Tigers drop baseball opener
nancy scholz/times news Pen Argyl's Scott Ackerman (10) tries to avoid the diving tag of Northwestern's Josh Williamson at third base.
Northwestern just needed a little bit more offense. One more key hit or a break and the Tigers could have come all the way back from an early three-run deficit.
But Pen Argyl made a couple key plays to hold on for a 3-2 in Tuesday in New Tripoli.
The Knights (2-0 overall, 1-0 Colonial League) scored a run in the first and two in the second. The Tigers scored a pair of runs in the third and threatened in three of the last four innings but couldn't get the break or key hit they needed.
"We came out swinging, which was good," said Pen Argyl head coach Jake DeBoer. "I would have liked to see them keep doing it throughout the game. We came out and got those three runs and it happened to be enough. There are usually a lot of runs crossing the plate up here. Coming away with a 3-2 victory feels good."
Down one run, the Tigers had a runner on base with just one out in the fourth, fifth and seventh, but couldn't score the run.
Northwestern's Brandon Eden reached base with a one-out single in the fifth, but Knights' first basemen Tanner Geake snagged Austin Yanek's line drive and tagged Eden to complete an inning-ending double play.
In the seventh, Knights relief pitcher Josh Persson, who gave up a one-out walk to Rich Perry, scooped two hard-hit ground balls to prevent a Tigers rally.
Perry, who got the start, gave up three early runs but settled then allowed just two hits over the last five innings.
"He settled in and did a good job," said Northwestern head coach Len Smith. "We haven't had many days throwing off the mound. All in all we're pleased.
"The big question mark is can we score runs. Hopefully that will come around as the season progresses."
Northwestern (0-1 overall, 0-1 Colonial League) graduated eight members of its batting order from last year's team.
Pen Argyl, which also graduated eight starters, got its first run when Devon LaBarre tripled to lead off the game and scored on Nick Oyer's sacrifice fly.
The Knights went up 3-0 in the second inning after Persson and Geake hit back to back doubles and Scott Ackerman drove in Geake with a triple.
The Tigers scored both their runs in the third inning. Nick Rodriguez led off the inning with an infield single and Collin Breidinger doubled. Two runs scored on Alex Smith's one-out single.
After that outburst, the Tiger offense seemed ready to break out. But the Knights, which used three pitchers in the game, didn't let it happen.
"I felt confident that we were going to have a shot," said Len Smith. "They made some plays in the field. We hit two up the middle and the pitcher made two great plays on hard-hit balls in that last inning.
"We just didn't get some of the breaks we needed to get the win today.
I told them not to hang their head. We have 19 more. We'll win some ball games."
Geake went 2 for 3 with an RBI and a run scored for the Knights. Starting pitcher Phil Ruggiero allowed five hits and a pair of runs over four innings to earn the win.
Pen Argyl 120 000 0 - 3 7 1
Northwestern 002 000 0 - 2 5 1
Phil Ruggiero, Kocher (5), Persson (7) and LaBarre; Perry, Smith (7) and C. Breidinger. HR: none. W - Ruggiero. L - Perry.