Early burst helps Ham­burg past Kutz­town

The Kutztown Area Patriot - - SPORTS - By Chris DeAn­to­nio For Dig­i­tal First Me­dia

Reece Adam didn’t al­low a hit through two in­nings and Ham­burg jumped out to a five-run lead as the Hawks de­feated the Kutz­town Cougars, 7-3 at Kutz­town, Fri­day night.

On a rainy, windy and messy night, messy play early on hurt Kutz­town (2-1) as a hand­ful of er­rors led to early runs for Ham­burg (3-2). Kutz­town’s Brad Tucker says the mis­cues are not in­dica­tive of the team’s strengths.

“Early on (this sea­son), I’d say we’re re­ally sound de­fen­sively. I know it didn’t re­ally show tonight, but I’d say that’s one of our strengths,” said Tucker. “And at ev­ery po­si­tion, we have play­ers that can start, and that’s al­ways help­ful. It cre­ates com­pe­ti­tion within our team, but that’s good com­pe­ti­tion.”

Tucker fin­ished with a sin­gle and a sac­ri­fice, which even­tu­ally led to a Kutz­town run.

Ham­burg’s Corey Evan­ge­lista, Owen Zim­mer­man and Austin Grom­lich had back-to-back-to­back sin­gles in the first in­ning, open­ing up a 5-0 lead af­ter one. Zim­mer­man notched an­other RBI in the sec­ond in­ning on a double into right field. Zim­mer­man fin­ished with two hits and two RBI for Ham­burg.

Ham­burg coach Nick Evan­ge­lista at­trib­uted much of the win to their early suc­cess at the plate.

“We came out and swung the bats well early,” he said. “We were able to put the ball in play with some hard con­tact, ad­vance some run­ners and just play fun­da­men­tal base­ball early on.”

Matt Angstadt got the start for the Cougars, but gave way to Con­nor O’Neill who qui­eted Ham­burg’s bats in re­lief. Kutz­town then cut into Ham­burg’s lead af­ter a two-RBI sin­gle by Trevor Lev­er­ing­ton in the third in­ning. He also had an RBI double in the fifth. He fin­ished with two hits and three RBI.

Kutz­town’s Zach Schell said a lot of the come­back came from re­group­ing in the dugout. “We were able to come in and string a few hits to­gether. I think we just needed to keep the en­ergy up and we need to keep it rolling.”

Schell sin­gled, and later scored in the third in­ning.

Af­ter al­low­ing Kutz­town back into the game, Ham­burg’s pitch­ing buck­led down and the of­fense came alive in the fi­nal frame.

“It comes down to our mind­set,” said coach Evan­ge­lista.” We try to play the game mov­ing for­ward, the last pitch and what­ever hap­pened on the last pitch, we can’t con­trol any­more. We can only play one pitch at a time and that’s what we try to do.”

Ham­burg pulled away at the end with two more runs in the sev­enth in­ning when Tarik Feik recorded a two-RBI sin­gle. Kutz­town threat­ened in the bot­tom of the sev­enth but ended the game with the bases load.

The early sea­son wins showed glimpses of what to ex­pect from each team. Ham­burg, be­hind strong pitch­ing and good de­fense made it dif­fi­cult for Kutz­town to man­u­fac­ture runs early on, forc­ing them to try to mount a come­back. Evan­ge­lista had a strong game at short­stop for Ham­burg, record­ing four putout as­sists. Adam also pitched five strong in­nings for Ham­burg and Tyler Graham didn’t al­low a run when he came in for Adam.

With sound de­fense and qual­ity at-bats, Ham­burg set the tone early and pro­vided a blue­print for fu­ture games.

“Our goal is to get bet­ter each and ev­ery day,” said coach Evan­ge­lista. “I think we have a lot of ball games that we can win. We need to come with the right mind­set, the right team at­ti­tude and just play fun­da­men­tal base­ball ev­ery day.”

De­spite the loss, Kutz­town hopes to achieve the same suc­cess — if not more — than they did last year.

“As a team, we’d like to get a chance to play in the district cham­pi­onship, which we were in last year when we fin­ished run­ner-up,” said Schell. “We’d like to win the district cham­pi­onship and then start a run in the state play­offs and county play­offs.”

Most of Ham­burg’s dam­age was done early in the con­test, as were most of Kutz­town’s er­rors.

Tucker said be­ing ready from the get-go would help the team early on in the sea­son.

Of­fen­sively, Lev­er­ing­ton and Tucker, who had two hits, led Kutz­town.

With the sea­son just get­ting un­der­way, each team has high hopes, and as the sea­son con­tin­ues on, look for both of these teams to be com­pet­i­tive through­out.

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