|VIDEO: Northern Highlands edges West Milford in state opener|
Northern Highlands got a solid pitching performance from Noah Abdalla, and backed it with just enough hitting, to emerge from a first-round state tournament baseball game with a 4-3 win over West Milford.
Abdalla allowed just one earned run over six innings of work to earn the win. He struck out six batters before being forced to leave the game due to a lightning delay in the top of the seventh inning.
Northern Highlands managed just five hits, but bunched them all in the fourth and fifth innings. Trailing 1-0 in the fourth, the Highlanders loaded the bases with no outs, then plated two runs on an RBI fielder's choice by Zach Dreznin and a wild pitch.
In the fifth, Tyler Shedler-McAvoy delivered an RBI double, and Northern Highlands added a crucial fourth run on an infield out by Matt Dipisupil.
West Milford answered back with two runs in the sixth. Sean Kelemen had an RBI single and another run scored on an error. But with the tying run on third and only one out, Abdalla got the next two hitters to hit soft grounders to preserve the lead.
Kelemen, the starter for West Milford, allowed no hits over the first three innings before running into trouble.
Cal Egan also had an RBI single for West Milford, the ninth seed in North 1, Group III. Also known as the Highlanders, West Milford is 11-11 with one regular-season game left to play.
Northern Highlands, the eighth seed, improves to 17-10. Next up, it takes on top-seeded Roxbury, the favorite to win the section, in the quarterfinal round.
For sports video highlights of this New Jersey high school state tournament baseball game, click play in the box at left.