Northfield senior Blake Harner couldn’t have picked a better game to pitch his best game of the season Monday, limiting South Newton to just 6 hits and striking out 16 while the Norse played stellar defense in a 2-1 win to capture the Caston sectional title.
Going against one of the state’s best pitchers in Jay Hammel the Norse would grab a 2-0 lead in the second. Matt Coe would lead off the inning with a single and advance to second on an error. With one out Jared Vigar would single up the middle with Coe racing home for the first run. Braden Ripplinger would then lay down a sac bunt to the pitcher that was thrown away at second with Vigar taking third. The Norse would then execute the suicide squeeze with Trevor Burnworth dropping down the bunt and Vigar scoring for a 2-0 lead.
Harner would strike out five of the next six outs while the defense made some great catches in the outfield until Hammel hit a home run in the sixth to make it 2-1. Harner would then give up a triple and hit a batter before settling down and striking out the last out of the inning to put out the fire. The Norse would get singles from Coe and Ripplinger in the bottom of the sixth but couldn’t push across the insurance run.
In the top of the seventh Harner would get his 15th strike out to start the inning before giving up a single.The sixteenth K would then come to set up the exciting finish when Harner picked off the runner at first to end the game and giving the Norse the sectional crown.