SAYLORSBURG - The Birches' baseball team had both phases of the game working Monday evening.
The Birches' bats were swinging heavy in its NORCO Legion contest with Northampton, as the locals plated 13 runs on 11 hits en route to a 13-3 blowout. Meanwhile, Howie Stevens handled his business on the mound and helped lead his team to the victory.
"We are doing better with the sticks," said Birches manager Allen Faust. "Yesterday we beat Hellertown by ten runs. We had 14 hits. I'm not exactly sure how many hits we had today but we had to be pretty close to that. We are starting to hit the ball at the right time of the year."
While the Birches did deliver with some timely hitting, it was aided by some wild Northampton pitching. Northampton starter James Snyder walked eight batters in three-plus innings of work. He walked four straight batters in the second and later walked three consecutive hitters in the fourth. Seven of those eight batters eventually came around to score.
"All they have to do is be patient and make him throw a strike," Faust said he told his players. "They have to be patient at the plate. Sure he was a little wild, but eventually he is going to have to come over the plate."
Stevens made sure the run support held up. The soon-to-be-junior scattered seven hits and three runs while striking out seven in six innings. He allowed an earned run in each of the first two innings before Northampton scored an unearned run in the fourth on a throwing error.
"I felt good out there," said the lefty. "Early on in the game I struggled to find the strike zone but then I got into a rhythm. I just wanted to keep my team in the game and throw strikes.
"Luckily we hit well today. It makes it a lot easier when I have the run support because I come out to the mound a lot more relaxed. I have a much more positive attitude."
All of the Birches' starters safely reached base while all but one had at least one RBI and one run scored. Tom Agosta, Joe Wiesmeth and Jim Beidleman each had two RBIs. Agosta (2-for-2) had a RBI double and a RBI triple to go along with a walk and a run. Wiesmeth (2-for-4) picked up both of his RBIs on a double in the fourth. He also scored two runs. Beidleman (2-for-3) did likewise with a two-RBI single in the second.
"I just tried to keep it simple and drive the ball and keep the whole field open," said Agosta. "Sometimes it is tougher to get into a groove (with a wild pitcher), but you just have to wait for that one pitch that is your pitch and drive it.
"Everybody is getting hot at the same time and it builds up the team spirit. In the end it amounts to wins."
Travis Raseley had two singles for the Birches. Derrik Walling hit a home run.
Faust is liking the way his team is shaping up at the end of the legion season. He believes the team's confidence is getting to the point where it can carry it through the end of the season.
"Our confidence level is getting better," said Faust. "It is much higher at the end of the season than it was at the beginning. I think they were a little worn out in the beginning with the district playoffs. Now they are starting to come around and be the players that I know they can be."
Northampton 110 100 - 3 7 3
Birches 143 50x - 13 11 1
Snyder, Marth (4) and Kramer; Stevens and Wiesmeth. W - Stevens, L - Snyder. HR: Birches - Walling (1st, none on).