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N’western rolls past Northern Lehigh

Taking care of business early.

It’s a goal Northwestern has in many games - especially on the road.

On Friday, the Tigers followed that script to a T.

Brian Polaha’s club scored five runs before Northern Lehigh even came to bat and cruised to a 14-3 Colonial League victory - their 12th win in a row.

“When you are a favorite, I think it is significant to get out to a fast start because that takes some steam out of your opponent,” said Northwestern head coach Polaha. “The more you let a team hang around, they’re in the game more and the pressure goes to you because you’re expected to win.

“We knew this was a bad spot for them, playing their fifth game in five days. We’re playing as good as we’ve been all year, especially now that we’ve got our bats going. When we’re the better opponent, which we were on paper, and the away team, if we start out fast like we did it’s probably going to end like it did today because they’re tired from playing this difficult stretch.”

The big hit in the Tigers’ opening frame came from Josh Farber, whose bases-loaded double kicked up some chalk down the left-field line and scored all three runners.

“He’s been doing that,” said Polaha about Farber, who added a fourth RBI in the second inning. “That’s been a common theme in the first inning, and actually this time there was only one out. (On Thursday), he came up with two on and two outs and that’s how we got the ball rolling, and that’s how we got the ball rolling today.”

The ball continued rolling Northwestern’s way an inning later as Cannon Fitch and Justin Augustus both delivered run-scoring hits during a four-run frame that pushed the margin to 9-0.

“They’re a solid team,” said Bulldog mentor Gerald Kresge. ““We just don’t have the arms to do this five days a week. We need a couple days of rest and we’ll come back next week and battle.

“We’ve competed in all but two or three games, and that’s what we were looking to do this year - compete. Hopefully we can continue that.”

Unlike Northern Lehigh, the Tigers have a solid pitching rotation.

Aidan Freeman easily made the big lead hold up for the visitors. The junior lefty allowed just one hit through the first three innings and was consistently around the plate. He didn’t issue any walks and finished with nine strikeouts.

“He threw well,” said Polaha. “We got a lead and he peppered the strike zone. You don’t want to give them anything, and he threw strikes and got a lot of strikeouts. When you have pitching and defense, and now our hitting has come around, we’re a tough team to beat.”

Northwestern’s hitting did more damage in the third, as Josh Lichman lined a two-run double to left that upped the score to 11-0. One inning later, a couple of Bulldog mistakes helped produce two more runs.

But Northern Lehigh didn’t quit, getting three runs back in the home fourth on a wild pitch and RBI hits from Reese Lipsky and Connor Simms.

“The kids work, they work their butts off,” said Kresge. “They haven’t given up, so I’m hoping a little rest here (will energize them). We haven’t hit the last two games. We’ve been hitting really well up until the last two games. I think we just need a break.”

ON OFFENSE ... Bob Croneberger was the only Northwestern player to finish with multiple hits, collecting two hits and scoring two runs. Eli Zimmerman was on base three times with a hit and two walks, and scored twice, while Fitch crossed home three times. Simms accounted for two of Nolehi’s five hits.

BIG GAME AHEAD ... The Tigers, who started 1-3 but have won 12 in a row to boast a 13-3 record, face Salisbury in a key Colonial League contest on Monday. The Falcons, who have also won 12 in a row and own a 13-1 mark, handed Northwestern its only league loss on March 22.

TRIPLE PLAY ... Northern Lehigh (3-11) pulled off a rare triple play in the fifth inning. With two runners on base, pitcher Coy Daubert fielded a comebacker and threw to first for one out. Both runners eventually got caught in rundowns and tagged out.

Northwestern 542 21 - 14 8 0

Northern Lehigh 000 30 - 3 5 4

Freeman, Church (5) and Fitch; Hill Geake, N. Buskirk (2), Daubert (5) and B. Buskirk. W - Freeman. L - Hill Geake.

Northwestern's Joshua Farber ranges to his left to make a play on a ball from second base as right fielder Nolan Fitzgerald moves in. NANCY SCHOLZ/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS