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.
Throughout the baseball season, Cam Eaton knew the big picture and how to appreciate it.
He has been there before as the football team’s starting quarterback only to lose his job to teammate Joe Kerbacher after the seventh game of the season.
In fact, football helped him shape his final baseball season.
“I let the incident make me work even harder,” said the senior. “I learned a lot from what happened in football. It reminded me never to let something like that happen again.
Since he took over the program eight years ago, Mick Sugra has been looking for the trifecta of pitching, hitting, and defense to create the perfect season.
So far, he is getting his wish.
The Kids headed into Wednesday’s opening -round of districts as the top seed in the Class 6A bracket and hosted Emmaus. They captured their first East Penn Conference crown since 1979 with a 3-1 victory over Liberty last week.
Twenty-two years separate the two teams, but the comparisons can be a bit uncanny.
Northampton recently won its first conference crown since 1997 (then Mountain Valley Conference) and, in many ways, it can seem like it was yesterday.
“Both teams are alike in many ways,” said current head coach Mick Sugra, whose team took a 20-3 mark into districts. “The teams back in ‘95 through ‘97 were loaded. We lost to Liberty in the district semifinals in ’96 (5-4) after we beat them 20-0 during the season, and we were crushed.
It continues to be a season of accomplishments for the Northampton baseball team.
With their East Penn Conference (EPC) semifinal playoff appearance against Emmaus Tuesday, the Konkrete Kids made their first appearance under current head coach Mick Sugra. A win would send them into the finals Thursday against either Liberty or Easton.
Previously, the Kids under Sugra made it to the EPC quarterfinals and lost both times (Parkland in 2017 and Stroudsburg in 2015).
Mike Kuzio will always remember winning the Biddy Championship with the Northampton AA, as most of his current teammates were with him.
He also sees a parallel between the makeup of that team with his current one.
“We played pretty loose as kids then,” said Kuzio, who is a junior on the Konkrete Kids’ squad. “There are more than a few guys who are still with me now.
“We have kept that going in our high school careers. We’re playing like we have nothing to lose. We’re just taking one game at a time.”
Like any team, Northampton head coach Mick Sugra has worked for the best possible outcome for his team this season.
With their 5-0 win over Whitehall Monday, the Konkrete Kids certainly have achieved and accented it.
The win total marks the most under Sugra’s nine-year reign, topping the previous mark of 15 wins in 2015.
“That’s what we have strived for all season,” noted Sugra about his team’s success. “We have seen it all come through.
Since the beginning of the season, Andrew Kovalchik and Cole Rufe believed their team would be in the hunt for the East Penn Conference (EPC) and District 11 6A titles.
So far, the senior duo has been right. And it has been all about the Kids’ bond.
“Since we came up short against Parkland and Emmaus in our first two games, our team chemistry has been stronger than ever and it shows,” said Kovalchik. “We have guys constantly picking each other up and encouraging one another.
“We’re playing great baseball and we continue to do so.”
For Northampton, their 13-game winning streak was a major accomplishment this season.
Beating Emmaus Monday was even bigger.
The Konkrete Kids took another giant step toward gaining more respectability when they edged Emmaus, 4-3, Monday afternoon. Two days prior, the Kids (14-3) had their winning streak snapped in a 5-4 loss to Parkland. They began the season with consecutive losses to Parkland and Emmaus.
A situation that once looked like a deprived season for the Northampton baseball team has developed one with a few whiskers around the edges.
With their 5-1 win over Easton Tuesday, the Konkrete Kids won 12 consecutive game after they dropped opening games to Parkland and Emmaus. The Kids and some of their coaches also made a vow nine games ago not to shave until they lose.
Needless to say, there are some beards coming into form.
They have won the most consecutive games since 1997, and the school record is 16 set in 1990.