Following a loss to Southern Lehigh to begin the week, the Northwestern Lehigh baseball team had its eyes set on getting back into the win column.
One major obstacle, however, was in the Tigers' sight as they welcomed the Colonial League's lone unbeaten team in Salisbury on Wednesday afternoon.
Salisbury wasted no time in making their case as the league's premier squad. The Falcons (11-0 overall; 8-0 in Colonial League) scored five runs in the first inning, and Tyler Cooperman gave up just one hit over seven innings as Salisbury defeated the Tigers, 8-0.
"They have quality pitching throughout their program," said head coach Len Smith. "So we knew we'd have to put the ball in play, force them to make plays, and get some base hits. They made the plays, you have to give them credit for that."
The Falcons were able to start the game with three straight singles against Northwestern's Alex Smith. Brad Vangeli first scored when Nic Ampietro who went 3-for-3 with two runs scored lined a single to centerfield that was bobbled by the Tigers' outfield to make it 1-0. Mason Kresley and Anthony Dee then both added two-run hits that made it 5-0.
Cooperman was spotted five runs before even taking the mound. And that would be more than enough for the senior pitcher.
"That really makes it a lot easier," said Len Smith. "You can afford to go out there on the mound and make a mistake or two and get away with it.
"He had five runs to work with, and the quality pitcher that he is, he took that and ran with it."
After giving up those five early runs, Smith settled down in the next three innings and halted the Falcons' bats. He allowed just two hits and no runs in innings two through four. He struck out three batters and walked one over that span.
But the Falcons then scored three more in the fifth to pad their cushion a little more. With one out down, Evan Kulig smashed a double to the right field fence that started a string of three straight hits. Ampietro followed that up with a single to left field that scored Kulig on another Tiger error in the outfield. Justin Aungst then added a double that brought home Ampietro. Aungst eventually scored the final run.
"Alex has the ability to give us a good ballgame as long as he stays focused and he mixes his pitches," said Len Smith. "But sometimes he gets the ball up, and when he does that he gets hurt. With our pitching almost all year long, when the ball is up we get whacked."
Northwestern's Boston Farjanic singled in the fifth inning for his team's only hit. They hit the ball hard a number of times, but it seemed to always land in the Falcons' gloves. A third-inning liner ricochet off the mound but ended up in Aungst's glove at short and he made the out. Then in the fourth, a line drive toward first base was snagged out of the air.
"We've had that a couple of times this year where we hit the ball hard, but it always seems to be right at someone," said Len Smith. "They made the plays and we didn't."
Alex Smith went five innings and gave up eight runs on 10 hits while striking out four and walking two.
The Tigers (7-4 overall; 4-4 in Colonial League) will look to get back to above the .500 threshold in league play on Friday when they travel to Palisades (4 p.m.).
Salisbury 500 030 0 - 8 12 0
Northwestern 000 000 0 - 0 1 3
Cooperman and Rogers, Ebner (6); Smith, Williamson (6), Breidinger (7) and Breidiner, Shuey (7). W - Cooperman. L - Smith.