A lot of Northfield baseball fans have been calling the team the ”cardiac kids” the past two seasons and the Norse once more caused near cardiac arrest by several, as they scored two runs in the bottom of the seventh top pull out a 2-1 dramatic win over Delphi for the Wabash regional title.
It was a classic pitchers dual the entire game with each team going down in order in the first. Starting pitcher Ryan Keaffaber struck out two after a lead off fly out.
Keaffaber had three more strike outs in the second and it looked like the Norse could rally in the bottom. Andy Roser led off with a single, which was the first hit of the game. A line drive by Shane Vigar was picked off by the first baseman, with pinch runner Austin Curless being doubled off and the Norse stalled.
With Keaffaber having just six available innings to pitch, Andy Roser pitched the third, shutting down Delphi in order. The Norse went three up and three down and it was still scoreless after three.
Delphi threatened in the fourth, getting two singles to start the inning. The third hitter put down a sacrifice bunt that went right back to Keaffaber, who quickly fired to third for the force. After a strike out Delphi collected an infield single to load the bases, with Keaffaber striking out the third out to get out of the inning. Again the Norse went down 1,2, 3.
Keaffaber walked the first batter of the fifth, but catcher Bryce Kendall quickly erased that runner by firing a bullet to first after the pitch to pick off the runner. The Norse would get out of the inning, but again struggled on offense in the bottom and it was still 0-0 heading to the sixth.
In the top of the inning with two outs, Delphi hit a grounder to first baseman Joseph Ross that took a bounce and went off his arm. Two singles later Delphi led 1-0. Bryce Kendall would hit a one out single in the bottom of the inning, with Dallas Hovet sacrificing him to second with a bunt. The Norse couldn’t capitalize and trailed 1-0 with one inning to go.
With one out in the top of the seventh, a bloop single was hit over second baseman Collin Dawes with right fielder Jared Kirtlan making a sliding attempt on his knees that bounced out of his glove, with Kirtlan having the awareness to come up firing to second for a force out. The Norse got out of the inning and had one more shot.
Adam Roser got the nerve racking seventh started with a single and was moved to second on a sac bunt by Ryan Keaffaber. Andy Roser then singled to put runners on first and third, then stole second. Shane Vigar then drew a walk to load the bases and setup the dramatic finish. Joseph Ross would push a grounder to the first baseman, who’s only play was on Ross, scoring Adam Roser to tie the game and advancing Andy Roser to third. The hero of the night, Andy Maggart came to the plate and on a 3-2 count with two outs, hit a swinging dribbler towards first, which was fielded by the first baseman. With Maggart hustling down the line the fielder tried to sweep tag Maggart, as quoted by Chris Beauchamp, ” missing him by a foot” with Maggart stumbling to first safe as Andy Roser crossed the plate with the winning run.
Ryan Keaffaber got the win, making him the winning-est pitcher in Indiana high school history with 47 wins.
The Norse now head for the semi-state which will be held at either South Bend or Kokomo. That decision will be made Wednesday.