PREP BASEBALL: Northridge falls in Warsaw in Section 4 semi-final | Sports
MIDDLEBURY – Northridge baseball lost to Warsaw, 3-2 in the semifinals of the Class 4A, Section 4 tournament on Saturday at Northridge High School, ending its season with a 21-8 record.
Down 2-1 in the bottom of the seventh, Warsaw failed on back-to-back shots, leaving the Raiders with just one out of an appearance in a sectional championship game.
Hitting the plate, Lukas Maier shattered a three-innings without a hitting for the Tigers with decay that put him first. Maier then advanced to second after a Gerber ball slipped out of the Raiders wide receiver. Three more thrown balls followed, as Gerber stepped on freshman Khareus Miller.
In perhaps the most cinematic situation possible, senior Alex Light stepped in. With runners in first and second with two strikeouts in the bottom of the seventh, Light delivered on the very first ground for the Tigers. The senior hit a brace from deep left field, sending the ball just over Horner’s head. The blow sent Maier and Miller home and gave the Tigers a 3-2 victory, dashing Northridge’s hopes of a Section title appearance.
“It was a series of things, it wasn’t just one thing that made us,” said Northridge coach Andrew Brabender. “We will learn from it and you can play the simulation game all day. We’ve lost six games in a run, but we’re starting a few sophomores and a freshman, so you’re going to have growing pains. With COVID last year, you have a lot of young players without much starting experience.
The pitch started slowly for Tigers starter Joey Springer, who gave Gavin Collins a brace and then a Carter Gilbert treble in the first inning, scoring Collins for the first inning of the game.
Northridge’s offensive offense continued from there, and the Raiders widened their lead to 2-0 on a sacrificial decay from Trevor Brown in the second.
Springer’s arm would settle from there though, as he picked up five strikeouts and allowed no more runs in the remaining five innings.
Undefeated senior pitcher Andrew Gerber (6-0) was on the mound for the Raiders, and he started strong. The Tigers’ offense stalled in the first two innings with six strikeouts in six at innings before Light landed a single in the third.
Warsaw finally broke through, reducing the lead to one down in the fourth with a brief offensive explosion. A single, a walk, an error at second base and another single combined made for a difficult situation for Gerber, but Northridge nonetheless escaped the inning with a 2-1 lead as Tiger’s only run came from a sacrificial solor of Jette Woodward RBI.
Northridge’s offense has only managed two hits in the last three innings: a single Collins on the right side at the top of the fifth and a starting brace in seventh in freshman Max Horner.
“We had too many offensive chances that didn’t work out,” said Brabender. “We had a double start in the seventh, and we couldn’t lead it third. We needed this race and we didn’t get it.
Warsaw will now move on to the 4A, Section 4 championship game in a Memorial Day contest with the Elkhart Lions, who toppled the Penn Kingsmen 8-5 in the opener of the doubles match on Saturday.
“We have kept him at an even level,” said Warsaw coach Any Manes. “We keep telling them, we just need to go out and play our game. It doesn’t matter if it’s the Yankees playing against us or against anyone, come out and play our game, and see what happens.
When asked what the message to his team was after the loss, Brabender was short and to the point.
“Sometimes it’s just baseball.”