WINSTED >> Spring weather blew a sloppy baseball game to Northwestern High School Thursday afternoon, not so much from the drizzle as from a pile-up of rescheduled games that had the Highlanders (9-4 overall; 9-3 Berkshire League) slogging through their fourth game in four days and visiting Wamogo (4-8 overall; 4-7 BL) in its third of four games this week.
The toll on pitching arms produced an 11-8 Northwestern roller-coaster win.
The Highlanders climbed to a 9-0 lead in the first three innings, then fought off a Warrior surge back to a 9-8 margin in the top of the sixth.
Sophomores pitchers started on each side — Northwestern’s Tony Pucino for the first time.
“I just wanted to throw strikes,” he said. “I have a good infield behind me.”
That plan worked great for three innings. Pucino had six strikeouts with just one hit and a hit batter in his opening stretch.
Wamogo starter Jeff Aeschlimann also threw strikes.
Zach Risedorf (2-for-3, double, 2 runs) and Johnny Lippincott (RBI) ripped a couple of them into left field in the first inning for a Highlander run. Aeschlimann put away three straight Northwestern batters in the second.
Then Murphy’s Law hit hard. Everything that could go wrong in the third inning did.
Highlander Garrett Healey (2-for-2, RBI, 2 runs) led off with a double; Nick Pedrolini (2-for-4, double, 2 RBI, run) singled; Risedorf was hit by a pitch, bases loaded, no outs.
Lippincott got Healey home on a fielder’s choice; Pedrolini scored on a wild pitch; Bryce Ramsay walked; Lippincott came in on a passed ball; Joe Colombie (2-for-4, double, 3 RBI, run) drove Ramsay in on a single; Devin Warren made it to first on an error; John King and Healey drew back-to-back walks; Pedrolini ended it with a two-run double.
Eight runs in all, 9-0 Northwestern.
“Killer innings have been haunting us all year,” said Wamogo coach Gregg Hunt. “We hit and we throw strikes. The kids could have packed it in at 9-0.”
Instead, they went to work on Pucino in the top of the fourth. Aeschlimann (2-for-3, 3 runs) led off with a single; Rob Whipple (2-for-2, double 2 RBI, 3 runs) and Jordan Bergs walked, bases loaded, no outs.
Pucino got his sixth strikeout for the first out. Nick Brennan (2-for-4, double, 2 RBI) traded an RBI fielder’s choice for the second. Justin Bovat drove in another Wamogo run on a single to center field.
Still trailing 9-2, Wamogo junior reliever Landon Bellmay held the Highlanders in place while the Warriors kept coming.
In the top of the fifth, a leadoff hit by Wamogo’s Tristan Pepin (2-for-4, 2 runs) and a plunk on Aeschlimann ended Pucino’s outing.
Freshman Vinny Tancreti marched to the mound for his first varsity appearance.
Whipple greeted him with an RBI single; Tacreti walked Berks, then got a called strike three for one out. A throwing error got Aeschlimann home Brennan doubled Whipple in, 9-5.
Tancreti worked through three more Warrior runs in the sixth on four straight one-out hits — by Pepin, Asechlimann, Whipple and Bergs — and a Highlander error, 9-8.
“Wamogo always swings the bats and they’re always in the game,” said Northwestern co-coach Tom Germano.
Tancreti ended his debut on a high note, with a ground-out and a strikeout.
Nevertheless, it was time for Northwestern reassurance.
The first phase came in the bottom of the sixth. Risedorf led off with a hit. Bellmay got two outs, then hit Pucino.
Colombie ripped a line-drive double to the left field corner. Risedorf and Pucino were in, 11-9.
Phase two in Highlander reassurance came in the seasoned hands of sophomore reliever Bryce Ramsay, who’s had four starts this year.
After all the space they’d closed, two more runs didn’t seem much more to ask for Wamogo fans in the top of the seventh.
Ramsay thought otherwise.
“I just threw strikes like I usually do and depended on my defense,” he said.
A pop-up to second, strikeout and fly-out to left finally gave the Highlanders a rest until Monday.
Wamogo goes back to work today against Gilbert … weather permitting.
Northwestern 11, Wamogo 8
At Northwestern High School
Wamogo 000 233 0—8 11 3
Northwestern 108 002 x—11 10 3
WP: Tony Pucino. LP: Jeff Aeschlimann. 2B: W—Rob Whipple; Nick Brennan. NW—Nick Pedrolini; Zach Risedorf; Joe Colombie; Garrett Healey.
Records: Wamogo 4-8 (4-7 Berkshire League); Northwestern 9-4 (9-3 Berkshire League.