LAPORTE — Northridge’s baseball team was shorthanded on the mound and in the dugout in Saturday’s Class 4A regional semifinal game against Mishawaka.
But it was a weather delay of more than an hour that affected the Raiders the most against the Cavemen.
A five-run top of the sixth inning after the delay helped Mishawaka post a 7-0 win over Northridge. The Cavemen led only 2-0 when the thunder, lightning and rain hit.
The Raiders were without No. 1 pitcher Davis Enfield and head coach Andrew Brabender for the game because Enfield exceeded the state-mandated pitch limit in last Monday’s 2-0 sectional final win over Penn.
Dyrk Miller filled in for Brabender and he decided to stick with starting pitcher Cam Knepp, who threw well before the delay. Through five innings, Knepp allowed two earned runs, five hits, struck out seven and walked none.
Entering the sixth, Knepp allowed only a solo homer to Derrick Dawson and an RBI single to Dawson.
However, in the sixth, Knepp struggled, allowing five runs on four hits. Nick Bodle walked to start the inning for Mishawaka and went to second on a passed ball. Dawson was then intentionally walked. Bodle and pinch-runner Peyton Robinson advanced to second and third on another passed ball. After a strikeout, Sam Rajski hit a two-run single. Later in the inning, Colin Fee hit an RBI triple and Grant Jablonski added a two-run double to give the Cavemen a 7-0 lead.
“I don’t think the weather had much to do with it,” said Miller about Knepp’s sixth inning. “We just didn’t play very well behind him. Both teams had to do with the weather. I think our pitcher was ready (after the delay).”
Miller was asked how he felt the team handled the suspensions of Brabender and Enfield.
“I think our team responded very well,” Miller said. “We play hard. We just didn’t play well.”
A big reason the Raiders didn’t play well is because of the pitching of Mishawaka’s Jablonski.
Jablonski didn’t pitch when Mishawaka was swept by Northridge, 5-3 and 10-8, in a doubleheader on May 18th.
The senior hurler was magnificent on Saturday against the Raiders. He tossed a three-hitter, struck out 10 and walked one.
“Grant had the confidence to go out on the mound and throw strikes and get his breaking ball over for strikes,” said Mishawaka coach John Huemmeer, whose team advanced into the regional final against Lake Central with a record of 24-6.
“(Northridge) really struggled against the curve ball today. They really didn’t try to attack (the curve). They laid off of it looking for fast balls, but with Grant throwing the curve ball for strikes he consistently kept them off balance. He just did a nice job. I told him before the game that he was our ticket to get to the (regional) championship game.”
Miller, whose team finishes at 22-8, was impressed with Jablonski.
“He’s a very good pitcher,” Miller said. “He was dealing and he made us hit a lot of ground balls. His curve was dirty. He consistently threw it for strikes and kept us off balance. When you can hold our team to three hits you’re good.”
Dawson’s solo homer came in the second inning and he added his RBI single in the third.
“Derrick did a great job behind the plate,” Huemmer said. “Hitting-wise, he was able to track the ball very well. He was able to see the ball well today.”
MISHAWAKA 7, NORTHRIDGE 0
Mishawaka`011`005`0 - `7`8`1
Northridge`000`000`0 - 0`3`1
Grant Jablonski (W); Cam Knepp (L), Hayden Nickell (6).
Mishawaka: Hits - Jablonski 2, Nick Bodle 2, Derrick Dawson 2. HR - Dawson. 3B - Colin Fee. 2B - Jablonski. RBI - Jablonski 2, Dawson 2, Sam Rajski 2.
Records: Mishawaka 24-6, Northridge 22-8.