CINCINNATI — La Salle ended the Northmont baseball team’s postseason run Thursday night by combining a solid pitching performance with solid defense and timely hitting to defeat the Thunderbolts 8-1 in the Division I regional semifinal game at University of Cincinnati’s Marge Schott Stadium.
“We had as many hits as La Salle, eight, but we left 11 men on base, eight in scoring position,” said Northmont Assistant Coach Jim Smith. “La Salle just played better and we couldn’t put our hits together and they did. Our pitchers were throwing strikes and only gave up four walks that resulted in two runs. That is pretty much it. La Salle just put the ball in play and we didn’t.”
The win was La Salle’s fifth straight and earned the Lancers a matchup with Milford in the regional final at 5 p.m. today at UC. The winner earns a trip to the OHSAA State Final Four that begins next Thursday in Columbus. With the win La Salle improves to 23-7 while Northmont ends its season at 17-14.
La Salle junior Micah Allen pitched a complete game and took a shutout into the seventh inning before the Thunderbolts scored their lone run. Cole Stephens led off with a single and Kamden Rottgen also singled to give Northmont back-to-back hits for the first time since the bottom of the fourth inning when Brenden Jewsikow and Landon Hill stroked back-to-back singles.
Following Stephens and Rottgen singles in the seventh, Tanner Lee flew out to first and Austin Kossoudji hit into a 4-6 fielder’s choice with Rottgen out at second and Stephens advancing to third. Brandt Cronebach singled to drive-in Stephens for Northmont’s lone run.
The Lancers’ offense, which has now scored 18 runs in its last two games, was led by sophomore Griffin Merritt, who went 2-for-3 with three RBI, and junior Tyler Wardwell, who was 2-of-3 and drove in two runs. La Salle has now outscored its postseason opponents, 22-2, and has not allowed more than one run in four postseason games.
La Salle got its first run in the top of the 2nd inning when Allen drew a lead-off walk and later scored on a single by Tyler Wardwell. The Lancers increased their lead to 2-0 in the top of the third but broke the game open in the top of the fourth. Kevin Browne led off with a triple and scored on a single by Merritt. Jon Hambrick got hit by a pitch to put Lancers runners on first and second. Wardwell followed with a single to score Merritt and Tim Casey also singled to score Hambrick to put La Salle up 6-0.
Northmont had the bases loaded in the home half of the fourth but left all three runners stranded. Tyler Liddy reached base on an error. Jewsikow and Hill both singled but the Lancers got out of the inning with a big double play to wipe out the Thunderbolts’ scoring threat.
The Lancers tacked on a pair of insurance runs in the top of the 5th inning. Brady Reynolds singled and stole second, Browne drew a walk and Merritt singled to earn two RBI as La Salle took an 8-0 lead.
Leading the Northmont offense was Brenden Jewsikow who went 2 for 2, Kamden Rottgen 2 for 3, Brandt Cronebach 2 for 4 with one RBI while Landon Hill and Cole Stephens went 1 for 3.
Garrett Lee pitched 3 and 1/3 innings, gave up 4 runs on 4 hits, with one strikeout and two walks. Tyler Defibaugh pitched one-third of an inning and gave up two runs on two hits with one strikeout. Tanner Lee pitched 3 and 1/3 innings and gave up 2 runs on 2 hits with two walks and one strikeout.
LAS 011 420 0 – 8 8 1
NMT 000 000 1 – 1 8 0
Reach Ron Nunnari at 684-9124, via email Rnunnari@civitasmedia.com or on Twitter @Englewood_Ind