CLAYTON — For the second time in three days the Northmont Storm Senior ACME baseball team defeated Versailles to earn a berth to the ACME state tournament.
Monday at Butler High School the Storm scored an 11-1 run rule victory over the Tigers and Wednesday at Northmont High School the Storm scored a 12-4 victory over Versailles to win the ACME District 7 tournament.
The Storm advances to state tournament play Saturday at noon against the ACME District 4 champion Minster at Lima Shawnee High School.
The Storm took a 2-0 lead in the 1st inning. Ed Hardaway drew a walk and Adam Bendinelli reached first on a fielding error with Hardaway advancing to third. Logan Jewsikow launched a sacrifice fly to right to score Hardaway with Bendinelli advancing to third. Austin Weaver singled to center to score Bendinelli to give Northmont an early two run advantage.
Versailles got two runners on in the top of the 2nd but starting pitcher Justin Combs struck out the other three hitters he faced to keep the Tigers off the scoreboard.
Combs singled to lead-off the bottom of the 2nd inning with Jon Eber coming in to pinch run. Eber scored on a fielding error. Hardaway and Jewsikow also crossed the plate to boost Northmont’s lead to 5-0. The Storm added a run the 3rd when Jacob Richey got hit by a pitch and stole second. A high throw to second enabled Richey to reach third. Combs singled to center to bring Richey home for a 6-0 lead.
Versailles rallied with three runs in the top of the 4th inning. Nathan Wagner drew a one out walk and Ryan Tanto came on to relieve Combs. IN 3 and 1/3 inning of work Combs scattered three hits, walked three and struck out five.
The first hitter Tanto faced, Brayden Robinson, reached base on a fielding error. Tanto struck out Zach Schlater but the Tigers got three consecutive base hits by Cole Prenger, Noah Grisez and Kurtis Rutschilling to cut the Storm’s lead to 6-3.
Northmont put the game out of reach with a six run 6th inning. Richey singled, Combs drew a walk and Reagan Schommer also walked to load the bases. Eber hit into a fielder’s choice with the Tigers getting Richey on a fierce out at home. Bendinelli singled to center to score Combs and Schommer. Logan Jewsikow followed with a towering 3-run homer to left. Weaver then belted a double and scored on a single by Tanto to make it 12-3.
The Tigers got a lead-off triple by Rutschilling and singles by Cole Niekamp and Elliott Bruns but Tanto struck out two of the final three hitters to preserve the 12-4 victory. In 3 and 2/3 innings Tanto scattered six hits, gave up two earned runs and struck out five.
Northmont lost its district tournament opener to Vandalia but then won five consecutive games against Brookville, Vandalia, Miami East and two games against Versailles in the double elimination tournament to win the district championship.
“We had a great week of baseball,” said Storm Coach Dan Tanto. “We started out a little sluggish but then we turned it around the rest of the week and got to where we wanted to get to.”
After winning 14 of 15 games the Storm lost to Vandalia in a game that saw Northmont play sluggish baseball. Tanto was puzzled by his team’s performance in that loss.
“Defensively we made some errors and we weren’t hitting the ball. When you don’t make plays in the field and you don’t hit the ball you decrease your chance of winning,” Tanto noted. “After that game we made great plays, we pitched well and we hit extremely well. Logan Jewsikow hit one out of The Yard tonight with two men on. It was outstanding. That’s what it takes to win baseball games.”
Reach Ron Nunnari at 684-9124, via email Rnunnari@AimMediaMidwest.com or on Twitter @Englewood_Ind