ELKHART — Mother Nature has been the MVP for many high school baseball teams in northern Indiana this spring.
On Saturday, she took a swing at the Northridge Raiders.
Northridge was leading Warsaw 4-0 with its offense in high gear in the top of the second inning, when the rains came and delayed the game for 91 minutes.
The delay gave the Tigers a chance to catch their breath and the game was soon tied at 5 after the third inning, where it remained until the top of the seventh.
That's when the Northridge offense once again took over, scoring five runs on six hits and eventually beating Warsaw, 10-6, at the Class 4A Elkhart Sectional semifinals.
The Raiders advance to play Penn for the second year in a row in the sectional finals on Monday. Penn advanced by beating Goshen 12-3 on Saturday morning.
Game time at Elkhart Memorial High is 11 a.m.
"I really thought we had our offense going and a lot of momentum and boom, the rains came,'' Northridge coach Andrew Brabender said. "There is nothing you can do about it, but I think it hurt us for sure.
"We kept hitting the ball hard, but through the middle innings, it was just right at people. Finally in the seventh, we started finding empty space.''
Brabender's biggest decision came in the bottom of the sixth inning, with the game still tied 5-5.
With one out, Northridge starting pitcher Hayden Nickell hit a bater and then gave up a bunt single to leadoff hitter Lukas Maier.
That's when Brabender turned to ace pitcher Davis Enfield to stifle the Warsaw rally. Enfield retired the side on a strikeout and a ground out to set the stage for Northridge's big seventh inning.
Cam Knepp opened the seventh with a double for the Raiders, which brought Warsaw coach Andy Manes to the mound to replace starting pitcher Joseph Springer with lefty Jacob Hutcherson.
But the Raider bats kept ringing, as Nick Logan singled in Knepp to give Northridge a 6-5 lead. After an out was recorded, Logan Pratt doubled to put runners on second and third, before shortstop Ben Becker hit a ringing double to left to score both runners.
Before the inning was over, Jamon Christner and Knepp had each singled in a run, to give the Raiders a 10-5 lead entering the bottom of the seventh.
Brabender then stuck with Enfield for the seventh and the senior allowed an unearned run after walking Warsaw's Noah Burgh to start the inning.
"I had a number in my head for pitches he could throw and not have to worry about Monday,'' Brabender admitted. "He was under 30 pitches for the two innings and he has a day off tomorrow, so we should be set for the finals on Monday with Enfield and Knepp.''
Northridge took their 4-0 lead as the rain came down in the second inning, before the umpires stopped it.
Pratt drove in the first run with a double and then scored on an error. Senior designated hitter Reece Lueking then unloaded a long home run that disappeared over the center field fence and headed for the bus garage beyond the field.
Trailing 4-0, the Tigers fought back with two in the second, one coming on a double by Hutcherson. After Logan scored a run for Northridge in the third, Warsaw came right back to tie it with three runs in the third off Nickell.
Bergh doubled in one of the runs, while Springer and Hutcherson each singled in a run to make it 5-5 after three.
That's where it stayed until the Raiders' five-run seventh.
In the opener, Penn's Camryn Szynski had two homers and drove in three as the defending champion Kingsmen advance to the finals. Kegan Hoskins added three hits – including a homer – while Hayden Berg also had three hits.
Berg was the winning pitcher for Penn allowing just one hit and no runs in three scoreless innings, while Kameron Koch and Szynski would finish with two innings apiece.
Hayden Nickell, Davis Enfield (6, W); Joseph Springer (L), Jacob Hutcherson (7), Drake Graham (7).
Northridge: Hits – Drew Gayler 2, Cam Knepp 2, Nick Logan 2, Logan Pratt 2, Becker 2. HR – Reese Lueking. 2B – Pratt 2, Becker, Knepp. RBI – Lueking 2, Becker 2. Runs – Becker 2, Logan 2, Pratt 2.