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Hitting key in NL's fast start

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FREDERICKSBURG – For as tough an ending as the Northern Lebanon baseball team had last season, especially due to a woeful stretch at the plate, it can be tough to shake off.

But definitely not for the Vikings.

Eager to get back on the diamond with a clean slate, NL is off to a roaring start offensively, now 2-0, after a 10-4 win over intra-county rival Cedar Crest Wednesday at Northern Lebanon High School.

“I’ll tell you what…we played against a quality team,” said Vikings coach Daryl Hess. “I like the fact we came out and hit the ball the way we did. It makes things smoother, and allows you to sit back and play good defense.”

Adding Wednesday’s outburst to a 4-1 season-opening win at McCaskey last Friday, NL has scored 14 runs in its first two games.

“It definitely helps out,” Hess said. “If we just relax and do what I know we can do with the sticks, we’ll be OK, because one thing I’ve been really pleased with the last two games is our pitching and defense.”

Seth Walmer led the Vikings with a 2-for-3 day and three RBI, including a two-RBI double as part of a four-run first inning.

“I felt good…nice and relaxed…that’s all I needed to do,” Walmer said. “If you relax, you can do a lot at the plate. I like hitting fourth, so if I can do what I can to contribute, I’ll be happy.”

NL was able to put up crooked numbers in the first three innings, including another four-spot in the third.

Besides Walmer, the Vikings had other big contributors, including Austin Barry who had a 2-for-2 day with two RBI, and Christian Weaner, who also posted a two-RBI day while going 2-for-3. Austin Mullins also had a pair of RBI.

After losing some key players, it’s certainly critical to see others step up this early in the season in contributing to the fast start at the dish.

And from a player’s standpoint, Walmer and his teammates couldn’t be happier with not only a 2-0 start, but hitting as well as they have.

“With losing some of our guys from last year, this was a season of question,” Walmer said. “So coming in and knocking off two good teams is great for us.”

On the other side for Cedar Crest (0-1, 0-0) however, it was a tough start to the 2017 campaign for its pitching staff, having to use three pitchers, after starter Nate Cavic only lasted a third of an inning.

Falcons coach Josh Brown said, “Those guys did a good job hitting the ball, but we gave them the opportunity by getting every batter in a 2-0, 3-0 situation, where we had to come fastball. Our starter might have thrown four curve balls the entire time because he was getting down. They (NL) are a solid ball club, but we lost the game. As pitchers, we just need to stay positive and relax. They can’t change the past…only the future.”

But if Cedar Crest chose to have a bad day on the mound, this game was it. The Falcons don't play again until next Monday, avoiding the headache of complying with the PIAA’s new pitch count rule in preparation for its next game.

Another positive the Falcons can take away is already seeing improvement defensively, only committing one error.

Brown said, “We made every play we had to make except a couple of mental errors, and threw one away at first base. Last year we were making four to six errors a game. Now we know where we stand. Our pitching just has to get better.”