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Northwestern bats erupt in 21-7 win

Northwestern’s bats took a few innings to warm up Tuesday. When they finally did, the Tigers pulled away from Salisbury with a 12-run seventh inning en route to a 21-7 win over the Falcons.

“They threw four different pitchers and sometimes it’s tough to adjust to each pitcher,” said Tiger head coach Duran Porrino. “Our approaches at the plate were awesome.

“I use Justin Augustus, our eight hitter, as an example. He went down 0-2 in the count and worked it back to 2-2 and then got a base hit. They work themselves back into the count and good things happen when they do.”

The Tigers’ offense is hard to slow down without help. But the Falcons committed eight errors in the loss while giving up 17 hits.

Northwestern pulled out to a 3-0 lead with a run in the second inning and two more in the third. But the host Falcons came back in the bottom of the third to take a 4-3 lead, helped by three Tiger errors and one hit batter.

Northwestern got the lead back in the fifth on a 2-run double by Dylan Witkowski, a sacrifice fly from Ben Boyer and a wild pitch that scored Witkowski for a 7-4 lead.

Northwestern extended the lead to 9-4 in the sixth on a Justin Holmes sacrifice fly and a Witkowski RBI fielder’s choice.

The Falcons got a pair of runs in their half of the sixth, but the Tigers put it away with a seventh inning that saw 17 batters come to the plate, nine hits, four walks, a hit batter and 10 runs for a 21-6 lead.

The Tigers (3-0 overall, 3-0 Colonial League) got a solid outing from a pair of pitchers.

Holmes started the game and gave up just two hits and no earned runs while striking out seven batters and walking one. Ben Boyer came in for the last three innings and allowed three hits and two earned runs while striking out four and walking one.

“Boyer comes in with a lot of off-speed,” said Holmes. “I’m heavy on the fastball and then we bring him in with of off-speed. It throws them off.”

Porrino is happy things went according to the plan as his team is playing nine games over 11 days starting Tuesday.

“We have four games this week and you sort of map out your pitching,” said Porrino. “It’s always a good feeling as a coach when game one goes to script. That was the script today - have Justin start and go about four innings and have Ben Boyer throw the last three.”

The Tigers are off to a hot start this season. The team had big plans for last year before the season was canceled. A few players are back from the 2019 team that was a league and district runner-up and a state playoff qualifier.

With several returning starters, Northwestern was set up for a big 2020 season before the pandemic hit. Now the Tigers are a hungry team looking to make the most of their first season in two years.

“We were in all the championships but we didn’t get one [in 2019],” said Holmes. “Last year we didn’t get to play. This team is really hungry to get a league championship and maybe districts and then make a run in states.”

The team has a bunch of players who have been on title contending and championship teams in other sports, like senior RJ Zack, who has been part of boys cross country championships during his four years as a varsity athlete.

In what should be his third varsity baseball season after making the team as a sophomore, Zack and his teammates are happy to be back on the field.

“Every day I wake up and I’m happy to play baseball,” said Zack, who was one of three players with three hits in Tuesday’s win.

Zack went 3-for-5 with two runs scored, while Witkowski (3-for-3, 3 runs, 6 RBIs) and Nick Henry (3-for-5, 5 runs scored, 4 RBI) knocked in more than half the team’s runs.

The Tigers stretch of games resumed Wednesday against Southern Lehigh then continues with games against Catasauqua (Friday), Palmerton (Saturday) to end the week before playing five games in a row next Monday through Friday, April 12-16.

PRESS PHOTO BY NANCY SCHOLZ Nick Henry had three hits and knocked in four runs in Tuesday's win over Salisbury.
PRESS PHOTO BY NANCY SCHOLZ Justin Holmes allowed two hits and no earned runs over four innings Tuesday against Salisbury.