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Souderton’s offense explodes in Region 2 opener

Souderton's Blaise Sclafani celebrates a double about Northampton Friday. (Gene Walsh/Digital First Media)

LAURELDALE >> Souderton had a long break since its last game.

Post 234 won the Bux-Mont Legion winner’s bracket final Saturday July 14. The following day was supposed to be their only day off, but inclement weather gave them an extra day of rest Monday. Tuesday was then scheduled to be the championship, but more rain resulted in their game against Hatfield-Towamencin being cancelled and Souderton was crowned champions. They had two more days off before starting the regional tournament.

Souderton came out and put a week’s worth of offense into four at-bats. Post 234 ripped 15 hits in an 11-1 win in five innings over Northampton in the first round of the Region 2 tournament Friday morning at Gochnauer Field at Muhlenberg High School.

“We had a hitting practice the other day,” shortstop Nolan Bolton said. “We were all hyped up from that. We hit pretty well. Today we just came out in a good mindset of hitting the ball on the barrel and seeing where it will go. It did pretty well today.”

“We’ve been hitting since the start of the season,” centerfielder Luke Barnum, who went 3-for-3 with two runs and an RBI, said. “We’ve had big innings almost every game we’ve played. I was really confident in our ability to hit, we just had to see the pitcher, but obviously that worked out for us. We put together more than one big inning. It was definitely a good feeling to start off the tournament.”

Post 234 scored in all four of their at-bats — five runs in the bottom of the first inning, two in the second, two in the third and two in the fourth.

In the first, Bolton singled home Kyle Lennon to tie the game at one. Moses Clemens gave Souderton the lead, singling to score Barnum and make it 2-1. Dan Knechel singled in Bolton and Blaise Sclafani hit a two-run single to plate Clemens and Luke Shank.

Barnum led off the second inning with a single and Bolton followed with a two-run home run blasted over the left-centerfield fence.

“It was a curveball I hit on the barrel,” Bolton, who went 3-for-3 with four RBI, said. “It went a little bit. I knew it was gone. It felt good.”

Barnum hit a sacrifice fly in the third inning to score Sclafani and Bolton hit an RBI single to bring home Zack Brown and give Post 234 a 9-1 advantage.

Souderton made it a 10-run game in the bottom of the fourth. Tim Robinson got hit by a pitch, stole second, advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on a Lennon single. Lennon stole second and scored on a Barnum single to make it 11-1.

Lennon, Clemens, Shank and Sclafani all finished with two hits. Lennon added a pair of runs and an RBI, Clemens one run and one RBI, Shank a run and Sclafani a run and two RBI.

While the offense was lighting up the scoreboard, Souderton’s pitchers were keeping Northampton quiet.

After a tough first inning that saw one run score on four hits, Dan Knechel settled in on the mound. He went 2.2 innings and exited before exceeding 60 pitches, striking out two batters to one walk and allowing one run on six hits.

David Gulibon came on in relief and threw 2.1 perfect innings while striking out two batters.

“Saving pitching is huge,” Bolton said of a benefit to winning in five innings. “We have a lot of guys that can throw, but if we can save as many pitchers as possible it’s what we want to do most. It was good to save our pitchers and get out of here early.”

Souderton, which returns a handful of players from last year that reached the winner’s bracket final, will face the winner of Pine Grove and West Lawn in the second round Saturday at 4:30 p.m.

“It was good to come back today and just to make ourselves known in the first round that we’re here to play — we’re here to win,” Bolton said.

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