Northwestern Press

Thursday, May 25, 2017
PRESS PHOTO BY NANCY SCHOLZNiko Fager and the Northwestern pitching staff have been keeping the Tigers in games this season. The team has several important games coming up as the postseason approaches. PRESS PHOTO BY NANCY SCHOLZNiko Fager and the Northwestern pitching staff have been keeping the Tigers in games this season. The team has several important games coming up as the postseason approaches.

Baseball team is still improving

Wednesday, April 26, 2017 by TODD KRESS tkress@tnonline.com in Sports

First year Northwestern baseball head coach Bob Fatzinger believes he has yet to see his team play to its full potential.

That may be a good thing with Northwestern still above water in the middle of the Colonial League standings and the most important part of its schedule lying ahead.

Northwestern most recently defeated Moravian Academy in convincing fashion, a 13-1 victory to open the week. The win ended a brief two-game skid for the Tigers, but more importantly, Fatzinger is hoping that win can propel his team to bigger and better things.

“Well we started slow, but we came on at the end and got a lot of hits,” Fatzinger said of the Moravian win. “We’ve had to play from behind in a lot of games. That makes it tough. We haven’t really stepped on too many people, but maybe that is because the league is pretty even.

“We’re not out of this. We haven’t played our best baseball yet. So, that’s a good thing. Maybe yesterday was a good start of something. We will see.”

The Tigers certainly have plenty of baseball left to make a run at one of the six Colonial League playoff spots up for grabs. With seven games remaining and currently sitting as one of six teams within a game of .500, several league squads figure to separate themselves in the upcoming days.

No week may be more important than the one the Tigers are in the midst of with games against Northern Lehigh (Thursday), Bangor (Friday) and Palmerton (Monday, May 1). The Blue Bombers sit with an identical 6-5 league record as the Tigers and are in the middle of the crowded West Divison.

“It’s a big week,” Fatzinger said. “They are in our division, too, so that is going to be important for us.

“Our pitching has come along. The last three games, they’ve thrown real good games. It’s just that we didn’t hit.”

Fatzinger has seen evidence that his Tiger team can hang with the elite programs. In back-to-back days, Northwestern came up short against an 8-2 Southern Lehigh team, losing 4-2, and lost 3-2 to an 8-3 Notre Dame (Green Pond) team.

“We had two tough ones back-to-back,” Fatzinger said. “We played right there with them. We had some opportunities. We didn’t hit well against Southern Lehigh. I think we only had two hits, and that is not going to get it done. Not against some of the better teams.”

Both of those teams, including Bangor, which also sits at 8-3 in conference play, figure to be locks to earn the top three Colonial League playoff spots.

“It’s been a little bit of a struggle,” Fatzinger said. “It’s not disappointing. We see spots where we think it’s coming, and then we’ll hit a tough team and that puts a dent in your momentum a little bit.”

If the Tigers do have hopes of making noise in the postseason, however, they’ll need to improve on their hitting to pair with the solid pitching from Niko Fager, Mason Vogwill and Andrew White.

“It’s been the timely hitting; we don’t get the hit we need,” Fatzinger said. “And that is frustrating. We’re not hitting real well at the very top and at the bottom, so that creates a hole. But then there are times that they do, like [Monday against Moravian].”