Bethlehem Press

Sunday, July 21, 2019
Press photo by Katie McDonaldLehigh’s Jacob Strong is greeted by teammates after a home run. Press photo by Katie McDonaldLehigh’s Jacob Strong is greeted by teammates after a home run.

Lehigh Little League defeats So. Lehigh

Wednesday, July 10, 2019 by Katie McDonald kmcdonald@tnonline.com in Sports

Lehigh Little League outfielder and pitcher Jacob Strong made the most of his first at bat with a solo home run against Southern Lehigh in 12U District 20 tournament play last Friday at Lehigh.

“I thought I was going to do really well on my first at bat because I haven’t been doing well on my at bats lately, so I was like, I’m going to bring it back, and I did it,” Strong said.

Ironically, Strong saved what looked like a possible grand slam with a catch in right field in the bottom of the sixth inning which would have tied the game.

“It was pretty close. I was about just a few feet away. I don’t think it would have been gone. I think it would have hit the fence, but I caught it for my team. I was thinking, oh no, it’s going to go over the fence, and then I was thinking I’m going to rob it,” he said.

Lehigh closing pitcher Nicholas Bowser had second thoughts too.

“What goes through my mind is just throw strikes and don’t worry about the runners,” Bowser said. “That was big. I was scared. I thought that was going out for a second there, and then I was like, oh no, it’s not.”

Lehigh’s early 1-0 lead was short-lived when Southern Lehigh went ahead, 2-1, on a series of bunts, an RBI infield single by Caleb Walsh, and a walk in the bottom of the second inning.

Lehigh tied the score in the third with a lead off double by Bowser, a single to right field by Kam Kensicki, and an RBI by Andrew Bowser.

Lehigh left fielder Elliot Berk led off the fourth with a base hit, followed by a walk to Connor Martinez, and a double steal on a wild pitch.

“I just wanted to make contact because I wanted to start it off because I was the first batter of the inning, and then I pulled it and tried to run it out,” Berk said.

Fikire Conway drew a walk, Justin Frey came in to run for Conway, and Nicholas Bowser doubled past first base, clearing the bases for Lehigh.

“I felt like I needed to put my bat on the ball and get my team rallied. It felt good,” said Bowser. “I was a little late on the ball, just drove it. I thought Justin Frey was going to get hit by it and not jump over the ball.”

Kensicki had a single past second base, and Bowser went to third.

“It’s never enough [runs] because [Southern Lehigh], a couple days ago versus Mountainville, they were down 5-2 and came back with a five run comeback and won,” Kensicki said. “It’s just play your game and leave it that way. I had to do my job.”

Berk came back in to run for Kensicki, who is Lehigh’s catcher. Jaxon Horvath and Andrew Bowser both had RBIs, scoring Nicholas Bowser and Berk. Berk had stolen third base on a wild pitch.

“I think we had better base running than last time,” Berk said. “Last time, we got caught stealing, and I did once, so I was happy to score twice in that inning.”

Lehigh scored two more runs in the top of the fifth on a walk to Carl Fair, and base hits by Frey, Nicholas Bowser.

Southern Lehigh also scored two more runs in the bottom of the fifth on hits by Frankie Bench and Mason Gilmore, but in the bottom of the sixth with bases loaded, Strong made that breathtaking catch near the fence for the second out of the inning.

Lehigh had one more bases-loaded out to make to advance to the semifinal.

“I just thought, get this guy out and end the game,” said Nicholas Bowser, who popped up the batter to Kensicki.