CENTERVILLE — With its 5-2 district victory Monday over Harrison (21-8), the Northmont baseball team punched its Division 1 regional ticket Thursday at 5 p.m. at the University of Cincinnati.
Now 17-13 for the season, the visiting Thunderbolts at Centerville High School combined timely hitting, clutch pitching and airtight defense for the district win. The Northmont trip to the regional against LaSalle High School is the third time in six years the Thunderbolts have qualified for a regional game.
Getting a quick lead Monday for early domination was the key, according to Northmont coach Chuck Harlow.
“We scored four runs in the first inning on two hits and two errors,” Harlow said. “We wanted to put the pressure on them, which worked well for us today.”
As the first batter of the game, Tanner Lee singled on the first pitch. The Wildcats committed two straight infield errors, including an overthrow to first, giving Northmont a 2-0 lead. Following a walk to Anthony Ragan, Landon Hill doubled to left with two outs, driving home Brandt Cronebach and Ragan for a 4-0 bulge.
With an early working lead, senior pitcher Jacob Monnin threw a complete game, fanning eight and walking one. Monnin scattered eight hits and surrendered single runs in the second and fourth innings.
“Today I was focused on throwing in the zone and letting my defense play behind me,” said Monnin, who improved to 5-3 for the season.
“Jacob pitched a heck of a game,” Harlow said. “And our defense has been really solid, so that’s a great combination for a win.”
Harlow credited Cronebach with a run-saving circus catch in the third inning. Another defensive play that prevented a Wildcat score was a tagout at the plate by Monnin after catcher Tyler Liddy recovered a passed ball and fed him the assist.
Northmont added an insurance run in the fourth inning for a 5-1 lead when Cole Stephens singled to drive home Ragan who walked and was sacrificed to second on a bunt by Hill.
Monnin pitched out of trouble in the second inning after the Wildcats had scored a run and had two runners in scoring position with one out. But Monnin showed his grit by striking out two straight batters to end the threat. The Wildcats manufactured a second run in the fourth but never mounted another threat.
Monnin, headed to Tiffin College in the fall, ended the district win by retiring the side in order in the sixth and seventh innings.
“I felt good from the start,” he said.”Even in the bullpen before the game.”
More than 100 Northmont fans attended the district game at Centerville. The fans in the stands roared as the final Wildcat batter popped out to first baseball Austin Kossoudji.
As the entire Thunderbolt team raced to the mound, Harlow shouted,” We’re heading to the regional baby!”
Reach Gary Gregory at firstname.lastname@example.org