Tigers hitting woes aid loss to Falcons
On paper, last week's matchup against Salisbury figured to be one of Northwestern Lehigh's toughest games of the season.
The Falcons entered last Wednesday's game as the only unbeaten team remaining in the Colonial, stationed at 7-0 in conference play and 10-0 overall.
Unfortunately for the Tigers, the Falcons didn't seem to miss a beat once again.
The Falcons (13-0 overall; 10-0 in Colonial League) scored five runs in the first inning, and Tyler Cooperman held the Tigers (9-5 overall; 5-5 in Colonial League) to just one hit in seven innings in Salisbury's 8-0 victory.
"They have quality pitching throughout their program," said head coach Len Smith. "So we knew we'd have to put the ball in play, force them to make plays, and get some base hits. They made the plays, you have to give them credit for that."
Alex Smith got the nod on the mound for the Tigers in hopes of slowing down the Falcons' offense. But Salisbury had other plans in mind.
The Falcons got three consecutive singles to start the inning, and Brad Vangeli scored on a Tiger outfield error after Nic Ampietro lined a single to center. Smith record two quick outs, but Mason Kresley and Anthony both added two-RBI hits with two outs to boost the Falcons' lead to 5-0.
"That really makes it a lot easier," said Smith. "You can afford to go out there on the mound and make a mistake or two and get away with it.
"He [Cooperman] had five runs to work with, and the quality pitcher that he is, he took that and ran with it."
Smith though settled down tremendously after that first inning barrage. He allowed just two hits and struck out three Falcon batters in the next three innings
The Tiger offense continued to struggled though. They remained without a hit over that stretch, and didn't record one until the bottom of the fifth inning after the Falcons scored three runs in the top half.
Smith lasted five innings and gave up eight runs on 10 hits. He struck out four and walked two Falcon batters.
"He has the ability to give us a good ballgame as long as he stays focused and he mixes his pitches," said Smith. "But sometimes he gets the ball up, and when he does that he gets hurt. With our pitching almost all year long, when the ball is up we get whacked."
Since that loss to the Falcons over a week ago, the Tigers have gone 2-1 to get back on track. Wins over Palisades and Lehighton have prepped the Tigers for a tough week ahead that includes road games against Notre Dame-Green Pond and Pen Argyl.
Results from Wednesday's game against Notre-Dame Green Pond were not available at time of press. The Tigers will face Pen Argyl on Friday at Pen Argyl High School. Game time is set for 4 p.m.