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Tigers rally to edge Salisbury

You get the feeling that Salisbury and Northwestern Lehigh are going to be seeing more of each other before the high school baseball season is over.

The teams have met twice during the regular season, and are generally considered the two best teams in the Colonial League. A come-from-behind 7-6 win by the Tigers on Monday evened the season series at one win each.

It looked like the pitching was going to dominate, so when the Falcons put up four runs in the third, it seemed like a huge development. Ultimately, it just changed the thought on how the game would play out.

The big blow in the inning came on a three-run home run by the Falcons’ Tom Lovelidge, who hit a towering shot out to left field against Tiger starter Shaun O’Donnell. Combined with a run that scored earlier in the inning on a wild pitch, the blast gave the Falcons a 4-0 edge.

Austin Spisszak was on the mound for Salisbury and was victimized by a key error in the third that led to three unearned runs. With runners on first and third and two outs, Josh Farber hit a groundball to third that was misplayed allowing Eli Zimmerman to score. Justin Augustus followed with a two-run double and suddenly, the game was back to a one-run advantage for Salisbury.

In the top of the fourth, Salisbury shifted to using some small ball to push a run across. Spisszak and Jake Zellin led off with singles and Nate Nunez later singled through the middle to make it a 5-3 advantage.

While O’Donnell exited after four innings of work for Northwestern, Spisszak was still on the mound for the bottom of the fifth and issued a leadoff walk to Cannon Fitch. Josh Lichman followed with a single to push Fitch to third with nobody out and Bob Croneberger followed with a sacrifice fly. But Spisszak was able to work through the rest of the inning without any further damage, allowing the Falcons to maintain the lead.

The Northwestern defense came up big in the top of the sixth to keep it a one-run game.

With a runner on second and one out, Caleb Gonzalez hit a flyball to center that looked like it was going to drop in for a hit. But Zimmerman quickly closed the gap and made a diving catch. He then quickly bounced up and threw a strike to second to double up the runner.

“That was a huge play in the game,” said Northwestern coach Brian Polaha. “I don’t know that I have ever had a player get to their full speed as quickly as Eli. Then, he has the awareness to get up and make the play to second for the double play, which is what made the play really special.”

The Tigers finally chased Spisszak in the bottom of the sixth. After Salisbury’s Jacob Bucchin made a diving catch to rob Watson Church of a hit to open the inning, Cole Dynda singled to right and moved to second when Zimmerman worked a walk. Fitch followed with a single to right that brought in Dynda to tie the game. After a walk ended Spisszak’s day on the mound, a pair of wild pitches brought in Zimmerman and Fitch to put the Tigers up 7-5.

“I was just looking to hit the ball hard somewhere and make something happen,” said Fitch of the game-tying single. “We had the attitude that we were going to win this one, and there was no way we were going to give up because we needed this win. This was huge for us, especially since we lost to them the first time.”

Bucchin looked to rally the Falcons with two outs and the bases empty in the seventh when he hit a solo home run to left field, but Farber was able to get the final out of the game on a pop-up to first.

“We knew they were going to come after us,” said Salisbury coach Justin Aungst. “We figure that we are going to have to face them again for the league title and then again in districts, so there are going to be more games like this one, I’m sure.”

STOP, THIEF! ... Northwestern had five stolen bases, and Salisbury swiped two. Neither team had a runner thrown out attempting to steal.

DISPUTED … It looked like the Tigers’ Justin Augustus had a home run in the third, but it was ruled a double that brought in two runs. The ball appeared to have gone over the fence, hit something, and bounced back into play, but the umpires ruled it went off the top of the fence and came back into play.

Salisbury 004 100 1 - 6 7 1

Northwestern 003 013 x - 7 6 0

Spissak, Lovelidge (6) and Stauffer; O’Donnell, Farber (5) and Augustus. W - Farber. L - Spissak. HR: Salisbury - Lovelidge (3rd, two on), Bucchin (7th, none on).

Northwestern's Eli Zimmerman runs the bases during Monday's game against Salisbury. NANCY SCHOLZ/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS