Northwestern rallies past Palmerton
Northwestern’s Brynn Balliet gets back to first base ahead of the throw to Palmerton’s Yesmine Olewine. MIKE FEIFEL/TIMES NEWS
Northwestern saved its best for last on Wednesday.
The Tigers scored two runs in the sixth inning to tie the game before pushing across the winning runs in the seventh to post a 4-2 Colonial League win over Palmerton.
Ashley Sisco came up with the first clutch hit for Northwestern when she lined a two-run triple to left field in the sixth inning to tie the game at 2-2.
The Tigers then had a chance to take the lead when Olivia Stofflet followed with a deep fly ball, but Sisco failed to tag up and Palmerton pitcher Lexi Merkel eventually got out of the inning without further damage.
“You can’t fault the kid,” Northwestern head coach Josh Zimmerman said about Sisco. “Her adrenaline’s going because she just tied the game up with a triple. It turned out that it didn’t matter because someone had her back.”
That someone was senior Emily Akelaitis, who drilled a go-ahead two-run triple in the top of the seventh.
“I’m so impressed with our team’s resiliency right now,” Zimmerman said. “There’s a lot to be said about that. It’s easy to be a good team when you’re crushing the ball and everything like that, but it’s how you respond when things aren’t going that well.
“(Merkel) had our number those first couple innings, but the girls finally got their timing down and were able to come through in some clutch situations. I couldn’t be more proud of how they responded.”
Akelaitis was one of the Tiger batters who struggled early in the game.
“I was just angry when I got up there, mad at myself that I didn’t contribute anything in my first two at-bats, so I really wanted to help the team out, and fortunately I was abe to do that,” Akelaitis said.
Akelaitis thought Merkel was beginning to wear down in the later innings.
“She was getting tired,” Akelaitis said about Merkel. “She wasn’t throwing her rise ball as much, so I knew that would be my opportunity to capitalize and get a good pitch.”
Palmerton tried to rally in the home seventh after Northwestern took the 4-2 lead. The Bombers began the inning with a single from Megan Serfass. With two outs, pinch-hitter Grace Costenbauer singled to put the tying runs on base. But Akelaitis got Emily Baumgardt to ground out to end the game.
“I’m confident anytime that we go through there with Em on the mound, we can get the W,” Zimmerman said about his star pitcher. “Em kept her composure today. We gave up a couple of runs early, but she was able to bounce back and she put it out of her mind.”
Meanwhile, Palmerton coach Bob Hock thought it was a well played game between two good teams.
“I feel like their hitters made a couple of little adjustments late in the game,” Hock said. “I think we started really hitting the ball well against her in the last inning, but just hit some solid shots right at people. Too little, too late offensively, but we’ll be fine.”
RECORDS ... With the victory, Northwestern improves to 10-2 on the season and 8-1 in the Colonial League. Palmerton falls to 10-2 overall and 7-2 in the league.
PERFECT AT THE PLATE … Palmerton’s Kaliah Altemose went 3-for-3 at the plate with two doubles and an RBI. Serfass knocked in the other Blue Bomber run.
Nortwestern 000 002 2 – 4 7 0
Palmerton 100 100 0 – 2 8 1
E. Akelaitis and A. Akelaitis; Merkel and Frantz. W – E. Akelaitis, L – Merkel.