Walled Lake Northern began its 2011 season with two big wins in different fashions.
The Knights (2-0) played their season opener on Wednesday, March 30 at home against Pontiac and took care of business in four innings, 15-0.
“I was pleased how the guys played the same from start to finish in this game,” Northern Head Coach Tim Baglow said. “We were the better team and played that way throughout.”
“Sometimes you can have a let down and get sloppy when you get out to such a big lead, but we were able to play at a high level the entire game.”
Brady Schafer hit 2-for-4 with 3 runs, 2 RBIs and a double while Brandon Grodman hit 2-for-3 with an RBI and Ted Lilley went 2-for-3 with a run, 3 RBIs, a double, and a stolen base.
Senior Evan Kohler and Grodman combined to pitch a no-hitter for the Knights, with Kohler pitching 3 innings with 4 walks and 5 strikeouts and Grodman pitching 1 inning striking out the side.
“This game worked out to be a great opportunity for a lot of the new guys to get their first varsity experience,” Baglow said.
“I was pleased with how everyone played and contributed in some way. It’s always nice to get that first win of the season and have so many different players involved.”
Northern would face a stiffer challenge, however, when it hosted the defending Kensington Lakes Activities Association Central Division co-champion Northville on Thursday, March 31 and came away with a 3-2 victory in 9 innings.
“This was a very exciting game to be a part of. Northville has an outstanding program and we knew this would be a big test for our young ball club and we responded very well,” Baglow said.
“Both teams played extremely well, especially under the weather conditions we played in.”
After Northville took a 1-0 lead in the fifth inning, Nathan Call scored from third after an errant throw by Northville on a pick-off attempt.
The Knights then took a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the sixth on a RBI single by TJ Larson to score Austin Bommarito.
Northville tied the game at 2 in the top of the seventh and the Knights threatened in the bottom of the seventh before grounding into a double play.
In the bottom of the ninth, Lilley started with a walk before Hunter Van Maele advanced Lilley with a sacrifice bunt. Matt Jerore then singled home Lilley for the game-winning run.
Chad Bailey earned a no-decision has he pitched the first 4 and two-thirds innings allowing just 1 earned run on 2 hits with 3 strikeouts. Reliever Alex Chow pitched 1 and one-third innings giving up 1 earned run on 1 hit, 2 walks, and 3 strikeouts.
Cole Lubin pitched the final three innings and earned the win by allowing no runs, 1 hit, 2 walks and 2 strikeouts.
“I was extremely pleased with our pitching. Chad Bailey was just outstanding getting ahead of hitters and hitting his spots,” Baglow said.
“And both of our relievers (Chow and Cole) pitched well too. If today’s early returns on this instruction is any indication of the future, we’ll be competitive throughout the season.”
Northern is off for spring break and will return to the diamond on Monday, April 11 when it welcomes Huron Valley Milford.
“We have a lot of first time varsity players this year and it’s important for our experienced players to take the pressure off of the younger guys while they get comfortable with what they need to do to be successful at this level.”