 win over Pocono Mountain East with five runs in the home sixth.

“That was big for us,” said Sugra. “I think we can gain some confidence from that win and move forward.

“I am really happy where we are right now. We are among the top-five teams in the district power rankings. We were in a tough situation with scoring runs, but we worked our way out of it.”

Sugra has been pleased with the overall performance of his pitching staff. Cole Rufe, Evan Zwolenick, Phil Vooz, Terry Graver, and Cam Cooper have been the mainstays in the early going.

Against Pleasant Valley, Vooz had trouble getting through the second inning, and Cooper relived with 4.2 innings with four strikeouts.

“Vooz didn’t have his stuff that day,” noted Sugra. “Cooper did a heckava job like he has all year. He has been a big plus coming out of the bullpen for us.

“Rufe and Zwolenick have pitched well overall for us as starters, and Graver can be a long or short relief man for us. All of them have been very steady for us.”

Offensively, the Kids haven’t yet shown the firepower they had last season, but they have had their share of consistent bats.

Graver leads the team with a .391 average followed by Cam Easton (. 318) and Justin Taylor, both of whom are above the .300 mark. Mike Kuzio has six RBIs, and Issac Tucker has a team-high eight RBIs.

“We have been playing a lot of small ball this season,” said Sugra. “Our bats are starting to wake up, and they are getting more confident. We really have a true team effort so far.”

Sugra hopes his team can grasp their current state and embellish it. The Kids have East Stroudsburg South, Nazareth, and East Stroudsburg North on their schedule this week, which looms as a favorable one.

“We believe we can take two out of three,” said Sugra. “Nazareth has two good pitchers and they are better than their record.

“We can really put ourselves in a good situation with a productive week.”

With the win over Pocono Mountain East, Sugra registered his 100th career win as the Kids coach. It has been an eight-and-a-half-year whirlwind for him.

“It was pretty cool to do it at home,” he said. “It’s been a crazy ride, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything else.

“I told that I have seen many players come and go and grow as young men. That’s big for us. We just wanted to do what we could to be a part of their lives.

“It really brought tears to my eyes.”