Tigers beat NL
Vinny Castrine threw a complete game and struck out seven batters in Northwestern Lehigh’s 12-1 win over Northern Lehigh. Rafe Perich, Derek Holes and Nick Henry paced the offense with two hits each, with Perich driving in three runs and Holmes and Henry each knocking in two.
The Tigers (6-1 overall, 5-1 Colonial League) started fast with a three-run first inning and then blew the game open with an eight-run fourth inning.
In the bottom of the first inning, Perich hit a long fly ball to right that was ruled a ground-rule double, although the Northwestern coaching staff thought the ball had cleared the fence on the fly. After a short discussion, the ground rule double stood, but Northwestern held a 1-0 lead. Hot-hitting Derek Holmes then came to the plate and launched a shot to right field that left no doubt, landing well past the outfield fence for a two-run home run.
Right fielder Chase Misera was right on track to catch Holmes’ home run ball if not for the fence getting in his way. Misera was so locked onto the ball that he wound up tumbling over the fence in an attempt to make the catch. Without the fence, Misera likely would have pulled in the home run ball.
“I feel relaxed and coach [Josh] Perich has really gotten me going this season,” Holmes said. “Our team just feeds off one another; Nick [Henry], Carter [Welch] and Rafe [Perich] are all killing it and I’m just trying to do my part.”
In addition to his hot start at the plate, Derek Holmes has stepped in behind the plate for Northwestern after Tyler Wiik held down the catcher’s job for four seasons. Holmes last caught when he was a freshman and admits that there’s been a bit of a learning curve in moving back to the position from his more comfortable spot at third base, but his progress has been impressive.
“You have a guy like Wiik back there for 100 games and all of a sudden you’ve got to break in a new catcher,” said Tiger head coach Duran Porrino. “He’s done really well. We had to work on some things with him and we’re still fine tuning a few things, but he does a good job defensively and he’s been swinging a hot bat, too. I guess basically, it’s working out well.”
In the third, Northwestern struck again, starting with Holmes’ single to left. Nick Henry tripled to center to make it 4-0, but any further damage was curtailed when Henry was picked off third by catcher Aaron Rudolph and Brandon Mengel, who walked, was promptly thrown out attempting to steal.
Northwestern put the game out of reach in the bottom of the fourth. Colten Hagadus was hit by a pitch and Justin Holmes singled to open the inning. One out later, Nate Goodolf dropped a sacrifice bunt that turned into a lot more when the throw from pitcher Daulton Lorrah sailed past first base, allowing Hagadus to score, moving Holmes to third and leaving Goodolf on second. After a walk to Carter Welch that loaded the bases, Perich added his second double of the day to drive in two runs. An intentional walk to Derek Holmes backfired when Henry stepped to the plate and Lorrah bounced a pitch to the backstop, allowing Welch to score.
A balk, a sacrifice fly, walk, hit batter and a three-base error capped the scoring with Northwestern up 12-0.
Needing just three outs to lock up the win by mercy rule, Castrine struck out Preston Bauer, but the pitch went to the backstop and Bauer reached first safely. One out later, a hit batter put runners on first and second and a base-hit from Luke Eitner plated a run for the Bulldogs (3-5, 2-5). Castrine made a nice fielding play on a ball hit by Caleb Wanamaker and threw him out at first for the final out of the game.
“The first game [a 9-6 loss to Saucon Valley] I let it slip away a little bit, but other than that, it’s been good and I’ve been able to be consistent,” said Castrine of his performance early this season. “I try not to walk too many batters, that’s the one thing that I preach to myself and that’s what I focus on every game.”
Three Northern Lehigh pitchers walked five batters and Castrine walked just one. The bigger story was that Castrine hit three batters with pitches and Bulldogs’ reliever Lorrah hit two in the game, giving out a total of 11 free passes, not counting the strikeout-wild pitch issued to Bauer or the four errors made by Northern Lehigh. Lorrah also was called for a balk that allowed Derek Holmes to score in the fifth inning.