They couldn’t both stay perfect.
In a battle of unbeaten teams in a 25 National Division that’s stronger than ever, the Fountain Hill Maroons defeated the Widow Tavern Indians 12-3 on Saturday at Hacketts Park in the Lehigh Valley Men’s Baseball League Game of the Week.
Mike Fink tossed a complete game including 7 shutout innings to earn the win, but defense made the biggest difference.
The Maroons (5-0) are undefeated and somehow still trailing in a division heavily fortified this offseason by powerhouse additions including the Indians. The Indians, new to the division after a long string of strong showings in the 35 Division, are 6-1.
The Maroons and Indians are still both looking up at the Emmaus Athletics, another power that moved into the suddenly crowded 25 National. The defending 35 National Champion Athletics are 6-0 with a staggering +50 run differential to lead their new grouping.
It’s so competitive that even a polished, perennial contender like the defending 25 National Division Champion Thunder (2-6) are -- for now – merely jockeying to stay in striking distance.
The D’s the Key
It felt like wherever the Indians put it, a Maroon was behind it.
Third baseman Jake Miese in particular made a number of sterling plays to stifle the Indians. “Jake shut down the left side of the infield. He was making highlight-reel plays,” Maroons Manager Colin Hutchinson said.
Indians Manager Rick Buss said the Maroons defense seemed to be wherever the Indians hit the ball.
“We had a lot of guys on base and we were hitting the ball hard but always at someone,” Buss said. “That was the story of the first few innings. The Maroons played good defense which kept us in check.”
Meanwhile, the Indians didn’t have their best defensive performance of the season. Buss said his team surrendered six unearned runs.
The Indians had opportunities. Led by Erik Ruff’s 3-3 performance at the plate to raise his batting average to .550, the Indians notched 7 hits to go with a handful of walks. Ruff took one free pass and Warren Jarkovsky took three.
But it was hard to cash them in against Miese and company, and Fink and the Maroons were the beneficiaries.
Two Enter Undefeated – And Both Still Have Work To Do
Out of the three 25 National teams with one combined loss, only one is atop the standings. It’s the team with the 24-game win streak.
The Emmaus Athletics defeated the Volpe’s Orioles (1-7) by a score of 14-3 to extend their run of wins to two dozen. Coach Michael Wenner’s bunch is undefeated since opening the 2016 with a 4-3 record.
The Indians and Maroons did their parts to keep up. The Indians rebounded to defeat the 25 National FOP White Sox (4-3) by a score of 5-4 on Sunday. The Maroons followed Saturday’s win with another on Sunday against the Cardinals (4-3) by a score of 13-11.
The Thunder (2-6) had the type of outing that can turn a defending champion’s season around. Coach Matt Twietmeyer’s squad defeated the 25 National Riley’s Reds (1-7) by a score of 24-5.
Two teams entered the Game of the Week undefeated. And remarkably they’re both still looking up at the Athletics – as well as down at a very capable bunch.