Early burst helps Hamburg past Kutztown
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.