Northfield edges Manchester 1-0 in sectional

Northfield earned the right to play Wabash for the Lewis Cass baseball sectional title, by defeating Manchester 1-0 Monday. As everyone thought it would be, it was a classic pitchers dual. Freshman Ryan Keaffaber was on the mound for the Norse, while junior Scott Baker threw for the Squires.

Northfield’s potent offense would threaten many times, only to have Baker shut them down. In the bottom of the 1st, Northfield had runners on 1st and 3rd and 2 outs, Andy Roser grounded out to end the inning. In the bottom of the 2nd the Norse had the bases loaded after a Levi Allen walk, only to have Baker strike out the next two batters to get out of the inning.  In the 3rd the Norse got a runner to 3rd with two outs and popped out to end the inning. Again in the 4th the Norse moved a runner to 3rd and Baker struck out the batter to end the inning. Starting the 5th, Keaffaber struck out the first batter and then lightning struck. The game was suspended for 40 minutes until the weather cleared. After the suspended play, Keaffaber struck out the next two.  Manchester changed pitchers after the delay, going to Connor McLaughlin. After a Peyton Ross single and an error the Norse had runners on 1st and 2nd with one out. Andy Roser singled to right and Ross was rounding 3rd to score when he tripped and had to go back. With bases loaded, McLaughlin struck out the next two batters to get out of the inning.  In the 6th with one out, Manchester’s Devan Knecht singled up the middle, but Keaffaber shut the door, popping up a bunt and striking out a batter to retire the side. Again in the bottom of the inning the Norse applied pressure, loading the bases with two outs. McLaughlin threw a wild pitch and Levi Allen scored what would be the winning run. In the 7th, Keaffaber forced a major league pop up, struck out a batter and then gave up a double to Joe Spann. A groung ball to 2nd and the Norse escaped with the narrow victory.

For Northfield, Keaffaber pitched a complete game, striking out 11 and allowing 2 hits.  For Manchester, Baker pitched 4 innings, striking out 5 and allowing no runs. McLaughlin pitched 2 inniings, striking out 3 and allowing 1 run.