ROBINSON TOWNSHIP - A little turned into a lot on Thursday.
Northwestern's baseball team chipped away at Bedford. A run here, a clutch hit there, and before the Bisons knew it, they were in a deep hole in their PIAA Class AA quarterfinal at the Burkett Complex's Frank J. Marko Field.
The Wildcats (15-5) scored at least once in the middle five innings and held on for an 8-1 victory.
"They did a good job putting the ball in play. When we walked guys, they made us pay for it," Bedford coach Scott Waugerman said.
Northwestern, which claimed the program's second PIAA tournament win, moves on to meet Central, a 17-7 winner over Franklin, on Monday at a site and time to be determined by the PIAA.
"The sky is the limit for this team right now. They are a hard out right now," Northwestern coach John Light said. "I have been saying this for a long time - we may not look like a whole lot when we get off the bus, but we come to play."
Light's troops did not produce a huge inning. Rather, the Wildcats were consistent - and opportunistic. Of the nine batters the three Bedford pitchers walked, five came around to score as did another Northwestern player who reached on an error.
"When we walked guys and had that error, they made us pay," Waugerman said. "When they got runners in scoring position, they got them across. That's what good teams do."
The Wildcats grabbed a 2-0 lead in the top of the first. Nate Noe singled to lead off the inning and Pete Ruckoski drew a walk. Both came home on Sam Yochim and Greg DePalma RBI singles.
Northwestern made it a 4-0 advantage in the top of the third. Griffin Hines drew a leadoff walk, and Jay Clinger singled and stole second. Evan Bird's two-out single plated them both.
The Bisons (12-7) received a jolt in the bottom of the third. Dylan Daniel, the team's No. 9 hitter, swatted a solo homer off Noe. Bedford threatened to add more as it had runners on first and second with one out, but Noe induced two flyouts to end the threat.
"I thought maybe that'd get us going a little bit," Waugerman said. "For whatever reason, we didn't follow through with good at-bats today. Maybe some of that is being in the quarterfinals of the state playoffs. I don't know. The guys usually swing the bats much better than this."
The Wildcats scored once in the fourth and added two more in the fifth on Yochim's two-run single. Northwestern added its final tally in the sixth on a bases-loaded groundout.
Noe, a senior right-hander, stifled the Bisons. He only struck out three, but allowed four hits and walked just one.
"He did a good job of changing speeds. His location was good and he threw strikes," Waugerman said. "He wasn't going to give any free passes. He was going to make us work to get on and that's a lot of credit to him. He went out there and put the ball in the zone."
Zach Shaffer, Isaac Kline and Dylan Downs had Bedford's other three hits.
The Bisons graduate two starters in right fielder Travis Hickey and center fielder Kody Blevins
"We feel really sorry for the two seniors that don't get to advance, but this is a learning experience for all the players coming back, to get an idea of what they need to do to get back here," Waugerman said. "We are really going to miss Travis and Kody because those guys have been three-year starters for us and they've come through in big situations for us all season long."
NORTHWESTERN (8): D. Bird c 500, Hites 2b 321, Clinger ss 311, Noe p 221, Buckoski 1b 220, Ulrich pr 000, E. Bird 3b 301, Yochim cf 402, DePalma rf 313, Adamson dh 200, Payne, lf 100. Totals 28-8-9.
BEDFORD (1): Shaffer ss 201, Kline 2b 301, Blevins cf 300, Montgomery 1b-p 200, Hickey rf 300, Smith dh 300, Bingham p 000, Hernandez p 000, Downs lf 301, Miller c 200, Daniel 3b 311. Totals: 24-1-4.
SCORE BY INNINGS
Northwestern022 121 0 - 8 9 2
Bedford001 000 0 - 1 4 1
E-Yochim, Clinger, Shaffer. HR-Daniel. RBI-Yochim 3, Clinger, E. Bird, DePalma, Daniel.
NORTHWESTERN: Noe (W) 7IP, 4H, 1R, 1ER, 3K, 1BB
BEDFORD: Bingham (L) 3IP, 5H, 4R, 4ER, 5K, 3BB; Hernandez 3IP, 3H, 4R, 3ER, 3K, 6BB; Montgomery 1IP, 1H, 0R, 0ER, 1K, 0BB
Records: Northwestern (15-5); Bedford (12-7).