Bethlehem Press

Monday, December 11, 2017
Press photo by Scott PagelLiberty third baseman Gabriel Albino gets set to field the ball and throw to first for an out during Saturday’s come-from-behind, 5-4 victory over Hazelton. Press photo by Scott PagelLiberty third baseman Gabriel Albino gets set to field the ball and throw to first for an out during Saturday’s come-from-behind, 5-4 victory over Hazelton.
Press photo by Bob BrandmeirTim Healy and the Pates will take on Liberty on Saturday afternoon. Press photo by Bob BrandmeirTim Healy and the Pates will take on Liberty on Saturday afternoon.

’Canes, Pates off to hot starts; play on Saturday

Wednesday, April 19, 2017 by Peter Car pcar@tnonline.com in Sports

It appears to be a two horse race in the East Penn Conference’s Steel Division, as Liberty (7-1, 4-0) and Freedom (7-0, 4-0) headed into this week in poll position atop the division.

With a full slate of games this week, both teams could enter their Saturday showdown (1 p.m. at Liberty) with more at stake than their rivalry.

First place in the division and the overall top spot in the conference can be had if both teams can navigate their week, as Liberty has three games on the slate before Saturday, while Freedom only has two scheduled.

“We are set for another busy week,” said Liberty head coach Andy Pitsilos, as he preps to play Allen (2-5) and Pocono Mountain East (3-2) this week before Saturday’s affair with Freedom. “We just have to take one game at a time and we should OK.”

The Hurricanes have won seven straight after dropping their opener to Wilson West Lawn and have done it in a variety of ways, whether it’s cranking out 10+ runs in a string of four straight games or two come from behind wins last week, as they rallied from a 2-1 seventh inning deficit at Parkland (4-2) to score four runs and pull out a 5-2 victory last Thursday.

“The Parkland win was a good win for us,” said Pitsilos. “It showed that we are in the mix of top contenders. We’re hitting the ball well, as well as playing small ball to generate runs. I expected this type of execution from us.”

Freedom were winners of six straight and undefeated coming into the week with contests against Emmaus (5-2) and Bethlehem Catholic.

The Pates topped Easton (3-3), Wilson (4-5) and Whitehall (2-5) last week, scoring an important divisional win over the Rovers and then coming back from a 6-1 deficit in the bottom of the sixth against Wilson with a two-out, nine-run rally to keep them undefeated.

With an always big game between both rivals on tap for this Saturday, it’ll be an opportunity for both teams to gain a slight edge over each other in a two-horse divisional race.

“I’m not sure if we can separate ourselves from anyone yet,” Pitsilos said. “Freedom is undefeated and we’re excited for a good game.”

Bethlehem Catholic (2-3, 2-2) hopes to pick up some momentum following last week’s 10-1 win over East Stroudsburg North.

The Hawks have Stroudsburg (3-3), Freedom and Easton (2-3) on tap this week, as they look to stay in playoff contention.