Emmaus ousts K-Kids
All season long, Northampton never suffered a blowout loss. In fact, the Konkrete Kids’ (20-4) four defeats were by a combined total of six runs.
So, a close loss didn’t loom as the likely ending of their season.
Unfortunately, it was.
The Kids abruptly ended one of the best seasons in school history with a 5-3 loss to Emmaus in the opening-round of the District 11 Class 6A playoffs.
Northampton watched an apparent steadfast 3-1 lead quickly evaporate when Emmaus took advantage of a fielding error in the top of the fifth that aided a three-run rally that the put the Green Hornets ahead to stay.
It was the fourth meeting between the two teams with the Kids winning two after they dropped a 2-0 decision in the second game of the season.
Head coach Mick Sugra believed his team was set to play in Sunday’s semifinals.
“Hands down, I thought we were the best team in the league,” said the veteran coach. “But on any given day, anything can happen and it did.
“We had some poor baserunning before (the fifth) and we ended up hitting into a double play that probably cost us a run. We should have had a 4-1 lead.”
Sugra didn’t make any excuses.
“We didn’t play that well,” he added. “Emmaus also is not an eighth-seeded team. It just wasn’t a typical game of us. It went back to our last game against Parkland (a 5-4 loss) in which we beat ourselves in the butt.”
Lefthander Evan Zwolenick, who entered with a 7-0 record and an earlier win over Emmaus, left the game in the fifth after 59 pitches and gave way to fellow starter Cole Rufe, who had a 6-1 mark this season.
“We had Cole (Rufe) ready to go in the fourth inning,” said Sugra. “Evan (Zwolenick) threw a good game. He (Zwolenick) got through the lineup twice.
“But they got some big hits and we couldn’t close the door. It is what it is.”
Still, Sugra and his troops can relish their campaign. The Kids won their first East Penn Conference (Mountain Valley) title since 1998 and pieced together a 13- and 7-game winning streaks that allowed them to win 20 of 22 games.
“It was absolutely phenomenal when you look back on it,” said Sugra of the season. “We never had a real bad game all season. We would like to have the Parkland (5-4 loss) and Emmaus (5-3) games back, but they have plenty to be proud of.”
The Kids will lose seven key seniors, but their JV team finished with a 17-2 season.
“Evan (Zwoelnick) will be back, but we need that second pitcher to go with him,” said Sugra. “Cam Cooper is a lefty who came out of the bullpen and threw well all season.
“We have a strong group of tenth graders from the JV team who will be coming up. Those guys will fill some holes for us.”
Sugra plans to again begin workouts in the fall and have his teams involved in a fall league. He remains optimistic the school administration will begin a middle school program.
“I just wish we had a middle school program,” he said. “Every team up north has one. Softball got one last year. It’s disappointing for us because nearly every school can start developing before us.
“But this was a great year we just had and it won’t be forgotten.”