Falcons shut out top team in West Division
Last week's victory over Northwestern was a statement game for the Salisbury baseball squad.
Battling an up-and-down season early on, the Falcons entered Thursday's contest against Northwestern in the middle of the pack in the Colonial League's West Division. At 6-3 in league play, the Falcons sought to improve their postseason position against the Tigers, who entered as one of two teams with just one conference loss on the season.
When all was said and done, the Falcons cut a game off Northwestern's lead in the West Division with a 10-0 shutout in five innings at Salisbury High School.
Since then, the Falcons fell to Southern Lehigh, while Northwestern dropped a pair of one-run losses. Northwestern (9-4 through Sunday), Southern Lehigh (8-4) and Salisbury (7-4) are separated by just a game in the division.
"It's a great confidence booster," said Evan Kulig, who picked up the win for Salisbury. "It shows that we can hang with anyone. It's great to come out and 10-run them, too."
Salisbury's come-from-behind 6-5 win over Catasauqua on April 17 ended a brief losing skid in league games. Since then, the Falcons have been playing solid baseball.
"We had three or four losses in a row," Kulig said. "To come out and beat Catty, who is also another contender, is great for the team and our confidence."
Kulig did more than his part against the Tigers. The senior pitched five innings of two-hit baseball, and struck out three Tigers.
Offensively, Kulig was 3-for-4 and drove in three of the Falcons' runs.
"I was feeling great," Kulig said. "I had a lot of control on my fastball and on my curveball."
Errors were an issue for Northwestern early in the game as the Tigers committed one in each of the first four innings. Salisbury took advantage.
Nick Sikora (3-for-4, 4 RBIs) began the second inning by reaching base on a Tiger infield error. He came around to score on a CJ Tocci RBI-single, giving the Falcons a 1-0 advantage.
After Joey Galantini doubled to start the third inning, Taylor Linn (3 runs scored) reached base on another Northwestern error. That opened the flood gates as Kulig's single scored Galantini, and Sikora drove in two more runs to put Salisbury in front 4-0.
"It's nice because we get guys on base," Kulig said of the errors. "Guys like to hit with guys on base. It's a lot more relaxing."
With runners on first and second in the fourth inning, Linn's sacrifice bunt down the third base line stayed in fair play after a number of Tigers waited for it to roll into foul territory. Then, with the bases loaded, Kulig ripped a single into left field that scored Justin Besz. Sikora came up with another big RBI-single two batters later, and Mike Palmer brought in two more Falcons on his second hit of the game.
Sikora's infield single to shortstop scored Linn to enforce the 10-run rule and end the game in the fifth.
"Everyone really had an approach to just swing the bat today," Kulig said. "We've been striking out a lot, so everyone took it personally to swing the bat."