Momentum did not seem to be on the Palmyra baseball team's side late Saturday. The Cougars had just dropped a walk-off loss at Cedar Crest and had to make a drive back to their home field for a non-league game against Northern Lebanon.
But nothing shifts momentum like a starting pitcher who takes control of a game from the start. Freshman Brian Coburn did that, tossing a four-hit shutout in Palmyra's 8-0 win over Northern Lebanon, helping the Cougars split their doubleheader.
Coburn struck out four batters without permitting a walk. None of the Vikings reached third base.
“He stepped up,” Palmyra head coach Neil Weber said of Coburn. “He's got good command of the strike zone. It just goes to show you that if you throw strikes and get ahead of hitters, you can get guys out.”
Coburn threw 86 pitches, and finished strong with a one-two-three seventh inning.
Getting the lead in the bottom of the first also helped the Cougars (3-4) turn the tide. Isaac Blatt led off with a single to center and stole second base. Carl Reigle hit a sacrifice fly to plate Blatt for a 1-0 advantage.
“We could have hung our heads [after the loss to Cedar Crest],” Weber said. “We try to compartmentalize our games a little bit and win every inning.”
The first inning tally started a good game for Palmyra overall but for Blatt in particular. The senior shortstop was 4-for-4 with a double, an RBI, two stolen bases and four runs scored.
After that, four Northern Lebanon (3-3) errors helped the Cougars build a comfortable margin. Six of Palmyra's eight runs were unearned.
“Earlier [in the season] we were playing a little bit better defense,” Northern Lebanon head coach Daryl Hess said. “Lately we're giving up some runs that we shouldn't.”
Palmyra went up 4-0 in the third with three unearned runs. Blatt singled, stole second, and scored on an infield error on Dylan Spagnolo's grounder. Spagnolo scored on an RBI single by Jacob Roe, who in turn scored on an RBI single by Christian Kreiser.
The Cougars tacked on three more runs in the fourth. Jake Wagner tripled and was driven home by Blatt's double. Both Blatt and Spagnolo scored later on an infield throwing error for a 7-0 lead.
Blatt finished the scoring in the sixth, scoring on Reigle's second sacrifice fly of the game.
Palmyra had just one error and turned an unconventional double play in the third inning. First baseman Kreiser caught a foul pop up, and then doubled off a runner on first base who had taken off with the pitch.
Viking starter Zach Seltzer pitched four innings with eight hits and one walk allowed. He struck out two batters. Seth Daubert pitched the last two innings with one hit and one walk.
Hayden Johnson had three of Northern Lebanon's four hits, all of them singles.
Palmyra 8, Northern Lebanon 0
Northern Lebanon 000 000 0 – 0 4 4
Palmyra 103 301 x – 8 9 1
Zach Seltzer, Seth Daubert (5) and Brandon Breidegan; Brian Coburn and Chris Connell. L-Seltzer.
Strikeouts-Walks: Seltzer 2-1, Daubert 0-1; Coburn 4-0.
2B: Isaac Blatt, Palmyra
3B: Jake Wagner, Palmyra