by Gary Andrews
The Northfield baseball team took another step forward in pursuing the defense of their state title from a year ago, by winning the Kokomo semi-state game Saturday. On the arm of Ryan Keaffaber and some early offense the Norse grounded the Adams Central Flying Jets 5-1.
Being the visitors, the Norse wanted to get a good start and did just that in the first inning. Collin Dawes led off with a single and was sacrificed to second on an Adam Roser bunt. Ryan Keaffaber then singled home Dawes to give the Norse an early 1-0 lead. Keaffaber was then picked off first.
In the top of the second, the Norse would add another run. Shane Vigar singled and was the second victim being picked off. The Norse would pick Vigar up however with Joseph Ross singling, followed by Andy Maggart reaching on an error. Following the error, an infield fly was dropped by the Flying Jets with Ross advancing to third. Dallas Hovey then drove in the second Norse run with a single as Northfield led 2-0 after two.
Northfield would open things up in the third. Adam Roser would get things started with a single and was followed by a Ryan Keaffaber rbi double to make it 3-0. Andy Roser would then single home Keaffaber to go up 4-0, but the Norse were not done. With Roser advancing to third on a steal, Andy Maggart laced a single to bring home Roser to increase the Northfield lead to 5-0.
Adams Central would make some noise in the third, collecting their first hit off Keaffaber and eventually loading the bases with two outs, before a ground ball got the Norse out of the inning still leading 5-0.
Neither team would garner a hit in the fourth or fifth innings as Keaffaber continued to dominate and the Norse bats went silent.
In the top of the sixth, Maggart collected his second hit, leading off the inning with a single. Bryce Kendall put down the sac bunt to move pinch runner Austin Curless, but again the Norse offense stalled. The Flying Jets finally got to Keaffaber in the bottom of the inning for a run with a single and a two out double. Trying to stretch the double to a triple, center fielder Drake Richter fired a shot to shortstop Adam Roser, who relayed the throw to his brother Andy at third to tag the runner for the third out.
Andy Roser would hit a two out single in the seventh and steal second, but a strike out ended the inning and put the Norse three outs from a return trip to Victory Field and the state championship game. Ryan Keaffaber took things into his own hands in the seventh, striking out the first batter, walking the second before striking out the final two.
Keaffaber picked up the win, going seven innings, allowing one run on three hits and striking out 10.
Northfield plays South Spencer at 4 p.m. at Victory Field in Indianapolis on Saturday, June 15.