SOUTH WHITLEY — The NorthWood High baseball team is heading to regional play for the second straight season, thanks to a 7-2 victory over Fairfield in the Class 3A Whitko title game Monday, June 2.
Winning pitcher Vincent Miranda, just a freshman, tossed a four-hitter to key the Panther victory. Miranda also had two hits and scored a pair of runs for NorthWood.
"Vince really threw the ball well and located all three of his pitches most of the night," Panther coach Zach Benko said. “When he can throw his off-speed stuff for a first-pitch strike, he’s really tough. We even made a couple errors behind him and it didn’t rattle him at all. For a freshman, that’s saying a lot."
Blake Cleveland homered in the first inning to give the Panthers a 1-0 lead that stood up the rest of the way.
The Panthers (21-6) face Yorktown at 11 a.m. Saturday, June 7, in a Class 3A Bellmont Regional semifinal. Last season, NorthWood reached the regional title game at the same place, where it lost a heart-breaking 9-8 extra-inning decision to Norwell.
"We don’t know a lot about the Fort Wayne-area teams, but we were able to get some great experience last year," Benko said. "I know we’ll be ready to give a good game to whoever we see."
3A Whitko Sectional
NorthWood 7, Fairfield 2
Fairfield 001 100 0 — 2 4 2
NorthWood 112 012 x — 7 12 2
Austin Christner (L); Vincent Miranda (W).
Fairfield: Hits — Tony Zook 2. HR — Zook.
NorthWood: Hits — Will Kirkwood 2, Miranda 2. HR — Blake Cleveland. 2B — Kyle McCoy, Chad Sellers, Tanner Farmwald. RBI — McCoy 2. Runs — Miranda 2.
Records: NorthWood 21-6
Next: NorthWood vs.Yorktown, Garrett winner (Dwenger vs. Concordia) vs.Norwell 11 a.m. and following Saturday, June 7, 8 p.m. Championship..