NORTH SALEM, N.Y. — In a game in which the winning team gets only two hits, it usually comes down to good pitching, defense and baserunning. That was certainly the case when North Salem hosted Cortlandt in a 12-year-old Greater Hudson Valley League game Wednesday, July 13, at Volunteers Park.
Cortlandt had one more hit than North Salem, but the Tigers used solid pitching, defense and some timely baserunning to pull away for an 8-2 victory.
On the mound Paul Lulaj hurled a gem, going five innings and allowing just one run to earn the victory. James Cox came on in relief to finish it off, and the Tigers were flawless in the field behind them including a couple of big double plays.
The big difference, however, was baserunning and North Salem got on base and made Cortlandt pay as the Tigers circled the bases for eight runs. All around, the Tigers did the little things that made the difference to win the game.
“Most of this team has been playing together since third grade, they have good chemistry and they like to win,” North Salem coach Tony Norberto said. “Paul Lulaj pitched a great game, he’s always consistent and throws strikes. The whole team was solid in the field. On the bases they made it happen and did what they had to do to win.”
After falling behind 1-0 in the top of the second inning, the Tigers answered back with a two-out rally in the bottom of the inning. Lulaj started it off as he reached on an infield hit. Cox walked and Kyle Singer reached on an error to load the bases. Christian Norberto then hit a sharp grounder that got through the infield to score two runs for a 2-1 lead as Singer moved to third base.
Singer then came up with the first big baserunning play for the Tigers. Taking a big leadoff third, he watched as the pitcher turned his back on him after a throw back from the catcher. Singer took off and stole home to make it 3-1.
The top of the third was a good example of how solid defense in the field helped the Tigers record the win as Christian Norberto recorded all three outs unassisted at first base. The leadoff batter grounded out to first. After a walk, the next batter hit a sharp line drive right at first, where Norberto reached up to snare it and he then tagged the runner off first for an unassisted double play.
North Salem added to its lead in the fourth with another two-out rally as two more runs scored without recording a hit. Norberto reached on an error, Anthony Dolce was hit by a pitch and Shane Waldron walked to load the bases. Dolce took a big leadoff second and got caught in a run down, and Cortlandt threw the ball away allowing two runs to score for a 5-1 lead.
The Tigers struck again for three more runs in the fifth inning. Luke Murtagh and Lulaj led off with a pair of walks, and Cox laid down a bunt to move them over, but Cortlandt threw it away for another error and Murtagh scored. Lulaj then scored on a wild pitch, and Cox scored on an error to make it 8-1.
With the victory North Salem improved to 4-2 overall. Coach Norberto has some of the North Salem High varsity team that won the New York State title this spring helping out as coaches. Norberto admits the kids are inspired by the varsity players and look forward to the upcoming playoffs.
“We have the varsity guys help us out, they won the states and they teach them and give them advice,” Norberto said. “We’re putting it all together. We lost one game we shouldn’t have, but this team bounced right back. This is a good team with good chemistry and we should have a fun season.”