To keep up with Pen Argyl's explosive offense, opponents need to capitalize on every opportunity.
Northwestern had some chances on a blustery Friday afternoon in New Tripoli, but the Tigers couldn't get the big hit when they needed to and fell to the Knights, 14-5.
"They got hits with two outs and we didn't," said Northwestern head coach Len Smith. "We had opportunities numerous times and we did not get a hit with two outs and runners in scoring position. That changes the complexion of the game."
The Tigers kept it close until the end. They scored two runs in the bottom of the sixth to close Pen Argyl's lead to 8-5. But the Knights put the game away with a six-run seventh inning.
"It always seems like when we come up here a lot of runs get scored by both teams," said Pen Argyl head coach Jake De Boer. "And again today that was the case."
The Knights (15-1, 11-1) jumped out to a 3-0 lead with a two-out rally in the first inning. A pair of two-out walks put runners on base. Conor Gum knocked one in with a single. Two more came in on Zach Miller's double. Miller went 3 for 4 with two RBIs.
The Tigers (10-6, 6-6) had a golden opportunity in the first inning when Knights' starter Kirby Mutton put the first three batters on base with a pair of walks and hit batsman. One run came in on an error before Mutton got a strike out and a line-drive double play to end the threat with little damage.
"We were fortunate to get out of the first inning, which was big," said De Boer. "That changes things if they score a couple runs there."
Mutton settled in after the early control problems. The large lefty walked six and struck out five while allowing just four hits over six innings. Phil Ruggiero pitched a perfect seventh.
"Great pitching performance by Kirby and we played good defense behind him," said De Boer. "Then we have Phil come in at the end and throw strikes."
The Knights added to their lead in the third inning. Tommy Young hit a lead-off single and got to third on a pair of passed balls. He came in on Mutton's single. Gum (2 for 4, 4 RBIs) then tripled to bring in Mutton for a 5-1 lead.
Pen Argyl got two more runs in the fourth. Nick Oyer singled and got to third on an error before scoring on a wild pitch with no outs. Dylan Evans walked and scored on an error for a 7-1 lead.
Northwestern got back in the game with a pair of runs in the fifth inning.
Austin Kelly led off with a single and scored on Tyler Bartholomew's double. Mutton gave up two walks to load the bases with two outs.
One run scored on a dropped third strike, but Mutton induced a pop up to end the inning.
After the Knights put up a run in the sixth to make it 8-3, Northwestern got another pair in the bottom of the inning to get within striking distance.
Northwestern loaded the bases with a walk, an error and a Nick Rodriguez single. Two runs came across on an error to make it 8-5 before Mutton got out of the inning with a fly out.
Pen Argyl, which leads the Colonial League North Division by three games over Bangor, padded it's lead with six runs in the seventh inning before Ruggeiro closed it out.
Pen Argyl 302 201 6 – 14 12 3
Northwestern 100 022 0 – 5 3 4
Mutton, Ruggiero (7) and T. Young; Mitchell, Dorney (7), Lutton (7) and Breidinger. W – Mutton. L – Mitchell.