Norse fall to Daleville

Northfield senior Matt Coe connects for an RBI triple during the Saturday, June 9 Class A baseball semistate against Daileville at Kokomo Municipal Stadium. Photo by Josh Sigler

By Josh Sigler

KOKOMO – During its tournament run, Northfield’s baseball squad had made a living on superb pitching and defense, while scratching out enough runs to survive and advance.

The Norse manufactured a couple runs early in the Saturday, June 9, Class A Semistate against Daleville, but their pitching and defense were not as sharp as it had been this postseason in an 8-2 loss to the Broncos at Kokomo Municipal Stadium.

The loss for Northfield (16-15) snapped a five-game winning streak.

“I’m so proud of these guys for what they’ve overcome in the last month,” Northfield coach Clint Davis said. “From where we were a month ago to where we are now, competing, I can’t say enough about the kids.”

The Norse managed just five hits, including just one after the third inning.

Matt Coe put Northfield on the board in the top of the first with an RBI triple over the center fielder’s head, plating Blake Harner, who had reached on a two-out single.

Jared Vigar led off the second with a triple over the left fielder’s head and came home on an RBI sacrifice flyout from Braden Ripplinger.

That was all the offense the Norse would muster.

“That kid on the mound for them is good, and we scratched a couple runs across early, but we never had multiple hits,” Davis said. “We could never get it going up and down the lineup like we wanted to. We’ve been just barely scratching enough across. Unfortunately, those couple runs early weren’t enough to hang on today. … At some point you’re going to have to score more than one or two runs to get out of one of these things, and we just couldn’t do that today.”

Harner drew the start on the hill and wasn’t as sharp as he had been during Northfield’s postseason run.

He allowed six hits in 4 1/3 innings of work, walking six and hitting three more batters.

He allowed seven runs, but was the victim of four Norse errors.

Harner exited in favor of Nate Drancik in the fifth inning, where Daleville (21-9) pushed across five runs to break open a close game, taking an 8-2 lead.

“You get to this point and you’re thinking ‘he has five days off and will have a lot of rust,’” Davis said. “We don’t have five days off at any point in time during the course of the season up until this point. He was a little rusty. We tried to keep him as sharp as could be. But, he just didn’t have it, and that’s going to happen. He’s pitched his rear end off for us for a month now. He struggled with his command a little bit and got behind hitters. When you get to the semistate and get behind hitters, that’s going to be tough on you. We’re not here without him.”

Harner went 2-for-3 at the plate to lead Northfield offensively. He was the only Norse hitter to collect multiple hits.

Clayton Tomlinson had a base hit for Northfield, while Vigar and Coe each added triples to the Norse cause.

Northfield will say goodbye to four seniors, Vigar, Coe, Harner and Hunter Cox.

Davis said there was a sharp change in his team’s competitive spirit midway through the season, a change sparked by his seniors’ unwillingness to let the season end on a negative note.

“Our seniors are an interesting group of individuals,” Davis said. “They’ve been huge for us. We don’t get here without them. The leadership, the culture change in our dugout we saw about midway through the season, they were responsible for that. They saw the finish line and they didn’t want to cross it. When you get to this point in the season, you have two types of seniors; seniors that are ready to move on with their life, and seniors that aren’t quite ready and want to live in the moment. We got that from those guys from the last month on. They battled their tails off to get to this point. I can’t say enough about the way they changed the culture in the dugout and made it a point that we expect to come out here and compete. That might not have been the case a month ago.”

Posted on 2018 Jun 12