Welch, N’western top Spartans
Northwestern’s Carter Welch delivers a pitch during Wednesday’s Colonial League semifinal game against Southern Lehigh. Welch pitched a two-hitter to lead the Tigers to a 6-1 victory. NANCY SCHOLZ/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS
SCHNECKSVILLE — Settling in, zoning in, and dialed in are all well known clichès for when a pitcher starts to have success over the course of a game.
On Wednesday in the Colonial League semifinals at Lehigh Carbon Community College Field, Northwestern’s Carter Welch certainly had those in attendance muttering all three.
After allowing a hit in the first, Welch wouldn’t let up another hit until the seventh, helping the Tigers (19-2) come away with a 6-1 victory over Southern Lehigh, advancing them to the league championship game.
In the first, it looked as if the Spartans were going to have some success against Welch, who came into the game with an unbeaten record. Dalton Musselman started the inning reaching on an error and Chris Andrews then singled knocking in Musselman.
But Welch settled in after that. A base running mistake by Andrews in the next at bat gave the Tigers their first out of the inning and after Welch walked the number three hitter, he got cleanup hitter Colin Houck to hit into a double play.
After the shaky first, Welch retired the next 12 batters in a row.
“It’s going to take a special effort from a special team to beat him with the way he’s pitching right now. He works fast, he pounds the zone and he keeps batters off balance,” said Tigers head coach Duran Porrino. “He’s just a stud. He hadn’t allowed a run in his last four starts leading up to this and the run they got tonight was unearned, so that’s five straight starts without letting up an earned run. He’s been a bulldog for us.”
With Welch taking care of business on the mound it was up to Northwestern’s lineup to get the job done at the plate, which it did stringing together 10 hits and six runs on the afternoon.
The key for the Tigers was the second. Trailing by one, Northwestern took advantage of two errors by Southern Lehigh to score two runs, before Derek Holmes knocked in the third run of the inning with an RBI single.
The big third gave the Tigers a 3-1 lead, handing Welch even more confidence from the mound.
“One through nine I’m just really confident in our lineup. We know game in and game out that we’re going to get guys on base with the way we hit the ball,” said Porrino. “We’re just locked in right now. And I always want to give as much credit as I can to our hitting coach Josh Perich. He does everything with our hitters, he was a professional hitter, who was drafted (by the Mets), coached at Lehigh. Our guys have really learned a lot from him and are executing, working counts and getting on base.”
NEXT UP ... Northwestern will now face off with Notre Dame Green Pond at 4:30 p.m. today at LCCC Field.
LEADERS ... Derek Holmes and Justin Holmes each came through with three hits. Rafe Perich and Carter Welch added RBIs on the day.
EFFICIENT ... To say sophomore Carter Welch is efficient would be an understatement. After Wednesday, he’s struck out 56 and walked just eight batters on the season.
So. Lehigh 100 000 0 - 1 2 4
Northwestern 030 210 x - 6 10 3
Lievendag, Hoyer (4), Tankred (5), Stanten (6) and Musselman; Welch and D. Holmes. W - Welch. L - Lievendag.