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Northwestern rallies to beat SL

OREFIELD - While it was not the best game that either team played, Northwestern and Southern Lehigh met in the Colonial League semifinals at Parkland on Monday and provided plenty of entertainment.

It took nine innings, but the Tigers were able to head home with a 5-4 victory and a ticket to the league championship game.

Northwestern’s Shaun O’Donnell put down 10 of the first 11 hitters he faced as his team staked him to a 2-0 lead. Watson Church and Eli Zimmerman both drove in runs with doubles in the second inning.

Despite giving up the early runs, Janssen Brown settled in for the Spartans and shut the Tigers down over the next four innings.

Southern Lehigh got on the board with an unearned run in the fifth, and then took the lead with a two-run sixth that featured an RBI single by Brown that gave the Spartans a 3-2 lead.

“I feel like if you don’t put us away and pull away from us, you don’t intimidate us,” said Northwestern head coach Brian Polaha. “One or two runs doesn’t really matter to us, even if it’s late in the game.”

Southern Lehigh may have felt confident when Brown picked up his seventh strikeout to open the home seventh, but Cannon Fitch followed with a single to right and aggressively rounded first and was going to go for second when he tripped over the foot of first baseman Chris Fritts. Fitch crawled back to first, but was awarded second after the umpires ruled interference on the play.

A grounder moved Fitch to third, before Bobby Croneberger lined a ball into the gap in right to bring home the tying run and send the game to extra innings.

In the Southern Lehigh ninth. Sean McMenamy led off with an infield single and was sacrificed to second before moving to third on a wild pitch by Chase Moyer, who had relieved O’Donnell in the seventh. Another pitch then went to the backstop, but Tiger catch Justin Augustus got to the ball and threw to Moyer covering home to nail McMenamy at the plate.

“I was thinking ‘crap’, that ball’s behind me, but I made a play and helped the team out,” said Augustus. “In the end, you just have to make a play, and that actually worked out well.”

The Spartans weren’t finished yet, however, as a walk and a Luke Kawczenski double down the third base line gave them a 4-3 lead.

With one out in the bottom half of the frame, Zimmerman lifted a pop-up, but the Southern Lehigh infielder tripped while trying to settle under it and the ball fell safely to the ground allowing Zimmerman to reach first.

A stolen base and a passed ball moved Zimmerman to third. Fitch tied the game again with a single to center, and then stole second. One out later, Southern Lehigh intentionally walked Croneberger and Farber drew a walk to load the bases for Augustus, who singled over the third base bag to bring in the game-winning run.

“This is my senior year, and we’re not going home easy,” said Augustus. “This was our game and we knew it, and this is our championship and we’re going to get it.”

BRING ON THE WARRIORS … The finals will be a match between the top two seeds after second-seeded Wilson downed Salisbury 4-2. Northwestern has beaten Wilson twice this season by scores of 5-3 at home and 11-2 at Wilson.

So. Lehigh 000 012 001 - 4 10 3

N’western 020 000 102 - 5 9 4

Brown, Moscato (8) and Calaba; O’Donnell, Moyer (7), Farber (9) and Augustus. W - Farber. L - Moscato.

Northwestern's Cannon Fitch reacts after scoring a run during Monday's Colonial League semifinal game against Southern Lehigh. NANCY SCHOLZ/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS