BURLINGTON >> Trailing 5-0 going into the fourth inning, the Northwestern Highlanders came all the way back to defeat conference rival Lewis Mills, 8-6, in the first round of the Class M State Tournament.
“Gutsy effort, they’re tough,” Northwestern co-head coach Tom Germano said. “Clutch hits, pitching was clutch, and we were gutsy.”
The Highlanders came all the way back to tie the game in the top of the seventh and then with the bases loaded and nobody out, senior Nick Pedrolini stepped to the plate and roped a long single, scoring Devin Warren to give the Highlanders a 7-6 lead.
“I was trying to put one in the outfielder and get a sac fly, but it went over his head,” Pedrolini said.
Northwestern then added another one on a passed ball, to take an 8-6 lead, which was enough for Bryce Ramsay who worked around a single and walk to get the complete game win.
“He didn’t give up, gosh give him credit for hanging in there,” Germano said.
Ramsay and the Highlanders struggled early allowing five runs, two earned, in the first three innings with the help of two errors that led to Spartan runs.
After all of that, Ramsay, a sophomore, didn’t give up and knew he team would make a comeback.
“I knew if I could hold them at five, we could make a comeback,” said Ramsay, who struck out eight batters and walked only one in the win.
With a 5-0 lead, highlight by a RBI base hit by James Principi and a two RBI double by Jake Naparstek in the first and then a two more in the third inning on an error by Highlanders’ shortstop Tony Pucino that allowed Sam Brooke to score and a RBI base hit by Ben Czarnecki.
Ramsay then settled down cruising through the fourth and fifth inning.
In the meantime the Highlanders bats began to figure out Spartans starter Justin Gallicchio who they were facing for the third time this and second time in a week.
“Gallicchio, he’s tough,” Germano said. “I think it helped, seeing him twice in a week, the more you see him the better you get.”
In the top of the fourth, Pedrolini knocked in Warren and John King with a two-out two RBI single. Then in the fifth John Lippincott led off the inning with a long home run over the fence in right field.
“They’re a good team, just because they’re young, doesn’t mean they can’t battle,” Lewis Mills head coach, Jesse Darcy said, of the Highlanders who start six sophomores.
With two outs in the sixth, the Highlanders then loaded the bases, Gallicchio got Lippincott to hit a ground ball to first baseman, Greg Campbell, who muffed it, allowing Lippincott to reach and Warren to score, making it a 5-4 game.
That was it for Gallicchio. Darcy came out to get him and brought in fellow sophomore Jack Nepomuceno.
“I thought Justin was effective, but his pitch count got up there,” Darcy, a former minor league pitcher, said. “No kids’ health is worth any game.”
Nepomuceno got Ramsay to pop out, and the Spartans would tack on another run in the bottom of the sixth, a Gallicchio RBI double, but that was the last out Nepomuceno would record.
“I told them (going into the seventh) we’re going to see if we have any guts,” Germano said.
Pucino reach on a throwing error by Spartans shortstop that pulled Campbell off the base, then Joey Colombie knocked him in on a double. Warren worked a walk and with runners on first and second King came up to bunt them over, but instead bunted it in between Brooke and Nepomuceno, reaching for his third hit of the game, loading the bases.
Nepomuceno then walked Garrett Healey to send to Colombie, tying the game and setting up Pedrolini’s game-winning single.
Northwestern moves on to face No. 4 Montville at Montville high school on Tuesday at 3:30 p.m.
“We’re fortunate for today and we live to see another day,” Germano said.
Northwestern 8, Lewis Mills 6
(at Lewis Mills)
Northwestern 000 211 4 — 8 9 4
Lewis Mills 302 001 0 — 6 11 4
Bryce Ramsay and Zach Risedorf; Justin Gallicchio, Jack Nepomuceno (6), Jake Naparstek (7) and James Principi.
WP: Bryce Ramsay (). LP: Jack Nepomuceno (). 2B: (NW) Joey Colombie, John King; (LM) Justin Gallicchio, Jake Naparstek. HR: John Lippincott (NW)RBI: Pedrolini (3), Lippincott, Colombie, Healey (NW); Justin Gallicchio, James Principi, Jacob Naparstek (2), Ben Czarnecki (LM);
Team records: Northwestern 13-8; Lewis Mills 13-8.