Bethlehem Press

Monday, August 26, 2019
Press photos by Linda RothrockThe Liberty Hurricanes defeated Emmaus in the District 11 finals last week. Press photos by Linda RothrockThe Liberty Hurricanes defeated Emmaus in the District 11 finals last week.
The Hurricanes dogpile on one another after the game ended. The Hurricanes dogpile on one another after the game ended.
The team celebrates after receiving medals and the district trophy. The team celebrates after receiving medals and the district trophy.

District Champions! Liberty knocks off Emmaus to win title

Thursday, June 6, 2019 by chuck hixson Special to the Press in Sports

Many times, the district final comes down to the top two seeds. As the number two-seed, Liberty had better than average odds of being in the final and could have figured to play top-seed Northampton. With top-seeded Northampton eliminated early, the Hurricanes took on an Emmaus team that not only took out the Konkrete Kids, but had been beating a number of top teams throughout the playoffs. In the end though, the Hurricanes came away with a 3-1 win to take gold in District 11.

Todd Erney, who by his own admission hadn’t been playing great baseball lately, came up big for the Hurricanes. Early in the game, Erney made his presence known defensively, throwing a runner out at the plate and then robbing Emmaus’ Joel Freeman of a bases-loaded hit with a big play and strong throw to first to end an Emmaus threat in the second. Erney came on to pitch in relief of starter Jack Rothenhousler, pitching four innings and allowing just three hits.

“It’s Todd’s day,” laughed coach Andy Pitsilos. “He’s had a hell of a year and for him to come up big on two defensive plays, I’m happy for him. Then, to give us four innings was big.”

It was also big for Liberty that they put up two runs in the bottom of the first to take an early lead. Emmaus starter Kellen Tulio was wild and issued two walks and hit a batter, all with one out. He also threw two wild pitches and was the victim of a passed ball that pushed the runs across for Liberty.

Rothenhousler appeared to be wearing down in the fourth inning. With runners on first and second and nobody out, Erney came on in relief and after walking the first batter he faced, gave up a sacrifice fly that cut the lead to 2-1. Erney then got the next two batters and kept Emmaus in check the rest of the way.

“I was kind of prepared,” said Erney about coming on in relief. “The coach told me that because of the delays the last couple days that I was going to be the guy to go to if we had the lead. Everyone backed me up and our defense had my back. It just gives me more confidence for down the road.”

Liberty got a one-out double from Caleb Tereska in the bottom of the sixth and later in the inning, Caleb Gross drove him in with a sacrifice fly to left field giving the Hurricanes some insurance with a 3-1 lead. Erney then put down the Hornets in order in the seventh.

“I don’t know that people understand the amount of work that these guys put in; this isn’t a March to June sport anymore,” pointed out Pitsilos. “When you don’t have to watch them as far as working, and they work and work to get better and then they go out and make this happen, it’s a big relief. You always want that for your kids, but it doesn’t always happen. For this to happen for this bunch of guys, it’s special.”

Erney noted that the team has had high expectations since before the season even began, but they were realistic about facing a team that may have been the eighth-seed in the tournament, but was riding a hot streak throughout the postseason.

“I was looking forward to the baseball season because I knew the guys that we had. We knew at the start of the season that this was possible and to come out and make it happen is great,” Erney said. “They had knocked off some really big teams, but with our matchup with them earlier in the year, we knew this was possible. Some of us watched the games on video and we picked up a couple of things that helped today.”